Quinoa is a super-nutritious, versatile grain that cooks up in no time and makes a great alternative to rice and couscous. Learn how easy it is to make and find some new recipes that use it.

Raw quinoa in a wooden bowl with a measuring scoop.

Quinoa is a firm-textured grain with a subtle nutty flavor that cooks up fluffy and light. It can be used in place of rice or couscous in many recipes and it’s quick and easy to prepare.

Once a staple food of the ancient Incas, quinoa, a highly nutritious grain native to South America, is finding its way onto American tables with increasing frequency.

Because it contains eight essential amino acids, quinoa is considered to be a complete protein. It’s also lower in carbohydrates than most other grains, gluten-free and a good source of iron and fiber.

How to make quinoa, step-by-step

  1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine-mesh strainer. This removes a somewhat bitter, soap-like coating of a naturally occurring substance called saponin. Saponin is thought to be quinoa’s natural protection against insects, birds, and fungus, and most of it is removed during processing, but rinsing is still a good idea for best results.
  2. Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff with a fork, add seasonings, or combine with other ingredients as you would rice or couscous.

Quinoa recipes

How To Prepare Quinoa

How to Make Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Learn how quick easy it is to prepare quinoa as a side dish or as a base for a healthy meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water, stock, or broth

Instructions

  1. The first step is to thoroughly rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine-mesh strainer. This removes a somewhat bitter, soap-like coating of a naturally occurring substance called saponin.
  2. Saponin is thought to be quinoa’s natural protection against insects, birds, and fungus and most of it is removed during processing, but rinsing is still a good idea for best results.
  3. Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed about 12 minutes.
  4. Quinoa turns translucent when fully cooked. Fluff with a fork, add seasonings or combine with other ingredients as you would rice or couscous.

Notes

Quinoa with Scallions: An easy variation

We serve this easy variation alongside our Spice Breaded Chicken Tenderloins, but it would make a great accompaniment for just about any grilled, roasted, or pan-seared protein.

Prepare our basic recipe with the following substitutions:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and sauté 2 cloves of minced garlic until fragrant.
  • Add 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa and reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the broth has been absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 sliced scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 3 minutes before serving.