Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

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I’ve been wanting to share my easy quinoa salad with you for some time. My family loves it and you can throw it together in ten minutes for dinner or as a delicious side dish! Of course, you need to cook the quinoa ahead of time, but once you learn how to make this recipe I hope you make it time and time again.

Years ago I taught cooking, baking, and dehydrating classes in a fancy kitchen store in Southern Utah. The nice thing about working there is that I had the opportunity to meet Chef Brad and learn cooking skills from him.

He taught me the joy of using a pressure cooker and making meals with different grains. I also learned new techniques for making bread. If you ever have a chance to go to one of his classes you won’t be disappointed. In case you missed this post, Quinoa: Everything You Need To Know

This salad has crunch from the quinoa, is packed with veggies, and is light and healthy with a vinaigrette dressing.

Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe


  • Organic Quinoa Uncooked: rich in antioxidants; one of the few plant-based foods considered a complete protein; contains a high content of dietary fiber.
  • Water: cold water is used to rinse the quinoa before cooking to help eliminate the bitter-tasting coating found on the seeds; also used to cook the quinoa.
  • Cucumbers: mild in flavor; add a subtle crunch to the salad; rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene.
  • Spinach or Basil: spinach not only adds nutrients but has a fairly mild flavor so most people love it in a salad. Basil also adds nutrients. It has a stronger flavor than spinach. Best known for its distinct flavor which significantly adds to salads, pesto, pasta, pizza, and other delicious dishes.
  • Black Olives: rich in antioxidants vitamin E, beta carotene, and polyphenols; offers a smooth and fruity taste to the salad.
  • Purple/Red Onion: mild and sweet flavored onion; the purple/red color of the onion adds beauty to the final product.
  • Tomatoes: add sweetness and are full of antioxidants. Perfect for salads!
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: loaded with antioxidants and a heart-healthy fat; made from pure, cold-pressed olives; least processed oil compared to regular olive oil.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: rich and complex flavor; adds both sweet and sour elements to the dressing in the salad.
  • Garlic: provides delicious flavor; may also aid in health benefits due to antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  • Lemon Juice: helps to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients in the salad; gives the salad an extra boost of flavor we all love!
  • Honey: used to balance out the sourness or tartness of the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Salt and Pepper: both spices add flavor and help to bring all of the flavors together.

Kitchen Items You May Need:

Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

Step One – Gather The Ingredients

Gather your ingredients so you’re ready to make this recipe.


Step Two – Rinse The Quinoa

Grab a mesh strainer to rinse the quinoa with cold water to get rid of the bitterness.

Fine Mesh Colander

Step Three – Drain The Water After Rinsing

Let the quinoa drain after rinsing it with cold water.

Rinse The Quinoa

Step Four – Put The Quinoa And Some Water In The Pressure Cooker Pot

Add the water to your pan. In my case, I used my pressure cooker. This is my favorite Savor Pressure Cooker. I gave away my Instant Pots, their operating instructions were confusing for me. The company Fagor was purchased by Savor, my favorite pressure cooker company.

Add Water To Pan

Step Five – Remove the Quinoa From The Pot And Put It In The Fridge

Here it is cooked, and ready to cool a bit before placing it in the refrigerator. In this recipe, we used cold quinoa.

Cooked Quinoa

Step Six – Roll And Mince The Garlic

You use a garlic roller to separate the cloves from their bulb. Then you use a garlic press to mash/mince the garlic so it’s ready to add to the other dressing ingredients.

Mince the Garlic

Step Seven – Make The Salad Dressing

You make the salad dressing by adding the extra-virgin olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper together. I used a jar I could close up tight and shake the ingredients so they are well mixed. You can also use a whisk to perform the same mixing process.

Salad Dressing

Step Eight – Cut/Chop The Vegetable Ingredients

You cut/chop the various ingredients into the bite sizes you like. For this salad, we cut the olives and tomatoes in thirds, the cucumber slices in fourths, the onions into small pieces, and the spinach into pieces easier to eat.

Assemble the Ingredients

Finished Product – You’ll Love This Salad!

Place the quinoa and cut-up veggies in a large bowl, gently mix all the ingredients, then drizzle the dressing evenly all over the salad. I like this beautiful picture I took before mixing all the ingredients and adding the dressing. This is such a healthy and delicious salad your whole family will enjoy!

Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe
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Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 2 cups organic quinoa uncooked (directions to cook below)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 cucumbers, cubed
  • 1-2 cups spinach or basil, chopped
  • 1-2 cans black olives, sliced
  • 1 purple/red onion chopped
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
How To Cook Quinoa
  1. 1. Option One: Use a fine mesh strainer to rinse the quinoa in cold water. Place the rinsed quinoa in a rice cooker and add 4 cups of water and turn the rice cooker on. Let it cool in the refrigerator after cooking it.

    2. Option Two: Use a fine strainer to rinse the quinoa in cold water. Place the rinsed quinoa in a 4-quart medium saucepan. Add 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover it, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool a bit and then place it in the refrigerator.

Quinoa Salad Dressing
  1. Combine the extra-virgin olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper. Use a whisk to stir the dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve the salad.

Quinoa Salad
  1. 1. Remove the chilled quinoa from the refrigerator and place it in a large bowl you will serve the salad in.

    2. Add the chopped cucumbers.

    3. Put the spinach or basil on top of the quinoa.

    4. Layer the sliced black olives next.

    5. Add the chopped purple red onions.

    6. Sprinkle the tomatoes on the very top.

    7. Drizzle the dressing over the top.

    8. Gently mix or fluff the salad together.

    9. Salt and Pepper to taste. Enjoy.

How To Pressure Cook Quinoa
  1. 1. Ingredients: 2 cups organic quinoa and 4 cups of water

    2. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine screen colander.

    3. Place the quinoa and water in the inner pot of the pressure cooker.

    4. Lock the lid in place and set it to pressure.

    4. I set it on rice which is 6 minutes and let it release naturally which means it continues to cook a little more.

How do I store the leftover salad?

I would highly recommend storing this quinoa salad in an airtight container and placing it in the fridge. It will last for about 3-5 days if stored properly.

Is this salad good the next day?

This quinoa salad tastes really great the next day! The quinoa soaks in the dressing and allows all of the flavors of the ingredients to set beautifully. I recommend using a fork to stir and fluff the salad a bit before serving the second or subsequent times. I love to make enough that I can meal prep for a few days. It is a great stand-alone entree or a side dish.

Can I trade out the spinach or basil with Arugula?

I love the taste of spinach or basil in this quinoa salad. Arugula, kale, parsley, or cilantro would be other options that I think would taste really good! Adding some green leafy veggies or fresh herbs will create a scrumptious taste and add some additional fiber to this already delicious salad! Like many salads, your personal preferences for additions or swap-outs can make for a fun salad adventure.

What protein can I add to this salad?

This quinoa salad is so versatile! Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein. So there is a lot of protein that you will receive from the quinoa alone. But there are many options that you could choose from to add some additional protein. Chicken, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, avocado, and feta cheese are ingredients that I would recommend you consider.

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I love avocados! Can I add some to the salad?

Avocados would be a delicious addition to this salad! They would add some protein, healthy fat, and some additional flavor. Avocados taste good on pretty much everything, right?!

Would you consider this salad Vegan?

If you were to make this recipe as is, yes! This salad is considered vegan. If you were to add an animal protein such as chicken or a dairy product, the salad would no longer be considered vegan.

Can I add some black beans to the mixture?

Black beans would be a delicious addition to this salad! The ingredients in the salad and the black beans would complement each other very well and are a great way to add some additional protein.

Will red bell pepper go well in this salad?

Red pepper would taste great in this quinoa salad! The flavor, the crunch, and the red color would add a lot to the taste and the presentation.

Can I use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes?

Either cherry or grape tomatoes would taste fantastic in this quinoa salad! Ohhh….and if you have any fresh tomatoes from your garden…..mmmm! my mouth is watering!

Can I use Kosher salt and black pepper?

There is something about Kosher salt that makes any recipe taste so much better. I love black pepper added to almost every recipe I make.

Could I cook the quinoa in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can. I will add this to the recipe card as well. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine screen colander. Place the quinoa and the water in the inner pan in the pressure cooker. Lock the lid in place. Set it to pressure cook. I set it on rice which is 6 minutes and let it release naturally, which means it continues to cook a little more.

Could I add additional vegetables to this quinoa salad?

This recipe allows you to tailor the salad to your family’s liking. I love, love, love, the recipe as is, but we all enjoy adding additional items that will entice our family to want to go back for a 2nd or 3rd helping! If you are interested in adding some additional vegetables, I would recommend red, yellow, or orange peppers, squash or zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, or any other vegetables your family loves!

Would lime juice taste good instead of lemon juice?

I really like the taste that the lemon juice gives this quinoa salad! Due to using two different acids in this recipe, the lemon juice and the balsamic vinegar balance each other out and help to lessen the strong flavor they each give. Swapping lime juice for lemon juice would be a great option if desired. It would give the salad a little different flavor, but depending on which your family prefers, either lemon or lime juice will taste exceptional! I do recommend using freshly squeezed over bottled lemon or lime juice!

Is this quinoa salad considered gluten-free?

As with any food allergy, I would highly recommend reviewing the ingredients on any product that you use in this recipe, or on any other packaging, if you decide to add additional ingredients. With the recipe made as is, the most common ingredient that would contain gluten is in the quinoa. Quinoa is generally considered gluten-free and is a great alternative for those with gluten sensitivity. Please review any and all packaging if this is a dietary concern.

What ingredients could I add to make this a Mediterranean quinoa salad?

By adding just a couple of ingredients, feta cheese, and kalamata olives, you could easily transition this salad into a Mediterranean quinoa salad.

Could I swap red wine vinegar for the balsamic vinegar in this quinoa salad recipe?

I really like the flavor that the balsamic vinegar gives to the dressing in this quinoa salad! You could definitely swap red wine vinegar in place of the balsamic vinegar. It will give the salad dressing a little bit of a different flavor, but I would recommend red wine vinegar to be used instead of using a different vinegar than the balsamic vinegar.

What can I serve with this easy quinoa salad?

What is so great about this easy quinoa salad is that you can serve it as a main dish or as a side dish…..you decide!

Interested in some additional delicious and refreshing salads? Here are a few more to try:

Final Word

Please let me know if you try making this easy quinoa salad recipe! I love how the cooked quinoa absorbs the flavors of the dressing made with balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, honey, and salt and pepper. The colors of the vegetables add such a beautiful array to this salad that makes it perfect for a dinner for your family or a stunning side dish to that entree you have worked so hard to prepare. Enjoy! May God Bless this World, Linda.

4 thoughts on “Easy Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • September 5, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    5 stars
    I love quinoa! I make a salad similar to this and can get the husband to eat it if there’s meat in there! Lol

    • September 5, 2022 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Pual, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! Yes, Mark likes meat, so I make him a small piece of meat to go with it! LOL! Linda

  • September 6, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    5 stars
    We’ve been trying to incorporate some healthier changes in my household, so I gave this recipe a try. It is so good. My first time trying quinoa.

    • September 6, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Jess, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! I love quinoa, you can change it up in so many ways! It’s full of protein! Linda


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