Learning how to cook quinoa in Instant Pot is a must if you love this highly nutritious seed.
Compared to all other cooking methods, this is the quickest, most convenient way to serve up platters of flavorful quinoa. On the stovetop, it may take around 30 minutes for the seed to fluff up and be ready for consumption. With the Instant Pot, though, you can serve in less than 20 minutes, and it takes less work on your part.
Here is a detailed guide on how to prepare the perfect quinoa with your Instant Pot cooker.
What Types of Quinoa Should You Use?
Quinoa comes in several different types. You can distinguish one type from another via their coloring. There is white, red, and black quinoa.
Each type of quinoa has different nuances that sets it apart from the others. For example, white quinoa is milder and less crunchy than black quinoa.
There is also the popularity factor. Depending on where you live, you may find it easier to acquire one type of quinoa than another. White quinoa is the most popular and typically easiest to find, while black quinoa is the opposite.
All three types offer the same nutritional profile, so if it is healthiness that you’re after, you needn’t worry. Any quinoa will do the trick.
1. White Quinoa
White quinoa is the most popular type due to its delicate, mild taste and texture. It is also regarded as being fluffier than other types. All of this combined makes white quinoa far easier for most people to eat than other types. In addition, thanks to its light profile, white quinoa is often used as a rice substitute.
This type is also the quickest to cook. When placed in the Instant Pot, white quinoa will typically be ready to go in only 10 to 15 minutes.
In many localities, white quinoa is referred to as either “tan quinoa” or “yellow quinoa.” This is because white quinoa is not exactly white in color. Rather, it has a slightly tan or yellowish hue to it.
So, if you’re searching for white quinoa but can only find packages that say “yellow,” don’t worry— they’re the same thing.
2. Red Quinoa
You can distinguish red quinoa by its earthy red coloring. Once cooked, the quinoa turns dark brown.
Compared to white quinoa, the red variant has a bolder, more pronounced nutty flavor. Texture-wise, red quinoa is chewier and can hold its shape better once cooked. As a result, red quinoa is often the go-to type for salads.
The cooking time for red quinoa is about equal to that of white quinoa.
3. Black Quinoa
Black quinoa is the most difficult to find and takes the longest to cook (around 20 minutes). However, it is often considered desirable since it’s the crunchiest of the three. Its flavor also takes on a significantly stronger, more earthy profile.
How to Prepare
Quinoa is very similar to rice and can be prepared in roughly the same manner. Let’s take a look at the basics.
1. Do You Have to Rinse Quinoa?
The short answer is yes, you must rinse quinoa before cooking.
Rinsing the quinoa washes off any dirt or other residues still lingering on the seeds.
Additionally, raw quinoa that hasn’t been processed still contains a naturally-occurring outer coating made of a type of saponin. This chemical layer serves as the seed’s protection against birds and insects by giving the exposed seeds a bitter, soap-like taste. Therefore, if this layer is not stripped away, it will be very difficult for anyone to eat it.
As a matter of fact, many saponins are considered irritants. They can cause eye, respiratory, and gastrointestinal irritation. You may experience a stomach-ache if you consume unprocessed quinoa.
Saponins can be stripped by carefully rinsing the quinoa under running tap water for about 30 seconds.
2. How to Soak Quinoa for Instant Pot Quinoa
Soaking the quinoa can decrease its overall cooking time as well as improve digestibility.
Place rinsed quinoa into a large mixing bowl. For 1 cup of quinoa, fill the bowl with 2 cups of warm water.
Soak on the countertop for at least 2 hours. Or, if you plan far enough in advance, soak it overnight like you would with beans. Once done, drain the water and rinse the quinoa once more before cooking.
3. Unrinsed vs Rinsed Quinoa
At the store, you can opt to buy one of two types of quinoa: pre-rinsed or rinsed.
Pre-rinsed quinoa consists of raw seeds that haven’t been treated to eliminate the saponin coating. Thus, you will have to do the washing and scrubbing yourself.
Conversely, rinsed quinoa has been processed at the factory to reduce or even eliminate the saponins outright. But you still have to wash the quinoa regardless to remove any remaining residues.
Manufacturers will tell you on the packaging whether their products have been rinsed.
How Do You Cook Instant Pot Quinoa
Before you place your quinoa into the Instant Pot, spray the inner pot with either cooking spray or cooking oil. This will prevent the quinoa from clumping together. Plus, it will also make the pot easier to clean after you finish.
Put your rinsed or soaked quinoa into the Instant Pot and add water.
The trick to serving up perfect quinoa every time is to add just enough water. If the seeds absorb too much water, they’ll turn mushy and lose their flavor.
On the stovetop, most recipes will call for 2 cups of water to be added for every 1 cup of raw quinoa.
However, in an Instant Pot, the evaporation rate is far lower. Thus, you can get by with a 1:1 ratio (1 cup of water per cup of quinoa).
If you like your quinoa to be softer, use a 1.25:1 ratio. In other words, 1.25 cups of water per cup of quinoa.
Next, to strengthen the flavors of the quinoa, add 1 tbsp of kosher salt.
Put on the Instant Pot’s lid and seal the vent by turning the knob. Cook using the High Pressure setting for 1 minute.
Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally. Just leave the cooker alone once the cooking cycle has completed. As it cools down, the pressure will also drop. This can take around 10 to 20 minutes. When the floating valve has lowered, that means the pressure is low enough for the lid to be opened.
Drain the quinoa and allow it to rest for around 3 to 4 minutes. Resting will allow the quinoa to develop more texture.
Fluff up the quinoa with a fork or a spoon before serving.
Can I Use Frozen Quinoa for Instant Pot Quinoa?
Frozen quinoa should be thawed before use, after which it can be cooked in the same manner as above. There are many methods you can use to thaw a bag of frozen quinoa.
The simplest is to just take it out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature on the countertop for a few hours. Preferably, you should let it thaw overnight.
If you don’t have the time, you can instead put the bag (make sure that it’s microwave-safe) into the microwave and reheat for 45 seconds to a minute. The quinoa will still be slightly cold and there will be hints of frost on the seeds. Nonetheless, you can get to cooking immediately thereafter.
How Long to Cook Quinoa in Instant Pot?
1. Fresh Quinoa
All told, it takes around 20 to 25 minutes to cook fresh quinoa in an Instant Pot. Most of this time is attributable to the preparation steps. The actual cooking only takes around 11 minutes (1 minute cooking, 10 minutes for pressure to release).
2. Frozen Quinoa
If you already thawed your quinoa before cooking, it is going to take roughly the same amount of time as fresh quinoa. Expect the cooking time to range from 20 to 25 minutes.
However, if you reheat the frozen quinoa with the microwave, cooking time is going to be slightly longer. This is because the seeds are still quite cold by the time they go into the pot. The difference isn’t significant, though, so don’t fret.
Now that you know the theories on how to cook quinoa in Instant Pot, give it a try and make yourself a healthy dish!
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.