The Secret to Great-Tasting Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa Salad Recipe

The first time I tried quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wuh) I was not impressed.  It had an unpleasant bitter taste that tainted everything I mixed it with.  After that initial try, I put what was left of the uncooked quinoa in the back of my freezer and forgot about it for a while.

But then I came across some instructions that explained that quinoa has a coating on the outside of each tiny grain-like seed which can be removed by rinsing the quinoa several times before cooking.  This will get rid of the bitter taste.

Armed with this new information, I decided to give quinoa a second chance.

Much. Better.

And I’m glad I did.  Quinoa that’s been rinsed before being cooked is quite good. No bitter taste.

But still that bag of quinoa gradually got pushed to the back of the freezer again only to be eventually forgotten … again.  I really didn’t want to take the time and trouble to rinse quinoa every time I wanted some.  Those tiny seeds are just not that easy to wash. You either have to change the water many times to get all the bitterness out or you have to rinse them for several minutes under running water and they tended to slip right through even my very-fine mesh strainer.

But now all that is changed.

How to Cook Quinoa

Pre-Rinsed Quinoa

Apparently, quinoa suppliers have wised up and just about all commercially-available quinoa now comes with the bitter, outer shell already removed – which means I don’t have to rinse my quinoa!

How to Cook Quinoa

To cook quinoa, place 2 cups of water or vegetable stock or broth (scant) in a wide-bottom pan and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and return to a boil.

When liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  I use my pan with glass lid so I can see when the liquid is absorbed without lifting the lid (which can affect the cooking time and results).  When quinoa is properly cooked, you can see little curled “tails” emerged from the grains/seeds.

Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and season to taste. Or use it to make this yummy Mexican Quinoa Salad or in these awesome Gluten-Free Quinoa Patties.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

We like quinoa so much I cook double what we need and keep what’s left over in the refrigerator for a tasty addition to just about any meal. I’ve read that quinoa will keep for about 4 days in the refrigerator, but I’ve never been able to test this personally as the leftovers in our frig get eaten pretty fast.

Leftover quinoa makes a great base for a quick and easy main-dish salad.  Just mix together cold, cooked quinoa, drained beans, diced tomatoes and olives (or your choice of vegetables), lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings.  In only 5 to 10 minutes you have a fabulously nutritious, amazingly delicious meal!

Where to Buy Quinoa

You can buy quinoa from most grocery stores, but (because I enjoy shopping about as much as I enjoy pulling my toenails off one-by-one) I like to get mine from Azure Standard. It’s always fresh and delicious. They carry white quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, and even quinoa flakes!

I have also purchased quinoa from Amazon and it’s usually decent quality. One click and it’s at my door in two days.

I’ve never been really happy with quinoa from the grocery store; it’s not only more expensive, but it usually isn’t fresh.


Quinoa is low in calories, high in protein, (it has all the essential amino acids) and high in fiber. And one cup of quinoa provides 58% of your daily requirements for manganese and 19% of the folate.  It’s also gluten-free.

Go on a Quinoa Adventure

Quinoa can be used in so many ways.  It is the ultimate in versatility. If you have never heard of quinoa, here’s the perfect recipe to start with!

How to Make Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Made from fresh vegetables and whole grain quinoa, this dish is highly-nutritious and makes a delicious picnic dish.
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
YIELD 4 servings
All recipes on are property of jennifer’s kitchen and cannot be republished without written permission.


  • 3 cups cooked quinoa - (3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt - or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans - rinsed and drained, (one 15–ounce can)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic corn kernels - drained, (one 15-ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives - (one 2.25-ounce can)
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium fresh tomato, diced small
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper - optional


  • Mix together cooked and cooled quinoa, diced onion, garlic, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
  • Finely chop parsley and cilantro. (A food processor works well for this.)
  • Stir into quinoa along with seasonings, black beans, corn, and olives.
  • Stir in oil, tomato, and pepper immediately before serving.
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled.


For a heartier dish, add an additional 1 1/2 cups (one 15-ounce can) black beans.

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  1. Thanks for the simple but great tip. Will certainly start rinsing my quinoa. I eat it enough that this simple technique will go along way for myself. This recipe looks great as well. Simple but so many great ingredients. Have no doubt that it will taste great.

    Thanks for the post and am so glad that I found your site. Look forward to following along and learning more. Thanks for all that you do :).

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for the tips to cook quinoa. I haven’t been especially fond of it, except for your Quinoa Patties recipe, but now that I know about rinsing it, I’ll try that, using the recipe you’ve given here for this Mexican Quinoa Salad. It sounds good, and looks so healthy with all the colors.

  3. 4 stars
    Had this for dinner tonight added some lime too, just for fun. We left the black beans out since the quinoa is full of protein already. Thank you!

    1. So how was the taste if you didn’t have the black beans? All I have in the cupboard are some chick peas and didn’t really want to go to the store.

  4. 5 stars
    Your Mexican Quinoa Salad is delicious! I was recently introduced to Quinoa – it’s my new favorite thing! I followed your recipe almost exactly… I cut the lemon juice and salt in half – just personal preference. Really, really good salad! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, JP. So glad you liked it!

      We like quinoa too! We’re eating it in lots of different dishes these days.

  5. Loooove quinoa. I buy Bob’s Red Mill brand bc it’s pre-rinsed and I agree– it makes a huge difference.
    When I’m serving it as a side warm (a quick pilaf, or on its own) I cook with 1 part low sodium broth and 1 part water to 1 part quinoa for more flavor.
    Otherwise I cook two cups in water at the beginning of the week to make a quinoa stir fry and to add to salads. Anything you can do with rice you can do with quinoa!

  6. 5 stars
    Ever since coming back from Ecuador 12 years ago, I rinse and cook quinoa, put it in my oatmeal, and eat it with nuts and fruit pieces in the morning. Any extra quinoa goes in the fridge in a container, so I can add it to other dishes during the week: quick breads, salads, veggie or meat burgers, wild rice, or smoothies. It’s a really good addition to my meals.

  7. Thank you very much for information, but if you want to remove the bitterness from quinoa, soak it at least 4hours, the more you soak it the better,then discard soaking water,you can even sprout it

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