Get the ultimate energy boost from this flavorful, nutrient-packed recipe.
This chilled salmon quinoa salad is the ultimate protein-packed lunch or dinner. It’s light and refreshing but will still keep you full for hours. Once you’ve prepped the salmon, the whole salad is ready in 30 minutes flat. It’s perfect to make in batches for meal prep to enjoy throughout the week and easy to customize so you’ll never be bored!
Baked salmon filets seasoned to perfection combined with fluffy quinoa, crunchy veggies, and fresh herbs, drizzled with zesty oil and vinegar–what more could you ask for in a salad? Whether you’re hosting a barbecue, attending a potluck dinner party, or just looking for a simple weeknight dinner, this is the recipe for you. Low in calories but packed with protein and healthy fats, it’s the perfect way to fuel your body while supporting lean muscle growth. Plus, it’s proof that balance can be delicious–the array of flavors and textures in this dish is to die for!
Watch How It’s Made!
Why You’ll Love This Salmon Quinoa Salad Recipe
Simple, versatile, and perfect for leftovers, this chilled salmon quinoa salad makes a great lunch or dinner. Pack it for school or work (no reheating necessary), throw it together for family dinner, or bring it as an appetizer at a family gathering. If you’ve already got salmon and/or quinoa on hand, all the better–once the ingredients are prepped, this recipe takes just 30 minutes!
This salad is packed with 25 grams of protein and 25 grams of healthy fats per serving, so it’ll help you build lean muscle and keep you full and energized all afternoon or evening. The veggie toppings and dressing are packed with vitamins and minerals–not to mention they’re bursting with flavor! Tangy vinegar, crunchy red onion, refreshing parsley, savory olive oil, and juicy grape tomatoes make for a nostalgic summer medley that will remind you of picnics at the beach any time of year.
If you’re looking for a light yet filling way to pack in some brain food, this salad has got you covered. It’s so versatile–you can enjoy leftovers throughout the week or store the prepped ingredients to enjoy separately (throw the salmon filets over rice or a different salad; use the quinoa for a nourish bowl or even overnight oats).
Don’t be fooled by the long prep time–all that’s required for the first hour and ten minutes is throwing those salmon filets in the oven. And all you’ll need is that baking dish and two mixing bowls–this recipe’s cleanup couldn’t be simpler! Whether you’re making a grocery run or already have some salmon and veggies on hand, this recipe is worth a shot and sure to be a hit with the whole family.
How to Make This Chilled Salmon Quinoa Salad: Step-by-Step Instructions
Below are step-by-step instructions on how to make this chilled salmon quinoa salad.
1. Preheat the oven.
Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Meanwhile, cook one cup of quinoa according to the package instructions.
2. Prepare the baking dish.
Next, drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil in a glass baking dish. Add your salmon filets to the baking dish and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
3. Bake the salmon.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and let the salmon bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired doneness. Remove the baking sheet from heat and allow it to cool.
4. Prep the salad.
Place your cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl and add half a cup of halved grape tomatoes, one quarter cup of finely chopped red onion, and one quarter cup of minced Italian parsley. Set the bowl aside.
5. Make the dressing.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together one quarter cup of red wine vinegar and one quarter cup of olive oil. Set the dressing aside.
6. Create the salmon and quinoa mixture.
Remove the baked salmon from its skin and flake it into large chunks with a fork. Add it to the quinoa mixture bowl.
7. Toss to combine.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss everything thoroughly to combine.
8. Chill and enjoy!
Let the salad chill in a covered container in the fridge for an hour prior to serving it. Dig in!
Ingredients Used in this Salmon Quinoa Salad
Each of the ingredients in this salad serves a special purpose–not just in terms of flavor, but in terms of nutritional benefits as well! Read on to find out why each ingredient is important.
More than just a healthy fat, olive oil is packed with antioxidants that fight cancer, aging, and other chronic diseases. A strong anti-inflammatory, olive oil prevents strokes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. It even reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and can help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Olive oil contains nutrients that kill harmful bacteria in your stomach, fending off ulcers and stomach cancer. So don’t skimp on the EVOO–it’s more than just a healthy dressing!
Salmon is a protein-packed brain food that supports your body’s system in a variety of ways! Bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon fights cancer, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and helps the cells that line your arteries function. Salmon is packed with B vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, and more, all of which help your cells convert food into energy, fight off chronic inflammation, and create and repair DNA. Salmon is an excellent source of potassium, which regulates your blood pressure and helps your body fight strokes. It’s loaded with the trace mineral selenium, which provides a boost for your bone health, helps the thyroid function in the face of autoimmune disease, and fights certain types of cancer. Salmon contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which offers a variety of health benefits including regulating cholesterol levels.
Including salmon in your regular diet may help with weight management and prevent heart disease and inflammation. Fatty fish like salmon famously improve brain function, preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease down the road. Eating your “brain food” can even help improve your mental health (studies show that salmon fights depression, particularly in women). Salmon even supports eye health and bone health–this brain food is a no-brainer!
Salt in moderation is actually quite healthy! It keeps your body hydrated and provides electrolytes, regulates your blood pressure and blood sodium, and even balances out your cholesterol.
Pepper is more than just a seasoning–it’s brain-healthy, packed with antioxidants, and fights inflammation. Black pepper helps control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and may even help fight cancer. It boosts your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, may promote gut health, may help reduce appetite when needed, and may even act as a natural pain reliever.
Quinoa is packed with protein, healthy carbs, fiber, and nutrients like folate (essential for healthy pregnancy), magnesium (provides a boost for mental health and energy levels), zinc (crucial for the senses of taste and smell as well as the immune system), and iron (needed for blood health and preventing anemia). It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory plant compounds, is gluten-free, and provides a boost for your metabolism.
“Grape” tomatoes are small but mighty. Packed with fiber and vitamins A and C, they provide a boost for your immune system, eye health, and reproductive health, while also fending off disease and ailments like cancer, scurvy, urinary stones, and UTIs.
Packed with sulfur compounds, red onions protect the body from cancer, diabetes, sore throats, constipation, and even high cholesterol. Heart-healthy, these onions can be used to treat arthritis and even heal your digestive system. An underrated veggie, onions are powerful in terms of flavor, crunch, and the boost to your health they provide!
Parsley is rich in a variety of nutrients, including vitamin K (essential for blood and bone health and healing bruises). Loaded with antioxidants, this powerful herb also boosts your eye health and heart health and offers antibacterial properties. With a mild, fresh, versatile taste, it’s easy to add to just about any dish (and will seriously bring out the flavors in this one)!
Red Wine Vinegar
Made from fermented red wine, red wine vinegar offers an array of benefits, from protecting your skin to lowering your blood sugar levels and helping you lose weight. Heart-healthy, it contains powerful antioxidants and even some iron and potassium. This delicious low-calorie dressing is versatile and can be used in a variety of salads (plus, you get the health benefits of red wine without the consequences of the buzz!).
Frequently Asked Questions About this Salmon Salad
You asked, we answered–below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this recipe.
What is the best way to serve quinoa?
Serve quinoa the same way you would serve another grain, like rice, barley, or farro. Throw it on salads (like this one), use it as a side dish, or choose it as the base for a grain bowl.
Why is salmon salad good for you?
Salmon is already a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, omega-3s, vitamins, minerals, and more. Combined with a healthy grain like quinoa and fresh vegetables, this salad is as good for you as it gets.
What’s the healthiest way to cook salmon?
Baking salmon (as this recipe calls for) is one healthy cooking method. You can also sear salmon in a pan, steam or poach it, roast it, or grill it. The healthiest methods are those that don’t require oil or butter (i.e. baking, poaching), but you really can’t go wrong with this versatile fish!
Can you eat salmon cold on a salad?
Yes! Salmon is so tasty and takes on a deliciously soft and flaky texture after it’s been cooked and cooled, making it the perfect protein to throw over light, chilled summer salads like this one.
What pairs well with quinoa?
Quinoa is delicious with flavorful, crunchy veggies (like in this salad). It matches just about any protein, from salmon to chicken to tofu.
Is quinoa healthier than rice?
Both quinoa and rice are healthy grain options, but quinoa does offer some health benefits that rice does not. For instance, quinoa is packed with protein and fiber, whereas rice is merely a healthy carb. Quinoa will keep you fuller longer and is packed with even more nutrients than your typical grain.
Is quinoa a protein or a carb?
Quinoa is actually a complete protein all on its own. This means that while it does provide healthy carbs and fiber, you can actually serve it as the main event of your dish (or in the case of this salad, pair it with another protein for double the protein power!).
What vegetables go best with salmon?
Light summer veggies like cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, and spinach are always a safe bet to pair with salmon. More flavorful veggies like the red onion and grape tomatoes included in this recipe are fun way to spice things up–you can even experiment with adding additional veggies like corn, shredded carrots, or bell peppers to this recipe. When it comes to this versatile fish, it’s truly hard to go wrong!
How long will the leftovers last (and what’s the best way to store them?)
This chilled salmon quinoa salad should stay fresh in your fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the baked salmon filets for up to six months! Enjoy chilled or heated leftovers throughout the week– just don’t forget to store the dressing separately to prevent sogginess!
Serving Suggestions for Chilled Salmon Quinoa Salad
This salad is delicious on its own or over a bed of greens. Try it as part of a buffet or appetizer spread alongside a charcuterie board or some hummus and pita. Enjoy it for lunch, dinner, or even an afternoon snack. It’s the perfect companion for a beach or barbecue day and can be customized to keep things exciting–try adding another veggie or switching the salmon out for chicken! We suggest enjoying this salad chilled, but try it heated up if you prefer. You can even switch up the dressing–get creative!
Chilled Salmon Quinoa Salad
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound salmon filets center cut preferred
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup italian parsley minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a glass baking dish.
- Place salmon in prepared baking dish, season with salt & pepper.
- Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until salmon is cooked to desired doneness. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl.
- Add tomatoes, onion and parsley. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk red wine vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
- Remove salmon from skin, and flake into large chunks with a fork. Add to quinoa mixture.
- Drizzle dressing over salmon quinoa bowl and toss to combine.
- Chill covered in refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
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More Salmon and Quinoa Recipes
Want more salmon and quinoa recipes that increase energy? We’ve got plenty more for you to choose from! Here are some great options:
- Salmon Quinoa Cakes
- Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
- Easy Pesto Salmon Recipe
- Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Spiced Tofu
- Cucumber Quinoa Salad With Ground Turkey, Olives, & Feta