How to Cook Quinoa to Replace Rice?

Quinoa cooked in this way makes a wholesome and healthier substitute for white rice. Great to pair with your curries and daals.

Quinoa Vs Rice

Quinoa is the seed of the goosefoot plant and a relative of beets and spinach. But it is known as a pseudocereal because it’s cooked and eaten like a grain and has a similar nutritional profile.

The health benefits of quinoa and brown rice are similar. They’re both gluten-free, a good source of minerals and fiber, and they both support healthy digestion. Either ingredient can be substituted for white rice in most recipes. They’re both nutritious ingredients that can complement a well-rounded diet, but quinoa has the edge.  It is a complete protein, while brown rice only contains a few of the essential amino acids. It also contains more nutrients overall, including iron and magnesium (though brown rice is richer in manganese and selenium). 

Maybe also interesting to you: How to cook the perfect brown rice?

Kinds of Quinoa Available in the Market

Quinoa has recently gained popularity and now I see it being available at many standard grocery stores. There are mainly 2 kinds of quinoa available at the grocery stores: white quinoa and tricolored quinoa. As the name suggests, white quinoa comprises of one kind of quinoa that is white in color. Tricolored quinoa comprises of white, red and black quinoa seeds mixed together. I get the organic one available at Aldi.

Quinoa stocked at Aldi (not sponsored/not paid)

Although both kinds of quinoa have great nutritional benefits, the tricolor quinoa is slightly richer because it contains three varieties offering various health benefits. The white one is fluffier and softer in texture, mimicking rice even closer. However, I don’t mind the mixed texture of the tricolored one and prefer it more often than the white one because of the added nutrients.

Three step to fluffy and flavorful quinoa

  1. Wash the quinoa thoroughly under running water: This step removes the bitter top layer from the quinoa seeds.
  2. Bringing water to boil: I add a few ingredients to the water which makes the quinoa aromatic and more flavorful. Bringing the water to a boil before adding quinoa makes it fluffier. The quinoa to water ratio should be 1:2. You can also use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water to make the quinoa even more flavorful.
  3. Cooking on low heat: The final step is putting a lid on and letting the quinoa cook on low heat for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes are up, open the lid and fluff with a fork. Your quinoa is ready to be served along with your favorite curry or rice.

How to Cook Quinoa to Replace Rice?

Learn to make fluffy and flavourful quinoa that goes well with your curries and daals.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 4 persons


  • 1 cup (or 180 grams) quinoa (tricolor or white)
  • 2 cups (or 450 ml) water
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  • Put the quinoa into a colander and wash it thoroughly under running water.
  • Add the water and the rest of the ingredients into a big pot. Bring it to a boil.
  • Add the washed quinoa and mix. Lower the heat and put a lid on. Let cook for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, open the lid and fluff the quinoa using a fork. Serve with any curry or daal of your choice.


  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and into the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
  • Using vegetable or chicken stock instead of water will enhance the flavors even more.
  • Quinoa could also be added into salads to make it more filling.
Keyword healthy rice substitute, quinoa, Quinoa recipe, rice substitite, wholesome meal ideas, wholesome recipe

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