Red, black and white quinoa seeds

Start to Finish: 25 to 30 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Cooking quinoa doesn't get much easier when you let your rice steamer do all of the work for you to cook up the easiest, fluffiest batch of quinoa imaginable. This healthy pseudo-grain makes a tasty side dish, but it's protein-packed nutrient profile also makes it well suited for being the star of the plate. Once you get the basic method down, you can easily vary the recipe by using different cooking liquids, herbs and aromatics. This recipe was adapted from the rice cooker quinoa recipe in Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood: 150 Gluten-Free Recipes to Delight Every Kind of Eater.

  • 1 cup white, red or black quinoa
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion or shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4-cup freshly chopped herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme or oregano

Add the quinoa to a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly to remove the saponin_,_ the natural coating that can leave quinoa tasting bitter.

Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed skillet. Heat it until the oil shimmers and saute the onions and garlic until they are fragrant and softened, usually within approximately three to five minutes.

Transfer the quinoa to the steamer. Stir the herbs, onions and garlic, and broth into the mixture.

Place the lid on the steamer and set the timer, if necessary. Most types of quinoa only take 15 to 20 minutes to cook.

Drain the quinoa and return it to the steamer. Fluff it lightly with a fork, put the cover on the steamer and let the quinoa rest for approximately 15 minutes before serving it.


According to The Kitchn, rinsing quinoa may not be necessary. Unrinsed cooked quinoa has an earthier flavor and firmer texture than quinoa that was rinsed prior to cooking.

To optimize the ways that you can use leftover cooked quinoa, skip the olive oil, onions, garlic and herbs. Instead, just cook the quinoa with water and a pinch of salt. The results? Fluffy cooked quinoa that can easily be dressed up to use in sweet or savory dishes. Some of the ideas for using quinoa include:

  • making quinoa pancakes. The New York Times quinoa pancake recipe calls for sifting 1 cup whole-wheat flour with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, mix 2 large eggs with 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 3 tablespoons canola oil and a teaspoon of flavor extract such as vanilla, coconut or almond. Combine the flour mixture with the eggs and buttermilk before folding 1 cup of quinoa into the batter. Pour the pancake batter onto a hot griddle and cook the pancakes for approximately two to three minutes per side, or until they are golden.
  • enhancing the flavor by making a quinoa-based salad ideal for serving at room temperature or chilled. Start by combining citrus juice with olive oil, herbs and orange segments. Stir the mixture into cooked and cooked quinoa along with slivered almonds and salt and pepper.
  • making a tasty vegetarian meal, such as Cooking Light's cauliflower and chickpea quinoa with tahini. Roast cauliflower florets, onion and a drained can of chickpeas for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa to a large bowl, along with a few handfuls of baby spinach, a drizzle of olive oil, the roasted veggies, 1/4-cup toasted pine nut, and salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Drizzle the tahini over the quinoa and garnish it with freshly chopped parsley before serving it.