Quinoa is a highly versatile superfood and a great choice for making in large batches. But before you prep your quinoa for the week, it’s important to understand how quickly this cooked food can spoil.
So, how long does quinoa last in the fridge? Cooked quinoa will last for about 5 to 7 days if stored properly in an airtight container. But there are different factors that can affect this timeline.
To learn more about properly storing cooked quinoa, how different methods can affect shelf life, and how to tell if your quinoa is spoiled, keep reading. We’ll also give you our simple quinoa recipe so you can enjoy this superfood anytime the mood strikes.
What Is Quinoa
Before we dive into how to cook and store quinoa, it’s helpful to understand a little more about what quinoa is.
Quinoa is considered a grain in the culinary world. But, technically speaking, it’s a seed much like the closely related amaranth. It’s harvested from the flowering plant Chenopodium quinoa which is native to South America.
This superfood seed is packed with nutrition. Not only is it high in protein, but it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also chock full of fiber, B vitamins, and many minerals.
Red quinoa, black quinoa, and white quinoa are all common cultivator forms with similar nutritional profiles but differing amounts of various antioxidants. The less common varieties can usually be found at health food stores and well-stocked grocers.
How Long Does Cooked Quinoa Last?
Just as with other grains and seeds, cooking quinoa makes it more susceptible to spoilage.
Cooked quinoa that is placed in an airtight container and put into the fridge soon after cooking will last up to one week. If the quinoa is stored in an open container or left out for a period before being put in the fridge, it will spoil much more quickly.
How Long Does It Last in the Freezer?
One way to extend the shelf life of cooked quinoa is to store it in the freezer.
To do this, simply place your cooked quinoa in an airtight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag. When stored this way in a freezer, quinoa will last around 10 months. Frozen quinoa will still be edible after this period but is more likely to experience freezer burn and textural changes.
To reheat frozen quinoa, place the container in the fridge overnight. Or, if you’re in a hurry, transfer it to a microwaveable container and cook it for 45 seconds.
How Long Does Uncooked Quinoa Last?
Cooked quinoa tends to spoil quickly, but dry quinoa can last quite a while.
Like other dried grains, raw quinoa will typically last between 2 and 3 years in the pantry. This is true as long as the seeds are kept in an airtight bag or container and not exposed to moisture. If you’ve opened the original quinoa package, it’s best to store it in a resealable plastic bag or airtight jar or container.
Keeping quinoa grains away from light, such as in a dark pantry or cellar, will help preserve the nutrients inside the food.
Signs that Quinoa has Spoiled
Identifying if cooked quinoa has gone bad requires a little detective work.
The easiest way is to use your nose. Freshly cooked quinoa has a mild, nutty aroma. Once it has begun to spoil, you can usually detect a sour odor.
This sourness will be detectable in the flavor as well.
Spoiled quinoa also tends to be runnier than it was when first placed in the container. If left too long in the fridge, it will grow mold that can be identified by spots of darker pigment.
Signs that uncooked raw quinoa has spoiled are a little harder to identify. Unless the uncooked seeds have been exposed to moisture and are growing mold, the only sure way to tell is to cook them.
If these freshly cooked seeds are crunchier than normal or have a sour smell, it’s best to toss them out and try again with a new batch. If you don’t want to take a chance on cooking bad quinoa, it’s best to stick to the shelf life rule of 3 years and throw out any dry quinoa that’s been around longer than that period of time.
How to Store Cooked Quinoa
Once your quinoa is cooked, allow it to cool slightly in the pan before transferring it to an airtight container. Place this container straight into the fridge.
The bacteria responsible for spoiled foods grows fastest at room temperature. By placing warm quinoa in the cold fridge, you reduce the amount of time the food will sit at room temperature. This, in turn, reduces how much time bacteria has to establish.
Spoiled foods can make you very sick if consumed, so it’s always important to store foods properly. If you see any signs of mold or obvious signs that the food is turning, it’s best not to take a chance on it.
Quinoa Recipe Ideas
Looking for ways to use up your cooked quinoa? Here are some of our favorite recipes.
- Vegan Quinoa Salad – This nutritious quinoa salad is topped with a fresh lemon vinaigrette you’re going to love.
- Zesty Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa – Perfect as a side or a delicious main.
- Vegan Stuffed Zucchini Boats – Easy to make and deliciously filling.
Basic Quinoa Recipe
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 ¾ cup water
- In a fine mesh strainer, rinse your uncooked quinoa under cold water for about 1 minute.
- Transfer the rinsed uncooked quinoa to a sauce pot and add the water.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then uncover and fluff with a fork.
- Add to your favorite recipe or transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to one week.