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Zesty Quinoa – Quinoa Salad For The Quinoa Haters

This zesty quinoa salad will convert even the staunchest quinoa hater. This delicious quinoa salad is full of crunchy veggies and packs an amazing flavor.


Want to hear a secret?  You know quinoa, the superfood that everyone tells us we need to be eating more of?

Not a fan. I think it tastes like gritty bland poop.

Now there is a visual for you!  Not exactly a culinary delight in my opinion.

I challenged myself to make a quinoa salad that even I would eat.  After a few tries, I felt like Doc Brown in Back to the Future realizing that the Delorean had to go 88 mph.  Not 87, not 89, but 88.

I have a legit problem where I want almost all my food to be spicy. Sriracha, Korean chili paste, Tabasco (green), and Yin Yang hot sauces are always stocked in my fridge. So naturally, when I found a quinoa salad that I loved, it is because I added some heat to it and heaped on the Asian flavors that I love so much. And then to make it crunchy and hearty, I packed it full of chopped veggies.
If you are a quinoa hater, like I used to be, I’d highly recommend you give this one a try before writing it off completely.  This dish is inexpensive to make, it produces a ton of food, and it’s perfect for when you don’t want to heat up your house by using the oven for more complex side dishes. And since you’re making it in the Instant Pot, it will done in no time!

For those of you out there who like things with a bit of heat, I highly recommend Stir-Fried Shishito Peppers as an additional side dish.


Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

5 from 1 vote
Zesty Quinoa Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This zesty quinoa salad will convert even the staunchest quinoa hater. This delicious quinoa salad is full of crunchy veggies and packs an amazing flavor.

Course: Side Dish
Author: Sarah - Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
Salad Fixin's
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 stalk celery diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame thawed
  • 3 green onions sliced small (I love green onions.  If you don't, reduce to 1 or 2)
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • Few sprigs of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced or crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa under cool running water.

Stove Top Directions
  1. In a heavy saucepan, like a dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the quinoa and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until you can smell the nutty undertones from the pan.

  2. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute, and then reduce to a lower heat.  Put the lid on, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed.  Let cool.

  3. Meanwhile, dice your veg and mix up your sauce.  Once the quinoa has cooked, add the veggies and cilantro and stir to combine.  Store in the fridge.

Instant Pot Directions
  1. Turn your Instant Pot to saute. Melt butter and add the quinoa. Stir to toast for 5-8 minutes, or until you can smell the nutty undertones.

  2. Add the chicken broth. Stir. 

  3. Secure the lid, and turn the lever set to "sealing". Use the manual setting and press the pressure button until it is on "high". Set the timer for 1 minute.

  4. Once it has finished cooking, the Instant Pot will beep and start counting down. If it hasn't naturally depressurized within 15 minutes, carefully turn the lever to "venting" and allow it depressurize.

  5. Add the veggies and cilantro to the instant pot. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Store in the fridge.

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This zesty quinoa salad will convert even the staunchest quinoa hater. This delicious quinoa salad is full of crunchy veggies and packs an amazing flavor.

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14 comments on “Zesty Quinoa – Quinoa Salad For The Quinoa Haters”

  1. Quinoa also “sticks” with you for a long time! It’s nice and filling! Can’t wait to try this recipe out! Sarah–you’re amazing! 🙂

  2. I refuuuuuuuuse.

    Ok. Maybe I’ll try it if I get close enough to the quinoa aisle to check the prices (and if the prices are right). Sweet chili sauce is a weakness of mine.

  3. Sarah, this sounds like a winner! It took a lot of coaxing to get me to like it too. Oh, when I researched, I found that you want to rinse quinoa quite well first. It has bitter, somewhat-toxic saponins in it (which keep birds from eating it), so you rinse under water for a full minute or so first. Thought you might like to know! (I think the rinsed, drained quinoa would still toast in the pan- it might just take a tad longer…)

  4. The key to quinoa is adding plenty of flavorful ingredients! My favorite quinoa recipe is this one. Toastigg it the way you did in your recipe makes a big difference, too, I think. (And yes – rinsed quinoa can still be toasted. It dries out first, then toasts up nicely.)

  5. Definitely rinse it before you toast it – it gets that nasty coating off.

  6. I’ve had a bag of quinoa in my pantry for months and haven’t done a thing with it. All the recipes I find that sound good have “cheesy” in the title, which doesn’t work for my dairy-free husband. I’ll have to try this out!

  7. I too have always been a hater of quinoa but this recipe sounds so good that I just might give it a try.

  8. I will have to give this a try! I don’t love quinoa, but I don’t hate it. This recipe is pretty baller: I do find that no matter what you do with the stuff, it always looks like dog food. . . nom nom.

  9. Just wanted to add my voice to the rinse it! category. But maybe not – I always rinsed my quinoa, and still developed an allergy to it. (If you family members or you eats quinoa and has an upset stomach after – beware!) My twin never rinses hers and has no problems. YMMV!

  10. How can you not love Quinoa? It’s so innocuous! I must say it smells not great when just boiled… but it’s easy enough to disguise the smell…. this recipe looks good though, almost like a risotto style of cooking it… will give it a shot! thanks.

  11. Somehow I found you…..and am enjoying reading you! But, seriously, HOW do you know what BLAND POOP tastes like? Have you really tried it?????

  12. I have never been a fan of Quinoa and has almost forgotten it existed. What you’ve done with it looks simply amazing. After seeing this, I am tempted to try it out. I am sure it tastes great too.

  13. I’ve liked quinoa well enough since I first tried it, but this recipe has quickly become one of my favorites:
    The avocado dressing is what really makes it. One word of advice, though–I found the amount of chipoltle powder to be far too much. My second time I cut the amount in half and it was still spicy, but not burn-your-mouth-off spicy.

  14. Sssshhhh – don’t tell anyone… I didn’t know what quinoa was. I know you’re shocked. It has a flavor that takes getting used to I think but i’ll make it again!