Can You Mix Quinoa and Rice in a Rice Cooker – Everything You Need To Know

While rice, in and of itself, is a highly versatile grain, there’s often a concern about its nutritional qualities. All types of rice are high in starch, which means that people are often on the lookout for something to balance the carbohydrate content. Quinoa, which is high in protein, is a great option as it is a healthy addition to rice, but can you mix these two together in a rice cooker?

You can mix quinoa and rice in a rice cooker to shorten the cooking process. However, as quinoa has a shorter cooking time than both brown and white rice, it will often cook down to a creamy texture. This effect is greater when using brown rice, which has a lengthier cooking time than white rice.

The rest of this article will look at how to cook quinoa and rice together in a rice cooker, how to cook quinoa alone in a rice cooker, and which of the two grains is a healthier option for you. 

Can You Cook Quinoa and Rice in a Rice Cooker

When cooking quinoa and rice together in a rice cooker, you will first need to decide which type of rice you will be using. Brown rice is usually healthier and less starchy than white rice, but it takes a significantly longer time to cook.

The consistency of your quinoa depends on the type of rice you use. 

Quinoa generally takes about half the time of brown rice to cook in a rice cooker, which is between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on your appliance. 

If you cook these two grains together, you will have to let them cook until the brown rice is done. The result is perfectly cooked brown rice and soft and creamy quinoa. Essentially, the quinoa will act as a sauce, adding moisture and flavor to the rice. 

You can enhance this effect by first sautéing the quinoa in herbs and vegetables before cooking in your rice cooker. 

The cook time for white rice is far closer to that of quinoa. Where quinoa generally takes about 15 minutes to cook in a rice cooker, white rice needs between 18-20 minutes. This means that if you decide to mix these two grains in your rice cooker, you’ll get a combination of perfectly done white rice and slightly overcooked quinoa. 

The biggest concern when cooking rice and quinoa together is the ratio of water to add. In general, when cooking separately, you will need to add:

  • 1-1.5 cups (237-355 ml) of water to 1 cup (237 ml) of white rice
  • 2 cups (473 ml) of water to 1 cup (237 ml) of brown rice
  • 1.75-2 cups (414-473 ml) of water to 1 cup (237 ml) of quinoa 

These different ratios mean that you will either need to estimate how much water to add to your rice and quinoa mixture or work out the math. If you add too much water by mistake, you risk being left with a mushy, unpalatable dish. 

Keep in mind that these ratios are simply estimations. Depending on how soft you like your rice or quinoa to be, you may want to add a different water ratio to your grains. 

Cooking Quinoa in a Rice Cooker

While most people generally use rice cookers to make rice, the appliance itself is far more versatile than just making a single grain. There are numerous other dishes that you can make with your rice cooker, including poached fruits, soups, and even yogurt. 

One of the most common uses for this appliance, aside from making rice, is making quinoa. 

It’s challenging to cook the perfect serving of quinoa over the stove, as common issues include it not being fluffy enough, being burnt at the bottom, or sticking to the pot. 

On the other hand, a rice cooker makes quinoa just as well as it does rice, giving you a perfect, fluffy serving of your favorite quinoa dish. The recipe you’ll need to follow is relatively simple, and it’s incredibly similar to the one you follow when making rice.

  • Rinse the quinoa. This will remove the natural saponin coating found on the quinoa grains, making the final dish taste bitter. While quinoa is generally served pre-rinsed, it’s better to be safe than sorry and give it a rinse before cooking.
  • Pour the quinoa into your rice cooker, and add water or broth to the proper ratio. Water is the more common option of the two, but cooking your quinoa in broth makes it more flavorful. Add salt to taste.
  • Start the rice cooker, choosing the white rice setting if your cooker has one. If it only has one setting, just push the button. Depending on the rice cooker you have, it will take 15-30 minutes for your quinoa to be done. Check occasionally to make sure it hasn’t overcooked. 
  • Once the timer runs out, let it rest in the rice cooker for a few minutes. Once that is done, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and serve. 

Your rice cooker is all you need to make the perfect bowl of quinoa, and it is a simple and easy process. 

To make it easier for you, some rice cookers come with a dedicated quinoa setting, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking. 

Additionally, the three-cup capacity allows you to make just enough of your favorite dish without worrying you’re going to have to deal with leftovers.