How to Cook like a Pro: Quinoa Cooking Instructions to forget “Mushy” and “Bitter” Forever

February 3, 2014 | By More


I just love quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah). It is an amazing grain that I use regularly instead of rice, pasta and other starches. It is a complete protein that also has iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, folate and essential amino acids.

In addition to all the health benefits, it tastes great and it is highly versatile.

quinoa-cooking-instructions-close-upI’m writing this post as I have had quite a few people ask me how to cook quinoa so that it isn’t either bitter or mushy. Although it is simple to cook (similar to rice) there are a couple of things you need to remember that can make a huge difference to the outcome.

Is Your Quinoa Bitter?

If so, this is simple to rectify. Quinoa is a seed but it looks and tastes like a grain. The seeds are coated with saponin. Saponins are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that are found in many plants. This coating on quinoa is quite bitter and, even if the package states that it is pre washed, you should wash it thoroughly to remove the last traces of saponin. I’ll show you how in the instructions below.

Does Your Quinoa Turn Out Mushy?

This is a common complaint and the problem is in the cooking method instead of the ingredient itself. Most recipes say to cook it similar to rice using the same ratio of 1 to 2 (1 cup of quinoa to two cups of liquid). They are partially right but this is way too much liquid! I used this ratio for ages, always ending up with a mushy result. I then started experimenting and have now come up with a method that turns out perfectly every time.

So if you want a light and fluffy result that never tastes bitter follow these quinoa cooking instructions.


2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
Pinch of good quality salt


Wash the quinoa thoroughly using a large bowl and a fine mesh strainer (if you use a wide mesh strainer you will lose half of your quinoa). Make sure that you swish it around with your hands to agitate it to remove the saponin. I usually wash it for approximately one minute.


Thoroughly rinse under running water before setting aside to drain for 10 – 15 minutes (you want to get rid of as much of the water as possible. I usually spread it out in the strainer to help with this.

Fry the quinoa in a dry non-stick pan (I use enamel pans) over medium heat stirring constantly for 3 – 5 minutes until it has dried and has a lovely nutty smell.


Add the salt and water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid very slightly tilted to allow steam to escape.

Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until all water has evaporated. Do not stir during this time.


Once cooked, let stand for five minutes then fluff with a fork. This recipe yields 7 cups of delicious fluffy cooked quinoa.



Notes and Hints:

Quinoa keeps well in the refrigerator so I like to cook a large batch and use it over a period of several days for different things. It makes life simple during a busy week.

You can add flavorings and seasonings such as herbs and spices during the frying stage.

You can replace the water with good quality stock for extra flavor.

You can cook it in milk or nut milk and keep it in the fridge for a variety of quick breakfast quinoa recipes. See my post here for easy healthy high protein breakfast ideas using quinoa.

Want healthy Quinoa Recipes? Take a look at this one (It is Delicious!): Pommegranate and Quinoa Salad

Have you tried quinoa in the past? Do you have secret tips of your own? Do you feel like saying “Hi!”? Then drop me a line using the comments box available at the end of this page. See my post here for easy healthy high protein breakfast ideas using quinoa.

Do you think your friends know about these simple and effective quinoa cooking tactics? Then let them know by sharing this post using the social buttons just below these lines. It´s easy, a couple of clicks and your friends will thank you for sharing it in a few minutes. It is that simple.



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