I don’t know about you, but I can eat quinoa every day. That probably explains why I have so many quinoa recipes on this blog. In today’s post, we are going back to basics, and I am sharing everything you need to know about How to Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop Perfectly.

I have already shared my foolproof recipes for Microwave Quinoa, Rice Cooker Quinoa, and Instant Pot Quinoa. So, consider this a sequel.

White, red, black, and tricolor cooked quinoa fluffed in pan with wooden spoon on the side

If you need a refresher on basic cooking methods like this one, be sure to check out my detailed 101 posts on How To Cook Wild Rice, How To Cook Bulgur Wheat and How To Cook Black Rice posts as well.

How To Prepare Quinoa

Person measuring and rinsing quinoa
  • Measure Quinoa: Whether you cook white, red, black, or tricolor quinoa, I recommend measuring it first. I usually use a cup measure, but you can find detailed weight information for measuring different types of quinoa below:
    • 1 cup dry (raw) white quinoa: 6.7 ounces – 190 gr.
    • 1 cup dry red quinoa (aka brown quinoa): 7 ounces – 198 gr.
    • 1 cup dry black quinoa: 7 ounces – 198 gr.
    • 1 cup tricolor quinoa (aka rainbow quinoa): 7.1 ounces – 201 gr.
  • Rinse Quinoa Under Cold Running Water: To rinse quinoa, place it in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the water runs clear. 

Why rinse quinoa? Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin. Saponin, a chemical compound with a bitter taste, is a self-defense mechanism to protect itself from microbes, birds, insects, and other foraging animals in its natural habitat.

While most quinoa sold on the market today has its saponin removed, rinsing quinoa ensures that any leftover saponin residue is entirely removed, making sure that its bitter taste doesn’t carry over to your perfectly cooked quinoa.

Want to know more about rinsing quinoa? Check out my post about How To Wash Quinoa.

Quinoa To Water Ratio (Quinoa Proportions)

When it comes to cooking quinoa on the stovetop, regardless of the type/color of the quinoa you are using (i.e., white, red, black, and tricolor quinoa), the ratio of quinoa to water is 1 to 2. 

In other words, for every 1 cup of quinoa, you use 2 cups of liquid. In terms of liquid, you can use water, chicken stock, or vegetable broth. 

With that being said, the question of how much water to use for cooking quinoa has been a source of discussion in some popular websites like TheKitchn and Goop. Both websites swear by a 1 to 1 ¾ cup ratio (meaning 1 cup of quinoa to 1 ¾ cups of liquid) when cooking quinoa on the stove. 

Intrigued, I put both ratios to test and cooked a batch of each type of quinoa in my kitchen. In the end, I honestly thought that the difference in taste was very minimal. 

Yes, the 1:2 ratio was moister (and perhaps a tiny bit more watery), whereas the 1: 1 ¾ ratio had a drier and denser texture, but I felt like they were pretty similar.

In all my testings, I felt the more important thing was to let it rest for at least 10 minutes after the cooking was completed. In my opinion, as long as you are using a pot with a tight-fitting lid and letting it rest after it is cooked, you will end up with a perfectly cooked and fluffy quinoa in either ratio.

Interesting Find: In the cookbook, The Everyday Superfood Quinoa (affiliate link) states that the ratio of water to quinoa will also depend on the age of your dry quinoa. The older the seeds, the more water you will need.

While I do my best to buy my quinoa from a supermarket with a high turnover, it is good to know that the age of the dry quinoa also plays a role in the cooking ratio.

How To Make Quinoa? Step By Step Instructions

The basic process for cooking quinoa on the stovetop is as follows:

Quinoa cooking instructions step by step in four photos
  1. Place rinsed and drained quinoa, water (or chicken broth or veggie broth), and a pinch of salt (optional) into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Stir it and put the lid on.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. It should take about 3-4 minutes for it to come to a boil.
  3. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer. 

Even though the step-by-step photos I am sharing here show cooking instructions for white quinoa, you can use the same method for cooking black quinoa, red quinoa, and tri-color quinoa.

How Long To Cook Quinoa:

Now, you might be asking yourself, what is the ideal cooking time for quinoa? During my testing for the best quinoa recipe, I found that the timing changes based on the type of quinoa you are using. 

Once it comes to a boil, the optimal simmering time for each type of quinoa is below:

  • White quinoa (aka Pearl Quinoa): 15 minutes
  • Red quinoa (aka Brown Quinoa): 18 minutes
  • Black Quinoa: 20 minutes
  • Tri-Color Quinoa ( aka Multicolor or Rainbow quinoa): 18 minutes (the timing might change based on the brand you are using)

How To Tell When Quinoa Is Cooked?

An image showing properly cooked quinoa

You will know that the quinoa is done cooking when most of the liquid in the pan is absorbed with tiny air holes on the surface, and some of the quinoa seeds look like they have popped open, revealing the germ of the kernel.

What If I Am Left with Liquid in The Pan After It is Cooked?

During my testings, I learned that while the general 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid work for most packaged quinoa brands, with a few brands, I was left with some liquid at the bottom even after the cooking time was completed and my quinoa looked like it was fully cooked.

If that happens to you, you can do one of two things:

  • Drain the liquid: Let your quinoa rest for 10 minutes and drain the liquid using a strainer.
  • Let it rest longer: Let it rest with the lid on for 30 minutes or so. It should absorb all the liquid as it sits. The texture might be a little bit mushy, but you’ll still have a perfectly cooked quinoa.

How To Make Fluffy Quinoa:

Once the quinoa is cooked, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, gently fluff it with a fork.

Person fluffing perfectly cooked quinoa with a fork

During my recipe testings, I found out that letting it rest covered without touching is the secret to perfectly cooked quinoa that is perfect every time. If you skip this step, you will likely end up with mushy quinoa that is somewhat sticky.

How Much Does 1 Cup Quinoa Make?

The answer to this question depends on the type of quinoa you are using. I tested every kind of quinoa and measured each type in my kitchen using my own kitchen scale. Below you will find the weight measurements of each type of cooked quinoa.

Four cooked quinoa types are in bowls from top view
  • White Quinoa: 1 cup of dry quinoa yields approximately 3 ¾ cups of cooked quinoa that is equal to 19.50 ounces.
  • Red Quinoa: 1 cup of red quinoa yields approximately 4 cups of cooked red quinoa that is equal to 24 ounces.
  • Black Quinoa: 1 cup black quinoa yields approximately 3 ½ cups of cooked quinoa that is equal to 21 ounces.
  • Tri-Color Quinoa (aka Multi-Color): 1 cup multicolor quinoa yields approximately 4 cups of cooked quinoa that is equal to 18.80 ounces.

How To Flavor Quinoa?

If you look at the stovetop quinoa recipe below, you will see that it is a basic one. While you can certainly enjoy it by itself, you can make it super flavorful and delicious with just a few minor changes.

Person flavoring quinoa with oil and chicken stock

And since there are so many ways you can flavor your quinoa, I wrote a detailed blog post about How To Make Quinoa Taste Good. However, below are a few ways to get you started:

  • Add some seasoning to the pot during the cooking process: Some of my favorite quinoa seasoning ingredients are a dried bay leaf, a clove of garlic (used as a whole), fresh herbs (like chopped parsley or dill), or a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Simply add the seasonings of your choice into the pot at the same time with the liquid and cook as directed.
  • Add in a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil: Adding a little bit of fat into the cooking liquid enhances the flavor. I love a tablespoon of butter, but you can use any oil (i.e., coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil) you have on hand. Simply add your favorite oil into the pan while you add the liquid and cook as directed. 
  • Cook quinoa with chicken stock instead of water: Cooking quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock is probably the easiest way to flavor it. You can simply swap the water with your choice of stock and use the same amount for cooking your quinoa. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can also use half water and half stock. As long as you follow the 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of liquid ratio, you should be fine.

Best Way To Store Cooked Quinoa:

Store cooked quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze quinoa to have it on hand in a quick and efficient way. If you want to know more about freezing quinoa, be sure to read my post on How To Freeze Cooked Quinoa.

Equipment Needed to Cook Quinoa on Stovetop: 

To cook the perfect quinoa, you will need the following equipment:

  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Using a fine mesh strainer is by far the best way to rinse quinoa. This fine mesh strainer (affiliate link) is the one I use and recommend. 
  • A Pot with a lid: I recommend using a pot with a tight-fitting lid that does not have a hole in it so that you can easily trap all the water (and steam) in the pot. Since I usually cook one cup of quinoa, I prefer this pot (affiliate link) that is 7-inches in diameter. It is the white pan you see in the photos.
  • A Fork: Once the quinoa is cooked and rested, I use a dinner fork to fluff it.
  • Airtight Container: I am a big fan of these meal prep containers (affiliate link) to store cooked quinoa.


What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is an ancient grain (pseudo-grain) with a nutty flavor that originated in the Andes in South America. Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” Healthline calls it one of the healthiest foods on the planet as it is highly nutritious and packed with several minerals and vitamins. Additionally, quinoa is considered a “complete protein,” a term used for foods containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own.

Do you have to soak quinoa before cooking?

If you are unsure whether the quinoa you purchased has had the saponin removed (this might be the case if you are buying from a bulk foods section of your supermarket), I recommend soaking it.

To soak quinoa, place it in a bowl and cover it with enough water to cover it by 1-inch. Let stand, stirring a few times for at least 5 minutes or up to 2 hours. Drain it through a fine-mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 30-60 seconds.

Do You Add Salt When Cooking Quinoa?

It is a personal choice, but if you want your cooked quinoa to be properly seasoned and flavorful, I recommend adding ½ teaspoon of kosher salt for every cup of raw quinoa.

Does Quinoa Absorb Water Like Rice?

Yes, it does. The cooking time would be different, but quinoa would absorb water like white rice.

What is the ideal quinoa portion size per person? How much quinoa to cook per person?

When I serve quinoa with chicken, beef, or vegetable main dishes, I usually serve between ½ to ¾ cup of cooked quinoa per serving. If you cook one 1 cup raw quinoa, it should provide you with four servings as a side dish. 

The Best Quinoa Recipes:

The best thing about quinoa is that it has various uses and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With its mild and nutty flavor, it is easy to incorporate into various dishes. Below are a few of our favorite easy quinoa recipes:

How To Cook Quinoa on Stove Recipe

4.80 from 5 votes
Yields4 servings
Prep Time3 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Resting Time10 minutes
Total Time28 minutes
Learn how to make quinoa on the stovetop to make perfectly cooked and fluffy quinoa every time. I made sure to cover proper cooking times for each type of quinoa (white, red, black, and tricolor quinoa).


  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 cups water, (Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth would also work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Place raw quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water. Drain.
  • Place rinsed and drained quinoa, water (or chicken broth or veggie broth), and a pinch of salt (optional) into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Stir it and put the lid on.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. It should take about 3-4 minutes for it to come to a boil.
  • As soon as it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 minutes (covered). Fluff it with a fork and serve.


  • You can use this recipe to cook red, black and tricolor quinoa as well. However, be aware that the cooking time might vary. For red quinoa let it simmer for 18 minutes, for black quinoa let it simmer for 20 minutes, and for multi color quinoa let it simmer for 18 minutes.
  • 1 cup raw white quinoa yields approximately 3 3/4 cups of cooked white quinoa.
  • How to tell when quinoa is done cooking? You will know that the quinoa is done cooking when most of the liquid in the pan is absorbed with tiny air holes on the surface, and some of the quinoa seeds look like they have popped open, revealing the germ of the kernel.
  • For additional flavoring you can add in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter into the cooking liquid. You can also use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water as your cooking liquid.
  • Best way to store: Place cooked quinoa in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Want to use a different technique to cook quinoa? Check out my Microwave Quinoa, Pressure Cooker Quinoa and Rice Cooker Quinoa recipes.


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 299mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 3g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @foolproofliving or tag #foolproofeats!

About Aysegul Sanford

Hello Friend! I'm Aysegul but you can call me “Ice." I’m the cook/recipe-tester/photographer behind this site.

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4.80 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. This is THE BEST recipe I’ve found for quinoa!! Thank you so much it has made my food prep so much easier.

    1. I am happy to hear that you liked it Krista. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.

  2. 4 stars
    This recipe is great and I appreciate the clear instructions along with your photos. I will say that as is common practice, the quinoa-to-water ratio should definitely be 1 cup of quinoa to 1 3/4 cup of water. Adding more water leads to the quinoa being overly “wet” and this is simply not the correct texture for quinoa. While you do mention this, I may suggest updating the recipe to reflect.

    I also found that cooking times for me (over the past few months) were the exact same for various types of quinoa (red, tri-color and white), which makes things even simpler 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I made 1/2 cup of white Quinoa with 1 cup of water and followed the directions precisely on stove and it came out perfect. Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Hi Margie,
      I am thrilled to hear that the recipe turned out great for you. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review

    1. I see what you mean. I start in one of the medium-sized burners and then move it to the smallest one and keep it on low. That helps with calming it down and cooking it low and slow.
      Hope this helps.

  4. Thank you! I love quinoa and always order when I see on a menu. I was overwhelmed about cooking it on my own, I even bought a bag with the intentions of doing so. I am so happy I came across your site!!! Simple, easy to understand instructions that I am no longer overwhelmed but excited to make quinoa for dinner tonight! Thank you for giving me the confidence to try!

    1. Dear Shawna,
      This note makes me so happy. I am thrilled to hear that you found it easy to understand.
      I have so many easy quinoa recipes you can try with this basic quinoa recipe. I hope you will spent some time on the site and find the best ones that will work for you.
      In the meantime, if you have any questions I am right here with answers.
      Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.

  5. 5 stars
    There is no better explanation for a Quinoa how to recipe This is the ultimate source for how to cook different types of quinoa. Since using this recipe I am rocking my quinoa dishes. From the tools I need to the different types of recipes, everything about quinoa is here! This blog is amazing not only offering diverse recipes but also for teaching me on how to cook tricky grains/rices.
    Thank you!!!