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Bowl of tri-color quinoa with parsley sprinkled on top

How to Cook Quinoa (Recipes Kids Should Know Before Leaving Home)

By Jane Maynard

Today we are talking quinoa! Quinoa is a super nutritious food (very high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants) that goes great with all kinds of main courses. Learning how to cook quinoa is incredibly helpful and surprisingly simple. I’ll admit when quinoa came on the scene I didn’t know much about it and felt intimidated. But once I learned how to cook it I realized it’s just as easy as cooking rice! I also love how quickly it cooks, making it a great food to add to a weeknight dinner and a great one to add to list of Recipes Kids Should Know Before They Leave Home.

Recipes Kids Should Know: Quinoa label over a picture of tri-color quinoa

What is quinoa?

While quinoa is grown and often marketed as a grain, it is actually a seed that comes from a plant. (Grains come from grasses.) Quinoa is gluten-free and full of all kinds of nutrients. It’s considered a “whole-grain” carbohydrate and is also a whole protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids.  Quinoa also contains a lot of fiber, B vitamins, and iron. While quinoa is technically a seed, it does in fact make a great substitute for other grains, like rice and barley.

Closeup picture of cooked tri-color quinoa

What kind of quinoa should I get and what should I eat it with?

You can buy quinoa whole or in flakes. Quinoa flakes cook in just a couple of minutes and are a great substitute for rolled oats, and still have all those great nutrients. Whole quinoa is delicious served as a side (like rice), in salads, soups, and bowls, among many other uses.

Rinsing quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer in the kitchen sink

Quinoa comes in many varieties and colors that are pretty much mostly the same. Note that black quinoa takes a few more minutes to cook and has a bit more bite to it.

Above view of a bowl of tri-color quinoa

Since quinoa has a fairly neutral flavor, it can work in both savory and sweet dishes. I love throwing it in bowls and salads, but it is also delicious served as a breakfast “porridge” with fruit and yogurt. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

White bowl with cooked quinoa and parsley as a garnish


How to Cook Quinoa

  • Author: Jane Maynard


1 cup quinoa

1 3/4 cup water or broth of your choice

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional: good for savory dishes, but do not add salt if you are cooking quinoa in broth)


Check the quinoa packaging to see if the quinoa has been pre-rinsed. If yes, move on to the next step. If not, place 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the quinoa in the sink with running water for about 30 minutes, until water runs clear below the quinoa.

Place 1 cup quinoa and 1 3/4 cup water (and salt if using) in a small- or medium-sized pot that has a lid. Without the lid on, bring to a full boil over high heat (10 on a knob with a scale of 1-10).

Once the quinoa and water are boiling, reduce heat to low (around 1 or 2 on a knob with a scale of 1-10), put on the pot’s lid, and cook for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let quinoa sit covered for 5 minutes.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and serve!

More Recipes Kids Should Know How to Cook (Side Dishes):

1. Teach Your Kids To Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
2. Teach Kids How to Cook Delicious Carrots
3. Teach Your Kids How to Roast Yummy Vegetables

About the Author

Jane Maynard

Jane Maynard is a mom, wife, graphic designer and blogger living in the San Diego area in sunny Southern California. Jane started her food blog This Week for Dinner 9 years ago and has be...

Jane Maynard is a mom, wife, graphic designer and blogger living in the San Diego area in sunny Southern California. Jane started her food blog This Week for Dinner 9 years ago and has been posting weekly meal plans ever since, in addition to recipes, travel, kitchen tips and more. Jane writes for the food sections of several websites and is always busy cooking up something new! Jane is pretty much obsessed with chocolate chip cookies and does not want to fix that about herself.

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