Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad
The Spruce
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
187 Calories
10g Fat
21g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 187
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 463mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 83mg 417%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 537mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This quinoa salad made with cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes gets a hint of brightness from a lemon-garlic vinaigrette. The rest of the good news? It's delicious, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

There's a lot to love about quinoa—it has about 11 grams of protein per cup cooked and has iron, magnesium, and fiber. It can be prepared faster than most other grains which add up to a win-win for busy lifestyles.

This recipe lends itself to experimentation so try adding or swapping out different veggies such as zucchini, corn, kale, or spinach greens; there's really no wrong way to make a healthy quinoa salad. This recipe is perfect for those nights when you don't want to fuss too much over dinner.


For the Quinoa:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or water

  • 1 1/2 cups raw whole-grain quinoa

  • Salt, to taste, optional

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt, to taste, optional

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, optional

For the Vegetables:

  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced

  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 small red onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, lightly steamed

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Steps to Make It

Make the Quinoa

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Quinoa Salad recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth (or water, if you prefer) to a boil. Salt the water to taste if using water.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Add the rinsed or un-rinsed quinoa (see below after the directions), stir, and bring back to a boil.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the quinoa absorbs all the liquid. 

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes, still covered, to allow the quinoa to fully absorb any liquid and become fluffy.

Make the Vinaigrette

  1. While the quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the fresh lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce
  2. Set aside at room temperature.

Make the Salad

  1. Remove the cover from the quinoa and fluff it with a fork.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce
  2. Allow it to cool slightly and then toss with the sliced cucumber, diced bell pepper, diced red onion, steamed broccoli, chopped tomatoes, and the lemon-garlic vinaigrette, stirring to combine well.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
    The Spruce 
  3. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and chill before serving if you have the time, although this is just as tasty at room temperature.

    Quinoa Salad recipe
     The Spruce

A Word About Rinsing Quinoa

The debate rages on—should you rinse quinoa before cooking it or not? In the case of rice, it is rinsed to remove some of the starchiness and stickiness. With quinoa, the rinsing serves to remove its natural coating, called saponin, which some claim can make it taste bitter or otherwise unpleasant.

After being cooked, unrinsed quinoa has a firmer texture and a nuttier flavor than rinsed quinoa. So, ultimately, the choice to rinse or not rinse is yours. There is no wrong or right, it comes down to which taste appeals to you more. Besides, most of the quinoa sold in the United States has been prewashed (but check the box).

Leftover Quinoa?

You might consider making twice the amount of quinoa called for in this recipe so you can have leftovers on hand to make salads, add to soup, mix with texturized vegetable protein, tofu, or for curries and other meals throughout the week.

More About Whole Grains

If you like quinoa, you might want to branch out and try some other whole grains such as kaniwamillet, and teff. They are versatile and, if you buy them in bulk, they're a bargain.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Quinoa. Fooddata Central, United States Department of Agriculture