Your new lunchtime favorite – easy quinoa salad with chicken! Loaded with wholesome ingredients, it’s a pleasant balance of sweet and savory, crunchy and soft. Serve on the side or as a main meal. 

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The Perfect Recipe for a Healthy Week Ahead

Our easy quinoa salad is a flavorful mix of rotisserie chicken, crunchy veggies, sweet dried cranberries, and hearty quinoa, all tossed in a zesty balsamic dressing.

If you haven’t cooked with quinoa, it has a mild, nutty flavor that is a bit like brown rice. It’s packed with protein, fiber, and many other nutrients – outshining many of its grainy counterparts.

Aside from its deliciousness, this salad’s beauty is its simplicity and versatility. Just like our chicken quinoa salad –it’s fast to prepare and gives you space to make adjustments – keep an eye out for our ideas below.

And lastly, it’s an excellent choice for meal prep alongside our chia seed pudding with yogurt. Prepare a batch at the start of the week, and you have a ready-to-go lunch daily.


Take a quick trip to your neighborhood supermarket and grab these easy quinoa salad ingredients:

ingredients for quinoa salad with chicken.


  • Quinoa: The base of our salad, with its delicious nutty flavor and fluffy texture.
  • Rotisserie chicken: Our key source of protein. Already cooked; just grab it from the supermarket.
  • Celery: Gives our salad some bite with a slight tanginess. Not a fan? Try diced bell pepper instead.
  • Carrots: Grated into colorful strands, carrots bring a subtle sweetness and a bit of color.
  • Dried cranberries: Add a surprise burst of sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the other savory ingredients.
  • Red onion: Finely chopped, red onion brings a sharpness that helps balance the other flavors.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Give a nice crunch with a subtle nutty flavor.


  • Extra-virgin olive oil: The base of our salad dressing, holding the other ingredients together while providing a smooth, rich flavor.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Our primary source of acidity, it adds a sweet, tangy note. Also gives our dressing a lovely glossy finish. 
  • Honey: A touch of honey gives our dressing a hint of sweetness, balancing out the vinegar’s acidity.
  • Dijon mustard: Adds a slight kick while helping to emulsify the oil and vinegar in the dressing – so it’s smooth and well-blended.
  • Garlic: Minced finely, garlic lends a subtle heat with a deep flavor that ties our dressing together.

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


Want to make this easy quinoa salad recipe truly your own? Try some of these add-in ideas:

  • Cheese: Crumble in some feta cheese or even goat cheese for a creamy, tangy twist.
  • Nuts: Want more crunch? Add a handful of toasted walnuts or almonds for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
  • Protein: If you’re after more protein, why not add some cooked chickpeas or black beans?
  • Avocado: Add creaminess, richness, and a lot more protein!
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: For their concentrated bursts of tangy sweetness.

How to Make

Just follow these straightforward steps, and you’ll have a bowlful of our quinoa salad recipe before you know it. Want more details? Scroll down to our recipe card below.

quinoa in water inside a pot.

Step 1: Add quinoa to a small saucepan with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently. Leave partially covered and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender – about 20 minutes.

cooked quinoa with chopped vegetables and cooked chicken inside a glass bowl.

Step 2: Mix the warm quinoa, rotisserie chicken, celery, carrots, cranberries, red onion, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

ingredients in a white bowl for balsamic dressing.

Step 3: Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic in a small bowl.

whisked balsamic dressing in a white bowl with a whisk.

Step 4: Whisk until nicely blended, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

dressing being poured over quinoa salad.

Step 5: Pour the dressing over the salad.

mixed warm quinoa salad in a bowl.

Step 6: Mix well. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Chill the salad covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Here are some ways you can personalize this easy quinoa salad recipe:

  • Chicken Out: If chicken isn’t quite tickling your taste buds today, how about some grilled garlic shrimp or smoked turkey? Any lean protein works well.
  • Seeds of Change: No pumpkin seeds on hand? Sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or even roasted chickpeas can add that delightful crunch we all love.
  • Shake Your Fruits: Not a fan of cranberries? Replace them with another dried fruit, like cherries, raisins, or apricots.
  • Veggie Swap: Want to go meatless? No worries. Swap the rotisserie chicken for a protein-packed alternative like chickpeas or tofu.

Expert Tips

Here are some expert tips to help you make the best quinoa salad:

  • Dressing Alert: Add lots of dressing. It may seem too much, but the quinoa soaks it all up as the salad chills.
  • Patience Pays: Let the salad chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the flavors meld together and reach their full potential.
  • Easy Does It: Toss the salad very gently when mixing. You don’t want to mush the ingredients up.
  • Quinoa Rinse: Don’t skip rinsing the quinoa. This simple step removes any bitterness and ensures your salad has a clean, nutty flavor.
  • Chicken Choice: Rotisserie chicken is a time-saver, but feel free to cook your own chicken such as bone-in roasted chicken breast or grilled chicken tenders – just be sure to season it well. 
quinoa salad recipe with sunflower seeds in a bowl with a side of spoon.

Recipe FAQs

Is quinoa salad served hot or cold?

Our quinoa salad recipe is best served cold. Chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You’ll notice the flavors meld together beautifully, giving you an incredibly flavourful salad.

How long does quinoa salad keep refrigerated?

In the world of salads, this quinoa salad with chicken is a marathon runner! 

Stored properly in an airtight container, it can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days – making it perfect for meal prep. 

Can I use a different grain instead of quinoa?

Absolutely! If quinoa is not your grain of choice or if you’re out of stock, couscous, farro, or brown rice can be fantastic substitutes.

What’s the best way to cook the chicken if I don’t have rotisserie chicken?

Grilling, baking, or pan-searing all do the trick. Just make sure to season it well! 

For quick and juicy chicken, sear chicken breast on high heat, then cook through on lower heat. Let it rest, chop it up, and voila!

If you tried Easy Quinoa Salad recipe, please leave a star rating and let me know how you like the recipe in the comments below.

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Chicken Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Dressing - ultimate fall salad with chicken, quinoa, crunchy veggies, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds | @littlebroken

Easy Quinoa Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: American


Fall-inspired easy quinoa salad with rotisserie chicken, crunchy veggies, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Tossed in a simple yet flavorful balsamic dressing. It’s perfect as a meal on its own or as a side.


Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups diced (on the small side) rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds

Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Add quinoa and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered until liquid is absorbed and tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. To assemble the salad, in a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa (no need to chill it), chicken, celery, carrots, cranberries, red onion, and pumpkin seeds. Pour the salad dressing and mix until combined. Taste for salt and pepper.
  3. Cover, and chill the salad in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. 

Balsamic Dressing

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


    • Dressing: Don’t be alarmed if it looks like there’s too much dressing. Quinoa soaks it all up as the salad chills. Make sure to chill the salad for at least 30 minutes before serving.
    • Chicken: I love the easiness of rotisserie chicken in this salad but it also works with leftover grilled chicken drumsticks or roasted half chicken.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 411
  • Sugar: 10.4 g
  • Sodium: 77.2 mg
  • Fat: 24.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.8 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Cholesterol: 55.2 mg