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July 11, 2022

Perfect Quinoa

A perfect base or addition to any meal, our perfect quinoa recipe is something everyone can enjoy! This gluten-free, plant-based staple will become your new favorite grain alternative.


Perfect Quinoa Shot3 01
Photography by Gayle McLeod

The Perfect Quinoa, Every Time.

Quinoa has become a staple in our kitchens at The Modern Proper. Its versatility is unmatched making it an easy thing to lean on when looking for a side dish with a meal or a base in a bowl. It also is one of the most nutrient-dense grain alternatives on the market making it not only delicious but easy to make. With all the different options of how to cook quinoa and conflicting opinions on the exact right quinoa to water ratio or quinoa cook time, we figured we needed to share just how we make our perfect quinoa recipe. Every. Single. Time.

What Is Quinoa?

Often mistaken as a grain, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is actually considered an edible seed. Because of this, quinoa is a great alternative for those with celiac disease or those who choose to avoid gluten. Quinoa has been around for centuries, but has only recently become a popular source of protein while also providing a wealth of nutrients. In fact, in 2013, the UN dubbed the year “The International Year of Quinoa” due to recognition of the seed’s valuable qualities in diets across the world.

There are also many different ways quinoa can be found at your local grocery store. From differing colors or shapes to forms, quinoa really can adapt to whatever you’ve got going on on your plate. The most common types of quinoa are:

  • Red quinoa: The sturdiest of options. Red quinoa will not only provide you all of the benefits of quinoa, but it will hold its shape better than its counterparts. It also provides nearly twice the vitamin E content of white quinoa.

  • Black quinoa: Similar in benefits to the red quinoa, black quinoa provides more vitamin E than white while also being the highest in antioxidants due to its dark color. This option is the earthiest of the bunch in taste, delivering the lowest fat content and highest omega-3 fatty acid and carotenoid contents of the multitude of quinoa options.

  • White quinoa: The most common type of quinoa found in stores. Oftentimes white quinoa is what people picture when they think of quinoa generally.

  • Tri-color quinoa: Another commonly found option is tri-color quinoa which is just a combination of red, black and white so you can reap the benefits from all of them all at once!

small piles of red, white, black and tri-color quinoa on the counter

Is Quinoa Healthy?

Quinoa is one of the healthier sides or bases you can use in your meals. Since it is technically a seed and not a grain, quinoa provides many different benefits including being nutrient-dense and gluten-free. Quinoa is often compared to brown rice as a replacement in meals, and although both deliver different important nutrients, quinoa has an edge in the debate as it is considered a complete protein, while brown rice only contains a few of the essential amino acids.

For our vegan and vegetarian chefs, quinoa is also one of the few complete proteins derived from plants. This means that quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids your body needs that it might not be getting elsewhere. Quinoa is not only a great replacement for rice, oats, or farro, but it is also a great source of protein to bulk up a salad or as a base in a bowl of veggies to give your meal more density. It is one of the most versatile things we can think of in our pantry—it truly does it all!

Along with all of its many health benefits, quinoa can help those of you meal preppers and planners. It can be cooked up early in the week and be saved for easy access all week long as the quinoa will stay intact for up to 7 days in the fridge. You can also freeze cooked quinoa for up to nearly a year (if you really want to show off those meal prepping skills—color us already impressed).

How to Cook Quinoa

How do we make sure you get the perfect, fluffiest quinoa each time? The trick is to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking. Most stores sell their quinoa “pre-rinsed”, but it doesn’t hurt to always do it yourself to be absolutely sure your end result is quinoa that is fluffy and full instead of mushy. Rinsing your quinoa will also make sure that bitter taste coming from the quinoa’s natural coating is washed away before cooking.

From there, cooking quinoa is similar to cooking a lot of other grains, like oats or rice. Here is how we make our quinoa recipe:

  1. Combine your water and quinoa. We like our water to quinoa ratio at a 2:1 (2 cups water for every 1 cup quinoa) to be sure you get that fluffy texture you are seeking.

  2. Let the water boil! Bring the combination of quinoa and water to a boil before covering it and bringing it to a gentle simmer.

  3. Wait for the magic to happen. This is where the heat and steam will work together to make you that fluffy quinoa we keep talking about.

  4. Once your time is up, fluff up that quinoa with a fork. Simply add some salt for flavor or dress it up in any way that makes sense for you and the dish you are using it for. Remember: quinoa is super adaptable, so you really can transform it into anything once it is cooked to perfection.

perfectly cooked, fluffy, white quinoa in a small sauce pan being fluffed with a fork

Tools You’ll Need

Now We Can Get Fancy! Add Your Favorite Flavors to Make Any Recipes With Quinoa Taste Good to You

Like we said before, quinoa is really something you can put in almost any meal at any time of day to incorporate more protein and nutrients into your diet. If you are a breakfast person and want to find a way to get quinoa into your diet that way, our Six Ingredient Breakfast Quinoa will hit the spot. Or maybe you are looking for something more savory, like our Curried Cauliflower Quinoa Salad or Quinoa Bowl for a hearty lunch or dinner-time shake up.

We’ve also compiled a list of the 30 Best Quinoa Recipes to really take your quinoa skills up a notch now that you have the fluffiest, perfect quinoa in your repertoire.

a close up view of perfectly cooked, fluffy, white quinoa in a small sauce pan being fluffed with a fork

We Want to See How You Cook Up Your Perfect Quinoa Recipe!

Now we want to see how you put your perfect quinoa into action! Snap a photo or video of your own perfect quinoa so we can see how you dress it up in whatever recipe you choose. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Perfect Quinoa

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  2 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 156


  • 1 cup quinoa (any color)
  • 2 cups water
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Pour the dry quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer or sieve. Rinse the quinoa under cold water.

  2. In a small saucepan set over high heat, add the quinoa and 2 cups of water, stir to combine.

  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave covered and allow the quinoa to steam for another 5 minutes.

  4. Remove the lid, fluff gently with a fork, season with salt and serve.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories156
  • Protein6 g
  • Carbohydrates27 g
  • Total Fat3 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium7 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

Perfect Quinoa

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    Perfect indeed! I used it to make a tex Mex style quinoa salad with black beans, avocado and a lime dressing.

    Thanks Jenn, glad it turned out well! Sounds like a yummy salad!