How to Make Fluffy Quinoa (and Quinoa Tabbouleh)

How to Make Fluffy Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wa) is a spectacularly impressive grain. For such a tiny little guy, he’s packed with nutrients, and it’s even been said that you can survive on nothing but quinoa, although I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Quinoa is not only a complete protein, it is also packed with iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, folate, lysine, and other essential amino acids. Along with a dose of fiber and zero saturated fat, quinoa is an incredible addition to any diet.

So, now that you are completely on board with a heaping spoonful of quinoa, how can you cook it without making a bowl of mush? I’m so glad you asked.

There are a few basic steps to make fluffy quinoa that, in most cases, are inexplicably left off the package directions.

For this lesson in quinoa cookery, I am making 2 cups. Quite a large amount, but in the interest of saving time throughout the week, I like to make a large batch on Sundays and have it ready to go for the next 3-5 days.

First, don’t forget to rinse your quinoa. Think of this like remembering to wash your hands before eating, you really have no idea what could be on those little grains.

Put 2 cups of quinoa in a bowl that will hold at least 6 cups.

2 Cups of Quinoa

Cover the quinoa with cold water, rinsing it thoroughly.

Rinsing Quinoa

Then drain through a fine mesh strainer.

Draining Quinoa
Allow to drain and dry for 20 minutes to remove all the water. Skipping this step will lead to mushy grains.

Drying Quinoa

Once your quinoa has dried, toast in a dry pan until you can smell the nutty flavor that has now been brought out in your quinoa, about 5 minutes. This also removes any additional water that may have been left behind by the rinse.

Toasting Quinoa

Remove the quinoa from the pan, set aside.

Cooking quinoa with the same liquid to grain ratio as rice (1 cup grain, 2 cups water) is the biggest culprit in the battle for fluffy quinoa. It’s just too much water, and will leave you with mush. Cook instead with a 1 part grain to 1.5 parts liquid ratio. For the purposes of this post, that would be 2 cups quinoa to 3 cups liquid.

As for the liquid, you can use broth, vegetable juice, water, or any combination of those to achieve to taste you want. I use at least half broth most often, but for the sake of simplicity, I used water for this post.

Bring 3 cups of water/broth to a rapid boil in sauce pan.

Then add your toasted quinoa and cover the lid with a slight vent, allowing the steam to escape.

Reduce your heat to medium-low, and maintain a strong simmer.

Cook for 16 minutes or until all of the water is gone. Remove from heat and remove the lid.

Allow to cool and rest for ten minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Cooked Quinoa

So what can you do with that nice fluffy quinoa you just made? You can make yourself a nice bowl of quinoa tabbouleh!

How to make fluffy quinoa
4.84 from 24 votes

Quinoa Tabbouleh

After learning how to make best fluffy quinoa, this is the perfectly delicious meal you should make first!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Arabic
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 2 servings
Calories 411 kcal
Author Jackie Dodd


  • 1 cup fluffy cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup peeled Cucumbers chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs. chopped Chives
  • 1 cup chopped Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil


  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Enjoy.

About the Author

The Craft Beer Bites CookbookJackie Dodd’s beer-infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015 (yes, craft beer is unprocessed). The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade Magazine, Draft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. Jackie is the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook, and you can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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August 4, 2012 3:12 am

5 stars
Thanks for the instructions. Glad I read all the comments first. I made a large amount for the week. My first portion went straight in to banana nut muffins. They turned out awesome. Thanks again.

July 30, 2012 11:43 am

5 stars
Amazing! At last I have found a way to cook Quinoa successfully and not be eating a plate full of mush! Thank you it worked perfectly!

July 29, 2012 3:07 pm

5 stars
Thank you! I will be having my FLUFFY (thanks to you) quinoa with steamed veggies, grilled salmon with a light drizzle of thai peanut sauce!!

June 22, 2012 3:01 pm

4 stars
I have long been confused about the best way to cook quinoa to get a fluffy product, so thanks for these excellent directions.

Something to note about quinoa – it is a seed, not a grain.

June 22, 2012 7:38 pm
Reply to  Kunda

Hi Kunda,

You’re right – strictly speaking, it’s not a grain, because it is not a member of the grass family. It’s often referred to as a pseudo-grain or pseudo-cereal (“cereal grains” are grains that have been cultivated for human food — and “grains” have to be members of the grass family).

So all grains are seeds, but not all seeds are grains. 🙂

June 14, 2012 12:08 pm

I’m so happy I came across these directions!! I love making quinoa salads (and other things) and hate when the quinoa is all mushy. I want nice, separated grains. While this will definitely take longer to make, I’m sure it will be worth it! Thanks for sharing!

June 4, 2012 12:26 pm

The recipe says equal parts of grain and water is way too much water, yet you recomend 2 cups grain to 3 cups of water, which is more than equal parts. Is the recipe backwards, and should be 3 cups grain to 2 cups water?

June 5, 2012 10:55 am
Reply to  Jenny

The correct ratio is 1 part Quinoa to 1.5 parts Water, so 2 cups quinoa to 3 cups water is correct.

Sorry for the confusion — I’ll go fix the post right now!

May 14, 2012 7:40 pm

4 stars
I tried making 1/4 cup of quinoa. Which would be about 1/3 cup of water. My pot was hot already and when I put the water in the pot most of the water evaporated..

I added a bit more water and let it cook for 16 minutes.

I forgot to let it sit for 10 minutes and also forgot to fluff it. >.<

This was my first and failed attempt. Hoping for a better result, but will probably make the 2 cup batch that you suggested.

Either way thank you for the instructions!

April 19, 2012 4:20 am

hi – am a total newbie on this… once you have lowered the fire and leave the lid adjusted do you stir from time to time or not touch it during the cooking time??

April 21, 2012 12:38 pm
Reply to  judith

Hi Judith. It’s like making rice — don’t stir.

April 22, 2012 1:01 am
Reply to  Andrew

Thanks Andrew!

February 3, 2012 9:41 am

I am SO glad I stumbled across this recipe and cooking method.

Thank you for sharing!!

January 17, 2012 4:39 pm