Quinoa Salad with Hazelnuts, Apple, and Dried Cranberries

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: While pregnant with my little girl, I was on a quest to find a great quinoa salad; after much tinkering, I came up with this. I love this salad because I usually have every ingredient on hand. If I don't have hazelnuts, I add almonds instead. No apples? Pears! No cranberries? Raisins! It's a fairly forgiving and flexible recipe. I recommend using good quality dried cranberries. Craisins work but they tend to turn the salad a pinkish hue after a few hours, and I find they're too sweet.darksideofthespoon

Food52 Review: WHO: Darksideofthespoon is a an ex-pastry chef married to a chef -- needless to say, her family is well-fed. They live in snowy Canada.
WHAT: Autumn's nutty, herby answer to quinoa salad.
HOW: Cook your onion and celery until just-soft, then toss with your quinoa, cranberries, apple, lemon, hazelnut oil, and toasted hazelnuts.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love how thoughtful darksideofthespoon's quinoa salad is: from the just-cooking-through of the onion and celery, to the skinning of the hazelnuts, to the hazelnut oil finish. This might be the perfect brown bag lunch -- or side dish at an elegant autumn dinner party.
The Editors

Serves: 4
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 40 min


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 1/2 cups water, for quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, de-skinned and chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 5 to 6) green onions, chopped (green parts only)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped * see note
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, thoroughly rinsed and chopped
  • 1 gala apple (really, any kind of apple will do)
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • Generous drizzle of any kind of oil (I like hazelnut)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat your oven to 325° F and toast your hazelnuts for about 7 to 10 minutes. Let them cool completely. You should begin to hear their skins crackle while cooling; this is a good sign!
  2. Meanwhile, cook your quinoa. Importantly, rinse it well! Boil the water with a pinch of salt, and add your rinsed quinoa. Turn your stove down to medium-low and let it cook for roughly 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and let it cool in the fridge.
  3. Going back to the cooled, toasted hazelnuts; remove the skins. Chop the hazelnuts up, leaving them in large pieces.
  4. Preheat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and soften your finely chopped onion and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Try not to brown them, 5 to 7 minutes on medium—low heat should do the trick. Set aside in a large salad bowl.
  5. Rinse your parsley well and chop it finely followed by your dried cranberries and green onions. Add all this to the onion and celery mixture.
  6. Core and dice the apple, put your apple chunks in the bowl with the other ingredients. Squeeze the entire lemon over the apple to season the salad and prevent the apple from turning brown.
  7. Add your quinoa and hazelnuts to the mixture, drizzle with the oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Season with more lemon juice if you like.
  8. Mix well and cool completely. Allow the flavors to meld for 20 minutes before serving!

More Great Recipes:
Salad|American|Celery|Cranberry|Grains|Green Onion/Scallion|Hazelnut|Parsley|Quinoa|Vegetable|Apple|Serves a Crowd

Reviews (72) Questions (0)

72 Reviews

CM November 27, 2018
Hazelnuts don't need any help being delicious, but I felt that there was still something very much missing from this recipe. I made it exactly as specified and wanted more zing -- a bit more acid and a lot more flavor all around. Off the top of my head, I'd recommend including lemon zest, more green onion, and... something from the spice rack?
Emily October 11, 2018
This is a great recipe that I have made several times! It is a hit as an autumnal side dish. I normally used unsweetened dried cherries.
Allison C. August 6, 2018
So good as a side with any meat and so healthy! I use tart dried cherries instead of cranberries and everyone loves it!
Trena H. July 24, 2018
I made this for lunch today and it was excellent!
Shrinkrap June 23, 2018
How far ahead can I make this? Can it be served room temperature?
Anna H. June 23, 2018
Oh Lord! This was to die for!!! Made it in about 45 min. This was the most delicious salad ever! With a choice of protein and solo on it's own! Unbelievably good! Thank you for the wonderful receipe. Truly a winner!
Mary K. April 8, 2018
I substituted (because it's what was on hand...) fresh pears for apples, and toasted pecans for hazelnuts, also tossed in some edamame, and cubed beets.....! Quinoa is wonderful as a salad. Thank you !!
VVV03 November 12, 2017
Tasty dish, but I have to disagree with anyone who says it's easy or quick. I suppose that is true if you have a sous chef to do all your prep and clean up work. But otherwise, very labor intensive. It's a typical tasty vegetarian meal to me -- takes a lot of work to get to the flavor. Long live animal fat is all I have to say. (but it was tasty. Not knocking the dish, but give yourself a couple of hours and a good attitude to get it done.)
Candy November 20, 2017
To cut down on prep work, Trader Joe’s has already toasted hazelnuts or sub in another toasted almonds, which are easy to find. As others have said, walnuts and pecans work well too and they have no skins. Use the food processor to chop onion and celery. I’ve even bought the sliced celery from the salad bar, given them a chop or two with the knife and thrown them in.
Gammy January 4, 2019
Thanks for the tip on Trader Joe's toasted hazelnuts. One issue was that although I rubbed and rubbed, the skins for the most part stayed on the nuts, so we got a bit of extra fiber. Timing was spot on... about 45 minutes until all was combined and in the fridge cooling.
Gabby S. November 8, 2017
I am making this for a school event and want to avoid nuts. Any suggestions for crunchy replacement?
ghainskom November 8, 2017
Pan roastef sunflower seeds?
patrick November 8, 2017
savory granola!
koc November 9, 2017
Jicama or water chestnuts would be good crunch replacements.
Andy H. November 5, 2017
How is the acid component in this salad? It seems pretty light on balance and might need a touch more acid. Has anyone experimented with that?
patrick November 8, 2017
i like to add lemon zest to increase the lemon aspect
Lucy May 29, 2017
Amazing. I subbed barley, slivered almonds, added dried tart cherries and raisins....so forgiving and so delicious. Thank you!!!!
SophieCatt April 21, 2017
WOW. This is awesome!
Patty February 27, 2017
Whoa, this is SUPER good. And I was not the only one enamored: I made it for a party and got rave reviews from everybody. I went very light on the oil and found the lemony taste wonderful. Such a great, delicate combination of flavors.
niemx February 2, 2017
Delicious! I made this for a potluck and got positive reviews. I did make a few adjustments: I used only half a bunch of parsley (it seemed like a lot of parsley!), used raisins instead of cranberries, used 4 green onions, and forgot to wash the quinoa.

With only half the amount of parsley used, I think the green onions were too strong. After preparing the salad, I thought it could use some more sweetness so I added probably about an extra third cup of chopped raisins. As the comments will tell you, this is a flexible and forgiving salad. It was my first time toasting and deskinning hazelnuts, and I found it a little annoying, so if I'm a little lazier I might use walnuts instead. But they were a nice touch and add a unique nutty flavor to the dish.

Remember to add salt!
Yayita January 29, 2017
This is a very forgiving and versatile dish. I modified since I didn't have all of the needed ingredients and even then it was a good salad. I omitted the green onions as I didn't have any, added dried pineapple strips since I didn't have enough dried cranberries, and substituted the lemon for sherry vinegar as I ran out of lemons. The one thing I wish I would have done more throughly is wash my quinoa as my quinoa was slightly bitter. Do not skip soaking and washing your quinoa! And when you do wash it, wash it until the water runs clear; something I didn't do and now my salad has a slight bitterness. Thankfully the sweet cranberries and apples offset this but I can only imagine how much better it would be without that bitterness.
patrick November 8, 2016
ive made this recipe twice, once without celery/onion and once with, the latter was much better. read more about how mine came out here- http://wp.me/p7IPNM-Bt
Chris O. July 21, 2016
to Claire de la Lune -- I like jicama or water chestnuts for crunch.
Melissa May 15, 2016
just love this receipe. it's prfect and well balance. thanks for sharing
Betsy March 5, 2016
FABULOUS! This is my new go-to salad, lunch or dinner. I put in the basics, but then add other things I have in the fridge - red pepper, dried blueberries. I have found that the better the evoo, the better the salad, finished with a touch of fleur de Campagne. Thanks so much!
Claire D. February 26, 2016
from a recent incident where i hadn't even ingested it but was just sitting down, peeling a lot, i found out i'm super allergic to celery. does this salad need that bit of crunch and if so, what could I substitute for it that would work well? or could I just leave it out, no harm done? Thanks!!
koc February 26, 2016
My daughter doesn't like the taste of celery so I always leave it out of this recipe. We don't miss it and think it's delicious! And the nuts add crunch.