How To Tell If Quinoa Is Bad?

One of the beauties of dry foods such as grains and seeds is that they have an incredibly log shelf-life. Quinoa is no exception and it reality it will often last well beyond the expiration date that was shown on the packet. Once cooked it can be kept for a short time in the refrigerator or for several months in a freezer. But how do you tell if quinoa is bad? Let’s find out.

How Do You Know If Uncooked Quinoa is Bad?

how do you know if uncooked quinoa is bad

It’s not always easy to tell if uncooked quinoa is bad as there are often no obvious signs. 

First it’s best to look for any easy to see issues such as damaged packaging that has allowed the seeds to become exposed to the air or signs of dampness or mold.

A bad aroma or the presence of insects or bugs are also tell tale ways to see that all may not be well.

Once you cook the quinoa it will become a lot easier to know if things are not as they should be. Check for an unpleasant odeur, strange texture or peculiar taste.

Sometimes the quinoa won’t soften properly when you cook it and remain hard.

To avoid uncooked quinoa going bad there are some important steps you can take:

  1. Keep it in a completely dry place.
  2. Transfer it out of its original packaging into an airtight container.
  3. Keep it somewhere cool and dark where the temperature remains relatively constant at all times.

You can freeze both uncooked and cooked quinoa to prolong its life. In this video we can see how to prepare all kinds of foods for easy and correct freezer storage:

How Long Does Quinoa Last Uncooked?

Uncooked quinoa can last for two or three years from when it was harvested. On most packaging you’ll see a “best by” date and not an expiration date. 

The date given is meant as a guide and quinoa is often safe to eat well past this by months and even years if kept under optimum conditions.

Check for obvious signs of spoilage before throwing it out.

What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Quinoa?

It isn’t all that likely that you’ll eat spoiled quinoa as it would have an unpleasant smell and taste, but if you did then like any off food, it could potentially make you feel unwell and give you an upset stomach.

To avoid this, you can read the information given by the Food Safety Council here.

Can Cooked Quinoa Go Bad?

Yes, like other cooked foods, bacteria soon start to proliferate along with mold spores.

Insects may also infect the cooked quinoa if it is not kept tightly covered.

Once cooked, quinoa should be refrigerated after it has cooled for about 20 minutes. 

Place the cooked quinoa into an airtight container with a tightly fitting lid or into freezer bags and place in the refrigerator. This helps it from catching other odors.

Cooked foods should not be left out of the refrigerator or freezer for any more than two hours, or bacteria and mold will start to grow.

Quinoa will keep for several days in the fridge but if you want to keep it for longer than this then it will need to be frozen. 

Follow the freezing guide in the video above for best results.

The best way to defrost your frozen quinoa is to put it in the refrigerator overnight. For convenience, you can leave it in its freezer bag. 

Once thawed, you can transfer the quinoa into a microwavable dish, add ½ a cup to a cup of water, and cover. Then microwave on high for a couple of minutes and stir well until it is thoroughly heated through.

Alternatively, you can use a non-stick pan over low heat and add stock, water, or tinned tomatoes to maintain moisture. 

How Do You Know If Cooked Quinoa is Bad?

how do you know if cooked quinoa is bad

If you suspect your cooked quinoa may be bad, it is generally fairly easy to tell as it will show signs of mold growth, discoloration, show signs of drying out, or have a bad smell. 

If the quinoa has been in the refrigerator for more than three days, you should throw it away. This is always the safest way as it isn’t worth taking the risk.

How Long Does Cooked Quinoa Last Out of the Fridge?

It is recommended that all perishable foods, and that includes quinoa, should be placed in a refrigerator within two hours after cooking. 

Although in colder temperatures, the quinoa would probably be fine for a while longer than this, it is better to follow the guidelines and not get sick.

If your quinoa has been left out of the fridge for longer than two hours, it may still be perfectly fine to eat. You are free to use your own judgment, but this is entirely at your own risk.

If you left your quinoa out on the counter overnight by mistake, it is probably safest just to chuck it in the trash.

How Long Can You Use Cooked Quinoa?

A lot of factors affect how long things will keep in a fridge. In order to be safe, it is probably best not to eat anything that has been stored for more than five days. But even this depends on what the food is.

If your quinoa is not mixed with anything else and was put into the fridge in an airtight container without delay, then it would most likely be fine for up to a week. If, however, you have added other ingredients, this could severely shorten its refrigeration shelf life.

If you froze your cooked quinoa, then it should stay good in the freezer for three to 12 months again, depending on what else it was mixed with, the manner in which you froze it, and the efficiency of your freezer.


It can be difficult to tell if uncooked quinoa is bad, but it is generally fairly easy to see and smell if cooked quinoa is not OK.

Following sensible food hygiene practices should keep you safe and prevent the possibility of getting sick.

As a general rule, I always advise, “if in doubt, throw it out!” Enjoy your delicious quinoa dishes safely.

If you found this article informative, you may find others on our site even more useful. Why not take a look at the wide range we have on quinoa and loads of other great subjects too!

1 thought on “How To Tell If Quinoa Is Bad?”

  1. There is no information that I have found for quinoa that is cooked and comes in a bag. I had “Seeds of Change” in a sealed bag you cook for 90 seconds in microwave. When cooking in microwave I could smell a moldy smell. However, part way through cooking smell was gone. So I thought it was just my imagination. I have never eaten this stuff and some stuff can have an odd smell. When finished cooking it smelled tasted fine. So I ate it. Now after eating I have like a moldy after taste lingering in my mouth. So I wonder if I have been poisoned. There are no effects from it yet, but then it has only been 30 minutes. Also I want to say or warn, when package was open there was no foul odor, and product looked good. The odor came half way through cooking, but disappeared after completely cooked. Please remember this product was precooked, you are just reheating it in the bag.


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