How to make fluffy quinoa in an Instant Pot

Some quinoa surrounded by vegetables and other items.
The Instant Pot offers a quicker way to cook quinoa. VICUSCHKA/Shutterstock

A pot of perfectly cooked quinoa is perfectly fluffy and filling, and you can quickly get that ideal consistency by making it in an Instant Pot. For Manali Singh, author of Cook With Manali, a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot is an indispensable kitchen tool. She explains that pressure cooking is an important part of Indian cooking – a cuisine that relies heavily on grains and legumes – and that her family uses the method to cook everything, from lentils to rice.

“My mom used her stove-top pressure cooker every single day, and that would be true of most Indian families,” says Singh. When the Instant Pot came along, she felt it was a no-brainer for everyday cooking for several reasons.

  • Quicker than the stovetop. To make quinoa on the stovetop, you’ll need to wait for the water to boil, cook the quinoa for 20 minutes or more, and let it stand for up to 10 minutes. In the Instant Pot, quinoa takes a total of 15 to 20 minutes to cook, including time to come to pressure and the pressure release.
  • Yields more consistent results. Singh appreciates that cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot delivers the same results every time. Because the timer automatically switches the pot to keep warm, there’s no risk of overcooking quinoa and ending up with a mushy mess.
  • No need to monitor it. “I can put the quinoa, set it to pressure cook and answer my emails, take a shower. I don’t have to wait to turn off the heat or watch the timer,” says Singh about the hands-free nature of the Instant Pot.
  • Involves minimal cleanup. There’s also no risk of water boiling over, meaning you won’t have to scrub away stuck-on gunk.

Instant Pot quinoa to water/broth ratio

You’ll need 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa when cooking in a pot. Because water doesn’t evaporate in an Instant Pot, you’ll need less of it than you would for stovetop cooking. While water is a good go-to for cooking quinoa, consider using chicken or vegetable broth for an even more flavorful result. Singh uses a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 1 and ¼ cup of water or broth.

Tips for the best Instant Pot quinoa

  • Toast for extra flavor. Add your preferred cooking oil to the Instant Pot, select the sauté mode, and lightly toast the quinoa until it starts to brown. Doing this brings out the nutty flavor of quinoa.
  • Add saffron to your quinoa. A bit of saffron goes a long way, says Singh. Adding this spice to Instant Pot quinoa is the easiest way to turn quinoa skeptics into quinoa lovers.
  • Think outside the box. Quinoa isn’t just an excellent base for salads. Use it to make fried “rice” and fritters, for example. One of Singh’s favorite ways to use quinoa is in khichdi, an Indian porridge that traditionally contains rice and lentils. She uses quinoa in place of the rice.
  • Add mix-ins. Quinoa can be fairly bland on its own, but Singh recommends mix-ins like peas, sweet potato, and chickpeas to add texture and flavor. Adding nuts and feta cheese to quinoa is another tasty option.

Insider’s takeaway

Quinoa is super simple to make in the Instant Pot. This hands-free method of cooking quinoa takes 20 minutes or less. For maximum flavor, rinse quinoa with water and cook it in chicken broth. Make sure to pressure release naturally to get that coveted fluffy texture.

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