Cooking quinoa does require a bit more time compared to rice, but to streamline your meal preparation and save time during the week, you might consider batch cooking quinoa.
Quinoa is one of the most convenient grains to refrigerate or freeze for reheating whenever needed. The microwave is the quickest way to reheat quinoa, but both the oven and stovetop are also effective methods, each with its advantages.
Is Quinoa Reheatable?
Quinoa is not only a staple for vegan and gluten-free diets but also a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can be reheated in various ways, such as using the microwave, skillets, and ovens.
However, reheating food does come with the risk of affecting its quality, including texture, particularly for crispy foods.
In my opinion, the two best methods for reheating quinoa are the microwave and the stovetop. However, I find the microwave to be the less hassle-free option.
On the other hand, the oven can work effectively, but it might not be my first choice unless I have specific plans for creatively using the leftover quinoa. If you want to freeze your cooked Quinoa then check out my recent article Can You Freeze Cooked Quinoa? ( What If You Do? ).
How To Reheat Quinoa
The primary challenge when reheating quinoa is preventing it from drying out. Ideally, it should have a moist and fluffy texture.
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Reheating Quinoa In The Microwave
Place the quinoa in a microwave-safe bowl, using a fork to break up any large clumps. Cover the quinoa with a damp paper towel. Heat the quinoa on high for 30 seconds if it’s fresh or 45-60 seconds if it’s frozen. Check on the quinoa and stir. If it needs more time, add 10 seconds. Allow the quinoa to rest for 30 seconds before serving.
Ensure that the damp paper towel is in direct contact with the quinoa’s surface rather than resting on the top of the bowl for optimal results.
The damp paper towel generates steam, which rapidly heats and rehydrates the quinoa. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some water over the quinoa and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Another option is to place an ice cube on top of the quinoa. I tested this method, and it worked effectively, but it requires having ice cubes readily available. Interestingly, the ice doesn’t melt in the microwave; it simply produces steam.
It’s quite challenging to distinguish between fresh quinoa and quinoa that has been reheated in the microwave. Moreover, the microwave method was the fastest and most convenient among those I tested, which is why I consider it the best option. If you want to know how long Quinoa lasts then check out my recent article How Long Does Quinoa Last? ( Cooked & Uncooked ).
Reheating Quinoa On The Stove
Warm the quinoa in a sturdy saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa to the pan along with 2-3 tablespoons of water or broth then cover the pan with a lid.
Heat the quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s thoroughly warmed. Frozen quinoa will require 5-6 minutes.
Remember to give the quinoa a good stir to prevent it from sticking to the pan, which can be quite a hassle to clean up afterward.
The lid plays a crucial role here as it helps trap steam, keeping the quinoa moist. Essentially, you’re steaming the quinoa in the pan. While I typically use water for simplicity, using stock can enhance its flavor. Alternatively, you can opt for butter or oil, which will give the quinoa a slightly crispy, fried texture and added crunch.
The stove method brought out a slightly richer flavor in the quinoa compared to the microwave. I would prefer this method if I were preparing quinoa with other ingredients like vegetables or meat, as it allows for better flavor integration. If you want to know how to store quinoa then check out my recent article How to Store Quinoa ( Fast & Easy ).
Reheating Quinoa In A Steamer
Prepare your steamer by bringing the water to a gentle simmer.
Evenly distribute the quinoa in the steamer basket. If the holes in the steamer basket are too large, consider lining it with parchment paper, making a few smaller holes in it using a toothpick to allow steam to pass through.
Steam the quinoa for about 3-4 minutes or 6-7 minutes if it’s frozen.
If you don’t have a steamer, you can create a makeshift one by placing a mesh sieve on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Put the quinoa in the sieve and cover it with a lid. It works perfectly!
Ensure that the water is at a gentle simmer rather than a rolling boil. If the water boils vigorously, the steam may become too intense and potentially overcook the quinoa. You can also consider using stock or infusing it with herbs and lemon for added flavor.
The quinoa steamed using this method had the most moisture, but it retained its individual grains and wasn’t soggy. This approach is particularly useful if your quinoa is excessively dry or undercooked, as the steam will help soften it up.
Reheating Quinoa In The Oven
To reheat quinoa in the oven, start by preheating your oven to 350°F (180°C). Next, spread the quinoa evenly in an oven-safe dish, ensuring you break up any significant clumps with a fork. Sprinkle a small amount of water over the quinoa, and then cover the dish securely with a fitting lid or aluminum foil. Slide the dish into the preheated oven and let the quinoa heat for 6-9 minutes or until it’s thoroughly heated. Before serving, give the quinoa a good stir.
For this method, it’s essential not to skimp on the water to prevent the quinoa from drying out. As the dish heats in the oven, the water will turn into steam and help maintain the quinoa’s moisture, especially when covered with a lid.
You can also chose to use stock or butter to infuse additional flavor into the quinoa.
Although the oven method took the longest, it could be practical if you need to reheat a substantial amount of quinoa at once. I ensured an ample amount of water, resulting in nicely fluffy quinoa.
Reheating Quinoa In A Rice Cooker
Place the quinoa inside the rice cooker, add a tablespoon of water, and select the ‘keep warm’ or ‘reheat’ setting. One serving of quinoa should be ready in approximately 10-15 minutes.
How to Store Cooked Quinoa
To reheat quinoa to perfection, start by ensuring proper storage. Allow your quinoa to cool completely, then pack it tightly into an airtight Tupperware container or a Ziploc bag. Make sure to remove all the air from your container to extend the freshness of your quinoa in the fridge.
If you’ve followed the storage instructions mentioned earlier, your quinoa should remain fresh and flavorful in the fridge for up to 5 days. However, if your quinoa contains additional ingredients like eggs or meat, consume it within 2-3 days to align with the shortest shelf life of those ingredients.
To determine if your quinoa has gone bad, primarily check its texture. Spoiled quinoa tends to lose moisture and harden. If it’s left for an extended period or stored incorrectly, you might also notice visible mold growth.
Can You Eat Quinoa Cold?
One of the remarkable aspects of quinoa is its delightful taste when served cold! You can incorporate some fresh vegetables and dressing into pre-cooked quinoa from the refrigerator for a hearty salad, use it as a filling in wraps, or even create a cereal alternative by adding milk, nuts, and raisins in the morning. The versatility of quinoa allows for a wide range of delicious and nutritious culinary creations.
How To Freeze Quinoa
Quinoa can be frozen with excellent results. To freeze quinoa, allow it to cool to room temperature first, then portion it into heavy-duty freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible from the bags and lay them flat in the freezer. This will ensure the quinoa maintains its best quality for up to 3 months.
It’s essential to allow your quinoa to cool before freezing to prevent condensation, which can lead to undesirable ice crystals forming and altering the texture. Removing excess air from the bag is crucial to protect the quinoa from freezer burn. While squeezing can work, using a straw to vacuum-seal the bag is recommended for better results.
When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen quinoa, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight for a gradual thawing process. If you’re in a hurry, you can leave it out at room temperature or speed up the process by submerging the sealed bag in a bowl of water. Alternatively, you can skip the thawing step and heat the quinoa straight from the freezer.