Cooking Quinoa in a Rice Cooker & Freezing it For Later
Quinoa is an excellent choice for anyone who’s looking for something that is super healthy, gluten-free, and easy to cook. With this little hack here, cooking quinoa in a rice cooker, you can indeed set it and go do something else. There’s no risk of overcooking or burning. You can even make larger batches and freeze cooked quinoa for healthy, gluten-free, make-ahead meals.
How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker
- 1 part quinoa
- 2 parts water (or broth for more flavor)
- Easiest method. Turn on and walk away.
- Works with cheap rice cooker
- Cooking time varies based on rice cooker used.
- Cook time varies from 20-30 minutes.
There are many different rice cookers out there, but all of them will do the job just fine. You won’t need any fancy rice cooker for this. The steps are the same for all rice cookers.
The amount of water to use when cooking quinoa is 2 to 1. Use 2 parts water and 1 part of the seeds.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups cold water
- Salt, a pinch
- Butter, optional
- Rinse the quinoa quickly under cold running water. Use a fine mesh sieve if you have one. This step is also optional for most quinoa.
- Mix the 2 cups of water, 1 cup of quinoa, salt, and butter (optional) into the rice cooker pan.
- Close the lid and set it to cook in the white rice setting.
- After it’s done cooking, fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Cooking Quinoa in Chicken Broth
I’ll have to admit, quinoa cooked in water is really dull. Try using chicken broth if you’re looking for a little more flavor (or you’re trying to convince picky eaters). Chicken broth isn’t the only thing you can use either. You can use any broth.
To use a broth for cooking quinoa, just replace the water with broth. For example, for the recipe above, use 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of quinoa. Or you can even use 1 cup of broth, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of quinoa for a lighter and healthier flavor.
How Long Does it Take in a Rice Cooker
The cooking time will vary between 20-30 minutes depending on your rice cooker. Many rice cookers will have different settings for white rice, brown rice, etc. If your rice cooker has these settings, just make sure to use the white rice setting. The brown rice setting will overcook it.
Can You Cook Quinoa with an Aroma Rice Cooker
I’ve been asked this question a few times, so I figure I’d answer this for those of you who may have the same question. My rice cooker that I use is made by Aroma. If you don’t have a rice cooker yet and you’re just starting out, then I recommend the Aroma for its low cost.
This rice cooker has a nifty delay feature. The delay feature is precisely what it sounds like, it delays cooking. I use this when I really want my quinoa freshly prepared. I will add all the ingredients to the pan and then set the delay. When I come back later, my quinoa is cooked fresh.
How Do You Know When It’s is Fully Cooked
If you’re new to quinoa, then you’re probably unsure about when quinoa is fully cooked. And that’s fine. I can guarantee you’re not the only one. My first few batches, I wasn’t so sure either. Sure, they were good enough that I was willing to eat them all, but I wasn’t sure if they’re were cooked correctly.
Telling when the quinoa is cooked is actually very easy. After a few times, you’ll be able to tell right away. Just check the following:
- Most of the seeds have popped open.
- The small kernels of the seeds are revealed.
- It’s soft and fluffy, not hard and crunchy.
Quinoa can be toasted before cooking to achieve a more profound, caramelized nutty flavor. Toasting is often done when cooking on the stove-top, but there you can use it with a rice cooker too.
- Roast the dry seeds in a pan over medium heat.
- Stir often to keep the seeds from burning.
- Toast until golden brown in color. Also, keep an ear out for popping sounds. Takes up to 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and follow the rice cooker instructions above.
Common Questions & Problems
Here are the answers some common questions that many people have when it comes to making quinoa. You’ll also find the causes and solutions to some common problems you may run into while make some yourself.
Should you let it rest before eating?
Yes, you should let the quinoa rest, covered, for about 10 minutes after cooking. Giving it time to rest gets you fluffier quinoa.
Should you wash before cooking?
Washing the seeds is optional because most seeds are already pre-washed.
Mushy quinoa is caused by two problems:
- Too much water
- Cooking too long
Following the 2-1 ratio works most of the time, but you may have to tweak the amount of water a little if they’re not turning out quite right. The cooking time will also vary based on your rice cooker. Check if you have different options available and experiment with them to see which one works best for you.
Quinoa that is too chewy is caused by three things:
- Not enough water
- Didn’t cook long enough
- Didn’t let it rest after cooking
Not using enough water, or not cooking the quinoa long enough will result in a much harder and chewier bite. Try adding a little bit more water.
Letting the quinoa rest after cooking will allow it to absorb the moisture and liquids back; getting you the softer bite you’re looking for.
Storing & Freezing
Cooked quinoa can be stored for later use if you don’t finish it or you’re making make-ahead meals. You can keep it refrigerated for up to four days. Make sure to keep it covered in a clean container.
For make-ahead meals, quinoa freezes exceptionally well. It actually freezes and thaws better than rice. There is no noticeable change in quality or texture.
To freeze quinoa in the freezer, just follow these steps:
- Let the quinoa cool down to room temperature.
- Place quinoa in freezer bags.
- Flatten the bags. Adjust the amount if there’s too much quinoa and you can’t flatten it properly.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible and close the bag.
- Stack the bags into the freezer.
So why flatten the bags? Having a thinner bag that is flattened will make it easier to store (because you can stack them and fit them into smaller spaces). It’s also much easier to thaw it out. Thawing a thinner bag of quinoa is faster. It will thaw evenly (so no more frozen center).
Another method that is a lot easier is to use a vacuum sealer. If you have a vacuum sealer, I highly recommend you use it.
Frozen quinoa will keep in the freezer for a month without any problems. I’ve read that you can keep it frozen for much longer than that, but I’ve never tried it myself. I have always just prepared it ahead of time for one month only.
The best way to thaw frozen quinoa is in the fridge. Let it thaw slowly overnight in the refrigerator to get the best quality and texture.
If you’re short on time or forgot then you can just leave a bag on the counter. Be sure to keep it far away from heat sources and have it in a clean container.
Once its thawed, you can heat up the quinoa in a pan. Add a tablespoon or two of water and heat it up over low heat.
Heating up is entirely optional. You can enjoy it cold if you want.
Now that you know how to cook quinoa in a rice cooker give it a try. You’ll find it so much more convenient. Healthy make-ahead meals are also easy since you can freeze cooked quinoa with no loss of taste or texture.