Quinoa is one of my favorite grains to add to salads for extra staying power, nutrients, and texture. But sometimes, it gets a bad rap for being “boring”.
I’m here to say: while quinoa can totally be boring if not prepared well, it definitely doesn’t have to be! I put together a list of some of my favorite delicious and healthy quinoa salad recipes for you to try.
These grain salads are packed with tons of flavor and nutritious ingredients. Plus, they make fabulous side dishes or make ahead lunches!
Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is packed with nutrition!
First off, quinoa is high in fiber. Not only that, but it provides many vitamins and minerals – including potassium, iron, magnesium, and folate – that many people don’t get enough of in their diets.
Quinoa also has twice as much protein as white rice (plus more fiber), but is just as versatile when it comes to cooking!
Different Types of Quinoa
Quinoa comes in four colors:
- White Quinoa: This is the most versatile quinoa, and has the mildest flavor. (This is what most of the salads listed below use, but you can swap it out for any type you prefer or have on hand!)
- Red Quinoa: This quinoa has a more crunchy texture, and a bolder, more savory nutty flavor.
- Black Quinoa: This one is harder to find, as it’s not as common. Like red quinoa, black quinoa is crunchier and nuttier than white quinoa.
- Tri Color Quinoa / Rainbow Quinoa: This type of quinoa combines all three colors of quinoa together for a variety of flavors and textures. I’m a fan – I mean, why choose one when you can have all three?!
Easy Grain Salads with Quinoa
And now, let’s get to my favorite flavorful salads that feature this nutritious grain!
There’s a variety of different flavors to choose from here, including a fall-inspired cranberry pecan salad (this has been featured at many of our holiday dinners and is always a hit – it was even served at our wedding!) and a taco salad that happens to be one of my favorite go-to lunches.
Let’s dive in to the quinoa salad recipe ideas!
Quinoa & Kale Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs
This super nutritious quinoa kale salad features crunchy veggies (like bell pepper, broccoli slaw, and red cabbage), salty feta cheese, and jammy soft-boiled eggs.
It’s finished with an easy apple cider dijon dressing that packs a flavor punch. Absolutely delicious!
Avocado & Arugula Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
A bright orange vinaigrette is the highlight of this quinoa salad, but it also has lots more goodness to it: creamy avocado, white beans, peppery arugula, and salty feta. Sliced almonds add a nice bit of crunch and flavor, too!
This is super easy to toss together, and makes a fabulous prep-ahead lunch. Just wait to add the dressing and chop the avocado for optimal freshness.
Quinoa Taco Salad
Say hello to one of my most favorite quick lunches ever: quinoa taco salad! If you have leftover cooked quinoa, this comes together lightning fast.
Just top the quinoa with black beans, diced tomato and bell peppers, cheese, and avocado. Then, add some fresh cilantro and your favorite salsa and toss it all together!
It’s very delicious and tastes super fresh.
Pumpkin Quinoa Salad
Whether you’re looking for a Thanksgiving side dish or an easy autumn-inspired lunch, this pumpkin quinoa salad is flavorful and comforting.
It’s packed with veggies, too: in addition to the pureed pumpkin, it has asparagus and bok choy for a lovely serving of greens and crunch!
Mediterranean Green Tea Quinoa Salad
This refreshing quinoa salad is infused with earthy green tea and full of Mediterranean flavors. Fresh herbs, feta, chickpeas, bell pepper, cucumber, and tomatoes all come together for an utterly delicious meal.
This makes a perfect prep ahead packed lunch – just add the lemon garlic dressing right before you dig in!
Lemony Spinach Bean Salad
This lemony quinoa salad has very little cook time (especially if you’re using pre-cooked quinoa) and boasts lots of protein, thanks to the kidney beans and quinoa.
The lemon juice adds a bright flavor that really makes this dish stand out. Enjoy on its own, or add roasted chicken or fish!
Vegan Cranberry Quinoa Salad
Crunchy pecans and sweet-tart cranberries make an unbeatable combination in this salad! The lightly nutty, fluffy quinoa and fresh herbs tie it all together.
It looks and tastes elegant, but it’s super easy to make.
This would be lovely on any Thanksgiving or holiday table, and it goes well with lots of main dishes. Plus, it’s vegan, so everyone can enjoy it!
Feta Chickpea Grain Salad
This simple grain salad is a quick throw-together lunch, with crunchy cucumbers, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, and arugula, all sitting on a bed of quinoa.
(You can also easily swap out the chickpeas for white beans, if you prefer.)
It’s all dressed in a flavorful combination of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard!
Mushroom Quinoa Dish (Vegan)
You won’t believe this cheesy mushroom quinoa dish is actually vegan! It gets its “cheesy” flavor from nutritional yeast (it’s delicious, I promise!). It’s a cozy side dish or lunch that’s plenty filling – without feeling heavy.
I hope these quinoa salad recipes have convinced you that quinoa is certainly not boring! Enjoy. 🙂
What’s your favorite dish with quinoa? Let me know in the comments!
Quinoa isn’t just for salads! Here are more tasty quinoa recipes to try: