How to pop quinoa like popcorn

Written by petra wakefield
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How to pop quinoa like popcorn
Quinoa grains are the seeds of a plant related to spinach and beets. (Quinoa image by bbroianigo from

Native Americans began cultivating both corn and quinoa thousands of years ago. Quinoa was a staple food for the ancient Incans; the name means "mother grain" in their language, according to Purdue University. You can use quinoa as a gluten-free alternative to popcorn, though it will not pop as large as popcorn because the grain is smaller. The method for popping quinoa resembles the method for air-popping popcorn. In addition to eating it on its own, you can add popped quinoa to granola or cereal.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Quinoa
  • Cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet
  • Vegetable oil spray or butter-flavoured spray
  • Salt

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  1. 1

    Place the desired amount of quinoa in a strainer and run water over it to rinse off the bitter coating. This is unnecessary if your quinoa is prerinsed; the package should state whether it is.

  2. 2

    Allow the quinoa to dry.

  3. 3

    Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the quinoa in a single layer.

  4. 4

    Shake the skillet or stir the quinoa continually to keep it from burning.

  5. 5

    Remove the skillet from the heat as soon as you notice a roasting smell. Immediately move the quinoa to a bowl.

  6. 6

    Spray the quinoa with vegetable oil or butter-flavoured spray and sprinkle it with salt. Toss the quinoa to coat it evenly.

Tips and warnings

  • Add pepper, chilli powder or your favourite spice to the popped quinoa for extra flavour.
  • If you need to pop more quinoa than will fit in a single layer in your skillet, pop it in multiple single-layer batches so that it will heat evenly.

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