How to Drain Quinoa Without a Strainer?

Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by Lauren Beck

In my years of culinary exploration, I’ve encountered situations where the absence of a trusty strainer put a damper on my quinoa-cooking adventures. 

But fear not, fellow kitchen enthusiasts! In this article, I’ll share some ingenious ways to drain quinoa without a strainer, ensuring your fluffy grains turn out perfectly every time. 

Let’s dive in and discover the tricks of the trade!

Ways to Drain Quinoa Without a Strainer

  1. Use a Fine-Mesh Sieve: A fine-mesh sieve can come to the rescue if you don’t have a strainer. Simply pour the cooked quinoa into the sieve and gently shake it over the sink to remove excess water. The fine mesh will catch the quinoa while allowing the water to drain away.
  2. Cheesecloth or Muslin Cloth: Another option is to line a bowl with cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Pour the cooked quinoa into the lined bowl, and then gather the corners of the cloth to form a pouch. Carefully squeeze the pouch to remove the excess liquid, allowing the quinoa to drain.
  3. Paper Towels or Coffee Filters: Lay a couple of paper towels or coffee filters on a flat surface. Spread the cooked quinoa on top of them and gently press down. The paper towels or coffee filters will absorb the excess moisture, leaving you with perfectly drained quinoa.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a nutritious grain-like seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. 

It comes in different varieties, such as white, red, and black, each offering its own unique flavor and texture. 

Quinoa is packed with protein, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients, making it a popular choice for health-conscious individuals and those following a gluten-free diet [1].

Why Drain Quinoa?

Draining quinoa is important to achieve the desired texture and prevent it from becoming mushy. 

Properly draining the cooked quinoa removes excess moisture, allowing the individual grains to remain fluffy and separate. 

This step is crucial, especially if you plan to use quinoa in salads, pilafs, or other dishes where a light and airy texture is desired.

Why Soak Quinoa Before Cooking?

Bowl of Quinoa

Soaking quinoa before cooking is an optional step that some people choose to follow. Soaking helps to remove the naturally occurring bitter coating called saponin, which can give quinoa an unpleasant taste. 

Additionally, soaking can improve the digestibility of quinoa by breaking down the phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors present in the outer layer of the grain.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is often hailed as a superfood due to its numerous health benefits. Here are a few reasons to incorporate quinoa into your diet:

  • High in Protein: Quinoa is a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans looking to increase their protein intake.
  • Rich in Nutrients: Quinoa is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is notably high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.
  • Gluten-Free: Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it a suitable alternative for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  • Promotes Heart Health: The fiber and antioxidants in quinoa contribute to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease.


In the vast world of cooking, even if you don’t have a strainer, you can still achieve quinoa greatness. You can conquer any obstacle with some clever alternatives, like using a fine-mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or even paper towels. 

Don’t worry, my fellow kitchen enthusiasts, the lack of a strainer won’t stop us from enjoying perfectly fluffy quinoa. It’s time to explore, try new things, and savor the delicious results. So, fear not and cook with confidence. Happy cooking!


Lauren Beck
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