Learn how to cook tri-color quinoa with this simple recipe! It's nutty with a slight chew and tastes great in salads, bowls, and casseroles.
What is tri-color quinoa?
Tri-color quinoa or multi colored quinoa is a blend of white, red, and black quinoa seeds. Red and white quinoa have a stronger flavor than white quinoa and a chewier texture.
Tri color quinoa isn't as fluffy as white quinoa, but it is delicious! It has an earthy, nutty flavor and stands up better in cold salads with vinaigrettes and dressings. It also takes a bit longer to cook.
Why you'll love it
If you like hearty dishes with a bit of texture, this tri-color quinoa recipe is a great start. It's a satisfying base for vinaigrettes and roasted vegetables!
It's also incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and essential vitamins like folate and vitamin B6.
We eat a TON of quinoa around here, because it's budget-friendly and my kiddos love it. It's super easy to make and versatile too. If you don't know what to do with it, add a big scoop to your next mixed greens salad. It adds texture and protein.
You only need one ingredient (technically three, if you include water and salt) for this tri-color quinoa recipe!
Tri-color quinoa - I like to buy white quinoa in bulk at Costco and tri-color quinoa from Walmart or Publix. Compare prices by checking the price per ounce. I look for quinoa that's prerinsed so I can skip rinsing it myself.
Water - All you need is water to cook the quinoa, but you can use vegetable or chicken broth for more flavor. I use a 2:1 ratio with tri-color quinoa or else it's too chewy. Two parts liquid to one part quinoa.
Kosher salt - Season the cooked quinoa with kosher salt to bring out its flavor.
How to cook tri-color quinoa
It's very similar to white quinoa with a few differences. The back of the bag tells you to use a 2:1 ratio with 2 cups of water for every one cup of quinoa.
Many people swear by less liquid. For example, they recommend 1 ¾ cups of liquid for every one cup of quinoa. I don't recommend this for tri-color quinoa. The end result is too chewy with this ratio. It also takes a few minutes longer to cook.
Here's what you need to do:
- Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan.
- Over medium-high heat bring the water to a boil.
- Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid.
- Let the quinoa simmer, covered, until all the liquid evaporates. This should take about 18 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Uncover and let cool for a few minutes before adding salt and digging in!
- Don't cover the quinoa immediately or else it will be mushy. Wait until the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce the heat, and then cover!
- You don't need to rinse the quinoa. Most recipes will tell you to rinse quinoa before you cook it. If the quinoa has already been rinsed, this is an extra and unnecessary step! I always buy quinoa that says it's been rinsed on the package.
- If you don't cover the quinoa during cooking, it will be slightly chewier. I tried it both ways (and a bunch of other ways too!). I recommend covering the quinoa for the best texture with a slight chew.
To store: Transfer leftover tri-color quinoa to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. It tastes great in cold salads too!
To freeze: Quinoa is freezer-friendly! Let the quinoa cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag and label with the date. Thaw and use within 6 months for the best results.
To reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours. You can reheat it in the microwave until hot throughout.
Yes! It's a naturally gluten-free pseudo-grain that's nutrient-dense with plenty of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. It's considered a superfood and is referred to as a complete protein. This means it boasts all nine of the of the essential amino acids our bodies can't make on their own.
While brown rice is a healthy option and similar in nutrients to quinoa, it doesn't quite match quinoa's superfood status. Rice contains some nutrients, while quinoa is considered a complete protein!
Most quinoa brands come prerinsed. Check the bag and see it if it says rinsed anywhere on it. If the quinoa is already rinsed, there's no reason to rinse it again! It doesn't taste any different if you do and it's one extra step. The reason quinoa needs to be rinsed in the first place is due to a natural chemical called saponin. The seeds are covered in it and it tastes slightly bitter.
Yes, tri-color quinoa takes slightly longer to cook than white quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a simmer, I find it takes exactly 18 minutes to absorb the liquid.
More Quinoa Recipes
- Popped Quinoa - How to Make Puffed Quinoa
- Quinoa Salad with Feta & Peaches
- Herby Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Chickpeas
- Salmon Quinoa Bowl with Chipotle Mayo
Tri-Color Quinoa Recipe
- 1 cup tri-color quinoa prerinsed*
- 2 cups water or vegetable stock
- kosher salt
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water and tri-color quinoa.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a lid.
- Let the mixture simmer until all the liquid evaporates, about 18 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit for 5 more minutes.
- Remove the lid from the pot and fluff with a fork. Let the quinoa cool for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with kosher salt and enjoy!