Red, black and white quinoa – what’s the difference?

May 22, 2018 6:47 am Published by 1 Comment

Quinoa, that beautifully delicate and crunchy little grain, is usually sold and served in its ‘white’ or ‘pearl’ variety. However, it’s actually available, completely naturally, in many other different colours. At Naturally Good Food we stock red and black quinoa, as well as white. We’ve also got ‘tricolour’ mixed-colour quinoa packs.

We stock three colours of quinoa, but there are many more

Quinoa plants grow in a huge array of colours                         Image: Michael Hermann;

Quinoa is the seed of a plant related to spinach and grows in a whole rainbow of colours, well beyond those we sell at NGF. Over in South America, you can find purple quinoa, grey quinoa, pink, green and orange quinoa: there are, in fact, over 120 different varieties of this grain!

At Naturally Good Food, each of the three colours we stock are slightly different. Which is right for you?

Pearl (white) quinoa

Pearl or white quinoa Image: Vi..Cult…

Our most popular variety is pearl (white) quinoa, which is creamy-yellowish in colour. This is the quickest type of quinoa to cook (it takes about 10-15 minutes: see our Cooking Perfect Quinoa blog for instructions) and has the mildest taste. It’s an ideal substitute for rice in meals, forming a good base for meat, fish, vegetable and pulse dishes, where it supports, rather than overwhelms, the other ingredients.

Pearl quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s high in fibre and a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.

Red quinoa

Red quinoa Image: blairingmedia

Red quinoa takes about three-four minutes longer to cook than the white variety. It has a slightly stronger flavour than pearl quinoa (sometimes described as ‘nuttier’) and is crunchier. It keeps its shape better than pearl, making it a good option to use in a salad. It also looks very pretty!

Nutritionally speaking, red quinoa is equal to pearl quinoa in terms of protein. It’s slightly higher in fibre, but a little lower in certain vitamins and minerals.

Black quinoa

Black quinoa Image: NGF

Black quinoa takes it up an extra notch. This colour needs another five minutes’ cooking time on top of that required for red quinoa (about 20-25 minutes in total). Again, the flavour is stronger (‘earthier’ is a word often used) and the shape of the individual grains more clearly defined. Many people find the black colour very attractive – and, as you might expect from the longer cooking time, it’s higher in fibre again.

Tricolour quinoa

Tricolour quinoa Image: NGF

Tricolour quinoa is a really great option, combining the three most common colours of this grain. It looks remarkably pretty on the plate and provides a good mixture of textures and taste.

From our point of view, quinoa is a real superfood, regardless of colour. We’d advise everyone to incorporate it into their own rainbow diet! Click here to see all the quinoa we stock.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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