You can cook all variants of quinoa, including brown and black quinoa, in a rice cooker. The cooking method is very similar to how you make it on the stovetop. But you don’t have to constantly monitor the process. The rice cooker does the job and either shuts down or switches to keep warm mode once the quinoa is cooked.
Let’s now check out the steps to cook quinoa in a rice cooker.
Steps to Cook Quinoa in A Rice Cooker
The way you prepare quinoa is just like how you make rice in a rice cooker.
The results are guaranteed almost every time if the sequence of steps is correct.
Given below are the steps to cook quinoa in a rice cooker.
1. Rinse the Quinoa Thoroughly
Quinoa has an outer covering containing a substance called saponin.
Saponin has a bitter taste and makes the quinoa taste bad after cooking.
To get rid of this bitter taste, you must wash the quinoa to remove the coating.
Rinsing the grains will get rid of the bitter covering.
To rinse quinoa, place it in a colander or mesh strainer and wash it under running water several times.
Squish and turn the quinoa around as you rinse it. This will make the covering come off faster.
If you don’t have a mesh strainer, soak the quinoa for some time. Then, squish and swirl it around.
Finally, drain the water to get rid of the coating.
2. Soak the Quinoa
This step is optional, but it will help the quinoa cook better.
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain containing phytic acid. When you soak it for some time, it lowers the phytic acid content.
Soaking also helps to remove any remaining saponin in the outer covering. So the quinoa completely loses its bitterness and tastes better.
Another advantage of soaking quinoa is that water enters the grains, making them soft. So they take less time to cook.
Soaked quinoa also ends up softer and fluffier after cooking.
3. Transfer the Quinoa with Water to The Rice Cooker
To begin the cooking process, transfer the soaked or unsoaked quinoa into the rice cooker.
Add an adequate amount of water.
The ideal quinoa-to-water ratio is 1: 1.75. It works for all types of quinoa.
Here are some important factors to keep in mind to get the best results:
- For accurate measurements, always use the same measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker.
- Use cool or cold water only for cooking. Avoid lukewarm or hot water as it can make the quinoa gummy.
- Add salt to the quinoa before switching on the rice cooker to flavor the water uniformly.
4. Place the Lid and Turn on The Rice Cooker
After adding the quinoa, water, and salt, place the lid on the rice cooker and turn it on.
Some rice cookers have special settings for grains like quinoa.
If this option is available, choose the quinoa setting.
For a simpler rice cooker with limited selection options, choose the white rice setting.
The cooking time and temperature are similar for quinoa and white rice.
You can also refer to the instruction manual with the rice cooker for any specific instructions that may improve results.
While quinoa cooks, avoid opening the lid of the rice cooker as it will let the steam escape.
This will further increase the cooking time.
Opening the lid several times to check on the quinoa will also reduce the moisture levels and spoil the texture of the grains.
5. Let It Rest After Cooking
Depending on the type of rice cooker, it may either shut off or switch to “Keep warm” mode after cooking.
Don’t open the lid and transfer the quinoa directly at this stage.
Instead, let it sit in the rice cooker with the lid closed for at least five minutes.
This will allow the grains to absorb the moisture that remains and achieve a better texture.
After five minutes, open the lid and gently turn the grains over using a fork. It will help to fluff up the grains and separate them.
6. Serve It Hot
Quinoa tastes best when it’s piping hot. So serve it while it’s still fresh.
If you can’t serve it immediately, enable the Keep Warm mode on the rice cooker if it’s present.
This will help the quinoa remain at an elevated temperature for a few hours.
Storing the quinoa at a high temperature in this manner will keep it fresh and safe for consumption.
In this mode, bacteria that cause food poisoning can’t proliferate. Hence, it will prevent the grains from spoiling.
How to Enhance the Taste of Quinoa in A Rice Cooker?
Quinoa is delicious when you cook it with just salt.
Nevertheless, you can further enhance its flavor with other ingredients, even when you cook it in a rice cooker.
Let’s look at some of the best options to do this.
1. Flavor with Lemon Juice
One of the easiest ways to flavor quinoa is by adding a squirt of lemon juice to the quinoa after the cooking process.
You can add it at the stage when you fluff the grains and stir it around.
When the quinoa is cooked, and it has rested for five minutes, open the lid and fluff the grains using a fork.
At this stage, also add a dash of lemon juice to the dish. Mix it thoroughly, so all the grains are coated with the flavor.
2. Cook in Broth
You can replace the water used for cooking quinoa with a flavorful liquid like vegetable or chicken broth.
The grains will absorb this liquid as they expand and cook. The resulting dish is very flavorful and indulgent.
When cooking quinoa in broth, pay attention to how much salt you add to it.
Since broth already contains salt, you can avoid adding any extra salt to prevent the dish from becoming too salty.
3. Use Herbs and Spices for Flavoring
Whole dry spices and herbs can enhance the flavor of quinoa and make it more delicious.
You can add whole spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, or pepper to the water in which the quinoa cooks.
When the water boils, the flavors of these spices will infuse into the grains, and make them spicy.
Another way is to temper whole spices and aromatics in oil or butter and pour them over the quinoa. Mix it in after it has cooked.
You can also use fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, lime leaves, chilies, and cumin to flavor quinoa after cooking.
When using fresh herbs, wait till the quinoa is cooked to stir them in just before serving.
Other options include spice powders like chilly powder, Cajun seasoning, Indian curry powder, or Chinese five-spice powder for a dash of spice.
4. Milk or Coconut Milk
You can use quinoa for breakfast or dessert by cooking it in milk or coconut oil instead of water.
Replace water with the same quantity of milk or coconut milk and let the quinoa cook in it as usual. Add white or brown sugar to taste.
Additionally, you can also add flavoring agents like vanilla, cinnamon, or cardamom to enhance the flavor of this sweet dish.
Add a sprinkling of chopped nuts and fruits to make it taste even better if you prefer.
Alternatively, you can also add honey and chopped bananas, dates, almonds, and other sliced or chopped fruits to the sweet quinoa just before serving.