The Secret to Making Light and Fluffy Quinoa

We're ready to spill the beans! Read on to find out all about it.

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Want to know the secret to making light and fluffy quinoa? We’re ready to spill the beans! Metaphorically, of course, because no one wants to clean up that pantry mess. Making perfect quinoa is really much easier than you think – it all comes down to technique. That’s great news because it means you don’t have to buy any fancy equipment or spend any money at all. We can teach you all the techniques you need to learn!

So say goodbye to soggy, clumpy quinoa grains and hello to light and fluffy quinoa. Read on to find out how!

1. Get The Ratio Right

The first secret to making light and fluffy quinoa is so simple and easy. All you need is the right ratio of liquid to quinoa grains. Too much moisture and you’ll end up with soggy grains. Too little moisture and you’ll have super crunchy quinoa. Follow the ratio and it’ll be light, fluffy, and perfect every time.

The perfect ratio is 1 cup of quinoa to 1 1/4 cups water (or, to add extra flavor, swap the water for chicken or vegetable broth). I always make extra quinoa because it makes perfect leftovers, so I usually make 2 cups of quinoa using 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth. This makes me 6 cups of cooked quinoa, which is just enough to get me through a week of packed lunches and throw-together dinners.

Now take that perfect ratio of quinoa and make our favorite Quinoa Salad recipe.

2. Rinse Your Quinoa

This might seem like an annoying extra step, but trust us: it makes fluffier quinoa. It also significantly improves the flavor of the quinoa, too! Unrinsed quinoa can be a little bit bitter and overly earthy tasting. Rinsed quinoa is nuttier and lighter.

When you rinse the grains, you’ll remove the saponin (the quinoa’s natural coating). Similar to the process of rinsing rice to remove the excess starch, this step is a secret to making light and fluffy quinoa. Once that coating is removed, the grains have the ability to plump up so much more easily.

Rinsed quinoa really has the best flavor, too, so it’s perfect for this Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad recipe.

3. Simmer the Broth First

Unlike rice, you don’t want to start the quinoa in cold broth. That causes the quinoa to absorb some of that liquid as it comes up to a boil, throwing off that golden ratio and causing the quinoa to become waterlogged. That means soggy quinoa, not fluffy quinoa.

Start it off right by bringing your water (or broth) to a simmer first. Then, when the bubbles are moving, add the quinoa and stir to combine. The hot water will kick-start the quinoa’s blooming and unraveling phase, which is what makes it so much fluffier than other grains.

Then, let it come back to a simmer, cover it with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. 20 minutes later your quinoa will be fully cooked.

Fully bloomed and unraveled quinoa is exactly the way you want it for this Tex-Mex Quinoa Bowl recipe.

4. Don’t Even Think about Peeking

I’m kind of an impatient cook, so I always want to peek in at cooking rice and quinoa to make sure it’s not burning. Resist the urge! Don’t do it! Taking off that lid can totally ruin the bubbling process and let out all of that precious steam.

Set yourself a timer and stick to it. If you turned the pot down to low and you followed the golden ratio of quinoa to water, there’s no reason to be anxious. Let it go the full 20 minutes before turning off the heat, covered the entire time.

If you peek, your quinoa won’t be light and fluffy enough for this amazing Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Walnuts and Raisins recipe.

5. Let it Sit (Covered) Before Stirring

This is another annoying step, but a crucial secret to making light and fluffy quinoa. Once the quinoa has simmered on low for 20 minutes, take it off the heat and allow it to sit (covered) for 20 additional minutes. I know, the waiting is the hardest part! But trust us: we wouldn’t ask you to do this step if it wasn’t totally and completely necessary.

Letting it sit gives the quinoa some extra time to steam, letting it give off any excess liquid. By the time you get in there and fluff it up with a fork, it will have absorbed all the liquid and steamed a little bit of it away. It makes the perfect condition for light and fluffy quinoa.

Waiting for the perfect quinoa is totally worth it once you take a bit of this Slow Cooker and Spring Vegetable Quinoa recipe.

6. Fluff it With a Fork

This is important: don’t use a spoon. Don’t use the wide, plastic implement that came with your rice cooker. Use a normal, everyday dinner fork. The tongs on that fork will fluff up the individual quinoa grains without mashing and mushing them together.

If you don’t have a fork (who doesn’t have forks?), you can use a really wide spatula. But really, you should get some forks and use them to fluff up your perfect quinoa.

You’ll really appreciate that perfectly fluffy quinoa with this Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Buddha Bowl recipe.

So there you have it. My favorite Secrets to Making Light and Fluffy Quinoa. But shhhh, it’s a secret.

Looking for more quinoa recipes, tips, and tricks? All you need to do is follow us on Facebook. If you’re not into Facebook, don’t worry. We’re also on Pinterest, Instagram, and we have an email newsletter, too!


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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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