This extra quick and easy take on the viral Jennifer Aniston Salad is vibrant and packed with flavor and crunch. With fresh herbs, veggies, grains, and satisfying plant-based protein all tossed in a simple lemon dressing, this is a feel-good lunch to remember and enjoy all year long.

Low ceramic bowl full of a Jennifer Aniston-style salad made with brown rice, chickpeas, herbs, cucumbers, and shallot.

It’s been years since the so-called “Jennifer Aniston salad” went viral on social media. If you know me in real life, you know I’m always the last to get on board with a trend, and then typically put my own spin on it — usually out of sheer laziness — so the timing was just about right for me to finally give this a try.

Predictably, once I did try this salad, it quickly became a new love and part of my lunch routine! I try to keep my lunches super nutritious and full of protein, especially during the work week, but even I eventually get tired of green salads with grilled chicken. This easy mix of whole grains, chickpeas, crisp veggies, and fragrant herbs steps right in to add variety in the most delicious way.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Fresh, crunchy, and vibrant. This has it all in the texture, flavor, and color departments.
  • Super quick and easy to whip up. I embrace some little changes to make this salad even more weekday lunch friendly, because sadly, who has time for major lunch prep?
  • Balanced meal in a bowl. You’ve got healthy whole grains, plant-based protein, and a good dose of fresh veggies all in one.
  • Keeps well in the fridge. This salad holds up well for a full day in the fridge, even when fully dressed, so it’s great for meal prep. It’s pretty easy to adapt for longer storage, as well.
Clear glass bowl full of a salad with brown rice and chickpeas, surrounded by smaller bowls of chopped cucumber, crumbled feta, herbs, lemon wedges, and pistachios.

Story of the Jennifer Aniston Salad

Myth busting time: although sources claim that Jennifer Aniston did indeed eat the same lunch daily for 10 years on the set of Friends, this is not that salad!

This said, there is a Jennifer Aniston connection to this salad. In 2015, while doing an Instagram takeover for the Living Proof hair care brand, Ms. Aniston posted a casual snap of a salad made with bulgur wheat, cucumbers, parsley, mint, red onion, chickpeas, pistachios, and feta cheese, captioning it her “perfect salad.” The post is no longer on Instagram proper, but is available on the Way Back Machine – a fun and useful tool for unearthing old internet content! Followers went crazy, and the viral salad recipe was born.

The salad she ate every day while taping Friends, incidentally, is a turkey Cobb salad, which also sounds extremely delicious and nutritious. Mental note for the future!

Ingredient & Substitution Notes

Labeled overhead photo of cooked brown rice, drained and rinsed chickpeas, fresh parsley and mint, pistachios, shallot, chopped cucumber, a whole lemon, olive oil, feta, and kosher salt, all in prep bowls and ready to combine into a salad.

I do make a few changes to the “original” viral recipe, which is why I’m bothering to share my take. Nothing major: we’re substituting the stovetop-cooked bulgur wheat for a microwave-able grain, using milder shallots in place of red onion, and adding a light lemon dressing to pull it all together.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  • Cooked brown rice. I use a microwave-in-bag rice packet for this, just to keep things super fast and easy. You can use any combination you like: brown rice, wild rice, mixed grains, quinoa, farro, or even an ancient grains mix. The idea is just to have roughly 2 cups of a whole grain that you can prepare quickly and easily. If you want to prepare your grain on the stove or in the Instant Pot, etc., by all means do so.
  • Chickpeas. AKA garbanzo beans and a favorite easy source of plant-based protein.
  • Cucumber. Use either an English cucumber or a couple of small Persian cucumbers so you don’t need to peel or seed them.
  • Shallot. Using sweet, mild shallot in place of onion is what took this salad from “pretty good” to “outstanding” for me. If you find the tang of raw onion distracting, try it with shallot and see what you think!
  • Fresh parsley and mint. Absolutely essential for bringing this salad to life.
  • Pistachios. Buy shelled pistachios to save your sanity, and use the extra to make pistachio-crusted salmon or chocolate pistachio cookies, because life is all about balance. Roasted & salted pistachios are delicious, but if you’ve got unsalted ones, go ahead and toss them into this salad and just keep in mind you may want to finish servings with an extra pinch of sea salt to taste.
  • Crumbled feta cheese.
  • For the dressing: extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, flaked sea or kosher salt, and black pepper to taste.

How To Make The Jennifer Aniston Salad

This is about as simple as you’d expect!

First, make the rice and let cool completely. This is important because you don’t want residual heat from the rice to wilt or soften the other ingredients.

While it cools, prep everything else: drain and rinse the chickpeas, chop the cucumber and herbs, etc. Add everything to a large mixing bowl.

Glass bowl with Jennifer Aniston salad ingredients added in sections.

Whisk or shake the dressing together in a liquid measuring cup or small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour as much over the salad as you like.

Small jar of olive oil lemon dressing being poured out on top of a salad.

Toss very well — the grains should evenly absorb the dressing, while it lightly coats the veggies — and dig in!

A fork and spoon tossing a large bowl full of Jennifer Aniston-style salad.

Variations

Like any great salad, this is ripe for putting your own spin on things. A few ideas:

  • Add greens. Scoop out the salad over a bed of baby spinach, kale, mixed greens, or chopped romaine. You could also add extra herbs: basil or fresh dill would be fun.
  • Add another protein. Diced lemon chicken breast or grilled shrimp work well, as could a hard-boiled egg.
  • Swap the cheese. Use crumbled goat cheese, Cotija, or Parmesan in place of feta for a twist.
  • Swap the nuts. Mix in chopped roasted cashews, slivered almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds instead of pistachios.
  • Toss in more veggies. Chopped celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, shredded cabbage or carrots all mix right in. Diced avocado adds more creaminess & healthy fats.
  • Add something sweet. Chop and mix in dried cranberries, dried cherries, or dried apricots for a sweet element.
  • Make it vegan. Use vegan feta or omit the cheese.
  • Make it gluten-free. Just be sure your grain of choice is certified gluten-free.

Tips & Tricks

  • Chopping: Try to chop all ingredients to roughly the same size, so they blend easily and you enjoy a little mix of everything in each bite.
  • Temperature: Be sure to let the rice cool at least to room temperature, or even chill slightly in the fridge, before adding the other ingredients. The salad itself can be enjoyed at room temperature or cold.
  • Yield: As written below, this recipe will yield two pretty generous portions – enough for me or my husband to eat for a meal and feel satiated. If using it as a side dish or feeding kids it will obviously stretch further.
  • Doubling: It’s easy to double this recipe with no changes, or just stretch the servings a bit by tossing in more veggies, more chickpeas, etc. Treat the amounts as a guideline, not science.
  • Storage: This version of the Jennifer Aniston salad keeps well for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, even completely dressed. If you hope to spread it out over more days than that, reserve the cucumbers, feta, and pistachios to mix in to individual servings as you eat them.
Ceramic bowl set on a countertop with a serving of Jennifer Aniston salad, with extra cucumber, herbs, lemon, and feta in the background.

Related Recipes

Craving more satisfying yet nutritious salads? Berry pecan chicken spinach salad, Greek chickpea salad, Greek salmon salad, and a Cobb salad with balsamic grilled chicken are some of my favorites!

If you try this Jennifer Aniston Salad recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

You can also FOLLOW me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and TWITTER for more great recipes and ideas!

No ratings yet

Jennifer Aniston Salad (Extra Quick & Easy Version)

This extra quick and easy take on the viral Jennifer Aniston Salad is fresh, crunchy, and packed with flavor.

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup roasted & salted shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

Dressing:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 medium lemon
  • kosher or sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare rice as desired, then fluff and set aside in a large bowl to cool completely.
    2 cups cooked brown rice
  • While the rice cools, prepare the other ingredients. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, chop the cucumber, and finely mince the shallot, parsley, and mint.
    1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, 1/2 English cucumber, 1 shallot, 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Add chickpeas, cucumber, shallot, parsley, mint, pistachios, and feta to the bowl with the rice.
    1/3 cup roasted & salted shelled pistachios, 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small measuring cup or jar. Whisk or shake well to combine, then pour over the salad and toss well. Enjoy!
    2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, kosher or sea salt and black pepper

Notes

  • Yield: As written this yields two pretty generous portions, enough for me or my husband to eat for lunch and feel satisfied. If using it as a side dish or feeding kids it will obviously stretch further, and it can easily be doubled or just stretched by adding more veggies, more chickpeas, etc.
  • Storage: This salad keeps well for 1-2 days in the fridge, even completely dressed, but if you plan to spread it out over more days than that, reserve the cucumbers, feta, and pistachios to mix in to individual servings same day.
  • Shallot Sub: Red onion can be substituted for the shallot. Red onion actually is the more common ingredient in “the” Jennifer Aniston salad, but I prefer the milder taste of shallot. If using onion and you want to soften its natural bite, soak the minced pieces in cool water for 5-10 minutes while you prepare everything else.
  • Pistachios: If using unsalted pistachios, taste the salad and consider adding an extra pinch of sea salt to taste.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 553 kcal, Carbohydrates: 87 g, Protein: 18 g, Fat: 16 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8 g, Cholesterol: 7 mg, Sodium: 107 mg, Potassium: 817 mg, Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 9 g, Vitamin A: 1329 IU, Vitamin C: 26 mg, Calcium: 168 mg, Iron: 6 mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!