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Can You Freeze Cooked Quinoa?

You may have heard a lot about quinoa being a “superfood” and how it’s so good for you and you need to eat it all the time.

I mean, I wouldn’t go that far. But quinoa has become more popular in recent years, and for good reason. It’s GOOD! You used to be able to find it only at health food stores, but nowadays it’s at pretty much every regular grocery store.

You can use it as a rice substitute in Mexican or even Asian dishes. It has a chewy, nutty taste and comes in a few different variations:

  • Red quinoa
  • White quinoa
  • Black quinoa
  • Tri-color quinoa
Cooked quinoa in a bowl with text "Can you freeze cooked quinoa?"

If you have a lot of leftover quinoa after dinner, or just want to prep some to save time, you can absolutely freeze quinoa for later! Quinoa freezes well, and the freezing process is super simple. Below, I go into more detail on how to freeze quinoa, how to cook it, and even give some recipe ideas.

Dried quinoa in a bowl

Health benefits of quinoa

A complete protein

Quinoa is one of those plant-based foods that is a complete source of protein. This means that it has all the essential amino acids our body needs. So instead of having to eat both rice and beans to get those nutrients, you can just use quinoa and get the same thing.

Full of whole grains

Quinoa is considered a whole grain, which means it still has its nutrients and fiber intact.

Some grains, like all-purpose flour, have their nutrients stripped and don’t give you that nutrition boost.

Whole grains have been shown to help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.

Can keep you full longer

The protein and fiber in quinoa can keep you full for longer periods of time. When you feel satisfied longer and don’t eat as many calories, that can lead to weight loss if that’s your goal.

Raw quinoa in a rice cooker

How to cook quinoa

Cooking quinoa is actually really similar to cooking rice. Most of the time, you do need to rinse the raw quinoa to help get rid of the bitter taste. I use a fine mesh strainer and just run that under cold water.

The quinoa-to-water ratio is 1 part quinoa to 1.25 parts water. So for 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 1/4 cups water.

Add the water to a large saucepan and heat to boiling, then add the quinoa. Cover and reduce heat, letting it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water is fully absorbed.

And I also found out you can cook quinoa in your rice cooker! Just add the quinoa and water and use the White Rice function or something similar; and it’ll be ready in about 30 minutes. I love this hands-off option!

How to freeze cooked quinoa

Let the quinoa cool to room temperature

This is the first step, and is super important. If the quinoa is still hot when you freeze it, it could thaw some of the other food in the freezer and cause it to go bad.

Cooked quinoa in a quart-sized freezer bag

Place in a bag or container

You can freeze the cooled quinoa in a large batch, for a recipe; or individually if you just want one serving.

One option is freezer bags. You can fit 2-3 cups of cooked quinoa in a quart-sized bag. Seal it tightly, squeezing out as much excess air as you can. And make sure to label the bag with the date!

The other option is an airtight container. Rubbermaid makes more than one kind of freezer-safe container, and I’ve had good luck with the food staying fresh.

Place in the freezer

Lay the quinoa in the freezer. If you’re using a bag, you can lay it flat on a baking sheet so it freezes flat.

The quinoa should freeze in 2-3 hours!

How long is quinoa good for in the freezer?

Typically, foods like this will stay fresh for up to 3 months. It’ll still be safe to eat after that “expiration date”; but the longer food stays in the freezer, the bigger risk it has of getting freezer burn. For best results, I recommend just eating it within 3 months.

Dried quinoa, with proper storage, can have a long shelf life of 2-3 years. Typically it comes in a resealable plastic bag, so I actually pour it into a container with a tight seal. I like how it fits better in my pantry, and it looks good too!

How to thaw

The best way to thaw frozen quinoa is to place it in the fridge overnight. It’s also the safest way, as trying to thaw it at room temperature can lead to bacterial growth. And that’s the last thing we want.

Quinoa salad in a bowl

Favorite recipes that use quinoa

I have quite a few favorite quinoa recipes! It doesn’t have to be just a regular side item. Here are some recipes you need to try soon:

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