How to Fix Undercooked Quinoa

September 19, 2022
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Additional Water Can Sometimes Save Your Quinoa

Due to its nutritional value, many people have discovered quinoa as an alternative to rice and pasta. Quinoa is very similar to farro and has often been referred to as a “pseudo-grain” since it’s not actually a grain but a seed from the goosefoot plant, related to spinach, chard, and beet.

Quinoa contains a complete amino acid profile (the nine essential amino acids), which means it is high in protein and fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron and manganese.

Many people with Celiac disease or gluten allergies love the taste and benefits of quinoa. It is naturally gluten-free, has a chewy texture with a nutty flavor, and comes in various colors—black, yellow, red, and white. It is easy to cook and can be used along with many other foods when cooking or baking.

Photo of Rows of Quinoa Growing in a Field

Quinoa Growing in a Field

However, because it’s a seed, it’s easy to undercook quinoa, leaving you with undercooked, crunchy seeds. Many people ask how to fix undercooked quinoa. Is there a remedy, or is it ruined?

All is not lost. Yes, there is a remedy. And it’s a pretty easy remedy. In this article, discover more information about how to cook quinoa perfectly every time while learning a few other delicious ways to eat the popular seed.

How To Fix Undercooked Quinoa

For some of us, quinoa is similar to microwaving popcorn in a bag. We think it’s all popped, but to our surprise, we find many kernels unpopped or uncooked. But that’s why quinoa is a seed and not a grain. It cooks similar to other seeds. And unfortunately, that means it can often be undercooked.

To fix undercooked quinoa, simply add more water. Add ¼ cup of water to the quinoa. Place a lid and cook it on high for a couple of minutes. Leave the lid on at all times. Once it has cooked for a couple of minutes, remove the pan from the stove, and steam the quinoa for 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid and lightly stir your quinoa with a fork and enjoy!

If that doesn’t fix the undercook quinoa, add more water and continue the same process. Be sure to add enough water to the quinoa. Not enough water can lead to undercooked quinoa.

Can You Eat Quinoa Raw or Uncooked

Since many ask how to fix uncooked quinoa, another question may arise—can you eat quinoa Raw?

Photo of Quinoa in a Wooden Bowl

Quinoa is a Seed and is Delicious When Prepared Properly

There’s nothing officially that says you can’t. People eat watermelon seeds, popcorn seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. So, there’s no real harm in eating raw quinoa seeds.

However, before you eat anything raw, you should always thoroughly rinse it under warm water. Any food, specifically grains or seeds, can be bitter-tasting due to contamination from the residue of natural pesticides. You don’t want any pesticide buildup in your system. That can be harmful over a period of time.

Even though nothing says we can’t eat dry quinoa, the seed is more edible when you mash them before eating them raw. Quinoa is safer when it has sprouted. A moist environment can cause bacterial growth in the raw seeds when it's in its raw form.

In essence, quinoa is a seed that should be thoroughly cooked so you can enjoy all the nutritional values, not to mention the delicious flavor it provides.

How To Avoid Bitter-Tasting Quinoa

When quinoa is uncooked or raw, it will often have a bitter taste to it. Another way to fix uncooked quinoa or to prevent a bitter taste is to simply rinse it in cold running water for a minute or until the water is clear.

Use a mesh strainer since quinoa seeds are very small. While rinsing, sort the seeds with your fingers, ensuring they get properly rinsed. Once the water is clear, shake out the excess water and repeat the steps on how to fix uncooked quinoa.

How To Cook Quinoa Perfectly

There is one very important thing to remember to prevent undercooked quinoa. Never remove the lid while cooking quinoa. Never. Not even for a little peak.

Remember, the popcorn kernels. Like quinoa, popcorn is a seed. If you cook popcorn in a pan on the stove and remove the lid, you’ll interfere with the process, and the kernels will end up all over the place.

It’s the same with quinoa. Continuing to lift the lid allows steam to escape, which causes the quinoa to be uncooked or half-cooked. To avoid a bitter taste, be sure to rinse or drain the quinoa. And don't be concerned if you see something that resembles a white “tail” when the quinoa is fully cooked. The tail is where all the nutrition lies.

Don’t be in a hurry to eat your quinoa. Instead, let it sit for a few minutes before you serve it. This allows it to retain that perfect texture.

For that perfect quinoa, follow this recipe.

  • 1 cup of rinsed and drained quinoa
  • 1 ¾ cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • A dash of olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. In a medium-sized pan, stir the quinoa, water, sea salt, and olive oil together.
  2. Put the lid on your quinoa and turn the heat to high.
  3. Bring the quinoa to a boil. Leave the lid on.
  4. Be careful that steam does not escape the pan.
  5. Once it boils, turn the heat to low and simmer it for 15 minutes.
  6. After you let it sit for 15 minutes, remove your quinoa from the heat and fluff it with a fork. Place it back in the pan and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Alternative Cooking Method

You can also cook quinoa in an Instant Pot. This is a sure-fire way to ensure you won’t continually check on your quinoa!

For Instant Pot quinoa, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups water (or broth of choice for more flavor)

Cooking Directions

  1. Add quinoa and water to the Instant Pot and stir to prevent sticking. Cook on high for 3 minutes.
  2. Once the timer goes off, allow to naturally release for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.

It’s as simple as that for perfectly cooked quinoa! There are many other alternative cooking methods you can use to cook quinoa: in a pressure cooker, air fryer, or rice cooker.

Pop Quinoa

You can pop quinoa like popcorn.

  1. Turn the stove to medium-high heat and put a six-inch deep pot on it.
  2. When the pan is hot, place enough quinoa in it to cover the bottom of the pan. Then, place just a single layer over the bottom.
  3. Turn the heat to medium.
  4. Cover and shake the pot to ensure the heat evenly reaches the seeds.
  5. Allow some steam to escape by slightly raising the lid a few times.
  6. Just like popcorn, continue shaking the pan until the seed pops.
  7. Pour the quinoa seeds on a plate or baking sheet to cool.
  8. Season as desired.

Variety Is the Key

As mentioned before, quinoa comes in various colors—red, black, yellow, and white. If you like more of a mild flavor comparable to white rice, white and yellow quinoa will give you that. If you want a slightly more robust flavor comparable to brown rice, red and black will offer you that. Red and black tend to hold their shape better than lighter colors.

Photo of Red White and Black Quinoa

Red, Black and White Quinoa

You can find a mix of all four types of quinoa, which has a similar appearance to wild rice. So, it's an excellent choice if you want to make your recipe more visually and texturally appealing.

Ready To Serve

Once you learn how to fix undercooked quinoa, you can serve quinoa in a variety of ways. You can serve it as a breakfast cereal. You can mix it with fruit or nuts. You can use it as a substitute in fried rice recipes. You can create your own quinoa salad recipe. The sky’s the limit!

However you decide to get your quinoa fix, you’ll be sure to enjoy it by following the instructions in this article.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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