Crunchy apples, sweet cranberries, diced celery and herbs fill this cranberry apple quinoa salad with flavor. It makes a perfect lunch or side dish, plus it is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Apple cranberry quinoa salad
This easy quinoa apple cranberry salad is perfect for weekday lunches, an afternoon snack or a side with dinner. It’s also great for meal-prepping, and it can be made ahead (read the notes in variations and substitutions for tips).
I love making salads like this for pot-lucks or game days. I have something delicious to offer guests with certain dietary restrictions because it is gluten-free and vegan.
Try this quinoa with golden raisins added too, if that’s your thing. They are a perfect complement to this salad.
This easy quinoa salad uses common ingredients that you likely already have in the pantry.
The apples, celery, pepitas and pecans give it plenty of crunch, while the cranberries and maple syrup give it a touch of sweetness.
How to make cranberry apple quinoa salad
The beauty of this quinoa salad is its simplicity. It is quite literally as easy as tossing everything into a bowl and mixing. That’s it.
Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Then lay it out on a baking sheet to cool. This helps the moisture evaporate quicker, leaving you fluffy grains of quinoa instead of clumping. When it has cooled completely, add it to a mixing bowl.
Chop all of your ingredients and add them to the bowl with the quinoa. Whisk the vinaigrette and pour it over the top and mix everything together.
Apple cranberry lovers should also try my apple cranberry chicken salad.
Quinoa salad Q & A
Here are some helpful answers to commonly asked questions.
Technically, no. It is a seed. However, most people classify it as a grain, or a “pseudograin”.
No. Quinoa is gluten-free and safe for those eating a gluten-free diet.
Yes. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. (-Harvard.edu)
Because of the fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs, try to consume it within 5 days. After that, the herbs will likely turn.
Variations and substitutions
Mediterranean quinoa salad is full of golden raisins, pistachios, mint and lemon. It is a delicious alternative, if you are looking for ways to change up flavors.
For a milder onion flavor, you can substitute chives for the scallions. Try swapping out pepitas for sunflower seeds.
Add chopped dill for a burst of cooling freshness.
To make ahead: Pour dressing into bottom of bowl. Then add quinoa, followed by remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap. Mix thoroughly before serving.
To serve this as part of a meal, consider pairing it with:
Helpful tools and equipment
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For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (if you like a vinegary dressing, bump it up to 1/2 cup)
- 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
Cranberry apple quinoa salad
- 3 cups quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 medium apple, diced *See note
- 3 stalks celery, diced (1 1/2 cups)
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried and chopped (3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1 tsp. salt (I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Lay quinoa out in a thin layer on baking sheet to cool completely.
- While quinoa is cooling, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and mustard for dressing. Taste and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
- When quinoa has cooled completely, add to mixing bowl with remaining ingredients.
- Pour dressing over quinoa mixture and mix thoroughly to combine.
Apples turn brown within minutes of cutting them - to prevent browning, cut the apples right before mixing, or toss them in lemon water if making ahead.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Serving Size:3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 295mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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