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!
Why We Love Quinoa Salads
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 is essentially a salad with quinoa in it. It’s that simple. The benefits of adding quinoa to your salad are:
- Makes a salad more like a meal
- Keeps you full
- 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.
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 of dry quinoa yields 3 cups of 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.
How To Make 6 Cups of Cooked Quinoa
- Rinse 2 cups dry quinoa with a strainer
- Add 2 cups quinoa and 3.5 cups water to a pot.
- Bring water and quinoa to a rolling boil.
- Lower stovetop to lowest heat setting. Cover pot with lid and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional 10 minutes.
- If wanting to cool quinoa, put in an open container.
Some Delicious Recipes:
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!
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!
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.
This has sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, goat cheese, chickpeas, and golden raisins. Need I say more? Yum!
This reminds me of the Chipotle burrito bowl, but healthier and homemade.
- Squeeze some lime on the very top. Place plastic wrap directly on the guacamole itself. Seal container
- This is an easier option. Buy the guacamole packs from the grocery store. Just open a new one when you eat the quinoa salad.
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.
Quinoa Salad As A Side
If your quinoa salad includes protein like beans or meat, then it's a standalone meal. However, 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 the 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 Version
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.
Some of the main ingredients of a quinoa salad can be split up by veggies, fruits, nuts and beans, cheese, herbs, and protein. The combination of these different ingredients make a variety of salads.
- sweet potato
- butternut squash
- caramelized onions
- roasted bell peppers
- roasted corn
- pomegranate seeds
- poached pears
Nuts and Beans
- black beans
- slivered almonds
- dried cranberries
- golden raisins
- roasted garlic
- Poached Shrimp
- Fajita Steak
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:
- 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
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ 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.
- ⅛ cup lime juice
- ⅙ cup honey
- 1 tsp fresh minced ginger root
- 2 clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves (no stems)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
- ⅛ cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons juiced)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
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.
No, I do not recommend freezing the quinoa salad. It will change the texture and taste different.
No. Quinoa can be eaten straight from the fridge after it’s been cooked properly. If the quinoa dish is normally eaten warm, reheat the quinoa in the microwave.
Store quinoa in a large glass jar.
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.
Quinoa's taste is a blend of brown rice and oatmeal. It's light and fluffy when cooked, however still textured.
Best Quinoa Salad Containers
I put my quinoa salad in reusable glass containers. I never reheat my quinoa salad, but these glass containers are microwave-friendly.
Quinoa salads are versatile, easy to make, and healthy. They are a great packable lunch for work and store well in glass containers.