Difference between Red Quinoa and White Quinoa

December 30, 2016 by Editorial Team

Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa,” is the primary grain crop of South America. It is often referred to as a pseudocereal because it is not grass. There are many varieties of quinoa which originated in the Andes mountainous regions. However, the most commonly used are white, black, and red. Here we will discuss the differences between red and white quinoa.


White quinoa

White quinoa is the most common type of quinoa. It is sometimes ivory in color and is usually called just “quinoa” when you buy it in stores. Because of its delicately simple taste, first timers often choose white quinoa before moving on to the darker varieties. White quinoa tastes similar to white rice. When cooked, it is more fluffy than other quinoa varieties as well as cooking faster. It may be boiled or toasted with olive oil. A 1/4 cup of white quinoa contains 172 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 31 grams of carbohydrates. It is a good protein source and also has 50% of the daily value for riboflavin!

Red quinoa
Red quinoa

Red quinoa, which sometimes takes on a dark red or orange color, has a nutty and fruity flavor. It takes longer to cook than some varieties. It is more chewy and fibrous, and it holds its shape. Because of this, people prefer to use it in cold salad recipes. If you need to increase fiber content in your body, red quinoa is a good choice. A 1/4 cup of red quinoa contains 170 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of carbohydrates. It is a good source of protein and has 15% of the daily value for riboflavin.


The color is the most obvious difference, with white quinoa having an ivory or white hue and red quinoa being red or orange. In flavor, white quinoa is subtle and tastes similar to white rice. Red quinoa, on the other hand, is more nutty or fruity. Red quinoa is also more fibrous which makes it more chewy and helps it hold its shape, whereas white quinoa is softer. Red quinoa also takes longer than white quinoa to cook.

Calorically, there is not much of a difference. A 1/4 cup serving of white quinoa contains 172 calories and 3 grams of fiber, while the same serving of red quinoa has 170 calories and 5 grams of fiber. As for carbohydrate content, red quinoa contains 32 grams per serving and white quinoa has 31. Red quinoa, however, has less riboflavin than white – 15% of the daily value, compared to 50% (based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet). As for protein, both red and white quinoa are great sources, providing all the essential amino acids, such as lysine.

Comparison Chart

Red QuinoaWhite Quinoa
170 calories in 1/4 cup172 calories in 1/4 cup
32 grams of carbohydrates in 1/4 cup31 grams of carbohydrates in 1/4 cup
15% of daily value for riboflavin in 1/4 cup50% of daily value for riboflavin in 1/4 cup
5 grams of fiber in 1/4 cup3 grams of fiber in 1/4 cup
Cooks fasterCooks longer
Has a more delicate tasteNutty and fruity flavor


Here’s a video about red and white quinoa – their health benefits and how they are best prepared.