Chicken Quinoa Salad is a delightful combination of quinoa, chicken, mango, cucumber, and red cabbage, all brought together with a flavorful lemon garlic dressing. This delicious and wholesome dish is surprisingly simple to make and can be served as a light easy dinner, for lunch or even as a side dish.
This chicken quinoa salad is one of my favorites when I am in search of a light and healthy dish that doesn't compromise on flavor. Quinoa is whole grain and packed with nutrients, and using leftover chicken means it's a breeze to prepare. The addition of mango, cucumber, and red cabbage not only enhances the taste but also contributes to a colorful array of vitamins and antioxidants.
Preparing this salad in advance can also be a time-saver and is the best way to prep for a perfect weeknight meal. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator, allowing you to have a convenient, ready-to-go option whenever hunger strikes. Whether you're planning a light healthy dinner, a workday lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up, this Chicken Quinoa Salad is a simple, tasty, and health-conscious choice for meal prep. This recipe uses all fresh ingredients and you will feel good eating it.
- White Quinoa – This versatile whole grain is rich in fiber, protein and nutrients. Substitute the fluffy quinoa with other whole grains like bulgur or farro if desired.
- Chicken breasts – Utilize leftover skinless chicken for convenience and added flavor.
- Plum Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes add a juicy and vibrant element to the salad. Cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes can be suitable alternatives.
- Cucumber – Cucumber provides a refreshing crunch. English cucumber or zucchini can be used as substitutes.
- Red cabbage – Red cabbage adds color and a mild peppery taste. Swap with green cabbage or kale for variety.
- Mango – Mango contributes sweetness and a tropical twist. Try substituting with pineapple or papaya for a different flavor profile.
- Olive Oil – Olive oil adds richness to the dressing, but feel free to use avocado oil or any light, neutral flavored oil.
- Parsley – Fresh parsley brings a burst of herbaceous flavor. Cilantro or mint or your favorite herbs can also be used.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic enhances the flavor and adds an earthy, pungent note. Use powdered garlic if needed.
- Lemon Juice – Fresh lemon juice provides a zesty and tangy element. White wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or even lime juice can be used as substitutes.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper – A little bit of salt and pepper enhance the overall flavor of the salad. Adjust to your personal preference.
See recipe card for quantities.
- In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix well.
2. In a medium or large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, chicken, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage and mango. Toss with the prepared salad dressing.
Hint: Even if you are making this in advance, go ahead and add the dressing. The flavors will meld together as the salad sits making everything more flavorful.
Customize Your Chicken Quinoa Salad
- Swap the Protein - Use grilled shrimp, tofu, chickpeas, or even sliced grilled steak for a different protein source.
- Swap the Vegetables - Experiment with different fresh veggies based on what's in season or your personal preferences. Red bell pepper, red onion, black beans, radishes, or avocado can be great additions. Try adding roasted vegetables for a richer flavor, like roasted bell peppers or cherry tomatoes.
- Swap the Fruit – Instead of mango used chopped strawberries, blueberries or your favorite fruit. Add a handful of raisins or dried cranberries for a chewy texture.
- Vegetarian - For a vegetarian option, consider substituting with chickpeas or tofu.
- Add Cheese – Crumble feta cheese or goat cheese over the salad for a creamy and tangy element. Shaved Parmesan or pecorino can bring a salty kick to the dish.
Make Ahead and Leftover Storage Tips
This salad is perfect for making ahead as the flavors are even better the next day. Additionally, it's a great recipe for using up leftover chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, or precooked quinoa.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and will keep up to 3 days. Prepare a batch and divide the salad into individual servings for an easy on-the-go lunch option. This hearty quinoa and chicken salad tastes great served cold or at room temperature.
Although the chicken quinoa salad doesn't freeze well, you can freeze chicken and quinoa to make future prep even easier.
- Cook quinoa in advance. Pressure cooker quinoa is quick and simple.
- Fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow it to cool completely.
- Use leftover oven baked chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken for quick and easy prep and to save money.
- Toss the salad gently with the dressing to avoid breaking down the ingredients.
Quinoa can be substituted with other whole grains like bulgur, farro, or couscous according to your preference.
To make it vegetarian, simply omit the chicken or replace it with plant-based alternatives like tofu, chickpeas, or your favorite meat substitute.
Looking for more main dish salad recipes? Try these:
If you like this Chicken Salad with Quinoa recipe, please leave a 5-star rating below.
Chicken Quinoa Salad
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups leftover chicken breast chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes diced
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- 1 cup red cabbage thinly sliced
- ¾ cup diced mango
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Juice of half lemon
- Sea salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, add quinoa, chicken, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage and mango.
- In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour on the salad. Toss all together. Add extra salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
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