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Quinoa Salad Recipes – The Ultimate Guide

by Lilian B.
quinoa chickpea salad with spinach

Why We Love Quinoa Salad Recipes

Quinoa salad recipes are one of the most versatile, healthy, easy to prepare, and easy to pack meals. They are an excellent standalone meal or side dish. There are so many quinoa salad recipes out there, so it can be confusing which one to try. I have made around 30 to 40 different quinoa salad recipes. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite quinoa salad recipes below with links to the full recipes.

I literally make quinoa salad for lunch meals 25% of the time. I never get that energy crash in the afternoon when I have a healthy quinoa salad. They store well in the fridge, and they don’t require a microwave to heat up. When I was working at the office, sometimes there would be a long line to use the microwave. It’s nice to not have to wait when hungry!

Quinoa salad recipes also keep me full for a long time, especially when I add a little bit of protein in the form of beans, nuts, or meat.

The quinoa salad recipes I enjoy the most are ones with distinct character. I don’t like eating mostly quinoa with a few pieces of ruffle here and there. My favorite salads are ones that are flavorful, colorful, hearty and deep. I guess it’s kind of hard to put words in place of a taste or feeling, but you get the point.

What Is Quinoa Salad?

quinoa-salad-recipe-close-up

Quinoa salad is essentially a salad with quinoa in it. It’s that simple.

The benefits of adding quinoa to your salad are:

  1. Superfood
  2. Makes a salad more like a meal
  3. Keeps you full
  4. Adds texture

Different Types of Quinoa

There are three main types of quinoa- red, black and white. The most widely used quinoa is white quinoa, however, I’ve used all 3 types interchangeably. I didn’t notice much of a difference in taste personally. However, I did notice the red quinoa and black quinoa are more firm.

Somewhere along the way, I settled on white quinoa as my pantry staple, so all of my quinoa recipes are with white quinoa.

How Healthy is Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is known as a superfood and a complete protein grain. In fact, quinoa packs a high amount of protein for a plant, which makes it an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians, or those who are trying to eat fewer animal products.

Quinoa is gluten-free, however, it may be packaged in a plant that handles other grains with gluten.

Quinoa itself is vegan, however depending on the way you prepare your quinoa salad recipe may change its vegan status. There are plenty of vegan-friendly options when making a quinoa salad recipe, like this one here.

Quinoa is not keto-friendly. One cup of cooked quinoa contains roughly 40 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber. Most keto-friendly diets don’t exceed 20 to 40 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs minus the fiber (in grams).

1 cup of cooked quinoa has these nutritional macros:

222 calories 40gr carbs, 4gr fat, 8gr protein

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is so easy to make!

1 cup dry quinoa yields 3 cups cooked quinoa.

Most quinoa salad recipes yield 6 servings (including the recipes below), so my recommendation would be to cook 2 cups dry quinoa which yields 6 cups cooked quinoa. This is enough quinoa for recipes that yield 6 servings, which is roughly 1 cup of quinoa per serving.

For every 1 cup of dry quinoa, you need 1.75 cups of water. I do not add any oil or salt when cooking my quinoa.

Here’s the recipe to make 6 cups of cooked quinoa:

  1. Rinse 2 cups dry quinoa with a strainer
  2. Add 2 cups quinoa and 3.5 cups water to a pot.
  3. Bring water and quinoa to a rolling boil.
  4. Lower stovetop to lowest heat setting. Cover pot with lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. If wanting to cool quinoa, put in an open container.
cooked quinoa

What are the Calories and Macronutrients for Quinoa Salad?

The calories and macros vary for each quinoa salad recipe. I have included the nutritional content for the recipes on my site. Just click the recipe link and you will find the nutritional information in the recipe card.

If you track macros and calories, add the recipe to the MyFitnessPal app. It’s very easy to do, and the macros are stored for future use.

Here are my Top Favorite Quinoa Salad Recipes:

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Spinach

quinoa and spinach salad on plate

This vegan quinoa salad is so filling and delicious! I recently made this for my meal prep lunches for the week. The pomegranate dressing adds a little bit of tangy and sweet flavor. Definitely a recipe to keep for the recipe box!

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Mint and Pomegranate

quinoa-salad-recipe-in-bowl

Be prepared for something light and fresh! Pomegranate, mint, and parsley make this salad taste like sunshine.

This recipe is vegan-friendly as is. If you’d like to add some cheese, I highly recommend adding grilled or roasted halloumi. Halloumi is a common middle eastern cheese that can be found at specialty grocery stores.

Some grocery stores have already peeled pomegranate seeds. Save yourself some time!

Greek Quinoa Salad

greek salad with quinoa

This is my husband’s favorite quinoa salad. I could literally make this for him every week, and he wouldn’t complain.

If the grocery store has fresh oregano, I use the fresh stuff instead of the dried stuff. The grape tomatoes are a must in this recipe. They are sweeter in taste, and in my opinion, make a difference. Sometimes we add roasted chicken thighs to this recipe. We still eat the salad cold even with meat.

I am an olive snob. I pace back and forth on the olive bar to find the best-tasting olives. For this recipe, I use Lebanese green olives with pits. I remove the pits before putting them into the salad.

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

quinoa salad with chickpeas and sweet potatoes

This has sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, goat cheese, chickpeas, and golden raisins. Need I say more? Yum!

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans Southwestern Style

This reminds me of the Chipotle burrito bowl, but healthier and homemade.

I add homemade guacamole, pineapple salsa, and grilled steak fajita to this recipe. If you make fresh guacamole, it will discolor after a day. Here are two solutions:

  1. Squeeze some lime on the very top. Place plastic wrap directly on the guacamole itself. Seal container
  2. This is an easier option. Buy the guacamole packs from the grocery store. Just open a new one when you eat the quinoa salad.

Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa

This salad has more salad than quinoa, but it’s still a quinoa salad! This is an authentic Lebanese tabbouleh recipe with quinoa instead of bulgar wheat. This recipe is made with Italian parsley, fresh mint, tomatoes, onions, lemons, olive oil, and cooked quinoa.

tabouli with quinoa

Kale and Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa Salad Recipe from Costco

So What Goes with Quinoa Salad?

That’s a good question! It depends on how you have made your quinoa salad. If your quinoa salad includes a protein like beans or meat, then you might have a standalone meal on your hands.

I treat lighter quinoa salad recipes like a side dish. For example, if I’m making quinoa salad for dinner, I will make something like below:

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Chickpeas and Roasted Chicken Thighs

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Mint and Pomegranate and Roasted Lamb Shanks

Kale and Quinoa Salad Recipe and Grilled Skewered Shrimp

Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa, Homemade Hummus, and Grilled Shish Tawook (Chicken Kabobs)

Make Your Own Quinoa Salad Recipe

greek salad unmixed

After making so many quinoa salad recipes, I’ve found that there is a formula for a successful quinoa salad recipe. If you’d like to experiment with new flavors and try to make your own recipe, go for it!

So what makes a good quinoa salad? To me, I’d like a balance of flavors and healthy ingredients. If I wanted to eat junk food, I would eat junk food. If I’m going to eat quinoa, I’m going to pair it with other healthy nutrient-packed ingredients.

A general rule of thumb: 1 cup quinoa for every 4 cups salad

Pick a variety of veggies that go well together, then add 1 ingredient from the other categories. You can also skip categories. For example, if you want to make a vegan quinoa salad recipe, you can skip the meat and dairy category.

Pro Tip: Use fresh herbs if available.

You can use the dried stuff, but fresh herbs add so much depth to a recipe in addition to nutrients. I recommend using a maximum of two fresh herbs per recipe.

When I am preparing my quinoa salad, I start by cooking the quinoa. It will take time for the quinoa to cook and cool.

Make sure your quinoa is cool. This is very important! Otherwise, the quinoa will cook the salad part of your recipe and you will end up with something undesirable. Believe me, I know.

Pick From Below

Veggies

  • sweet potato
  • butternut squash
  • onions
  • caramelized onions
  • cucumbers
  • roasted bell peppers
  • roasted corn
  • kale
  • spinach

Fruits

  • pomegranate seeds
  • apples
  • poached pears
  • tomatoes

Nuts and Beans

  • chickpeas
  • black beans
  • pinenuts
  • slivered almonds
  • dried cranberries
  • golden raisins
  • olives

Cheeses

  • goat
  • feta
  • halloumi

Herbs

  • mint
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • cilantro
  • garlic
  • roasted garlic

Meats

  • Chicken
  • Fajita Steak
  • Prosciutto

Quinoa Salad Dressing Recipes

When making a salad dressing, I look for flavor. Below are 4 different salad dressing recipes specifically for quinoa salads with 6 servings:

Greek

  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 whole lemon juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

This recipe needs to be blended in a blender.

  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1/6 cup honey
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger root
  • 2 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves (no stems)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1/8 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons juiced)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here are Some Other General Questions About Quinoa Salad Recipes:

How Long Does Quinoa Salad Last in the Fridge?

Depending on how fresh your vegetables and fruits are, the quinoa salad should last 4-5 days in the fridge. I typically make my quinoa salad on Sunday evening before the workweek and eat it through Thursday. If I’m feeling lucky, then I’ll eat it on Friday as well.

Can quinoa salad be frozen?

No, I do not recommend freezing the quinoa salad. It will change the texture and taste different.

Does Quinoa need to be reheated?

No. Quinoa can be eaten straight from the fridge after it’s been cooked properly. For quinoa salad, I do not heat it.

If you have made a different quinoa dish that is eaten warm, you can reheat quinoa in the microwave.

When reheating quinoa on the stovetop, I treat it similar to rice. If the dish is a dry dish, I put the stovetop on the lowest possible setting. I add a couple of tablespoons of water and monitor it closely. It’s very easy to burn if you aren’t careful.

What is the best way to store dry quinoa?

I store my quinoa in a medium-sized glass jar. I store most of my dry ingredients this way, as I have found it easier to find. Also, I don’t like keeping my food in plastic.

dry quinoa in jar

How long can dry quinoa be stored?

If quinoa is left uncooked and unopened, it can be kept in the pantry for 2 to 3 years. I check the packing date when I buy my product at the grocery store. I don’t want to buy quinoa that’s been sitting on the shelves for 2 years already.

What do you put your quinoa salad in?

quinoa salad in glass containers

I put my quinoa salad in reusable glass containers like these ones. I never reheat my quinoa salad, but these glass containers are microwave friendly.

What does quinoa taste like?

Quinoa’s taste is a blend of brown rice and oatmeal. It’s light and fluffy when cooked, however still textured.

What can be substituted with quinoa?

If I want to make tabbouleh or baked kibbeh, I substitute the bulgar wheat with quinoa. This is a great way to make the dish gluten-free.

Some people use quinoa instead of rice. Personally, I think it changes the taste of the dish too much.

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6 comments

M February 22, 2020 - 12:32 am

I just made my own version. I can mix these up and not eat the same recipe all of the time. Thanks for the ideas.

Reply
Lilian B. February 23, 2020 - 12:34 am

You bet!

Reply
Tom January 27, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Very great post to give quinoa salad ideas. I eat these often for lunch at work

Reply
Lilian B. January 29, 2020 - 12:33 am

Thanks Tom!

Reply
Lina December 13, 2019 - 12:29 am

Looks like a lot of delicious options!

Reply
Lilian B. December 13, 2019 - 2:34 pm

Thanks Lina

Reply

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