As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This Vegan Quinoa Salad is packed with flavor and cooks in a flash! A delicious make-ahead quinoa side dish that is full of crunchy veggies and a homemade zesty sauce.

a bowl of instant pot quinoa with veggies on a white board with lime and cilantro
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

This rainbow quinoa salad is super tasty, keeps in the fridge for days, and pairs a lot of delicious crunchy veggies with a sesame chili sauce.

Even better, I’ll teach you how to make this vegan quinoa recipe on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot. Everyone loves options!

Did you know that quinoa is not just for savory uses? Try it in a Chocolate Quinoa Porridge! And if you love speedy grain recipes, check out my posts on Instant Pot Farro and Garlic Butter Rice.

Looking for a plain version of this recipe? Check out Instant Pot Quinoa.

Quinoa Salad Ingredients & Variations

This recipe is rocking:

  • Quinoa – white or red works perfectly here
  • Veggies – carrot, celery, cucumber, frozen edamame, and green onions
  • Dressing – sweet chili sauce (this is our favorite brand), rice vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil
  • Bonus flavor squad – ginger, garlic, cilantro (leave it out if you’re not a fan)
  • Misc – vegetable broth
a grey plate filled with chopped veggies and herbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Make Quinoa Taste Good?

If you’ve never been a fan of quinoa, chances are it wasn’t flavored correctly. Plain quinoa is like tofu in that it is mostly flavorless. It needs spices, a flavorful sauce, and lots of add-ins to perk up the taste.

This recipe is packed with bold flavors from garlic, ginger, and sweet chili sauce, and is balanced out with rice vinegar.

Toasting quinoa before cooking it also helps the finished dish develop a delicious nutty flavor.

How to Rinse Quinoa

The outer layer of quinoa contains saponin, which is a naturally occurring compound that can make quinoa taste bitter and/or soapy.

Before cooking, you’ll want to rinse the raw quinoa seeds under running water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.

Quinoa Cooking Time

I prefer cooking quinoa in my Instant Pot as it is more hands-off, and cooks in only 1 minute.

On the stovetop, quinoa can take 15-25 minutes to finish cooking.

two photos showing toasted quinoa
two photos cooking quinoa in a pressure cooker
3 photos of a cold quinoa salad

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You can skip the toasting step if you’re short on time. It adds a great flavor but it’s not necessary.
  • You can toast the rinsed quinoa. It takes an extra minute for it to dry out before the toasting process starts.
  • If you want to double or even triple the batch, the cooking time remains the same.
  • Double the batch and set some plain quinoa aside for future meals. Cooked side dishes are an important part of our freezer essentials because they make our easy healthy meal prep even faster. If you store servings of quinoa in silicone bags, you can even reheat them directly in the bag.
  • Canadian Golden Quinoa will not produce great results in the instant pot. It is much too mushy to use in a pressure cooker.
cold quinoa salad in a bowl
5 from 19 ratings

Vegan Quinoa Salad

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 minute
Pressurizing/Depressurizing: 10 minutes
Total: 26 minutes
a bowl of instant pot quinoa with veggies on a white board with lime and cilantro
This vegan quinoa salad is packed with flavor and cooks in a flash! A delicious make-ahead quinoa side dish that is full of crunchy veggies and a homemade zesty sauce.


Salad Fixin’s

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 carrots {peeled and diced}
  • 1 stalk celery {diced}
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame {thawed}
  • 3 green onions {sliced thinly}
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • Few sprigs of cilantro



  • In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa under cool running water.
    2 cups quinoa

Instant Pot Directions

  • Turn your Instant Pot to saute.
  • Add the olive oil and quinoa. Stir to toast for 5-8 minutes, or until you can smell the nutty undertones.
    2 tbsp olive oil
  • Add the broth. Stir. 
    2 cups vegetable broth
  • Lock the lid into place and set the steam release handle (valve on top) to “Sealing”. Press Manual>High Pressure>1 minute. 
  • While the quinoa is cooking, mix the sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
    1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 3 cloves garlic, 1 inch piece of ginger, Juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp olive oil
  • When the cooking time is up, do a natural release for 10 minutes, and then flip the vent to "venting" and perform a quick release.
  • Add the veggies and cilantro to the instant pot. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Store in the fridge.
    2 carrots, 1 stalk celery, 1/2 cup frozen edamame, 3 green onions, 1 small cucumber, chopped, Few sprigs of cilantro

Stove Top Directions

  • In a heavy saucepan, like a dutch oven, add the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the quinoa and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until you can smell the nutty undertones from the pan.
  • Add the 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.
  • 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.


  1. Skip the toasting step if you’re short on time. 
  2. Reduce or omit green onions and/or cilantro if you’re not a fan.
  3. If you want to double or even triple the batch, the cooking time remains the same.
  4. Canadian Golden Quinoa will not produce good results in the instant pot. It is much too mushy to use in a pressure cooker.


Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 127kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

Shop This Post

About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 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.
    5 stars

  2. 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!5 stars

  3. I too have always been a hater of quinoa but this recipe sounds so good that I just might give it a try.5 stars

  4. 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!5 stars

  5. 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…)5 stars

  6. 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.

  7. 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! 🙂5 stars