by Olena

Instant Pot Quinoa

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Olena Osipov
5 from 5 votes

Learn how to cook Instant Pot Quinoa in minutes! This complete, easy-to-follow guide will show you the different ways to use cooked quinoa, why you should be eating more of it, and how to get it perfectly fluffy every single time!

This naturally gluten-free ingredient is crazy versatile! It may have been trendy at one point, but it’s definitely been a staple in the vegan/vegetarian community for a very long time and it’s here to stay! Quinoa breakfast bake, Mediterranean quinoa salad and broccoli quinoa salad are just a few of the ways to enjoy it.

instant pot quinoa with a serving spoon

Quinoa in Instant Pot

Making Instant Pot quinoa is the easiest way to achieve perfectly fluffy quinoa that still has the right amount of texture to it. It cuts down the total time to just 13 minutes from start to finish and allows you to make a big batch all at once. Making quinoa pressure cooker takes so much of the guess work out of it because there is no need to adjust the cooking temperature, no worrying about boiling water, and no burning the bottom of any pots! It’s basically effortless and totally hands-off!

Once you have your quinoa all ready to go, you can use it for your quinoa granola or quinoa egg muffins in the morning, or for a kale and quinoa salad at lunch. Use it as a side dish like these quinoa falafels for dinner or separate it into smaller portions for meal prep for the week. Then, whatever you don’t use you can freeze for later.

Much like having perfectly cooked rice in the Instant Pot, getting the same results with quinoa is a game-changer. You won’t ever have to worry about how much water is too much, or how much is too little. You won’t even need to worry about whether or not it’s cooked right, because the Instant Pot is designed to figure that out for you. And it always comes through!

Why This Recipe Works?

  • Perfect fluffy quinoa every single time.
  • A quick and easy way to add lots of nutrients, protein, and extra fibre into your meals.
  • A superfood that can add lots of texture and heartiness to your vegetarian dishes.
  • Naturally gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free.
  • Very versatile so it can be used in a wide variety of dishes.
  • There is no waiting for water to boil which cuts down the overall cook time.
  • Takes the guesswork out of figuring out when you need to reduce the heat or turn off the pot.
  • Kids love this earthy, chewy, and crunchy little grain!
pressure cooker quinoa on a fork

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa, acts like a grain, but it is actually a seed. So, for the sake of argument, the majority of the population will refer to it as a grain…because if it walks like a duck…well, you get it!

It has many of the same nutritional components that grains do however, it is naturally gluten-free and also considered a whole protein. These little guys have a lot going on! It not only gets used as a low carb rice substitution, but also a replacement for cereal, oatmeal and really any other place you’d find grains.

Types of Quinoa

Believe it or not, there are over 100 types of quinoa. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on trying all of them! There are two main types, white and red, that are readily found in grocery stores, bulk food stores, and health food stores. The third type (black) is harder to come across and is mostly amongst the tri-color quinoa.

  • White quinoa: White quinoa (or ivory) is the most common quinoa. It is the quinoa you will see 95% of the time in grocery stores, restaurants, and friends’ homes.
  • Red quinoa: Red quinoa is rarer, its seed has a harder outer shell than white quinoa. Therefore, it requires a different cooking time and method. Red quinoa also has more earthy and has a sweeter taste.
  • Tri-colour quinoa: While I haven’t tried cooking tri-color quinoa in the Instant Pot, judging by the looks of many brands it consists of 66% of red and black quinoa. Therefore, I recommend cooking it using the red quinoa Instant Pot method.
  • Nutritional differences between red, white and black quinoa varieties are minimal.
white and red quinoa in a bag

How to Cook Quinoa in Instant Pot

If you are new to pressure cooking, check out my Instant Pot guide. If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet but are thinking about buying one, I explain which Instant Pot to buy.

  • Quinoa to water ratio: 1 cup quinoa : 1.25 cups cold water. Add salt and stir.
  • Cook: White quinoa on high pressure – 1 minute. Red quinoa on low pressure – 12 minutes or press the Rice button.
  • Release pressure: White quinoa – Natural release. Red quinoa – Quick release.

Tips for No Fail Pressure Cooker Quinoa

  • I tried 1 cup quinoa : 1.5 cups water – total mush. Using less water (but not too much less) makes sense because the Instant Pot captures more of the steam which makes for more condensation and less evaporation.
  • Quinoa on its own has an earthy slightly nutty taste, but overall can be pretty bland. Therefore, adding a bit of salt will give it a little depth of flavor. If you will be adding it to a recipe that already requires salt, you may want to hold off on adding it in.
  • Pre-packaged quinoa usually comes already rinsed, but there is no harm in running it underwater again. There is something called saponin that coats the quinoa, and to eat it is extremely bitter (and altogether gross), so you want to get that off!
  • The cook time remains the same, no matter how much you make!

Add-ins and Variations

  • To add even more flavor, you can swap the water for low sodium broth or highly nutrient-dense bone broth.
  • Making a complete side dish all at once is super simple just by adding a few added ingredients as soon as you open the lid. Try a sprinkling of parmesan cheese or feta. Maybe some frozen peas and corn, diced olives, kernels of corn, or shredded chicken. If you’re making it a breakfast meal, try a dash of cinnamon, and a handful of raisins, and some slivered almonds for crunch.
quinoa and water in measuring cups
instant pot display with different cooking times and cooked quinoa

FAQs

Is quinoa healthy?

I can honestly say we love quinoa and not just because of its taste or texture. It’s because it is such an easy way to eat healthy on a budget! Quinoa is a seed but nutritionally it’s considered a whole grain. It is also one of the very few plant-based foods that are a source of complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids.
Quinoa is also high in antioxidants, fiber, iron, manganese, and vitamins B. Source – Medical News Today.
So yes, quinoa is very healthy!

Should I soak my quinoa?

Sometimes people soak their grains for a period of time, especially if they have a difficult time digesting and absorbing certain foods. Soaking allows for maximum mineral withdrawal and breaking down of certain proteins. However, when there is no gluten involved (such as quinoa) and you typically don’t have a difficult time digesting your grains, there is no need to presoak your quinoa.

Does it really take just 1 minute?

Ok, so I guess by now you’ve figured out that 1 minute refers to the actual cook time of the white quinoa. So, the answer to that is yes! Of course, if you are considering the time it takes for the pressure to build up and the time it takes to naturally release, then the complete and total time is 13 minutes. This is still SO MUCH FASTER than any other method, even my quinoa stovetop method!

Ways to Use Cooked Quinoa

Need more inspiration? Check out 30 quinoa recipes because there is sure to be something for everyone!

Making Quinoa in Advance

  • Storing: Refrigerate quinoa in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Fluff with a fork before serving.
  • Freezing: Cooked quinoa freezes beautifully, once it has completely cooled. Just portion out desired amount and freeze in airtight containers for up to 3 months. I usually measure out enough quinoa to serve 4 of us as a side for one dinner.

More Instant Pot Recipes

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Instant Pot Quinoa

Instant Pot Quinoa {Perfect Every Time}

Learn how to cook Instant Pot Quinoa in minutes! This complete, easy-to-follow guide will show you the different ways to use cooked quinoa, why you should be eating more of it, and how to get it perfectly fluffy every single time!
5 from 5 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 156kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white or red quinoa uncooked
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • In Instant Pot, add quinoa, water and salt.
    Instant Pot Quinoa
  • Close the lid and set pressure vent to Sealing.
    Instant Pot Quinoa
  • Cook White quinoa: Press Pressure Cook on High for 1 minute. Red quinoa: Press Pressure Cook on low (change pressure with Pressure Level button) for 12 minutes or press Rice button.
    Instant Pot Quinoa
  • Pressure Release White quinoa: Natural release –  let pressure come down on its own until pin drops (about 13 minutes). Red quinoa: Do quick release – turn pressure vent to Venting right after cooking is done.
    Instant Pot Quinoa
  • Open the lid and fluff quinoa with a fork.
    Instant Pot Quinoa
  • Serve as a side to go with a curry, stir fry or lean protein. Small shaped quinoa is perfect to soak up the juices of baked chicken and peppers or whole chicken. Add leftover quinoa to a soup at the very end, use in a meal prep or OMG quinoa salads! Quinoa makes the best salads ever!
    Instant Pot Quinoa

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in a fridge or on a counter.

      Notes

      Tip: While I haven’t tried cooking tri-color quinoa in Instant Pot, judging by the looks of many brands it consists of 66% of red and black quinoa. Therefore, I recommend to cook it using red quinoa method.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2mg
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      17 comments on “Instant Pot Quinoa

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      1. 5 stars
        I just used your recipe for my tri-color quinoa w/ the pressure on low for 12 minutes like you said plus the quick release & it came out perfect! It looked so pretty & colorful & the texture & consistency was exactly the way I like it. Thank you!

      2. 5 stars
        What a time saver! Always perfect quinoa! Success with tri-color quinoa too, cooked it for 1 min plus natural release for 14 min. Black quinoa a bit crunchy but we like it in salads that way, for extra texture 😉 Thank you Olena!!!

      3. If I make 3 cups of white quinoa and adjust the water accordingly is it still 1 minute cook time?

      4. Hi Olena! I am hoping you might be able to provide some ideas and instructions on how to give the quinoa different flavour when cooking it? My family really dislikes the natural taste of quinoa but we want to use it more because it’s healthy! Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

        1. Cook in low sodium broth and sprinkle with cheese after. Like Parmesan or gooey mozzarella. Everything tastes better with cheese. Hope it flies. 🙂

      5. Hi,
        I have a question bc am new to IP and I soak my grains before making. Occasionally I skip that step if it’s sprouted or if it’s only alternative to eating food like substitute

        Is there a way to make quinoa and other grains after soaking in IP?

        I understand pressure cooking can slightly reduce nutrients but am also human and can’t always plan perfectly as life happens.

        Thank you

      6. 5 stars
        Olena, I just love your stuff! I doubled it, so 2C white quinoa and 2.5C DIY broth, added a few bay leaves and a seasoning blend, did 2 minutes high pressure, natural release, and yeah, no watching, no nothing, and when I got out of the shower, it was done and waiting for me. And perfect! I cooked in IP yesterday a pound of soaked cranberry beans (the bean broth will make a future pot of quinoa), so I put in a bowl a layer of cold beans and lots of hot quinoa and some DIY dressing, I’ve got a meal, I tell ya!

        1. Awesome! I know, right?! I love not watching anything with IP. Were too scared to do 1 minute?:) So happy you are hooked too! I have so much quinoa now after testing, I will be making lots of salads I guess. What are cranberry beans? Your meal sounds delish. I love all those quick throw together bowls.

          1. Just seeing this now on 7-7-19! The reason I doubled the time is because I doubled the quantity. Same 1 minute of high pressure on the larger quantity, huh? Well, I came here today because I’m making quinoa and wanted to check your instructions, so I will keep this page open and report back later!

            I am on the 4th day of eating left-over healthy potato salad and I love it more each day!

            1. 5 stars
              3 cups of heavily rinsed and squeezed quinoa to just a tad under 4 cups of DIY broth. No spices or bay leaves, which was stupid of me. It’s PERFECT using 1 minute of high pressure. It finished NR in maybe 10 minutes and I didn’t go look until 40 minutes. Great instructions, Olena!

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