How to Make Fluffy Quinoa (and Quinoa Tabbouleh)

4.84 from 25 votes

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 25 votes

Quinoa Tabbouleh

By: Jackie Dodd
After learning how to make best fluffy quinoa, this is the perfectly delicious meal you should make first!
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 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


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


Calories: 411kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 347mg, Potassium: 834mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2795IU, Vitamin C: 61mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 6.4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

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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October 18, 2013 6:02 pm

5 stars
Best. quinoa. ever.

September 24, 2013 10:20 pm

I made this for the first time and it was delicious. My whole family loved it! I followed the directions for rinsing and cooking the quinoa, I used 1 to 1.5 ratio of grain to liquid, used chicken broth, added, finely diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cooked for 15 minutes, and let rest for 15-20 minutes. While there was still liquid at the end of the 15 minutes cook time, it was all absorbed when it rested. It was fluffy and delicious.

September 5, 2013 1:10 am

This is really helpful – following the instructions to the letter helped me get the best quinoa ever!! Even my children loved it. I tried to speed it up the first time and didn’t work.

September 2, 2013 4:53 am

5 stars
Simple and straight to the point. Will try tonight.


Marco Polo
August 25, 2013 3:24 pm

Directions were absolutely 100% perfect. Thanks a million.

Mary J
August 4, 2013 2:29 pm

I followed directions to the word. The quinoa did not puff up. What went wrong?

Terry B
July 26, 2013 4:02 pm

5 stars
First time I have a Perfectly cooked Quinoa. It makes the salad presentation so much nicer – no soggy sticky salads ever again.

The toasting also adds another dimension of flavor. Thanks for the tips.

Country Bumpkin
June 27, 2013 10:07 am

Wow! Best Ever! Simply Awesome!
Great job Andrew in you explanations & I’m a total visual person.
Not only Easy but the pics help me so I know I’m m
Not killing Quinoa. :-B

Good Job Cowboy!

iris from Murphy’s ,Ca.

Daphne Rose
May 15, 2013 12:29 am

Not only clear instructions but also very helpful pictures. And what is more I now know how it is pronounced. Can’t wait to go and buy some and try it!!

April 19, 2013 5:01 pm

I just finished making this and it turned out perfect~ Thank you so much. Last time I made it it was mush and I threw it away! Now can you tell me how to make brown rice fluffy too?