Apr 10

How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker

Quinoa Rice Cooker

I recently had the good fortune to win a Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker via the lovely bell'alimento. Though I was super excited to win it, I honestly thought it would be one of those gadgets that I used once or twice and then put on a high shelf to collect dust... I think we all have a few of those, right?

Much to my surprise, I've found that I've been using it nearly daily since it arrived on my doorstep!

What I didn't realize beforehand is that rice cookers are useful far beyond just preparing a simple batch of rice. I've had loads of fun experimenting with this wonderful gadget, and I'm excited to share some of my findings with you, starting with how to make quinoa in a rice cooker.

First of all, if you haven't tried quinoa yet, you really ought to ASAP. Yeah, I was skeptical too, but my family has quickly grown to love the nutty taste and firm texture. Some people don't care for it plain -- I happen to love it when it's prepared with chicken stock -- but either way, it's a fantastic base for a number of quick and easy side dishes, like this simple quinoa and cherry tomato salad I'm sharing on GoodLife Eats today.

Quinoa and Tomato Salad

While preparing quinoa in a rice cooker isn't necessarily a faster method of cooking quinoa, much like my beloved baked hard boiled eggs, it's a more hands-off cooking method, allowing me to focus my attentions elsewhere without worrying about pans boiling over.

My favorite brand currently is Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa. Their quinoa is pre-rinsed, saving me a step before cooking. If you purchase a different brand, be sure to check the package carefully to see whether it needs to be rinsed or not. If it does, simply place the amount of quinoa you're planning to cook in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly with cold water.

Quinoa In Rice Cooker

The cooking settings will vary based on your particular rice cooker. I'd consider the Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker to be the cadillac of rice cookers, with a lot of fun settings to play with. I typically just use the quick cook setting, and my quinoa is ready within about 30 minutes, including a few minutes of resting time that the cooker automatically builds in at the end.

For a standard rice cooker, a single cycle should be all that's needed to produce fluffy quinoa. One the cooking cycle has completed, allow the quinoa to rest for about 4-5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker

Yield: 2 cups cooked quinoa

How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary
  • 2 cups liquid (water, chicken stock, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Check the quinoa package to see if your quinoa needs rinsed. If it does, pour 1 cup of quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  2. Place quinoa, your liquid of choice, and salt into the rice cooker.
  3. I use the quick cook setting on my Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker, and then press the start button to start the cooking process.
  4. The rice cooker will beep after about 30 minutes, and your quinoa will be ready to serve.
  5. For a standard rice cooker without all of the bells and whistles, one cooking cycle should be enough to do it. Note that you should let the quinoa set for about 4-5 minutes after it's done cooking and then fluff it.
  6. Cooking Quinoa on the Stovetop
  7. To cook quinoa on your stovetop, simply follow the instructions for rinsing and place all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Let the quinoa set for about 4-5 minutes after it's done cooking and then fluff it.


Have fun experimenting with mix-ins both during and after the cooking process! I'll often add some lemon zest or a little curry powder to the liquid and quinoa while cooking, and then I stir in a few chopped fresh veggies from our weekly CSA delivery after cooking, while the quinoa is still warm.

When I'm lucky enough to have leftovers, I add them to my salad at lunch the following day. I'm not much of a leftovers fan, but I love leftover quinoa!

Have you tried quinoa? And if so, what's your favorite way to serve it?

Note: If you're looking for a budget rice cooker, I've heard that this Oster Rice Cooker is a good, basic model.

Breakfast Quinoa

Looking for something a little bit different? Try this delicious Breakfast Quinoa recipe filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and dried cranberries!

by Tara | 27 comments

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy April 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

I just have a cheapy rice cooker, but I do love it. I always hated to make rice because it always made such a mess to clean up. A rice cooker takes away all the hassel. Now, I can’t wait to try the Quinoa. I believe I have some up in my cabinet and I am going to give it a try right now and have your salad for supper! Thank you Tara!!!!


Melinda T April 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I love my rice cooker! We’re big on rice, (we’re Asian) and eat it at every meal, but as we’re trying to eat healthier, we’re cutting back on rice. I haven’t tried quinoa but will definitely try it in my rice cooker! TFS!


Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet April 11, 2013 at 11:34 am

How creative. I guess I better dust off my rice cooker! Looks delish Tara!
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Paula - bell'alimento April 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I can’t tell you how many times a week I use my Zojirushi rice cooker. It’s amazing and I’m glad you love yours too! xoxo
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Ali | Gimme Some Oven April 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Love the idea of making this in a rice cooker – brilliant! I use mine all the time for rice!


Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking April 11, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I love quinoa and now I’m banging my head against the wall. Why haven’t I thought to cook it in the rice cooker? Brilliant!
Thanks for the inspiration and thank you for the lovely comment left on my guest post (Meyer Lemon Tart) left on Sommer’s blog
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Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

What a fantastic idea!
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Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen April 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

I have a rice cooker coming and I can’t wait to try it out. This Quinoa will definitely be on the list!
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Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles April 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

I don’t have a rice cooker, and often wonder if I’d really like it and use it. It’s hard to give up cupboard space! I love the versatility you spoke of, and what a great way to cook up quinoa!
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marly April 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

I love my rice cooker but have never tried it with quinoa. Thanks for the easy steps to follow – I can’t wait to give it a try!
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Karen April 19, 2013 at 12:26 am

My Chinese sister in law gave me a great rice cooker.. but I hardly ever use it. I have a Pampered Chef rice cooker that works in the microwave, cleans up in a flash, goes in the dishwasher and I can mix and cook yummy lava cakes in it in the microwave in 13 minutes.


Tara April 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

That sounds like a great alternative, Karen!


Lauren @ Rustic Honey May 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm

This is a great idea! I love quinoa! I like to buy a plain, whole-wheat version and season it with garlic salt, basil and some parsley. It is delicious along with grilled meats and veggies! Thanks for sharing!


Angie May 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I’ve got to try this too! We love quinoa!
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Britni September 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Thanks. This was so helpful! I made it and reviewed your post on my blog. http://talenttoplay.blogspot.com/2013/08/tip-thursday-cooking-quinoa-in-rice.html
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Tara September 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thanks for sharing, Britni! I love how versatile quinoa is — definitely going to try your pilaf, yum!


Ute September 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Do you cover the quinoa with water like rice or do you only add the water in the lower part of the steamer?


Tara September 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

My rice cooker doesn’t have an upper and lower part — I just put the rinsed quinoa, liquid, and salt all in the bowl and then set it and forget it. It sounds like you would just cover the quinoa with the water like with rice for your steamer, Ute.


Christine November 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I’ve been addicted to quinoa for the last month. I cook it in Swansons Mexican Tortilla Broth. I serve it with black beans and/or chopped walnuts.

I just bought a rice cooker today.


David Schultz January 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

One of the secrets of cooking with quinoa is you don’t add salt until after you cook it. Salt will keep the quinoa from fluffing to its full potential. So you only add salt after the quinoa is cooked.


Tara January 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Thanks, David — I wasn’t aware of that!


Elle February 13, 2014 at 3:32 am

Thank you for the easy recipe! We make it every three days. You rock!


Elbe March 31, 2014 at 10:35 am

Thank you all very much! I love quinoa, but just never had the chance to cook it. I am going to cook it for lunch. Again, thank you all!


Alex April 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Ok, I’m a newbie on both quinoa and rice cookers, but I have to say that I love how easy it is to use… My question is if the cups measurements you mention are the rice cooker’s or regular?

Sorry if this is a dumb question but I have to ask.



Tara April 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

It’s not a dumb question at all, Alex! I used regular cups because I wasn’t sure if all the cups that come with a rice cooker are sized the same.


Ruth James May 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I love my rice cooker and use it often….mine has an insert tray so I can steam a few veggies with it……….like brocolli for the rice ;)


sjh July 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Thank you so much for the tip! It turned out perfectly.


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