Butternut squash cranberry salad is the BEST fall salad! Made with butternut squash, cranberries, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and Balsamic Vinaigrette.

It’s an incredibly versatile salad that pairs amazingly with Easy Roasted Herb Chicken or Oven Roasted Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce for a cozy fall meal!

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Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

The best fall quinoa salad just might be this right here. Can I just tell you that this salad never disappoints and is always a crowd-pleaser? The combination of flavors and texture just does not get any better.

Made with quinoa, roasted butternut squash, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. And let’s not forget the tangy-sweet balsamic vinaigrette.

It’s perfect for meal prep, holidays, or to take to a potluck. It holds up amazingly and does not dry out.

So you can make it on a Sunday to enjoy throughout the week for lunch or as a side. I personally love to top it with roasted chicken from bone-in breast and have a big bowl for dinner. 

quinoa squash salad in a bowl with wooden spoon.

Why Quinoa Works Best in This Salad

Quinoa is such a versatile whole-grain carbohydrate, as well as a whole protein. It’s a great alternative to rice and even pasta. 

Known for its fluffy nutty-chewy texture. Quinoa makes the best salads as it absorbs the flavors quickly and easily. Making the salad extra delicious!

My biggest tip when making this quinoa squash salad is to combine the salad while the quinoa is still warm. At first, it will seem like the salad has too much dressing, however, when chilled, quinoa will soak up the majority of the extra dressing. 

Trust me, as tempting as it may be to eat the salad right away, you definitely want to chill it. At least 2 hours up to overnight. 

What is Quinoa Salad Made Of?

  • Quinoa – white or tri-color quinoa works best in this salad.
  • Butternut squash – buy a squash and cut it up yourself.  It’s really easy! See below on how I do it.
  • Dried cranberries – look for cranberries without added sugar or corn syrup. Only fruit should be listed. Also look for “no sulfites,” a preservative that maintains color.
  • Red onion – a little goes a long way here. Red onion balances out some of the sweetness of the salad. Make sure to finely chop it.
  • Pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas. They’re basically the same thing. Use roasted seeds. Don’t like pumpkin seeds? Try walnuts or sunflower seeds.
  • Vinaigrette – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and garlic

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

ingredients for butternut squash salad with cranberries.

What is the Easiest Way to Cut a Butternut Squash?

There’s no doubt that cutting butternut squash can be a little intimidating. But with a few easy steps, you can very quickly peel and chop your butternut squash without too much difficulty.

Before you get started, make sure you have a large sharp knife and a sturdy surface to work on.

Tip: Microwave butternut squash for about 30 seconds. It helps soften the squash just enough to make it a bit easier to work with.

  • Slice off the ends, about 1/4-inch from the bottom of the squash and the stem side.
  • Peel off the outer layer of the squash with a vegetable peeler.
how to peel butternut squash
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and any stringy pieces.
how to peel butternut squash
  • Cut squash halves into two pieces (for easy cutting). Then cut each piece into 3/4-inch wide slices.
how to slice fresh butternut squash
  • Cut each slice further down and then crosswise into cubes.
  • Repeat with the remaining squash pieces until everything has been cut into approximately 3/4-inch cubes.
how to cube butternut squash

How to Make Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad

Step 1: Roast the butternut squash: Preheat the oven 400 degrees F. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

how to roast butternut squash

Step 2: Cook the quinoa: Cook the quinoa according to package directions. I normally quickly rinse the quinoa under water, combine 1 1/2 cups of water for each 1 cup of raw quinoa.

That ration has always worked for me but if you have a favorite way of cooking quinoa then go for it. Simmer, partially covered, until all water is absorbed.

cooked quinoa in a sauce pan

Step 3: Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and garlic . Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. 

balsamic vinaigrette in white bowl

Step 4: Combine the salad together: In a large bowl, combine the warm quinoa with roasted butternut squash, cranberries, red onions, and pumpkin seeds.

Pour vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss until combined. Chill at least 2 hours up to overnight. Before serving, taste for salt and pepper.

quinoa squash salad in white bowl

Tip: Make sure to toss the salad while the quinoa is still warm. It’ll soak up the dressing really well, otherwise, you’ll end up with soggy quinoa salad.

Ways to Eat Quinoa Salad for Lunch and Dinner

The best way to serve this butternut squash quinoa is paired with some of these main dishes:

Or you can go another route and have this salad for lunch. Feel free to add some greens, such as spinach or arugula. Also, feta or goat cheese pairs amazing with this savory-sweet salad. 

sideview butternut squash and quinoa.

Video: How to Make Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad

If you try Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad, please leave a star rating and let me know how you like the recipe in the comments below.

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butternut squash quinoa salad in oval white bowl

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 41 reviews
  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: American


Butternut squash cranberry salad is the BEST fall salad! Made with butternut squash, cranberries, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and Balsamic Vinaigrette.


Units Scale
  • 3 cups butternut squash, chopped into 3/4-inch wide cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.
  3. While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. To assemble the salad, combine the cooked quinoa while still warm, roasted squash, cranberries, red onions, and toasted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and lightly toss until combined. Refrigerate 2 hours up to overnight. Before serving, taste for salt and pepper.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


  • BIG TIP! One of the biggest tips when it comes to making this salad is to toss the salad with the vinaigrette while the quinoa is still warm and then chill the salad. At first, it will look like there’s too much dressing but after the salad had time to chill the quinoa will soak up the majority of dressing. It’s a great salad to make ahead. It holds up amazing!
  • Add Ins: Spinach, arugula, feta, goat cheese are some of our favorites. Also if you don’t like pumpkin seeds, swap them out for walnuts or sunflower seeds.
  • Leftovers: Leftover quinoa salad will stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days if made as written.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 385
  • Sugar: 10.9 g
  • Sodium: 10.3 mg
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 38 g
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Recipe originally published October 2014.