pressure cooker quinoa recipe
This fluffy and spicy quinoa pilaf is pressure cooked in just 1 minute.  It continues cooking using the cooker’s own residual heat and  steam – without any energy at all!

I developed this recipe to use in last summer’s pressure cooker demo tour.  It uses the 1-minute pressure cooker quinoa method which was born of cautious testing of my small hard-to-get quinoa supply. I further refined the technique by adjusting the quinoa to liquid ratio – in a moment of inattention I added less water than what I recommend and.. Surprise!  The result was even better.

The inspiration for this recipe was  Arroz Amarillo (a Spanish rice dish that is tinged with saffron) but it resembles arroz in color only. The flavors, instead, were borrowed from a cuisine that was easy to love during my 25 years in California: Mexico.  Quinoa is neither Spanish nor Mexican but, instead Peruvian. So, this wholly new recipe celebrates all three countries!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger  none    1 min.    High(2)  10-min. Natural

4.0 from 1 reviews
1-minute Quinoa Golden Pilaf - pressure cooker recipe
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
You can use any color quinoa without changing the cooking time. For example, I just covered the bottom of my measuring cup with a little black quinoa, and then topped it off with white to add a little variety.
  • 2 cups whole grain quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water
  • fresh herbs for garnish (optional)
  1. Rinse quinoa well under water until it runs clear (a few minutes)in a fine mesh strainer. Rub the grains around the strainer to ensure the full removal of the invisible bitter coating of "saponin"- a natural insect repellent.
  2. In the pre-heated pressure cooker, on medium heat add the oil and garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds and then mix-in the turmeric, cumin and salt.
  3. Add the water, and tap the quinoa from the strainer into the pressure cooker - being careful to remove any stray quinoa from the lip of the pot.
  4. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. For stove top pressure cookers, turn the heat up to high and when the cooker reaches pressure, lower to the heat to the minimum required by the cooker to maintain pressure. Cook for 1 minute at high pressure.
  5. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and begin counting 10 minutes of natural open time. Then, slowly release the rest of the pressure using the valve.
  6. Tumble quinoa into serving bowl. Fluff with a fork and decorate with fresh herbs before serving.

InstantPot or Instant Pot recipe

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  1. Thanks for posting this recipe. I can see from the pictures that you show this being prepared in the InstantPot Lux 60 pressure cooker (which is the one I have). Haven’t tried this recipe – but I will and will add it to my collection of recipes for my InstantPot.
    Sue M

    1. Sharp eye on the debut of InstanPot on the website! Yes, I used manual mode and chose 1 minute cooking time.



  2. Hi Lora

    I use hip pressure cooking on my iphone when in kitchen but some of the recipes like this one have bottom portion of the recipe wider than the top. So if you open it on iphone top looks fine but bottom is cut off on right hand side and the web browser does not allow to shrink it. Can the width be uniform so that we can follow the recipe on iphone? Thanks so much. Glad the domain is back in your hands too :)

    1. I viewed this recipe on an Android Smartphone Chrome browser and, although the right-edge of the table is not visible, the text of the recipe wraps correctly. I just checked this recipe, and several others and they all seem to behave the same.

      I wonder if the web browser on the i-phone behaves differently?



  3. Between I made this today and it was awesome. I just doubled on all spices and garlic and added one onion as well.

  4. Made this tonight. So good! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes with us!

  5. Wonderful. Sounds really yummy. Have to give this a try now. :-D

  6. Made it last night — delicious! I’ve been meaning to start cooking with quinoa, and this was a great place to start. Thank you!

  7. I’m planning to make this tonight, and was wondering — do you think I could put a piece of fish on top of the quinoa and let it cook in there with it? I was thinking of a relatively thin fillet of haddock, and hoped that with the 10 minute natural release time that might be enough to cook it through?

  8. Emily, give it a shot. It depends on the thickness of the filet. The worst thing that can happen if its undercooked, is that you pour the quinoa out of the pressure cooker, add a little water and finish steaming the fish. ; )

    Enjoy, and come back to let us know how the fish turned out!



  9. Hi Laura —

    I added the fish last night and it worked fine. If anything, the fish was overcooked, but that’s probably because it was a very thin fillet in places — maybe 1/3 of an inch to half an inch at most. I actually think putting the fish in frozen would have been better…

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Emily great experiment. Frozen may work. Even better, wrap the fish in a lettuce leaf next time.

      So glad you enjoyed it!



  10. Would I have to do anything differently if I wanted to double the amount of quinoa?

    1. You can double the recipe without changes. HOWEVER, quinoa triples in size so just to make sure that the quinoa and water are below the 1/2 full mark of your pressure cooker – this rule of thumb applies to all foods that expand when cooked!



  11. this looks fantastic thank you!

  12. You used cumin seeds, not ground cumin right?

    1. Cumin powder, but you could use seeds – too. Toast them lightly before pressure cooking!



  13. Love the site. Hate American measurements.

    1. Most of the recipes here are written in both grams and ounces (I live in Italy with a majority readership in America).

      In the case of recipes with cups, like this one, anything can be used-Italians use a “glass”. What is important is that the same vessel is used to measure the quinoa and water.

      Liquid ratios are VERY important to pressure cooking grains.



  14. It’s recipes like these that make my husband tell his friends they need to get a pressure cooker for their wives. Made this last night as written (except for the fresh herbs sprinkled on top because I served carne bistec on top instead) and it was WONDERFUL! That combo is a keeper and will get made often.

  15. Made this tonight to pair with Mediterranean black beans from the book “Pressure Cooking the Easy Way” by Maureen B. Keane and Daniella Chace. A little avocado salad and it was a delicious combination.

    Thank you for a recipe I will use again and again.

  16. Just made this with a couple alterations. Sautéed half an onion in the pressure cooker before throwing in the garlic and spices substituted coconut milk for half of the water, and fried up some lamb sausage on the side while it was cooking which I threw in when it was done. Delicious!

  17. I see you are using a 1:1.5 grain:water ratio. Would you decrease the water if you have soaked your grains? On the stovetop, I usually do 1:1 ratio.

    1. I have not tested soaked quinoa, but when I do soaked rice I do 1:1 so it’s worth a shot. However, you might find you might actually need to do even less water than stovetop because there is less evaporation. If you’re feeling adventurous (because there is no guarantee this would work) you could try 1 quinoa: .75 water (or 3/4 cup). Remember to never use less liquid than required by your pressure cooker to reach pressure. ; )

      Come back to let us know how it went!



  18. Just made this tonight – great recipe! Served it with some sliced tomatoes and sardines – it was great.

  19. I’m referencing the cook book that came with my insta pot. In the recipe, you mention that it’s not necessary to soak the quinoa. Does that mean that the insta pot does the work needed to get rid of the phytic acid? Usually I soak the quinoa for 24 hours in warm water with apple cider vinegar to get rid of this. Thanks !

  20. Hi Laura,

    My favorite quinoa recipes calls for tossed diced raw butternut squash into cooked quinoa with a little olive oil, and then roasted in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes until squash dices are cooked. I drizzle with high quality EVOO and sprinkle on nutritional yeast. Sometimes I toss in olives or capers instead of using the nutritional yeast.

    Do you think I could add the squash into the PC to cook with the quinoa? It would be awesome to save some steps :)


    1. Well, pressure cooked squash slices won’t be nearly as nice as your oven-toasted ones, but you can do it. Butternut squash, in particular, has a very low liquid content so it MAY not throw off the liquid-to-grain ratio (I haven’t tested this myself). I would just try adding the squash to the quinoa without changes to see how it goes. If your quinoa is getting a little soggy, then I would reduce the liquid from the quinoa slightly to make up for any liquids released by the butternut squash.



  21. Why does your method of cooking the quinoa on your ‘basic’ recipe seen here call for a complete natural release, while this recipe calls for 10 minutes natural, then a quick release?

    1. Welcome, Jr! The different release is because in this recipe you’re sauteeing the quinoa – so the shorter release is to ensure it does not overcook.

      In the basic method, you’re adding cold water, “cold” quinoa, to a “cold” pressure cooker so you need a little extra time for everything to even out.



  22. How can I adjust this recipe for the Instant Pot Mini 3qt?

    1. Hi Allyson, just halve everything. : )



  23. Just to clarify for those who might read more into your 3qt instructions than what you meant … Halve all the amounts and keep the timing the same, right?

    1. Mark, you can halve everything, but you should not go under 1 1/2 cups of liquid (which is your cooker’s minimum liquid requirement) or over 1/2 full which is your cooker’s maximum fill requirement for grains and beans.

      So what does all this mean for this recipe?!?! You can totally halve it without problems. : )



  24. Hi! I got an Instant Pot and found your website and I love it! I have one question about this recipe: I use Sprouted Quinoa (not just soaked, but sprouted for 24-36 hours) – have you ever tried this recipe with Sprouted Quinoa? I have read elsewhere regarding cooking Sprouted Quinoa and you cook it pretty much the same as regular Quinoa – and I have a recipe for cooking Sprouted Quinoa in a pot on the stove – and I also have how to adjust regular recipes for an Instant Pot, which is to half the liquid, which in this case would make the Sprouted Quinoa to Water Ratio 1:1 in the Instant Pot (based on stove recipe which also includes sauteing). … Well, I am going to try it with the 1:1 ratio for Sprouted Quinoa to Water. … Have any suggestions for Sprouted Grains?

    1. Ruth, I have never tried this. But since the un-sprouted quinoa already pressure cooks for one minute, and you can’t make the cooking time any shorter I would try that. If it’s overcooked, try using “low pressure”, instead.

      To figure out the right water ratio, this is what I would do. I would sprout 1 cup of quinoa in 1 1/2 cups of water (to measure how much it absorbs) and measure what’s left before cooking. Once you know the amount – you might want to use fresh water for the cooking part. ; )

      Come back to let us know how it went!



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