Q :

What Does Quinoa Taste Like ? And how to make it better

A :

Considering that quinoa is a seed, it actually has a gritty texture to the touch. However, after its cooked, it has a softer, yet pleasantly-crunchy texture to it.

As far as flavor goes, it has been commonly described as a nutty, earthy, and heartier rice. While it has its own earthy flavor to it, it is one of those ingredients that soaks up any flavors/herbs/spices you decide to use, making it a versatile addition to any dish.

What Does Quinoa Taste Like ? And how to make it better

Further information

I’ve heard it tastes bitter, is this true?

It’s true that when prepared improperly, Quinoa can taste bitter. To prevent the bitter taste all you need do to is rinse, or soak, it prior to cooking.

Seems suspiciously simple, right? Perhaps, but Quinoa itself is not bitter.

In fact, the grain has a natural coating of saponin which causes the bitter taste. Once this is rinsed off you’re left with the nutty/earthy flavor that it’s known for.

Interesting fact: the saponin is thought to be the grains natural defense mechanism against being eaten by birds.

How to improve the taste

Rinse it

As mentioned above, rinsing will remove any saponin and therefor the bitter taste.

Toast it

Like many nuts and grains, quinoa tasted better when toasted.

To toast quinoa, simply add it to saute pan and cooking over a medium heat until it browns. For more information checkout this guide.

Cook it in a vegetable broth

If you find the taste bland even after toasting, you’re going to have to mix it up. Vegetable broth is full of flavour so try cooking it in that.

Use less water

It’s commonly recommended to use a 2-1 water ratio when cooking quinoa.

If you’re adding more than that try cutting back the water to find your preference.

There are plenty of people out there who prefer as low as a 1-1 ratio, so don’t be afraid to cut right back when experimenting.

Further information

A brief history of quinoa

According to the Whole Grains Council (yes, that’s a thing), quinoa is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate and whole protein source.

However, while quinoa is commonly referred to as a whole grain food, it is actually a sprouted seed that cooks similarly to barley, rice, or some other whole grain. 

The quinoa as we know it is a seed that comes from the Chenopodium quinoa plant and has been harvested for centuries. In fact, it actually has a pretty majestic history. 

The earliest harvesting of quinoa occurred with the Incas in the mountains of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, where it was a staple food for the people and one of their primary food sources in general.

Moreover, it was also considered a sacred crop to the Incas, who affectionally called it chisaya mama, which loosely translates to “mother of all grains”. 

Is quinoa nutritious?

Very. Quinoa is commonly considered to be a superfood, and for good reason.

In just one cup of cooked quinoa, you can expect to receive the following nutrient profile: 

  • 222 calories
  • 39 grams (g) of carbs
  • 8g of protein
  • 6g of fat
  • 5g of fiber
  • 1g of sugar