Be it side, salad, or bowl, quinoa adds a hearty, healthy bite to countless dishes. Stress-free Instant Pot Quinoa steams to a perfect, fluffy consistency while freeing you up for other culinary pursuits. And while perfect for gluten-free and vegan diets, this sweet, nutty superfood is a crowd pleaser no matter the meal!
I assume that since it’s not EVERYWHERE anymore, the quinoa “fad” of the mid-2010’s has passed (publicly supplanted by cauliflower rice, no doubt), but you wouldn’t know it at my house. I put that sh*t on everything. Never having been a big fan of it (or frankly any other plain grain) as a stand-alone side dish, I grew to love quinoa as, basically, a topping.
These teeny tiny grainy bits delight me to no end. I’ve tossed them in with everything from leafy salads to slaws to roasted veggies to “mixed-media” bowls. They add the perfect amount of… not crunch, per se, but bite. Well, to be fair, before I perfected the technique of cooking it, it most certainly added crunch. Uncooked crunch.
Because like most grains (despite technically not being one), quinoa can be finnicky. And more finnicky than most since it performs like an unprocessed whole grain. For instance, if you’ve ever tried to cook wild rice, you know it takes approximately 36 hours and 12 gallons of liquid to get the texture right. And while not as drastic, my quinoa always seemed to be crispier than it was chewy.
Until I discovered the steam factor. And like lots of things with hard shells (crabs, anyone?) it’s the steam that coaxes out the full experience. So similarly to cooking up rice in your instant pot, all it takes is a little bit of faith to go hands-off. Well, that and your resident favorite food blogger to have slogged through several test runs. (And don’t worry – I ate all the test quinoa, crunchy or not!)
What is Quinoa?
Though technically the name of the entire plant, when we refer to quinoa in culinary terms, we’re actually speaking of its seeds. Unlike cereal grains (wheat, rye, barley) which come from grass, pseudocereal “grains” (quinoa, buckwheat, chia) are actually the seeds of flowering plants. So while technically not a grain, quinoa is often categorized as such (more specifically as a whole grain) because of the close similarity in property and function.
What does quinoa taste like?
Once you’ve rinsed away the bitter saponins (see below), cooked quinoa will feature a sweet, nutty flavor with slightly-herbaceous undertones.
Is quinoa healthy?
As “whole grains” go, yes, quinoa is considered healthier than most. Not only is it an excellent source of plant-based protein, it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and lower in carbohydrates than many of its grainy cousins. Plus, it’s “one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.” Huh. Who knew?!
Is quinoa gluten free?
It sure is! But as with any gluten-free foods, make sure to check labels for certification and avoid cross-contamination.
How to Make Quinoa in the Instant Pot
Superfoodies rejoice! My Instant Pot Quinoa recipe takes the guesswork – and manual labor – out of cooking one of our favorite “grains.” 20 minutes is all you need to achieve tender, fluffy quinoa that brings a nutty bite to an array of delicious dishes.
Two Things First!!
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the quinoa OR spray the inner pot with cooking spray.
- Rinse thoroughly!!
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cool running water, shake to release excess moisture, then transfer to the instant pot.
- Add oil, salt, and water (or broth).
- Program to 1 minute high pressure. It will take about 5 minutes for the pot to come to pressure.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally until the float valve drops completely – about 15 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and serve.
Tips for Picture Perfect Pressure Cooker Quinoa
- Rinse thoroughly – this is important! Quinoa grains have an outer protective coating called saponin. Left intact, it will create a bitter taste after cooking.
- Season with salt before cooking to infused flavor from the inside out.
- Don’t skip the oil! A bit of oil added to the instant pot will prevent foaming, which can interfere with pressure and also clog up your sealing ring.
- Double or triple the recipe without further adjustments.
Frequently Asked Questions
The quinoa is technically going to steam during the natural release process, so you only want to “cook” it for as long as it takes to bring the inner pot up to temp and boil the water for a very brief time.
Yes! This is actually how the quinoa “cooks” – it steams during the natural pressure release.
They’re about equal once you factor in time to pressure and time to cook/steam. However, the beauty of using the instant pot is that it’s entirely hands off. No checking, no stressing.
The quinoa to water ratio is 1:1 – one cup of quinoa to one cup of water (or broth) by volume.
Recipes to Use Instant Pot Quinoa
- Southwestern Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Sunbutter Sauce
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Cauliflower Shawarma Grain Bowl
- Salmon Quinoa Salad with Honey Soy Dressing
- Black Bean Quinoa Bowls
Did you make this instant pot quinoa? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Fine mesh sieve
- 1 c quinoa
- 1 c water, or broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil, see notes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Place the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve. Rinse well under cooling running water, shaking occasionally to toss the grains. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear. Shake to remove excess water, then transfer to the inner pot of an instant pot.
- Add the water (or broth), olive oil, and salt. Give the pot a little shake to distribute the water and quinoa into an even layer.
- Secure the lid and ensure the pressure valve is set to "sealing". Program the instant pot to HIGH pressure for 1 minute. It will take 5-6 minutes for the pot to come to pressure.
- Allow the pressure release naturally, until the float valve completely drops, about 15 minutes.
- Open the lid away from you to allow the steam to escape. Fluff the quinoa with a fork or spoon and serve or use immediately.