What Does Quinoa Taste Like? Does It Taste Good?

Quinoa is a reliable protein source seed that has its origins in South America. It is recommended for individuals on a restricted diet since it is gluten-free and fiber-rich.   Here is everything you need to know about the different quinoa tastes, how to cook with it, and its nutritional value.

So, what does Quinoa taste like?  Quinoa has an inconspicuous, mild flavor. It has a nutty undertone and a satisfactory texture. Quinoa is also slightly crunchy, fluffy, and smooth. Overcooked quinoa results in a mushy, tasteless substance. It also tends to taste bitter.

Table of Contents

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa has been a staple diet among the Andes people for thousands of years. The Ancient Incas referred to it as the ‘mother of all grains.” Quinoa is currently famous as one of the modern-day ‘superfoods.  It has become recognized as a healthier substitute for pasta and white rice. It is also a unique plant protein source ideal for vegans.

Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium Quinoa plant. Technically speaking, quinoa is not a grain but acts like a whole grain. It is often referred to as a pseudo-grain since it is similar nutritionally and consumed the same way as cereal grains.

You can prepare whole grain quinoa like barley or brown rice. You can also buy quinoa flour and quinoa flakes.

Quinoa is among the most expensive of whole grains.

why does quinoa taste bitter?

A common challenge when cooking quinoa is a noticeable bitter food taste. As previously mentioned, you can prepare quinoa as a grain, but it is a seed.

Through your common knowledge, you can easily guess that seeds are prey to birds. Unfortunately or fortunately, as an evolutionary defense mechanism against being consumed by birds, quinoa grows with a natural coating of saponin. This substance has a bitter flavor which hinders or discourages birds from preying on the seeds.

Unluckily, the saponin substance also discourages humans from consuming the seeds due to the bitter taste unless you have a solution for it.

How to prevent quinoa from tasting bitter?

Fortunately, you can prevent your quinoa seeds from tasking bitter before cooking. Below are ways you can eliminate the bitterness typical in quinoa


Rinse the unprepared quinoa in cold running water for a couple of minutes or until the water runs clear. Due to the small quinoa sizes, you should use a sieve or a mesh strainer, which works better than a colander. Using either of the two prevents the quinoa from being rinsed out of the holes.

As you are rinsing the quinoa, sift the seeds around using your fingers to ensure the water is fully drained and the seeds are dried.

Most quinoa manufacturers rinse the saponin off the quinoa before packaging the seeds. However, if you notice a mildly bitter taste, you can still go ahead and thoroughly rinse it again.


Toasting is a less popular method to remove the bitter taste from the quinoa. Toast your quinoa in a little olive oil. Stir it around frequently until it becomes darker in color and you smell the wonderful toasty aroma.

Cook in broth:

Using broth instead of water adds salt, which helps lower the bitter note in food taste and ensures more balance to the general flavor. You can also throw in a bay leaf to provide extra aroma while cooking your quinoa.

Add sweet or salty ingredients to the quinoa dish: 

Ingredients tend to make all the difference in how the final dish tastes like. Sweet and salty flavors are known to balance a bitter food taste. You can add salty ingredients like prosciutto or olives. Alternatively, you can go the sweet way from dressing or fruits with sweet flavors like honey.

How to cook quinoa so that it tastes good?

Quinoa attracts attention as a healthy food choice. However, consumers rarely pay attention to how tricky it can be to prepare quinoa. There are many recipes and techniques online to prepare quinoa, each promising an excellent, aromatic taste.

Below are the best techniques that professional chefs recommend to cook quinoa to ensure it tastes good. Most importantly, rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter taste.

Below are the best techniques that professional chefs recommend to cook quinoa to ensure it tastes good. Most importantly, rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter taste.

Try cooking quinoa like pasta. There are different theories for cooking quinoa. Perhaps the most common one is using a 2:1 ratio of water to grains. Others include boiling it, steaming it, simmering it, and the list is endless.

The easiest way to cook quinoa so that it tastes good is by cooking it like pasta. Boil a large pot of salted water and dump the quinoa in it. Cook, it uncovered at a low boil for approximately 13 minutes.

Taste the quinoa before draining it to check if it’s ready. It should be tender but with a slight bite. The quinoa should also have a white little ring around the exterior to show it is ready.

Drain the cooked quinoa completely and fluff it with a fork, just like couscous.

Use Quinoa in Sweet Dishes. Stir your quinoa into your morning oatmeal or granola bars. You can also bake quinoa into breakfast cookies or use it to replace traditional flour in cakes.

Cook with Aromatics. Use this method with the first. As you are bringing the water to a boil, add some aromatics to bump up the flavor. You can add some bay leaves, garlic, or onions. If you are using quinoa in an Indian dish, add some turmeric. If it is for a Mexican dish, add some toasted cumin and some fresh ginger for a Thai dish.

Nutrition value of Quinoa

Cooked quinoa consists of 1.92% fat, 4.4% protein, 21.3% carbs, and 71.6% water.

A single 185grams cup contains up to 225 calories.

Carbohydrates make up 21% of cooked quinoa.

The seeds have a relatively low GI score of 53, reducing their chances of causing a blood sugar spike.

Cooked quinoa is a reliable fiber source fiber, almost defeating yellow corn and brown rice.

Quinoa provides 16% protein by dry weight, which is higher than most cereals. It is a whole protein source, meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids.

Quinoa is also a good source of minerals and antioxidants. It provides;

  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Copper
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

Our final thoughts on quinoa taste

Final Thoughts

Quinoa is typical for its bitter taste before being cooked. The different plant compounds that contribute to quinoa’s flavor and health effects include saponin, quercetin, kaempferol, squalene, phytic acids, and oxalates. However, if prepared and cooked properly, quinoa has a relatively sweet and healthy flavor and food taste, void of bitterness. If you prefer the naturally bitter taste, consider adding some sweet flavors to balance it and make it more consumable.

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About ASmith

Adam loves cooking and cooking products like cookware, tools, gadgets, and more to help make cooking easier in the kitchen. When Adam is not trying out new kitchen tools in the kitchen you find him researching the next best kitchen gadgets.