I Tried Making Quinoa in the Rice Cooker and My Life Is Changed for the Better

updated Oct 4, 2019
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Credit: Grace Elkus

I live by a rule most home cooks in New York City have to adhere to: Everything in my kitchen must serve more than one purpose. There was a brief (although very delicious) period of time where I owned a Yonanas “nice cream” maker, but it soon hit the curb. I simply couldn’t justify giving up precious real estate to a large appliance that solely turned bananas into ice cream (which can be done with a food processor). Other single-use gadgets have met similar fates.

The one exception has been my rice cooker. For years, I’ve only made rice with it. But it’s just so darn easy and reliable that I’ve given it a pass. Recently, however, I discovered I could cook quinoa in my rice cooker, which not only helps justify keeping it in my kitchen, but has also revolutionized the way I meal prep.

Credit: Grace Elkus

Here’s How (and Why) to Cook Quinoa in Your Rice Cooker

Unlike rice, which gives me all sorts of problems on the stove (although I do find the knuckle method to be pretty reliable), quinoa is a straightforward grain (seed, really) to cook with. Rinse it, put it in a pot with some water, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then let it steam off the heat. Boom, you’re done!

But while that method isn’t difficult, it does require monitoring, and it also takes up room on the stove. When I’m meal prepping, I’m often making multiple things at once, so anytime I can throw something into the Instant Pot, slow cooker, or (now) the rice cooker, I’m grateful — and less likely to accidentally scorch something. Even when I’m just cooking quinoa for a weeknight dinner, I find myself turning to my trusty rice cooker.

The best part is, you don’t have to memorize a new ratio — you’ll use the same exact one you use to cook quinoa on the stove: 1 cup quinoa to 1 3/4 cups water. Simply rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, drain it, and add it to the rice cooker with the water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir, close the lid, then turn it on — it will cook the quinoa automatically and turn off when it’s done (this takes between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on your rice cooker). After it shuts off, let the quinoa steam for a few minutes to allow any last bits of moisture to absorb. Then open the lid, fluff, and serve! You’ll have about three cups cooked quinoa.

My rice cooker quinoa turns out delicate and perfectly fluffy (never mushy!) every single time. I love it for salads, grain bowls, and chili, too. For an added boost of flavor, try cooking it in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water.