I know I usually don’t post on Thursdays, but someone just asked a really great question in the comments section on my Simple Savory Quinoa Recipe post, and after my reply reached 200+ words, I realized I should just give the answer in this post.
So, What’s Up With All the Different Colors of Quinoa?
This super-versatile grain-like seed grows in a rainbow of colors, from white to black to red to green and many colors in between.
The most common color of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is white.
White quinoa is actually a bit more tan than white, so sometimes it’s called tan quinoa, ivory quinoa, golden quinoa, yellow quinoa, blond quinoa, or just quinoa.
Of all the quinoa colors, white quinoa has the most delicate taste and the lightest texture and it cooks up a bit fluffier than other types of quinoa.
Red quinoa (which takes on a brownish hue when cooked) has a richer taste, slightly chewier texture, and somewhat nuttier flavor compared to white quinoa. It’s often the quinoa of choice for cold salads as it holds its shape better during cooking.
Black quinoa has more of an earthy flavor than white quinoa and is ever so slightly sweeter.
Purple quinoa is very similar to red quinoa
Orange quinoa is a slightly milder version of red quinoa
Pink, Gray, and Green Quinoa
I have no idea 😉 Have you ever tried these colors of quinoa?
Rainbow quinoa is a packaged blend of different colors of quinoa – usually white, red, and black. It’s also called tri-color quinoa or quinoa blend.
Which Color Quinoa Should I Use?
While flavor differences are subtle making it possible to use the different colors of this super-versatile grain-like food interchangeably, there are slight texture and taste differences that may influence you to choose one color of quinoa over another for certain dishes.
Because of its fluffy texture and milder flavor, white quinoa works well as a substitute for rice in many dishes. This is not always the case for the black and red; they don’t have the light texture that white quinoa has, and their stronger flavor may overpower other ingredients in the dish. However, black and red quinoa work great in salads or other dishes where the quinoa needs to hold its shape.
Bottom Line: They all work, but you may prefer one over another in particular dishes.
How Long Does It Take to Cook the Different Types of Quinoa?
White quinoa is the fastest-cooking quinoa. Click here for my easy, step-by-step instructions for cooking white quinoa.
Red quinoa takes about 3 to 4 minutes longer. And black quinoa needs about 5 to 6 more minutes than white quinoa does.
Personally, I don’t like to purchase rainbow or tri-color quinoa (see above) because of the different cooking times needed for each color of quinoa, but many people use it this way and like it.
Where Can I Buy Different Colors of Quinoa?
I have found red and black quinoa at some of the large grocery stores, like Meijer. And most health food stores carry it. You can also buy it at Trader Joes or Amazon – usually for much less than you’d pay at a health food store.
More About Quinoa
Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?
Do You Have Any Recipes for Quinoa?
Yes. Here you go:
How Do I Cook Quinoa?
My Quinoa Tastes Bitter! How Can I Make Quinoa Not Taste Bitter?
Been there. Here’s the secret to quinoa that isn’t bitter.
How Can I Get My Kids to Like Quinoa?
Including small amounts of quinoa in foods that they already like will help the taste center in their brain adjust to the new taste without their even knowing it. For example, mix a small amount of cooked white quinoa in meatballs, macaroni and cheese, a casserole, or even cookies. With some time, their taste buds will become more accepting of the quinoa flavor and they’ll be more likely to eat quinoa out-of-disguise.
For a bunch more tips, you can also see my post on How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy.
Can I Freeze Quinoa?
Yes, it freezes and reheats well.
What Do You Think?
Do you like quinoa? Have you ever tried other colors of quinoa? How about green or pink quinoa? What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa?