This healthy chicken quinoa salad recipe has great texture, flavor and color. It’s filled with fresh veggies like cucumber, bell pepper and red onion. Plus, you’ll get a large helping of fiber from hearty quinoa and velvety black beans. And don’t forget the boost of protein that comes from perfectly seasoned, juicy baked chicken. Top everything with a simple, homemade lemony dressing for next level deliciousness!
This nutritious, quick and easy salad can be enjoyed hot or cold. It makes the perfect side or lunch, but can also be served as a light main dish for dinner.
A delicious quinoa salad is the best way to celebrate spring! This good-for-you grain is one of my favorites and we’ve always got some in the pantry. I even have a full guide explaining How to Make Fluffy Quinoa so you can get the perfect texture every time.
And if you love this recipe, I’ve also got some yummy variations. Try my Quinoa Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Carrot Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Greek Salad or Shrimp Quinoa Salad!
How To Make Chicken Quinoa Salad
- Chicken — You’ll need four small chicken breasts, I generally purchase free-range, organic meat when possible.
- Extra virgin olive oil — Or you can also substitute avocado oil.
- Seasonings — Italian seasonings, paprika, ground coriander, salt and black pepper.
- Quinoa — I typically use white quinoa but any color will do!
- Lemon juice — For a citrusy, homemade dressing. I always squeeze mine fresh, bottled can work in a pinch but it’s not nearly as tasty. You can also use fresh lime (lime juice).
- Veggies — Red onion, red bell pepper (or your favorite color) and crunchy cucumber. You can certainly use other vegetables as well.
- Legumes — Delicious, velvety black beans.
- Garnish — I love sprinkling some fresh chopped parsley on my salad because it ads extra color and flavor.
Bake the chicken:
- First, preheat your oven to 400°F. Then, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (this is optional but does make for super easy cleanup).
- Place chicken breasts in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat.
- Add Italian seasonings, paprika, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Mix until spices are well distributed onto chicken and then line on your prepared baking sheet.
- Bake chicken for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 165°F! Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it up (this will help the meat retain moisture).
- While chicken bakes, get to multitasking and prepare your quinoa!
- Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, rinse and drain quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
- When water comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low, add quinoa and place a lid on the saucepan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, remove from heat and then fluff it up with a fork!
- Set quinoa aside and let it rest/cool for at least five minutes.
Make salad dressing:
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- Grab a small mason jar or bowl and all of your dressing ingredients: freshly squeezed juice from one lemon, olive oil, salt and black pepper.
- Place a lid on your mason jar and shake vigorously until emulsified, if you don’t have a lid, simply use a whisk to combine!
Assemble and serve:
- Add cooked quinoa, chopped vegetables and black beans to a really big bowl and toss everything together very well. Drizzle dressing over ingredients and stir again.
- Do a taste test and add some more salt and pepper, if necessary, then garnish with fresh parsley and serve with sliced chicken. Enjoy!
How To Meal Prep Chicken Quinoa Salad
This recipe is especially FANTASTIC for meal prepping because it can be enjoyed hot or cold, I love portioning my salad into lidded containers for quick grab-and-go lunches throughout the week.
You can simply enjoy your salad chilled. When you’re tired of eating sandwiches for lunch, this recipe is a great way to mix things up.
Without chicken, this salad will keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. With chicken, you should eat it within 3-4 days. Consider packing some up with chicken and some without for variety and a few meals that will last longer.
- If you’ve got extra chicken from last night’s dinner, you can whip this recipe up even more quickly by utilizing the leftovers, rather than baking a fresh batch.
- Try grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken rather than baked!
- Use another protein like shrimp or steak. You can also make a vegetarian version of this salad by using tofu or chunks of salty feta cheese instead of meat.
- I typically use white quinoa for my salad, but you can use whatever color you’ve got on hand!
- For extra protein, you can cook your quinoa in bone broth instead of water.
- I love black beans, but feel free to use whatever type you enjoy most. Green beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas would all be delicious. You can even substitute lentils.
- Use up your extra produce with this flexible recipe. You certainly don’t have to use cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, red onion and red bell pepper as your veggie options in this dish. Try carrots, broccoli, shaved brussels sprouts, snap peas, etc.
- You can garnish this chicken quinoa salad also with fresh mint and/or fresh cilantro.
- Add some chopped nuts like walnuts, peanuts, almonds or cashews for some extra crunch, if desired.
How To Store Leftovers
To Store: Place leftover salad in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Without chicken, leftover salad will last a bit longer (5-6 days).
To Freeze: Freeze salad in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for up to 4 months.
To Reheat: Microwave leftovers, on high, until warmed through completely. This salad can also be enjoyed cold, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be reheated. If frozen, I recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator or for a couple of hours on the countertop.
More Cookout Sides
Quinoa chicken salad is the perfect accompaniment for a spring/summer cookout or pool party. Here are some more tasty sides to enjoy at your outdoor event:
- Corn Salad Recipe
- Easy Coleslaw Recipe
- Shrimp Avocado Cucumber Salad
- Asparagus Greek Chopped Salad
- Easy Broccoli Salad Recipe
- Cauliflower Potato Salad
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s typically made with a base of cooked quinoa, a protein of some kind, chopped veggies, legumes and salad dressing. You can really get creative and customize to your preferences.
I would definitely consider this quinoa salad to be healthy! It’s high in fiber and full of nutritious vegetables plus lean protein.
This particular salad has approximately 478 calories per serving. Of course, the amount of calories in any given quinoa salad recipe will vary greatly depending on the ingredients used.
Chicken Quinoa Salad
For the Chicken
- 4 small free-range organic chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
For the Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa well-rinsed
- 2 cups water
- Salt and pepper
For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice fresh squeezed
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
For the Salad
- ¼ cup red onion chopped
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup black beans cooked
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley optional
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- In a medium glass bowl, add chicken and olive oil. Mix well.
- Add spices and toss everything together, then set aside.
- Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let it cool down and slice before serving.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add quinoa. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.
- In a mason jar or small bowl, pour the freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper and whisk everything.
- In a large bowl, add cooked quinoa, red onions, cucumber, red bell pepper and black beans. Stir really well. Pour the dressing on top and mix everything again.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if you think it's necessary. Garnish with fresh parsley if you prefer. Serve immediately with sliced chicken and enjoy!
- Place an even amount of chicken quinoa salad into 4 glass containers. Cover with a lid, and place in the fridge for up 4 days. You can also store your salad in one, large container if desired.
- Freezer instructions:
- Place leftover salad in an airtight, freezer safe container or large Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 4 months!
How to reheat:
- This salad can be enjoyed cold. You can also reheat it in the microwave, on high power, until warmed through completely.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.
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