Instant Pot Quinoa is incredibly easy to make in your electric pressure cooker. It requires just a 1 minute pressure cooking cycle, and turns out perfectly fluffy every time.
Unlike cooking quinoa on the stove, you don’t have to worry about this gluten-free free seed sticking to the bottom of the pot as it cooks, in case you get distracted in the kitchen. (Hello, this is me.)
The Instant Pot will automatically switch to low-heat when the cooking cycle is complete, so this method is practically fool-proof. It also works well for cooking other grains, like Instant Pot Brown Rice, Oatmeal, and Steel Cut Oats.
Since quinoa is a complete source of plant-based protein, with all of the essential amino acids your body needs. It’s the perfect addition to your meal prep routine, and is helpful for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Cook a big batch over the weekend, and add it to bowls, salads, and stir-fries all week long. It has more fiber than rice, to help keep you feeling full!
How to Cook Quinoa in the Instant Pot
1. Rinse the quinoa.
Quinoa contains saponins, which can give the outer coating a bitter flavor. You can help improve the taste by placing the dry quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinsing it under running water for 30 seconds.
It’s a quick step that makes a big difference!
2. Add water.
Transfer the rinsed quinoa to the Instant Pot, and cover it with water. Unlike cooking quinoa on the stove top, the ratio of water to quinoa is different with pressure cooking, because there is NO evaporation in the sealed pot.
For every 1 cup of quinoa that you want to cook, use 1 cup of water for cooking. You can also swap the water for chicken broth or vegetable broth, if you prefer, or add a pinch of salt if you’d like to boost the flavor. No other ingredients are required!
You can double or triple this amount of quinoa, without changing the water ratio or cooking time. The only thing that will change is that it will take longer for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, due to the larger quantity in the pot.
Be sure to use cold water when using your Instant Pot, unless a recipe tells you otherwise. Using warm or hot water will change the cooking time slightly, and might affect the final result.
Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, and make sure the silicone sealing ring is properly placed. It should have some wiggle room. (Watch my Instant Pot Tutorial if you want to get familiar with how to use your Instant Pot.)
Move the steam release valve to Sealing, to make sure the pot will pressurize.
Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button on your machine to cook at high pressure for 1 minute. It will take roughly 8 to 10 minutes to pressurize, so the Instant Pot will say “ON” until then. s
You’ll know the pot is pressurized when the floating valve in the lid pops up.
When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. In other words, don’t do anything else until 15 minutes has passed.
This will let the quinoa finish absorbing the water, without burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
When the natural release is done (the screen will read L0:15) move the steam release valve to Venting. You’ll know it’s safe to open the lid when the floating valve has dropped.
This usually happens during the natural release process if you are only cooking 1 cup of quinoa, but if you cooked a larger quantity of quinoa, it may need a minute or so to allow the pressure to finish releasing.
Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Now it’s ready to serve!
This fluffy quinoa makes the perfect side dish, or you can add it to salads for extra texture and protein.
You can store leftover quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Or, you can freeze it for up to 3 months, if you’d like to freeze it into individual serving portions to thaw later.
Why Use the Instant Pot?
Overall, cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot takes a similar amount of time as cooking quinoa on the stove. The benefit of pressure cooking is that you don’t have to watch the pot as it cooks!
All you have to do is press a button and walk away, while the Instant Pot handles the rest.
It will keep your cooked quinoa warm until you are ready to serve it, too.
Quinoa Recipes to Try
Wondering how to use quinoa? Try one of these delicious recipes below.
- Best Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Porridge
- Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Instant Pot Quinoa Burrito Bowls
- Hearty Quinoa Soup
- Savory Quinoa Pilaf
Be sure to check out my other Instant Pot recipes, if you’d like more step-by-step guidance, too. I wrote the book on healthy Instant Pot cooking (literally!) if you’d like even more ideas in cookbook form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will this recipe work for other colors of quinoa? Yes! I’ve tested this method with white quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, and a tricolor blend. Keep in mind that the darker colors of quinoa will have a more chewy texture compared to white quinoa.
Red quinoa is also thought to contain more antioxidants than the other varieties, likely due to the betalains it contains. (Which give it the red hue.)
Do I need to add oil? You do not need to use cooking spray or oil when cooking quinoa in the pressure cooker. With this short cooking cycle, nothing should stick or burn to the bottom of the pot. I’ve heard that adding a touch of oil can help reduce foaming in the Instant Pot, but this shouldn’t be an issue unless you are cooking copious amounts of grains at one time.
Can I use a quick release? No, I don’t recommend ever using a quick release when cooking something starchy, like grains or pasta. This can cause starchy water to shoot out of the steam release valve, and you’ll risk clogging the lid. From a safety standpoint, and a cleanliness standpoint, it’s better to use a natural release.
How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup of dry quinoa make? On average, you’ll get 3 cups of cooked quinoa for every 1 cup of dry quinoa that you cook. Be sure not to fill your Instant Pot more than halfway full with quinoa and water, to allow for expansion as it cooks.
Instant Pot Quinoa
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 cup water
- Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse well under running water for 30 seconds. This quick step will remove any bitterness and help the quinoa cook more evenly.
- Transfer the quinoa to the Instant Pot and cover with 1 cup of fresh water. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to "Sealing." Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button on your machine to cook at high pressure for 1 minute. It will take roughly 5 to 8 minutes for the pot to pressurize, so the screen will read "ON" until then.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. This will allow the quinoa to finish absorbing the water, without burning to the bottom of the pot.
- When the screen reads L0:15, move the steam release valve to Venting to make sure there is no more pressure left in the pot. You'll know it's safe to open the lid when the floating valve has dropped. (Usually this happens during the natural release with this recipe.) Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. It's ready to use right away.
- Leftover quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
If you try this Instant Pot Quinoa method, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it! Browse my Instant Pot recipes for more ideas, and let me know if you have any requests for the future, too.