BF Basics: How to Cook Quinoa

I get this question enough that it deserves its own post!

Quinoa! It’s a great grain…a WHOLE grain…a grain you should get to know, especially if you are a post-op vegetarian. It’s got fiber, complete proteins and tons of nutrients. In addition to cauliflower rice it makes a great sub for regular rice in any dish.

But it isn’t THE most approachable food in terms of cooking, is it?
Well that’s why I am here to help!
In many ways, cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. Here is my three step method to perfect quinoa every time:

Step One:

For every cup of quinoa you intend to make, you need about 1.5 cups of liquid (many websites say 1.25 cups…I tried that and it didn’t work out so well. One and a half? Perfection!). Now, notice I said a cup and a half of liquid, not (necessaarily) of water. That’s because, like rice, you can cook quinoa in a great number of things, depending on what you are trying to make. If you are making a simple side dish, that liquid might be broth (although I suggest half water/half broth unless you like a really intense flavor). If you are making a quinoa pudding (similar to rice pudding) you might do milk in addition to or even instead of water.

It’s also best to put any additional flavorings IN that water. I like to make my quinoa with chicken broth and I throw a whole clove of garlic in there for extra flavor. Let that come up to a simmer.

NOTE: As a Foodie below noted, read the directions on the quinoa you buy. If you buy pre-rinsed (I never have and did not know it existed until you guys told me!) then rinse it first! The kind I get from Whole Foods at the bulk bin does not require rinsing.

Step Two:

Add your quinoa, of course! Just pour it right into the liquid and give it a stir. Then reduce the heat to medium and cover it. It takes about 15-20 minutes to do its thing. You should probably check it a few times and give it a stir, to make sure you have enough liquid in there. If your quinoa is not yet done (I’ll tell you how you can tell in a moment) and your liquid is nearly gone, you can always add more!.

Step Three:

Quinoa is a fairly firm grain. It is not rice, so it’s not going to get as soft as rice would, but it should be fairly tender (if you taste it, it should not be crunchy or difficult to chew). The most tell-tale sign that quinoa is done is that the little “ring” pops out of it. It should look something like this:

See the little rings on the spoon? Those are what you WANT to see!

When that happens, it’s at least ALMOST done. Give it a taste. If it is easy to chew, turn off the heat, replace the cover and let it sit a few minutes more for good measure.

What you should end up with is a pile o’ yumminess that looks something like this:

Now you’re ready to embark on the wide, wonderful world of quinoa recipes…starting with the one I post on Wednesday!


  1. I have had a box in my cupboard for ages. Now I can actually use it.
    Thank you

  2. I make quinoa all the time and LOVE it….however, you may want to remind folks that they need to rinse it if they don't buy the pre-rinsed kind. I forgot once and YUCK!!!!

  3. Thanks for this post and I'm looking forward to the recipe! TO be honest, Quinoa kind of scares me (it's the little tails that creep me out TBH) but I am willing to try it!

  4. If you ever get "tails" from quinoa…yes, do run. These are really just little ringlets. And it's the fiber essentially that pops away from the grain. Tails are creepy, though. I have to agree with you on that point! 🙂

  5. Thanks Nik. I'll try this over the weekend!

  6. hi,
    just wondering, at what stage could we actually eat Quinoa?

  7. That would be a question for your nutritionist, but I can say I first tried it about 9 months post-op.

  8. my vegetarian friend that eats quinoa quite often uses a rice cooker with the same measurements for rice. . . It turns out wonderful! Who knew?!

  9. How much quinoa for that 1.5 c. Liquid?

  10. Under step one I put that but just to recap 1.5 c. Liquid for every cup of quinoa. Hope that helps.

  11. Kimberly Reitman

    How does this work with gastric bypass I haven't had rice or pasta in 8 years but would love something different to try I have lost about 276 pounds since 2006 and have maintained the same weight for about 2 years

  12. Just reading this now Feb 6, 2015 but yeah and great achievement to you Kimberly Reitman

  13. I am 3 months post-op, vertical sleeve, and I tried quinoa and loved it. My instructions said 2 cups of water for 1 cup quinoa and did not say anything at all about rinsing. So I rinsed it and cooked half a cup, it was ready in 11 minutes. Very nice with veggies!

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