Basic Quinoa (soaked)

Quinoa is a nutritious, gluten-free pseudo-grain that is delicious. We eat it like rice, topped with butter and sometimes naturally fermented soy sauce. We make quinoa “bowls”, topping the quinoa with salsa, avocado, Mexican beef, or fried eggs. It’s a versatile ingredient.

I love eating quinoa, especially quinoa that has been soaked. (I share about the “whys” of that process here).  I find it softer on the stomach and, after a long soak over night, I think that it’s easier to rinse off the bitter saponins that coat them. Since we like eating quinoa a lot, I often soak large batches of it, and then reheat it as needed.

This recipe is a good example of how to soak whole grains. I do rinse my soaked whole grains. I know that some of you have mentioned the idea of it being better to rinse grains. Historically, it seems like methods of soaking/fermenting grains differed. Some may have been rinsed, others, like sourdough wouldn’t have been. However, I rinse my whole grains after the soaking period to remove any sourness. And in quinoa’s case, they need to be well rinsed to remove the bitter tasting saponins.

To be the most accurate in liquid amounts, you should drain and measure the soaking liquid and add that amount (in new water) to the liquid you add to cook with. However, with quinoa, I’ve found that it absorbs most of the soaking water, and then retains some of the rinsing water, so the following measurements work well for  me.

Basic Quinoa (Soaked)

    2 cups of quinoa
    2 cups of warm filtered water
    2 tablespoons of yogurt, whey, kefir, kombucha, raw apple cider, etc
    2 cups of filtered water
    1 teaspoon unrefined salt

1. In a glass or non-reactive bowl, place the quinoa and first two cups of warm filtered water and 2 tablespoons of the live cultured, acidic addition. Cover and place in a warm place for 12-24 hours. You can soak longer then this, which is especially helpful for those with digestive issues. Just make sure you change the soaking water every 12-24 hours.

2. When you are ready to cook the quinoa, strain the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well, until the water runs clear. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the quinoa, otherwise it can be bitter.

3. Add to a medium pot with the last two cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover, and cook for about 12-15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    I came across you site the other day. I’m always looking for gluten free and healthy recipes. I love that I’ve found your blog~ so much so, that I am nominating you for The Versatile Blogger Award! I hope you will accept it. Keep up the great work!!

  2. sarah W says

    I was wondering if you believe the quinoa package when it says it doesn’t need to be rinsed? (Mine says this pretty explicitly.)
    I am also wondering if you are familiar with the accelerated fermentation technique and have you ever tried it with other grains? The last time I made quinoa, I used some of my fermented rice water to innoculate it instead of whey or lemon juice, etc. Don’t know if it did anything, but I gave it a shot!

    • lauren says

      i know that the reason you rinse rice is because of arsenic… but i’m sure it’s cleaner if you rinse anything… why wouldn’t they want you to?

  3. says

    I have a bag of quinoa that is expired. :/ I sprouted it not too long ago and it sprouted just fine so I’m assuming it’s ok. Do you think it would be ok to eat with this recipe?
    Thanks! Love your site!

  4. Karen says

    I am learning a lot from you and your other readers about soaking grains (as well as other subjects). It had never occurred to me before. My question is how warm is warm? If I soak overnight the house will get down to about 62 degrees. During the day it may be up to 68 degrees. These are winter temps. I just need an idea. I have a proofing drawer that will stay warmer for 4 hours then turn off but the temp is adjustable from 70 degrees up to about 200 degrees. Or, I could heat the oven slightly and then just close the door. Thanks for giving some guidance.

  5. foodsheal123 says

    I’ve tried quinoa, but even when I cook it for 20 minutes it comes out a bit crunchy (even after being soaked). Is that the texture that you get, as well?

      • Sarah W says

        Yes, I get organic quinoa from Costco. Definitely the best price in my area (about $2.50/lb, IIRC as opposed to $4/lb elsewhere.) It also says it does not need to be rinsed, and I have prepared it without rinsing and it has tasted fine to me (no bitter taste.)
        I’d say that in my experience quinoa does always have a bit of a crunchy texture to it… it’s a bit al dente. But when I’ve made the NT quinoa casserole, I think it got very mushy.

  6. says

    This worked well, I thought! The quinoa was softer (mushier?) than when I hadn’t soaked it. Is there any way to make it fluffier but still get the benefits of soaking?

    • says

      oh… never mind. I have done this twice since my first comment, and when I paid closer attention to the amounts of water, it turned out great!!

  7. Nikki says

    Do you happen to know when baby’s should be introduced to quinoa? I’m trying to follow Super Nutrition for Babies (Erlich) with him, but I don’t think she mentioned quinoa in the book. She does recommend holding off on all grains until 1, and then slowly introduced non-wheat grains until 18 months or 2 years. Thanks!

    • says

      Quinoa is like a lentil or bean. As soon as you introduce food to a child you can give this to a child. Quinoa makes a great oatmeal version too. For babies it’s high in protein.

      • Rachael says

        According to Sally Fallon and the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, legumes should not be consumed until the baby is 1 year old. Then they should be soaked and served with healthy fats. Quinoa is hard to classify though. It isn’t officially a legume or a grain due to how it grows. Although it is used in similar applications as both. To be safe I’d say wait to give to baby until they are at least 1 year old. If your opinion is that quinoa resembles a grain more than a legume, then wait longer. 18 months -when first molars appear.

  8. says

    Do you have any tips for cooking quinoa and millet so they come out less mushy, more like rice, where grains are less sticky?

    Your site is my go-to for my clients who need tasty and healing cooking ideas. I appreciate your information.

    • says

      The best way to cook Quinoa so it comes out like rice is to cook it in that same method. Use broth not water. Start your pot out with some olive oil, add your quiona, add garlic for taste and then add just enough broth so it covers the quinoa, add salt for taste. Leave on high until you see the water boil and then lower the heat to temp 4 and watch it cook. Quinoa is dry so you have to add a fatty oil to it to make it come out fluffly. When the water is a bit reduced move the outside part of the grain into the middle and cover again, taste it, if it’s really crunchy you didn’t add enough broth in the beginning. If it’s semi soft then just wait a bit more till the water evaporates a bit more so you can see if you need to add more broth. Good luck!

  9. Lucy says

    Hi! I am an absolute beginner when it comes to quinoa, and have been trying to find seeds to plant some myself. That and amaranth. I found a Canadian website, but there was a message saying they could no longer sell to the U.S.
    Just wondering if anyone knows of a source for seeds in the U.S., and/or whether I can actually plant the seeds I buy from health food stores.

  10. Tiffany says

    Okay, So I did this and I ended up soaking it about 48 hours but I did change the water once. We don’t have terrible digestive issues but it’s not perfect so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to soak it this long. I didn’t cover it and maybe that was the problem. Anyway just to let everyone know my experience – I cooked it in the rice cooker and put it in the fridge and ate it the next day. I had a good amount of fresh and cooked non-starchy veggies with it – about 80% of my plate. About 1 hour later, I drank a glass of unsweetened pomegranate juice. And about 1 hour after that I FELT TERRIBLE. I threw up my whole dinner and my body didn’t feel right until it was alllllll out (which took all night). I don’t know if I accidentally fermented the quinoa (which is supposed to be better, right?) or if the juice on the meal was bad. My husband and baby who also at the quinoa didn’t throw up but had a touch of diarrhea (which I had also)…ANY IDEAS are appreciated. Next morning, we all feel OKAY now but still not 100%.

  11. Penny says

    Hi! My quinoa have been soaking for less then 12 hours in water and apple cider vinegar, and they are sprouting! This is my first time sprouting anything other then chickpeas. Do I cook them right away?

  12. Candace Cesarz says

    Hi! I just came across this recipe for soaked quinoa when another site I was reading had a link to this. Is it OK to use naturally fermented sauerkraut water for the “live cultured, acidic addition” to the soaking liquid? Thanks!

  13. Julie says

    Soaking some quinoa using your ‘recipe’ just now and noticed it says to soak in a warm place. 1) How much does a warm place really matter? and 2) If it does, how do you create a warm place?

    I live in Rochester, NY, and there are no warm places in my house for about 8 mos. out of the year (we have no fireplace or stove). I’ve kept mine on the stove so it will get whatever occasional heat is generated by cooking. I suppose I could sit it on the floor in front of a heating vent, but I think I’d have to add more liquid due to what would probably evaporate out of the pot. Not sure it’s good to soak in an air-tight container. Ideas, anyone?

    Thanks very much.

  14. Kristi says

    Wondering — with quinoa and any soaked grain, really — if I should add another round of acidic medium after a change of water. (I’m soaking brown rice for dinner, and just changed the water after 24 hours . . . but hadn’t thought to add another round of apple cider vinegar before). I can’t imagine it would hurt. Thoughts?

  15. Stacyer says

    I heard you do not need to soak quinoa. I wish I could locate the source of that info but I can’t. Maybe it had something to do with the saponins? Does that ring a bell? Thanks in advance for any insight!

  16. Carolyn says

    I like the idea of soaking in bulk and storing the rest, but how long will pre-soaked quinoa keep in an airtight container in the fridge? Or, can it be dehydrated? How bout frozen?


  17. Len says

    I soaked my quinoa and then rinsed it thoroughly. I left it out overnight so it has somewhat dried out again. Is it safe to cook and eat or did this need to be refrigerated after being rinsed? just thought you might know. I guess when in doubt… throw it out, but I hate doing so if not necessary.

    Thank you in advance for your time!

  18. Mandy says

    i soaked the quinoa for a little over 24 hours rinsed it well, and realized I didn’t put the acidic part in when soaking. Can I still use it? After rinsing it I put it in the fridge until I hear from you. Thank you for your awesome blog I have been truly enjoying it.

  19. Katherine says

    Should I add another tablespoon of yogurt when I change the soaking water?

    Also, could I use a goat yogurt as an acid for soaking?


  20. Nir says

    I’ve been wondering, too, if I need to add another tablespoon of the acid component when changing the soaking water? And how do you store it when making it in bulk?

  21. Don says

    Hi great post I’m just wondering how long a big batch of quinoa would last after being soaked? In the fridge and freezer, and dies the storage make a difference to nutrients that are retained? Can’t believe I’ve been eating grains wrong my whole life.. thanks!

  22. says

    I am using an organic pre-rinsed red version of quinoa (the first I’ve ever bought!!) and am wondering if soaking it and cooking it are the same thing?? I have some that is cooked stored in my fridge, but I really want to make this recipe tonight. Can I used the cooked version or is soaking the best way??!!

  23. Martha Dowis says

    Do you have to soak amaranth?

    I have eaten oatmeal after soaking it for a couple of days (It becomes slightly sour) and then microwaved it without having rinsed it. It feels so good to my stomach and I feel so nourished afterwards. Comment?

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