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How to Reheat Quinoa: Hacks for Best Texture and Flavor

How to Reheat Quinoa: Hacks for Best Texture and Flavor

Whenever I meal prep for the week, I find myself circling back to quinoa.

After all, it’s a delicious, gluten-free, and versatile dish.

The only issue with cooking grains is that more often than none, you’ll prepare more than you need.

Now, you’re left with a bowl of quinoa that you have no idea what to do with.

Figuring out how to reheat quinoa isn’t the easiest task. It takes a bit of skill to keep the texture and flavor.

For this reason, I tested three different ways of reheating quinoa (microwave, pan, and oven) to find the best fit.

As a plus, I also played around with different revamping recipes. As it turns out, there’s so much you can do with leftover quinoa!

Is Quinoa Even Reheatable?

Quinoa is a staple for vegan and gluten-free lifestyles, but it’s also so much more than just a healthy alternative to whole grains.

Thankfully, quinoa is reheatable in a bunch of different ways, including the microwave, skillets, and ovens.

But, you know the score.

Reheating food means risking the quality as you might lose a bit of texture, especially with crispy food.

For me, the best two ways are the microwave and the stovetop. However, I’d have to say that the microwave is a little bit less of a hassle.

On the other hand, the oven works fine, but it wouldn’t be my first choice unless I plan on doing something creative with the leftovers (more on that later!)

How to Reheat Quinoa in Three Different Ways

Let’s leave the creative twists for later and focus on the basic heating techniques first.

Here’s a run of my top three ways to reheat leftover quinoa:

1. Reheating Quinoa in the Microwave

reheatable quinoa

In many cases, the microwave can let you down in terms of texture and flavor by turning your leftovers into a hot mush.

Surprisingly enough:

Microwaving is one of the best ways in this case. You zap the quinoa in for a minute or so and get a steaming hot plate with excellent texture.

So much so that you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between the leftovers and a fresh batch!

That’s not all.

Knowing how to reheat frozen quinoa is also easier in the microwave. You’ll just double the heating time.

The Steps

Here’s how to reheat cooked quinoa in the microwave:

  1. Place the grains in a microwavable bowl and fluff it with a fork
  2. Cover the bowl with a dampened paper towel to lock moisture in (remove the metal fork first!)
  3. Set the timer for 30 seconds (double that for frozen leftovers)
  4. Check if the quinoa needs an extra 5-10 seconds of heating
  5. Remove the paper towel and let the bowl cool down a bit

2. Reheating Quinoa in a Pan

quinoa on pan

A few times, I’ve had to figure out how to reheat quinoa without a microwave, and the good-old stovetop came through for me.

And the best part?

This method works particularly well when you want to eat some vegetables with quinoa. I’d recommend onions, shallots, bay leaves, broccoli, and carrots.

It’s also a good idea to mix in leftover chicken and turn the dish into a stir fry. Just melt unsalted butter first. The flavor boost is divine!

On the other hand, you can keep it simple with only a bit of quinoa and plain water.

This way is almost like steaming, but it balances the moisture with the crunchy texture of the quinoa grains.

Here’s the kicker:

You have to be mindful about the amount of water you add. Too much moisture can turn it into a soggy paste.

I’ve used a tablespoon for every cup of quinoa, but this can change depending on how cooked the quinoa is.

All in all, it’s a safer option to start with a tablespoon or two and make your way up from there.

The Steps

Here’s how to reheat quinoa on stove pans:

  1. Place a pan on medium heat
  2. Add in the water gradually
  3. Mix the complementary ingredients (optional)
  4. Stir continuously to avoid scorching the grains
  5. Keep heating the mix for five minutes (double that for frozen quinoa)

3. Reheating Quinoa in an Oven

turning oven on to reheat qunoa

If you know me, you know how I love reheating leftovers in the oven. It’s a simple way that poses the least risk to the texture from everything from reheated cornbread to quinoa.

So, it’s no surprise that I tried it out with quinoa. Unfortunately, it didn’t satisfy my expectations this time.

Don’t get me wrong.

The texture and flavor were fine.

I just didn’t like how much effort I had to put into this method when the result is indistinguishable for the 30-second microwave zap.

As a plus, I had to defrost the quinoa first in the microwave before heating it in the oven.

I’ll tell you what, though.

The oven reheating method still holds its weight in a few instances, especially when you have to reheat a large amount at once.

The Steps

Here are the steps to try out yourself:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350°F
  2. Spread the quinoa in a large bakeware
  3. Add a tablespoon of water for every cup of quinoa
  4. Cover the bakeware with aluminum foil
  5. Set the timer for 10 minutes

How to Reheat Cooked Quinoa with a Twist

I’m all for creative cooking. Once you get to revamp a leftover into an eye-pleasing dish, you’ll have trouble going back to traditional reheating.

With quinoa, the possibilities are so vast that I had trouble picking my favorites for this post!

I mean, there’s a lot you can do with your cooked quinoa, from chili bowls to using them to crust chicken nuggets.

However, I ended up choosing three of my all-time favorite ideas. Let’s take a look! 

Bake Some Hearty Vegan Quinoa Meatballs

Baked Quinoa Meatballs

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Let’s put those quinoa leftovers to good use and make some vegan meatballs.

After all, healthy food doesn’t always have to be limited to light snacks and salads. Hearty dishes are for everyone!

All you need to pull off this vegan recipe is some cooked quinoa, grated cheese, bread crumbs, and a refreshing collection of herbs.

Once the tray is ready to pop out of the oven, you’ll be embraced by a warming aroma of Italian cuisine.

Put a toothpick in those bad boys, add some fresh parsley for garnish, and serve your meatless meatball appetizer with your dipping sauce of choice.

Can this really be true?

Yup, I first approached this vegan alternative with a bit of skepticism. However, I ended up pleasantly surprised with the texture and flavor.

As a plus, you can use the recipe to make some vegan quinoa patties. Go crazy with the core concept!

And of course if you don’t finish these, you can check out our list of what to do with leftover meatballs!

Wrap a Quinoa Burrito

Although I’m a massive supporter of re-engineering leftover food, I get that it can be too much effort sometimes.

Yeah, it’s fun to change a meal’s original presentation beyond recognition and create something entirely new, but lazy dinner is a thing for a reason.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Yup, it’s time to make a wrap.

Burrito wraps are quick to fix and easy to pack, making them an ideal item for a lunch box or a movie night at home.

And thankfully, quinoa fits right in the burrito alley!

wrapped Quinoa Burrito

Using the stovetop heating method, you can stir-fry leftover quinoa with any mix of beans, rice, vegetables, and chicken.

I’d recommend red beans, corn, chickpeas, cilantro, garlic, and bell pepper for a healthy protein-rich burrito mix.

All that’s left is serving yourself a delicious burrito wrap and enjoying your hearty dinner on the couch.

If you’re feeling a bit ambitious, you can try making your tortilla from scratch. It can be a fun experience to share with kids!

Here’s how:

On the other hand, if you’re not up to do a lot of prep steps, skip the tortilla altogether and eat straight from the bowl!

Turn Your Leftover Quinoa into Mouth-Watering Desserts

After a hearty meal, I’m usually in the mood for a dessert.

What about you?

Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with banana muffins or nutmeg breakfast cookies using quinoa leftovers.

Because cooked quinoa is gluten-free, it works so well as a flour alternative. It’s the perfect opportunity for a healthy dessert.

You can even twist the banana muffin recipe to make quinoa pancakes when you don’t feel like cranking up the oven.

Here’s the deal:

To get the right dough-like consistency, you need to mix in a paste-like ingredient with the grains.

Some recipes use peanut butter, maple syrup, ripe bananas, or even rhubarb. The choice here is yours.

For the perfect finishing touch, I love topping my quinoa desserts with ground pistachios. This is how to reheat quinoa that looks good and tastes even better!

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