How to Puff Quinoa

Three Parts:Rinsing the Quinoa (Optional)Puffing the QuinoaUsing the Puffed Quinoa

Quinoa has long been a staple crop of the Andes region, but only recently made waves in the rest of the world. You may have cooked this protein-rich seed as though it were rice, but it's worth "puffing" it like popcorn as well. This is a quick, low-effort recipe — especially if the quinoa is pre-rinsed — that makes a good snack or topping.

Part 1
Rinsing the Quinoa (Optional)

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    Decide whether to rinse. All quinoa naturally produces bitter substances called saponins. Most companies treat the quinoa to remove most of the saponins before they reach the store, but there may still be a faint biter taste.[1] Rinsing will remove this, but you'll have to wait at least half an hour for the seeds to dry.
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    Rinse the quinoa in a bowl. Place the quinoa in a bowl. Fill it with cold water. If the quinoa still contains saponins, foam will form on the surface.
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    Pour the quinoa through a strainer. Empty the bowl into a fine mesh strainer. Hold it under cold running water to remove the foam.
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    Repeat until foam stops forming. Return the quinoa to a bowl so you can watch for foam, then rinse again. The quinoa is ready once no more foam forms on the surface, and the seeds all remain in the bottom of the bowl.[2]
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    Set your oven to the lowest temperature. Set your oven to "warm" or to the lowest temperature setting. There's no need to wait for preheating — just continue to the next step.
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    Dry your quinoa in the oven. Spread out the wet quinoa on a dry baking tray. Check every ten minutes and stir to break up large clumps. Remove when completely dry. This usually takes thirty to sixty minutes.[3][4]
    • To further reduce the risk of burning, leave the oven door ajar.
    • You can move on to the stovetop before the quinoa is completely dry. You'll just have to wait for the moisture to evaporate before the quinoa pops, which can take 10–30 minutes.[5]

Part 2
Puffing the Quinoa

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    Heat a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. To prevent a quinoa avalanche, this pan should either have a lid or be at least six inches (15 cm) deep.[6] Heat the pan over medium heat.
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    Add oil (optional). Many people choose to pop their quinoa dry for health reasons. If you prefer a crisper puffed quinoa, cover the base of the pan with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of oil. A neutral-flavored oil such as canola or safflower is a good choice.
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    Add a little quinoa to test the heat. Add a sprinkle of dry quinoa to the pan. If the pan is hot enough, the quinoa should pop within a few seconds.[7] Quinoa does not expand nearly as much as popcorn kernels, but it will turn brown, jump in the air, and release a nutty aroma.
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    Cover the base of the pan with quinoa. Once the pan is hot enough, pour in quinoa in a single layer on the base of the pan.
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    Shake the pan until the popping slows. Shake constantly to even out the temperature and prevent stuck, burnt seeds. Remove from heat once popping starts to slow, usually after one to five minutes.[8][9]
    • If you are using a pan with a lid, crack it a couple times to let steam escape. Do this on the side facing away from you to avoid steam and quinoa rocketing to your face.[10]
    • You can continue cooking to make the quinoa browner, nuttier, and crunchier, but the quinoa will burn easily after this point.
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    Shake off heat until popping stops. As long as you don't smell burning, you can continue shaking the pan off heat for another minute or two. Pour the puffed quinoa onto a baking sheet to cool down once popping stops.

Part 3
Using the Puffed Quinoa

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    Flavor to eat as a snack. Replace your popcorn with a bowlful of puffed quinoa, mixed with a little salt and pepper. Alternatively, add a dash of chile oil, or a sprinkle of your favorite dried herbs.
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    Add the quinoa to breakfast cereal. You've just made a healthier version of puffed rice cereals. Eat it with milk or add it to homemade granola (before or after baking).
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    Sprinkle over salad or vegetable dishes. Puffed quinoa adds a great crunchy texture to salads in place of nuts or croutons. It also works well with roasted or sautéed vegetables.
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    Use them in energy bars. Make protein-rich hiking snacks by combining puffed quinoa with nuts and other high-energy foods.
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    Mix puffed quinoa into cookie dough. Replace some of the oats in an oatmeal cookie, or add it to any cookie recipe for crunch and protein.


  • You can use the same process to puff amaranth or sorghum.[11]

Article Info

Categories: Cereal Grains