What happens if you eat expired quinoa? 

In this article, we will answer the question “What happens if you eat expired quinoa?”, and how to tell if cooked quinoa has gone bad?

What happens if you eat expired quinoa?

Eating expired quinoa won’t make you sick, unless it has gone bad. The shelf life of quinoa has wide variations depending if it is already cooked or not. Uncooked can endure several years while cooked quinoa lasts only a few days. (1-3)

How long does quinoa last?

Cooked quinoa that is placed  in an airtight container in the refrigerator can last 4 to 7 days. (1)

Uncooked quinoa seeds exhibit an orthodox behavior, which means that mature seeds can be stored for extended periods without losing their viability, given they are stored within suitable temperature and humidity conditions.(2)

When stored under normal ambient conditions, orthodox seeds have a half-life ranging from 5 to 10 years. However, when stored in more favorable conditions characterized by low humidity and low temperature, the half-life of orthodox seeds extends to a range of 40 to 60 years. (3) 

Does quinoa go bad? 

Yes, quinoa goes bad. Quinoa does have a limited shelf life, but it generally maintains its quality for an extended period. Uncooked quinoa can remain good for a significant duration if stored properly. However, cooked quinoa has a shorter shelf life compared to its uncooked form. (4)

How to properly store quinoa?

For optimal storage of cooked quinoa, it is advisable to transfer it to an airtight container before refrigeration. 

This step is crucial as it helps maintain its freshness and prevents it from absorbing any unwanted odors from other foods in the refrigerator.

The temperature at which you store quinoa significantly impacts its quality. Furthermore, maintaining the appropriate moisture content is vital for preserving its nutritional value during storage. 

Wet grains have a higher susceptibility to spoilage and fungal infections compared to dry grains.

When it comes to cooking quinoa, steaming is considered a more conservative method compared to boiling. Therefore, whenever possible, it is recommended to opt for steaming as the preferred cooking technique.

In general, cooked foods should either be consumed immediately or stored briefly at a temperature above 63 ºC (145 ºF). 

Alternatively, they should be rapidly cooled and kept below 7–8 ºC (45–46 ºF), ideally below 4 ºC (39 ºF). These measures help minimize the risk of contamination and ensure food safety.(1, 4, 5)

For uncooked quinoa, during storage, various factors impact its nutritional quality. Moisture content and grain temperature, as well as the temperature and relative humidity of the storage environment, play significant roles.

Temperature fluctuations have a substantial influence on maintaining the quality of the grains. Additionally, moisture content is a critical aspect to consider when preserving the nutritional value during storage. 

Wet quinoa is more prone to spoilage and fungal infections compared to dry quinoa, making moisture control vital especially in the fridge. (4)

Can you freeze cooked quinoa?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze cooked quinoa. But you should take into consideration the precautions that you need to take before storing any item in the freezer. First and foremost, you need to decide how long you want to store it. 

If you want to store it for 3-4 days and are going to put cooked quinoa in the freezer, you will simply be wasting time on freezer bags and other wrappings and then thawing it again. 

Make sure you keep the cooked quinoa in an airtight container. You can also use freezer bags or plastic wraps for this purpose. When quinoa is stored like this in the freezer, there is a good chance that it will last for 8-10 months in the freezer. 

When you take out frozen quinoa, the best and the recommended way is to defrost them overnight in the fridge. This is because the fridge will ensure an even temperature throughout the night, eliminating the chances of contamination. (4, 6)

How to tell If the quinoa has gone bad?

When it comes to uncooked quinoa, if you notice an altered texture or an unusual odor, it is likely spoiled and should not be consumed. 

These changes can serve as indicators that the quinoa has gone bad. Similarly, the presence of mold growth or any discoloration is a clear sign of spoilage, and the uncooked quinoa should be discarded.

In the case of cooked quinoa, spoilage is often indicated by a hard or slimy texture. If the cooked quinoa feels unusually hard or has a slimy consistency, it is best to discard it immediately. 

Mold growth or any discolorations on the cooked quinoa also signify spoilage and should not be consumed.

It is important to note that quinoa, like other cereal grains and oilseeds, is susceptible to fungal growth and mycotoxin contamination. 

To prevent spoilage, it is recommended to store quinoa in a cool, dry place, preferably in a tightly sealed container. This helps maintain its quality and reduces the risk of fungal contamination. (7)

What are the risks of eating spoiled quinoa?

Eating spoiled quinoa can frequently lead to mild food poisoning, which may manifest through symptoms such as headache, vomiting, stomachache, and diarrhea. 

Other possible indications include a decrease in appetite and feelings of nausea. Generally, these symptoms subside within a day or two.However, if they persist for an extended period, it is advisable to seek medical attention.(1, 8)


In this article, we answered the question “What happens if you eat expired quinoa?”, and how to tell if cooked quinoa has gone bad?


  1. BM Lund, SJ O’Brien, Public Health Measures: Food Safety in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings, Encyclopedia of Food Safety, Academic Press, 2014, 140-148.
  2. Castellión, M., Matiacevich, S., Buera, P., & Maldonado, S. Protein deterioration and longevity of quinoa seeds during long-term storage. Food Chemistry, 121(4), 952–958. 2010.
  3. Solberg Svein Øivind, et. al. Long-Term Storage and Longevity of Orthodox Seeds: A Systematic Review  Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 2020.
  4. Hakan Kibar, Ferit Sönmez, Süleyman Temel, Effect of storage conditions on nutritional quality and color characteristics of quinoa varieties, Journal of Stored Products Research,  91, 2021.
  5. Mhada, M.; Metougui, M.L.; El Hazzam, K.; El Kacimi, K.; Yasri, A. Variations of Saponins, Minerals and Total Phenolic Compounds Due to Processing and Cooking of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Seeds. Foods 2020, 9, 660
  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/ Website. Washington, DC. Freezing and Food Safety. 2013.
  7. U. Pappier et al.Effect of processing for saponin removal on fungal contamination of quinoa seeds (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) International Journal of Food Microbiology 125 (2008) 153–157.
  8. Food Safety https://www.foodsafety.gov/

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