This Zesty Quinoa Salad is loaded with quinoa, wild rice, and fresh vegetables tossed in a zippy lime vinaigrette. You can whip it up in about 10 minutes for the perfect grilling side dish, potluck salad, or easy meal prep lunch.
This fresh and healthy salad is like a taste of summer you can enjoy all year round. It’s made with quinoa, wild rice, cucumbers, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, green onion, and fresh parsley and tossed in a lime-honey-Dijon dressing.
This delicious zesty quinoa salad is a great make-ahead salad to bring to picnics and BBQs, and an easy weeknight dinner side dish. Or make it a main dish and top it with grilled chicken or fish.
This recipe makes a pretty large salad, and any leftovers will stay crunchy in the fridge for a few days. So, it’s the perfect meal prep lunch with a bowl of Corn Chowder or a Chickpea Salad sandwich.
You’re going to love this
Easy quinoa salad recipe that takes about 10 minutes to toss together
Delicious side dish or meal prep recipe for easy lunches
Make it ahead — the perfect picnic and potluck salad
Crazy good for you with wild rice, quinoa, and fresh veggies
Vibrant flavors, fresh ingredients, and zesty dressing
Cooked wild rice. Wild rice adds an earthy, nutty flavor to this salad.
½ cup of dry wild rice yields 1 ½ cups prepared wild rice. You can also cheat and use a can of wild rice, if it’s available in your area. Drain and rinse it with cool water before using.
Cooked quinoa. I used red quinoa in this recipe because it has a chewier texture that works well in cold salads. You can also use white quinoa or black quinoa.
½ cup of dry quinoa yields 1 ½ cups of cooked quinoa.
For the best flavor, prepare the quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth. It’s also really delicious in pineapple juice!
Cucumber. I use English cucumbers, which are seedless and don’t require peeling. But a regular cucumber — peeled and seeded — will also work.
Red, orange, or yellow bell pepper. Use whatever color of bell pepper you love (or can find). Red bell pepper adds the sweetest flavor, but orange and yellow are also very sweet and fruity. They all look very pretty in this salad.
Corn. You can use fresh or frozen and thawed corn.
Fresh tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are bright and juicy, but if you have fresh garden tomatoes, go ahead and chop them up instead.
Green onions. Green onions add mild onion flavor. You can also substitute chopped red onion.
Fresh parsley. Fresh herbs bring more of that fresh-from-the-garden flavor to this salad. Fresh cilantro or basil would also be delicious!
Fresh lime. Lime juice and lime zest from two limes adds tons of bright flavor. You can substitute fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, if you prefer.
Honey. Just a little bit of sweetness cuts through the sharp acidity in the zesty dressing.
Dijon. Dijon is a flavorful emulsifier in the dressing.
Cayenne. Just a dash of cayenne pepper brings a touch of heat. But you can omit it, if you prefer, or use red pepper flakes instead.
Step by step instructions
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and zest, honey, Dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the wild rice, quinoa, cucumber, red bell pepper, corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and parsley.
Toss the wild rice and quinoa mixture with the salad dressing.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
This zesty quinoa salad will stay crisp in an airtight container the refrigerator for a few days.
For best flavor, cook the quinoa in vegetable broth or chicken broth.
Red bell peppers will add the sweetest flavor to this zesty quinoa salad. Yellow or orange peppers are also great choices.
You can use fresh or frozen corn. If using frozen, just run it under cool water until it’s completely thawed.
Quinoa can be a little bland and boring if you don’t help it out. These are some of my favorite ways to add flavor to quinoa that just might make a quinoa fan out of even the staunchest critics:
Boil it in flavor. The best and easiest way to add flavor to quinoa is to cook it in something flavorful. Chicken broth or vegetable broth works well in savory dishes like this zesty quinoa salad.
Toast it. Before boiling the quinoa, add the quinoa and a little olive oil to the pan and toast the quinoa until it’s lightly browned — 2-3 minutes.
Season it. Season the cooked quinoa liberally with salt and black pepper, spices, fresh herbs, and other seasonings that complement your dish.
This zesty quinoa and wild rice salad comes together with quinoa, wild rice, cucumber, red or orange bell pepper, corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and parsley. For the dressing, whisk together lime juice and zest, honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
Each color of bell pepper has its own distinct flavor. Green bell pepper is the most bitter, yellow and orange are sweeter, and red is the sweetest.
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Zesty Quinoa Salad
- 1 ½ cup wild rice, cooked
- 1 ½ cup quinoa, cooked
- 1 cup seedless cucumber, diced
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen & thawed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 6 green onions, sliced
- ½ cup parsley or cilantro, chopped
- 4 tablespoons lime juice 3-4 limes, depending on the size
- lime zest zest the limes before juicing them
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, quinoa, cucumber, red bell pepper, corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and zest, honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.
- Toss the quinoa and wild rice mixture with the salad dressing. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will stay crisp in the refrigerator for a few days.