Quinoa has become a popular staple for many health-conscious eaters. Considered a superfood it is packed full of protein, fiber, as well as an excellent source of various vitamins, minerals. A great base for mixing in vegetables, topping off a salad, or adding as a side to a protein; it’s no wonder why it’s become a favorite pairing for meals.
Whether you have leftovers or are cooking ahead for the week, you may be left wondering; how long does cooked quinoa last?
Quinoa stored in an airtight container in the fridge will last anywhere from 3-7 days.
Still, have questions about how to store quinoa, shelf life, and signs quinoa has gone bad?
Keep reading below!
How Long is Cooked Quinoa Good For at Room Temperature?
After quinoa has been cooked it can be left out at room temperature for about 2 hours; which is the standard time set forth for perishable foods by the USDA. However, use your own best judgment. I’ve certainly left quinoa out a bit longer when I’ve gotten carried away entertaining and it’s been ok to eat. When quinoa is left out uncovered it begins to dry out, you will begin to notice a difference in its quality. Use your own best judgment if it’s been out for more than 2 hours. If you know the quinoa isn’t going to be eaten in the next hour or two, it’s best to store it in the fridge.
How Long Does Quinoa Last in the Fridge?
In the fridge, cooked quinoa can last anywhere from 3-7 days when stored properly in an airtight container. This is great news if you are meal prepping for the next week or you just haven’t had a chance to eat those leftovers. The best way to store cooked quinoa in your fridge is to first allow it to cool down. After it has cooled, then transfer to airtight containers or bags for storage. If your container is not airtight, the quinoa will dry out faster and spoil sooner.
If you have mixed with other ingredients such as coconut milk, broth, veggies, etc. with your quinoa; you need to factor in how fresh those ingredients are in determining how long your quinoa will be good for.
How do you know Quinoa has Gone Bad in the Fridge?
To answer this question, I did my own experiment. I made a batch of quinoa using water only (no salt or seasonings), stored it in an airtight glass container with a plastic lid in the fridge. I checked on it daily to observe taste, quality, and appearance. While this was not a scientific experiment (I don’t have that kind of equipment, sorry); my goal was to see what happens to quinoa when it’s gone bad and how many days after cooking do I really want to be eating quinoa.
In my experiment I found that after about 24-48 hours, quinoa still looked and tasted similar to how it did freshly cooked. The fourth day, there were visible clumps- quinoa sticking together. It still tasted edible, but the quality and freshness had certainly begun to dissipate.
My conclusion was that for meal prepping my limit would be 3 days or it would be better to freeze for freshness. For leftovers, if there was nothing left in the fridge it tasted fine and was certainly edible for about 5 days.
In terms of appearance after 5-7 days, a thin moist coating became more and more visible that wasn’t there freshly cooked. I actually kept the quinoa in my fridge for a full 7 weeks to see what would happen. It never grew wings, only growing one spot of noticeable mold, and smelled atrocious.
Below are a few pics of the experiment, although as noted above the changes were subtle so they may be hard to see in photographs.
Can You Freeze Quinoa?
Yes! You can freeze both cooked quinoa and uncooked quinoa. Since the refrigerator life of cooked quinoa is only a few days, freezing is an excellent option for retaining quality, freshness, and nutrients. As someone who likes to prep food, yet doesn’t like the quality to diminish I often find freezing foods to be the best option. If you are meal prepping, freezing quinoa for any meals that won’t be eaten within 3 days is a great option.
Whether the quinoa has been cooked yet or is still uncooked, it needs to be stored in an airtight container. While quinoa could last 8-12 months or longer in the freezer; I’ve found it really depends on how well it is stored and if it gets any freezer burn on it. As with any frozen foods; the quality, taste, and texture of quinoa may begin to diminish after 1-2 months in the freezer.
Does Quinoa Go Bad?
Quinoa is shelf-stable and considered to be non-perishable. The shelf life of quinoa is about 2-3 years from the harvesting and packaging date. Quinoa will often be marked with a “best by” date on it, although this is really a loose guideline. When stored properly in an airtight container away from moisture it is likely to last much, much longer before it goes bad.
If you suspect your quinoa has gone bad, it’s best to not eat it. If it has any foul smells, taste, looks to it before or after being cooked- it’s gone bad.
When it comes to quinoa whether it’s cooked or uncooked when in doubt throw it out, eating bad food or food that is spoiled is never fun. You don’t want to risk an upset stomach or feeling ill if you don’t have to.