Instant Pot Quinoa

February 20, 2020 By Aneesha |

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A foolproof method for making Instant Pot Quinoa that is virtually hands-off and produces fluffy, tender grains every time! It requires a 1-minutes pressure cooking cycle by following one of two methods – pot-in-pot cooking or the main pot. Serve it as a nutty, protein-packed base in breakfast bowls, salads, soups or side dishes.

best instant pot quinoa in a blue bowl garnished with cilantro

Fluffy and Flavorful Quinoa – The Instant Pot Method

I like to serve a lot of my Indian dishes with a side of white or brown rice. Each of them offers a startchy blank canvas to soak up those wonderful curries and sauces.

But since nourishing my family is one of my top priorities, I wanted to add a more nutrient-dense, protein-packed, plant-powered side dish.

Enter Quinoa. One of the most versatile grains in the pantry that offers a TON of nutrition and is naturally Gluten-Free, Vegan and Vegetarian.

I discovered cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot is just as quick and easy as rice. All you need is one-minute, a few minutes of hands-off time and you have fluffy and flavorful quinoa prepared in the Instant Pot.

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. It is a grain crop grown for those delicate, tiny, edible seeds. Technically, it’s a pseudo-grain, or in other words, biologically speaking it is a seed, but it is prepared and eaten as a grain.

According to Healthline, quinoa was an important crop in the Inca Empire. They believed it to be sacred and referred to it as the “mother of all grains.”

It comes in a range of colors – white (golden), red and black.

Now considered a superfood, there isn’t a grocery store or health food store that doesn’t carry it. It’s incredibly versatile, delicious, gluten-free vegan, vegetarian and especially easy to prepare.

A Tiny Superfood

The beauty of quinoa is it’s powerhouse nutritional make-up. It is known for being a complete protein (meaning it contains all the nine essential amino acids) and is rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

Why Is Quinoa Bitter?

Quinoa contains a natural outer coating called saponin. This is natural to the seed and is a protective agent. To rid of saponin, all you have to do is place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water for 30-45 seconds to wash away the coating.

Take note that many brands offer pre-rinsed quinoa, to rid of the bitter outer layer and save consumers a step in preparation. But I always rinse my quinoa, no matter what the package says.

Ingredients For Instant Pot Quinoa

fluffy instant pot quinoa in a blue bowl garnished with cilantro

Three ingredients is all it takes to make the fluffiest quinoa recipe.

  • Quinoa: One of the world’s healthiest foods. This tiny grain-like seed is a great base for many salads, soups, breakfast bowls, lunches and dinners.
  • Water: Water offers the cleanest flavor. If you live in an area that has hard water, make sure to use filtered water for the best results. That being said, you can always use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Be sure to skip the salt in that case.
  • Olive Oil: It is optional, but I like to add it as extra insurance to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bowl.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt brings out the natural nutty flavor of quinoa, so don’t skip it!

Which Brand Of Quinoa Is Best?

I prefer Bob’s Red Mill or Trader Joe’s. And recently, I tried Costco’s Kirkland brand Organic Quinoa and I’m loving that too. This is more about personal preference and what is available at my local supermarket.

There are a number of options in the bulk section of Whole Foods, too, so you can buy only the amount you need rather than committing to a whole bag. This is particularly good when you only need 1 cup of quinoa (like in our case today)!

What Can I Add To Quinoa For Flavor?

Rather than water, you can use a low-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable stock. If you use a regular, salted stock, simply omit the salt in the recipe.

To really up the nutritional value, a high-quality bone broth works wonders, too.

How Much Is A Serving Of Quinoa?

The average serving size of quinoa is 1/2 cup cooked. This recipe uses 1 cup uncooked quinoa, which will make approximately 3 cups. That’s enough for 6 servings.

How To Cook Quinoa In The Instant Pot

This recipe for Instant Pot quinoa will produce fluffy, tender grains every time. The quinoa-to-liquid ratio on the stovetop is 1:2. But when you prepare quinoa in the Instant Pot, you don’t need as much liquid since the Instant Pot seals in more moisture. That’s why I cook my quinoa in a ratio of 1:1 1/4. Which means, for every cup of quinoa, I use 1.25 cups of liquid.

Follow one of the two cooking methods below – Pot-In-Pot or the Main Pot. The 1-minute cooking time is the same for each, but the recipe steps are a bit different.

Pot-In-Pot Instant Pot Quinoa

quinoa in measuring cup with package, water rinsing quinoa in sieve, pouring water out of a mug in instant pot, placing bowl with quinoa on trivet in instant pot
  • Measure out 1 cup of quinoa. Place in a fine-mesh sieve, rinse and drain (pics 1 & 2).
  • Add 1-2 cups of water in your steel pot (depending on the size of your cooker). Place a metal trivet in the pot (pic 3).
  • Add the quinoa to an ovenproof bowl that fits in your pressure cooker, with about an inch of space all around and place the quinoa bowl on top of the trivet (pic 4).
pouring water over quinoa in instant pot, adding salt to quinoa in instant pot, quinoa covered with water in instant pot, hand sealing instant pot
  • Add water (or broth), olive oil (if using) and salt to the bowl and stir (pics 5-7).
  • Close the lid, set to ‘sealing’ (pic 8). Cook for 1 minute at HIGH pressure. Let the pressure release naturally, about 8-10 minutes.
fork fluffing quinoa in instant pot, forkful of quinoa from the instant pot
  • Open the lid after the pin drops. Gently fluff the quinoa with a fork (pics 9 & 10).

Instant Pot Quinoa In The Main Pot

  • Measure out 1 cup of quinoa. Place in a fine-mesh sieve, rinse and drain.
  • Add to the steel pot of your electric pressure cooker. Add water (or broth), olive oil (if using) and salt and give it a stir.
  • Close the lid, set to ‘sealing’. Cook for 1 minute at HIGH pressure. Let the pressure release naturally, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Open the lid after pin drops. Gently fluff the quinoa with a fork.

How Do You Know When Quinoa Is Cooked?

Quinoa has the unique characteristic of tiny ‘curled’ tails emerging from the seeds once they are fully cooked. Once you see these, you know it’s done! If you look at picture 10 close enough, you will be able to see!

Accurate Instant Pot Timing

Keep in mind that although the cooking cycle is only 1-minute, you must also factor in the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure as well as naturally release pressure.

In reality, this Instant Pot quinoa takes about 20 minutes from start-to-finish. But all you have to do is push a button and walk away. There is no waiting by the stove for the water to come to a boil or worrying if you burnt the bottom of the pot. That’s a win-win in my recipe book!

Freezing Quinoa

instant pot quinoa in a blue bowl garnished with cilantro

I love recipes that help me get ahead of the game and this Instant Pot quinoa is certainly one of them. The quinoa is a great make-ahead side dish or base and can easily be doubled or tripled to freeze for future use. To freeze:

  • Prepare the quinoa following the recipe (double or triple, if desired).
  • Cool completely.
  • Place 1-2 cup portions in freezer-safe containers or plastic storage bags, seal tight, label and date.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Defrost in the fridge overnight to use in breakfast bowls, salads, soups, pilafs or side dishes.

Recipe Tips For Instant Pot Quinoa

  • Rinse the quinoa. This washes away the bitter outer coating (as noted above) and produces a fluffier grain.
  • Make sure to use a fine-mesh sieve when rinsing. The holes in a colander are simply too big and the seeds will fall right through.
  • Easily double or triple the recipe. The 1-minute cooking cycle stays the same, just keep in mind the pot will take longer to pressurize, so the quinoa will take a few minutes longer.
  • Natural pressure release. Letting the pot release pressure naturally allows the quinoa to steam cook in gentle heat and results in fluffy quinoa. If a recipe with quinoa calls for quick pressure release, be sure that cooking time is more than a minute for it to cook through.

Quinoa Recipes From My Kitchen

More Recipes From The Instant Pot Basics Series

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best instant pot quinoa in a blue bowl garnished with cilantro

Instant Pot Quinoa

A foolproof method for making Instant Pot Quinoa that is virtually hands-off and requires a 1-minute pressure cooking cycle for fluffy, tender grains.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 1 minute
NPR: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 125kcal
Author: Aneesha Gupta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed in a sieve under running water
  • cups water or broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil optional
  • ¼ tsp salt

Equipment

Instructions

Pot-in-Pot Method in Instant Pot

  • Measure out 1 cup of quinoa. Place in a fine-mesh sieve, rinse and drain.
  • Add 1-2 cups of water in your steel pot (depending on the size of your cooker). Place a metal trivet in the pot.
  • Add the quinoa to an ovenproof bowl that fits in your pressure cooker, with about an inch space all around and place the quinoa bowl on top of the trivet.
  • Add water (or broth), olive oil (if using) and salt to the bowl and stir.
  • Close the lid, set to 'sealing'. Cook for 1 minute at HIGH pressure. Let the pressure release naturally (takes about 8-10 minutes).
  • Open the lid after the pin drops. Gently fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Instant Pot Main Pot

  • Measure out 1 cup of quinoa. Place in a fine-mesh sieve, rinse and drain.
  • Add to the steel pot of your electric pressure cooker. Add water (or broth), olive oil (if using) and salt and give it a stir.
  • Close the lid, set to 'sealing'. Cook for 1 minute at HIGH pressure. Let the pressure release naturally (takes about 8-10 minutes).
  • Open the lid after pin drops. Gently fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Notes & Recipe Tips

Recipe Tips For Instant Pot Quinoa:
  • Rinse the quinoa. This washes away the bitter outer coating (as noted above) and produces a fluffier grain.
  • Make sure to use a fine-mesh sieve when rinsing. The holes in a colander are simply too big and the seeds will fall right through.
  • Easily double or triple the recipe. The 1-minute cooking cycle stays the same, just keep in mind the pot will take longer to pressurize, so the quinoa will take a few minutes longer.
  • Natural pressure release. Letting the pot release pressure naturally allows the quinoa to steam cook in gentle heat and results in fluffy quinoa. If a recipe with quinoa calls for quick pressure release, be sure that cooking time is more than a minute for it to cook through.
Serving Size:
1 cup uncooked quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.  Average serving size is 1/2 cup, so this quantity should give you 6 servings.  Adjust based on your needs.
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.   
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates based on quinoa made with water and olive oil. The nutrition will vary based on the liquid you use. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Northern African, South American
Keyword: how to cook quinoa, instant pot quinoa, quinoa instant pot
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Savitri
    April 2, 2020 at 7:33 am

    5 stars
    Perfect quinoa with the “Instant Pot main pot” methode👍.

    For 4 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup for my 6 years old twin daughters and I together, so I have enough for in the refrigerator for 4 days):
    1½ cups quinoa
    2 cups water
    1 tbsp organic olive oil extra vierge
    ¼ tsp Himalaya salt

    Thank you Aneesha 😘

    Greetings from us 👩‍👧‍👧

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      April 4, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it. I love the convenience of cooking quinoa in the IP, fill it and walk way 🙂

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