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Oil-Free Apple Quinoa Salad {vegan, gluten-free}


Oil-free apple quinoa salad is everything you want in a fresh, filling whole grain meal. It is perfect as a side salad at dinner, or as the star of your packed lunch. Shredded apples & lemon add sweetness and flavor.

white bowl filled with apple quinoa salad

Hi friends! I have the perfect transitional (summer to autumn) salad for all of us to make this weekend. ♡

It’s loaded up with high-protein quinoa, pomegranate arils, fresh parsley, lots of lemon (zest and juice), and a small heap of apple for sweetness and late summer–early fall flavor.  

It’s a vibrant, feel-good, dinner time joy of a salad that’s easy to whip up in a matter of minutes.  Leftovers (try to save some!) will make lunch time at work a very happy repast, too.

Let’s make some salad!

Oil-Free Apple Quinoa Salad Ingredients

Before we get to the recipe, here are the ingredients you will need to make this salad!

  • Cooked Quinoa: I used a multi-colored quinoa in the recipe, but any variety or color of quinoa will work. You will need to make the quinoa ahead of time and chill it until cold; you can do this up to several days ahead to make things easy. 
  • Tart-Sweet Apple: One large (or two small) tart-sweet apples, preferably chilled, but it is ok if they are not. (I will get to what you will do with these next).
  • Pomegranate Arils (Seeds): I made this salad the seeds from one large pomegranate. If you cannot find fresh pomegranates, you can sub dried cherries or dried cranberries.  
  • Fresh parsley: This recipe calls for a generous amount of fresh flat-leaf parsley–it adds lots of bright flavor to the salad.
  • Lemon: I used the grated zest and juice of one medium-large lemon.  
  • Salt & Pepper: Finally, I love this salad with plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning. Add what you like, to taste.

overhead shot of apple quinoa salad in a white bowl with lemons and a cutting board in view

How to Make This Salad

To make this apple quinoa salad, simply…

  1. Throw everything in a bowl.
  2. Toss to combine.
  3. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Serve it up right away while the salad is nice and fresh!  

Use Shredded Apple in Place of Oil for Dressing

So, I glossed over an important part of the salad: the dressing. Or, more specifically, the absence of dressing.

You know those grain salads of yore that had 1 cup of olive oil added to them? You spoon up some salad and hold it, hovering above the bowl for several minutes, until the dressing drains? And then all of that dressing ends up down the drain once the salad is gone?

Well, forget about that. This refreshing salad has no oil at all. Nada. Fresh + frugal is the name of the game here. And in place of an oil slick of vinaigrette is a mini mountain of freshly shredded, tart-sweet apple!

shredded tart-sweet apple on a wood cutting board

Lots of lemon juice goes in, too, both for flavor and to prevent the the apples from browning. Easy. Peasy.

Happy eats, everyone!

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white bowl filled with apple quinoa salad

Oil-Free Apple Quinoa Salad {vegan, gluten-free}

  • Author: Camilla
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Oil-free apple quinoa salad is everything you want in a fresh, filling whole grain meal. It is perfect as a side salad at dinner, or as the star of your packed lunch. Shredded apples & lemon add sweetness and flavor.


  • 3 cups cooked black or white quinoa (see below), cooled & chilled
  • 1 large tart-sweet apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate arils
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


  1. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, shredded apples, lemon zest and lemon juice, tossing to combine,
  2. Generously season the quinoa mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the pomegranate arils and parsley to bowl, tossing to combine. Serve!


To prepare 3 cups of cooked quinoa: Combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan (see chart below for other amounts of quinoa and water and their corresponding yields). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is just barely absorbed. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes for an al dente texture or 8 to 10 minutes for a softer texture. Fluff with a fork.


  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: About 1 and 1/4 cups (325 mL)
  • Calories: 223
  • Sugar: 12.6 g
  • Sodium: 2.4 mg
  • Fat: 3.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 43.8 g
  • Fiber: 5.3 g
  • Protein: 6.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: easy vegan quinoa salad, oil-free quinoa salad, oil-free quinoa salad, oil-free, gluten-free, quinoa, apples, easy

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Monday 5th of October 2020

[…] Oil-Free Apple Quinoa Salad {vegan, gluten-free} […]


Saturday 23rd of April 2016

WOW!!! delicious!! I used thighs, that is what I had and a nice jalapeno from the garden. The glaze came out beautiful and the flavor, WOW! I served this with plain white rice and some fresh peas I had. Please thank your guest and her mom for a recipe that is wonderful!! 


Thursday 5th of May 2016

You are so welcome, Gerard!

I Strongly Believe

Thursday 27th of September 2012

I missed the book give-a-way, but have gone on Amazon to purchase. Thanks for posting!

Christy L.

Sunday 2nd of September 2012

My husband loves quinoa, but I'm having a harder time loving it as much. I may get this to get some inspiration for different ways to make quinoa. This recipe looks really good!


Saturday 1st of September 2012

Just bought my first bag of quinoa today. :)

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