Healthy Kitchen/ Natural Foods Guides

How to Cook Quinoa, and Tasty Recipes

Quinoa varieties - red, tan, and black

Here’s a basic guide on how to cook quinoa, along with an array of easy recipes for this tasty, quick-cooking grain. Nutritious and versatile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. Considered a “superfood” for its superior nutritional profile, it was revived for the American natural foods market in the 1980s. Your basic quinoa grain is a kind of yellowish-tan, but red and black varieties are now available as well. They cook up the same way and taste pretty much the same as well; their appeal is mainly visual.

Quinoa pdf e-book cover - VegKitchenQuinoa has more and higher quality protein than any other grain aside from amaranth. It’s also rich in minerals, B-vitamins, and vitamin E. Best of all, I appreciate the fact that quinoa cooks in a mere 15 minutes, and its fluffy texture and nutty flavor and aroma make it extremely versatile. If you’d like more quinoa in your life, you might also enjoy having one of VegKitchen’s affordable pdf e-books, We Love Quinoa, right on your desktop (or printed out) for easy access to our most popular quinoa recipes.

Here are some basic uses for quinoa:

  • Use it as a bed of grain for bean or vegetable dishes in place of rice.
  • Use it to make pilafs with nuts and dried fruits.
  • It’s great for stuffing vegetables.
  • Make tabbouleh-style salads with it. Add diced crisp vegetables, fresh tomatoes, and minced herbs. Toasted nuts or seeds add a delicious touch.
  • Just use it simply, as a nutrition-boosting side dish.

quinoa and bell pepper salad

Basic cooking tips:

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a very fine sieve.
  2. Combine with water in a 2 to 1 ratio in a small saucepan (I usually do either 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, or 3 cups water to 1 1/2 cups quinoa, depending on how much I want to have at a given meal). Add a bouillon cube (I like Rapunzel salt-free vegan bouillon) for added flavor, if you’d like.
  3. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add Earth Balance margarine or a fragrant nut oil as desired and salt gently.

To this basic formula, I have sometimes added finely chopped steamed broccoli; toasted pine nuts; minced scallion; steamed frozen green peas; steamed frozen corn kernels; sautéed garlic; or any combination of two or three of these items.

Quinoa pilaf varieties

Simple quinoa pilafs; photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Here are some quinoa recipes you’ll find on VegKitchen:

Quinoa Salads

Quinoa, corn, and black bean salad

Quinoa, corn, and black bean salad

Quinoa Pilafs

Seashell pasta with quinoa2

Quinoa and Seashell Noodle Pilaf; photo by Rachael Braun

Heartier Quiona Dishes

Quinoa with edamame and oranges pilaf

Quinoa with edamame and oranges pilaf; photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Wraps and Such

Asian flavored quinoa wraps

Asian flavored quinoa wraps; photo by Rachael Braun

Sweets and Such


For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.
Here are more of VegKitchen’s Natural Food Guides.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe & Follow

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    The pics are to die for! I’d love to eat these dishes right off the screen… Perfect!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I cook the quinoa in Veggie broth and add garlic powder. It is amazing.

    • Reply
      February 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      That’s a great idea, Betsey. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for using “regular” items in your recipes….stav, if you know how to substitute more healthy items, who cares.?

    • Reply
      February 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks, SuziQ! I want to make these recipes as accessible as possible.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    thank you for sharing your recipies . I find them very inspiring..

    • Reply
      February 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you, Lynne!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Quinoa patties are delicious.

  • Reply
    Dot Blair
    February 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    great recipes

  • Reply
    Judie Guthrie
    February 22, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I can’t wait to try some of these recipes.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I made the quinoa, corn and black bean salad tonight.(I also make my quinoa with veggie broth instead of water.) I used canned Southwestern corn with serano peppers.
    This is the BEST recipe ever!!!! SOOOOO good! Thank you so much.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Betsey, sorry for the delayed response — thanks so much for your comment; so glad you enjoy this. And I appreciate hearing about your tweaks, too!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Thanks so much, Betsey! I enjoy cooking my quinoa in broth as well, or using a natural bouillon cube.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2014 at 12:51 am

    I have tried it before. But I don’t know anything about it. Never cooked it. I need something easy.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I love the pics.. quinoa is a must for my dinner. Bored of routine recipes n searching for some new and low fat recipes.
    Your recipes sounds really yummy 🙂
    I am gonna try this weekend !!!

    • Reply
      August 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Thanks for your comment! I hope you will enjoy these.

    Leave a Reply