What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

About ten or twelve years ago, we started getting very interested in quinoa. Most of us couldn’t even pronounce it properly, but we were all ditching our rice for this superfood. While the giant quinoa boom seems to be over, quinoa seems to be here to stay.

Quinoa is a grain and has a slightly nutty, slightly sweet, roasted, earthy flavor. It’s fairly fluffy and has a bit of a chew to it. It’s similar to couscous in texture and chew, but not as much in flavor.

As most quinoa eaters have used it to replace rice, it is also similar to brown rice in some ways. 

Is Quinoa Bitter

One of the most popular questions about the taste of quinoa is whether or not it is bitter.

The most dominant flavor in your quinoa should be a roasted nutty taste. There shouldn’t be any hint of bitterness in your quinoa.

Now, freshly harvested quinoa seeds are coated in a somewhat bitter compound. This could make your quinoa taste bitter or soapy. All you need to do is rinse it thoroughly in a mesh strainer with water.

Prepackaged quinoa will almost always be pre-rinsed so this is really only an issue with seeds.

Types of Quinoa

There are a few different common types of quinoa and each is slightly different in flavor and texture. Let’s see which one is best for the outcome you desire.

White Quinoa

White quinoa is one of the mildest types of quinoa. It’s incredibly bland and basically a blank canvas.  Due to this, it’s a great base for dishes of all kinds. 

Its texture is also a little lighter and a little fluffier than some of the other kinds.

Red Quinoa

Red quinoa has a more intense, nutty flavor than white quinoa. It’s also somewhat more crunchy than fluffy in texture.

Black Quinoa

This grain has an earthy and somewhat sweet flavor which is fairly robust. 

They are also crunchy and have a somewhat sandy texture.

Quinoa vs Rice

How are quinoa and rice different? Setting aside the health benefits, they do stack up pretty similarly. Let’s see if you can really swap one for the other.

Brown Rice

While both quinoa and brown rice have a somewhat nutty taste, the flavor is much more intense in quinoa. You might only notice it in brown rice after someone else mentioned it.

Quinoa is much smaller than rice and has a somewhat fluffy texture. That said, there is a little bit of chewiness in quinoa. 

Brown rice grains are larger and when cooked are less fluffy and chewier. 

In a pinch, you could probably swap quinoa and brown rice for each other. You would be able to tell the difference, but it wouldn’t ruin your dish.

White Rice

While quinoa and brown rice share some similarities, quinoa and white rice share few similarities.

Quinoa has a toasted, nutty, earthy flavor, while white rice simply tastes like a bland starch.

In terms of texture, in comparison to quinoa, white rice seems overly chewy and sort of sticky. 

While neither the taste nor texture of white rice is bad, it’s unlikely to be an effective substitute for quinoa.

How Do I Make Quinoa Taste Good

If you aren’t already sold on the roasted nutty flavor of quinoa, you can add some things in to enhance and complement its flavors. Some of the most popular ways to eat quinoa are:

Try to find something that will bring out the nuttiness of the quinoa, but really, add whatever you think will taste good!

A Toasted Nutty Flavor

Quinoa, overall, has a deep, roasted nutty flavor. It’s also somewhat sweet and earthy with a nice fluffy texture.

Quinoa is a side dish with a lot of flavor that’s easy to enrich with other ingredients. Try it, and maybe you’ll become one of the multitudes of people who are leaving rice behind, for quinoa.