Cooking with Quinoa: Its Taste, Types, and Uses

Quinoa has been catapulted to superfood star status in the last few years, so how do you use it? From the taste and texture of quinoa to its different varieties and its culinary uses, let us answer all your quinoa questions.

Flavor and Texture

Quinoa has a delicate nutty and earthy flavor with a fluffy and chewy texture. Its heartiness and intensity of flavor generally vary depending on the kind of quinoa you use.


White Quinoa

Sometimes labeled gold quinoa, light and tender white quinoa has a milder taste and fluffier texture than other varieties, making it the ideal substitute for white rice. White quinoa and Hearty Black Bean Chili work perfectly together. White quinoa also works wonderfully in baked goods.

Red Quinoa

Red quinoa has a pronounced nutty flavor with a hearty texture and chewy bite. The individual seeds in red quinoa hold more shape than white quinoa when cooking, making it a great choice for mixing into cold salads or grain bowls where you want to retain more texture. Try our Mediterranean Grain Bowl to try it for yourself. 

Black Quinoa

Black quinoa is nutty, earthy, and slightly sweet. Like red quinoa, it has a heavier texture that works wonderfully in salads and grain bowls. Besides textural interest, black quinoa also adds a lot of visual flair to dishes thanks to its dramatic hue. 

Tricolor Quinoa

Sometimes known as rainbow quinoa, tri-color quinoa isn’t a different variety of quinoa, but a blend of white, black, and red quinoa. As such, it combines the fluffy texture and mild flavor of white quinoa with the heartiness and nuttiness of red and black quinoa.


Versatile quinoa can easily play a role in your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert menus. It’s often used as an all-around grain, substituting everything from oats to rice to orzo. Try perfectly cooked salmon on top of hearty quinoa with a flavorful miso-tahini dressing in this recipe or try our recipe for slow cooked sweet potatoes stuffed with spicy black beans and quinoa. 

You can add quinoa to most dishes for textural interest and a little health boost. It’s a natural fit in grain bowls and salads, but can also be incorporated into baked goods or turned into porridge. Try adding quinoa to soups and stews, mix it into beans and rice, or even use it as a plant-based substitute for ground meat in patties and tacos. The possibilities are endless.

Feature Image: Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

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