This Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad is easy to make and perfect to serve as a side dish or for lunch. Tons of crunchy texture and pops of sweetness from the apple and dried cranberries!
This recipe and photos have been updated since the original post on 11/8/2012
Why you’ll love it
Refreshing, crunchy, and delicious – The celery, apples, and pecans give this quinoa salad plenty of crunch. I love the sweetness the apples and dried cranberries give the salad. They balance perfectly with the tang from the dijon and apple cider vinegar in the dressing.
Meal prep – If you meal prep, this is a great salad to make. It holds up well for 4 days in the refrigerator. I do recommend leaving out the pecans until you’re ready to eat it so they don’t get soft.
Great for potlucks, picnics, roadtrips – This salad packs and holds up well if you want to bring it to a gathering or if you’re traveling and need a healthy and satisfying food option to take with you.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Quinoa – quinoa is actually a seed and a great option if you need a gluten-free salad.
- Celery – Adds great crunch to the salad.
- Green onions – Green onions are great if you want a mild onion flavor. Raw yellow onions have a more harsh flavor and are best used in recipes where they are cooked.
- Apple – I like to use a sweet crisp apple for this salad. HoneyCrisp or Gala are my go-to choices.
- Dried cranberries – sweet, tart, and chewy.
- Pecans – Toast the pecans for the best flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic powder
- Honey or maple syrup – sweetener for the dressing. To make this a vegan salad, use maple syrup.
- olive oil
How to make cranberry apple quinoa salad
Cook the quinoa and make the vinaigrette – Cooking the quinoa will take approximately 15 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to prepare the vinaigrette and toast the pecans. Once the quinoa is cooked you’ll need to let it cool.
Cool the quinoa – To quickly cool the quinoa, place it in a shallow dish or on a sheet pan and spread it out into a thin layer. As you’re spreading it, toss it around a few times to release some of the heat.
Place the quinoa in the fridge for 10-15 minutes if you’re really tight on time or let it cool on the counter for about 30 minutes.
Chop the vegetables and Apple – I try to keep everything similar in size so you get a little bit of everything in each bite.
Assemble – Once the quinoa has cooled, add in the remaining ingredients except for the pecans. Toss everything together with the vinaigrette.
I mentioned adding everything to the salad except the pecans unless you plan to serve it right away. If you are making this salad in advance add the pecans right before serving to prevent them from becoming soft.
Time Saving Tips
- Cook the quinoa ahead of time. The quinoa can be cooked several days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
- Chop the celery and green onions 1-2 days in advance.
- Prepare the vinaigrette 1-2 days in advance.
- Toast the pecans ahead of time. I like to toast my pecans as soon as I buy them and then store them in the freezer in an airtight container. I store them in the freezer so they’ll stay fresh longer and won’t go rancid.
- The only thing I don’t advise chopping in advance is the apple since the flesh will discolor. If you follow these tips the salad will literally take you about 5 minutes to throw together.
What to serve with quinoa salad
- Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken
- Apple Cheddar Turkey Burgers
- Grilled Tahini Chicken
- Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
- Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders
More quinoa salads
- Winter Quinoa Kale Salad
- Thai Quinoa Salad
- Harvest Quinoa Salad
- Summer Quinoa Salad
- Mexican Quinoa Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
Did you make this cranberry apple quinoa salad? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 cup diced apple
- 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions adding a little salt to the water. Once the quinoa is cooked let it cool to room temperature.
- While the quinoa cools add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a small bowl or jar with a lid. Whisk or shake until combined.
- Once the quinoa has cooled pour it into a serving bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir everything together until combined. Taste for seasoning, then serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- If you plan to make the salad ahead, omit the pecans until ready to serve so that they stay crunchy.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 60mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 12gProtein: 5g