This delicious, healthy, and fruity Apple Quinoa Salad recipe makes a great lunch or side salad alongside your favorite main dish.
Quinoa is a super versatile grain. Not only is it high in protein, but it also contains plenty of fiber and has a rich and nutty taste which lends itself well to healthy salads. Paired with crisp apples, this salad not only looks amazing but has a unique taste and texture.
The crisp texture of the apple together with the dried cranberries and finely diced vegetables make a delicious combination. It has a simple maple dijon dressing. All of the flavors really shine through in this recipe, making it one of my favorites!
Quinoa Apple Salad Recipe
Are you ready to make this easy and unique quinoa salad? I am so excited to share this recipe with you. It’s the perfect salad that never goes out of style, no matter what season it is. Quinoa Apple Salad is great for sharing with friends and family at the dinner table.
This salad makes the perfect starter or side dish to meat (like filet mignon) or fish (like Creamy Garlic Tuscan Salmon) as the salad cuts through any richness with a light and tangy flavor that keeps things interesting!
This is a great recipe option to share with friends and family. It’s vegetarian, vegan, and dairy free, as well as being very high in plant based proteins.
Apple Quinoa Salad Ingredients
Crunchy apples: for this particular salad, I love to use a Tangy apple like gala apples, granny smith apples, or fuji apples. This ingredient is really the star of the show, so choose your favorite apple but make sure it’s not too acidic. You can choose to keep the skin on or off, but I personally like to keep it on because it adds flavor and a pop of color.
Tricolor quinoa: for the quinoa, I like to use tricolor quinoa. Not only do the different colors add variety to this dish, but red quinoa has a chewier texture which makes it great for salads. You’ll need about a cup quinoa but you could also use brown rice, couscous, or cauliflower rice in place of the quinoa.
Dried cranberries and walnuts: I like to buy dried cranberries that do not have too high of sugar content. Dried sweet cranberries lend themselves very well combined with the apple and the candied walnuts in this recipe. Source organic walnuts if possible, for a higher quality taste.
Golden raisins are a fantastic substitute if you don’t have dried cranberries on hand!
Celery: celery is my favorite ingredient for this recipe, as it brings another layer of flavor that pairs nicely with the apple and quinoa. You could also use carrots or cucumbers.
Wet ingredients: this recipe calls for vegetable broth, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar. The sweet flavor from the maple syrup gives the vinaigrette a perfect balance of flavors.
Herbs and spices: garlic, ground allspice, kosher salt and ground black pepper.
*For a detailed list of ingredients and measurements, please reference the recipe card down below.
Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
Making your own Maple Dijon Vinaigrette at home is simple! All you need is a little dijon mustard, a splash of maple syrup (or honey), extra virgin olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
To amplify the flavors of the salad, I also added some minced garlic, ground allspice, salt and black pepper.
How to Make Apple Quinoa Salad
Before getting started, I suggest rinsing your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. This removes the quinoa’s natural coating, called saponin, which can give it a bitter taste.
1. Cook the quinoa. Bring the vegetable broth and rinsed quinoa to a steady boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the cranberries, cover, and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool, before transferring to a salad bowl.
2. Prepare the dijon dressing. While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar with the garlic, allspice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa together with the maple dijon vinaigrette. Now, mix in the sliced apples, celery, parsley, and walnuts.
Serving this salad cold is perfect for summer!
Additional Toppings for Apple Quinoa Salad
I love to add a variety of different flavors and toppings to my salads to keep them interesting! Why not try crumbled feta cheese, tangy blue cheese, or goat cheese for added flavor?
If you aren’t trying to keep it dairy free, it’s a fantastic addition!
Not looking to add dairy, but want something more? Consider adding red grapes, sunflower seeds, leafy greens like lacinato kale or arugula, creamy avocado, bell peppers, or dried apricots.
You can even try different herbs like fresh coriander, fresh mint, or fresh thyme instead of parsley.
Quinoa Chickpea Salad
The addition of chickpeas makes this variation of the quinoa salad even more protein-rich! This is another quick and easy way to get lots of protein while enjoying a healthy salad option.
Make it with crispy chickpeas, lemon juice, and cherry tomatoes.
Kale Quinoa Salad
Personally, I love this combination and it makes a fantastic holiday or summer salad. The crunchy kale packs a mighty punch of fiber and vitamins. Add some raw kale, green onions, cucumber, red wine vinegar, and minced garlic for healthy eating with great flavor.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
With the addition of Mexican-inspired flavors, this quinoa salad is unique and extremely tasty! Add black beans, corn, red bell pepper, red onion, avocado, fresh cilantro, and lime juice.
Make Ahead Tip
To plan ahead, you can pre-cook the quinoa, chop the apple and celery, and make the dressing ahead of time. Store it them in separate containers in the fridge, then simply combine it all when you are ready to enjoy.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
Cutting board. Having a solid cutting board to work makes you feel good about making salads and won’t dull your knives. Choose a large, wooden chopping board that is comfortable to use and can be easily cleaned.
Beautiful bowls. There are so many beautiful salad bowls to choose from. Why not invest in some new salad bowls, in different colors and sizes? They really brighten up the table and make a salad more interesting. This is my favorite salad bowl.
Baking Sheet. Next time you are in the market to update your bakeware, I highly recommend investing in one that will last forever; after all, all you need is one good sheet pan!
Strainer. A big part of cooking is prepping! One of my favorite tools to keep handy for washing and prepping ingredients is this super handy fine mesh strainer.
Airtight Container. Good storage containers are so important! Whether you are looking to make this salad for meal prep Sunday and enjoy it throughout the entire week or storing leftovers, these containers are fantastic.
More Easy Recipes
Healthy recipes that with lots of flavor are kind of my thing. There’s nothing better than a nutritious meal full of texture and flavor. These are some of my favorites:
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Quinoa Apple Salad
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup tricolor quinoa, rinsed
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 gala apple, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup celery, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup candied walnuts
- Bring the vegetable broth and rinsed quinoa to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the cranberries, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large salad bowl.
- While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, ground allspice, salt, and pepper.