This quick and easy Quinoa Chickpea Salad is packed with vibrant vegetables and creamy chickpeas all tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette. Delicious as-is, this salad is also a fantastic base for adding your favorite extra herbs, beans, or veggies. It’s a lovely side or lunch to meal prep.

Bowl full of quinoa chickpea salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and a lemon dressing.

Easy Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing side dish, a wholesome contribution to the neighborhood potluck, or a new meal prep idea, this simple quinoa chickpea salad is a delightful solution. It’s full of colorful veggies and tossed in a simple yet flavorful lemon dressing for major Mediterranean vibes.

This also makes a fabulous base for adding your favorite extra veggies, herbs, nuts, or other proteins.

Chickpea quinoa salad delivers it all:

  • Quick and easy to make, with simple chopping and minimal clean-up.
  • Bursting with bright flavor from the vegetables and vinaigrette.
  • Packed with plant-based protein and fiber to keep you satisfied.

Serve this alongside lemon chicken thighs or Greek-marinated chicken breasts for a filling and summery meal.

Ingredients & Common Substitutions

Labeled photo of cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, fresh parsley, uncooked quinoa, bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, and a lemon dressing in prep bowls and jars.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. 

  • Quinoa: Use any variety or color of quinoa that you like. I’ve used white quinoa here; red or tricolor quinoa will add more visual punch to the salad.
  • Chickpeas: These are the filling, creamy heart of this salad! One can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) will nicely round out the salad. If you prefer even more protein, you can use more. You can also cook dried chickpeas from scratch if you like.
  • Tomatoes: I like using grape or cherry tomatoes, but you can use any variety you like. Just chop them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cucumber: An English or Persian cucumber makes this simple because the skin is thin and easy to eat. No peeling necessary.
  • Bell Pepper: Any color.
  • Red Onion.
  • Fresh Parsley.
  • Lemon Dressing: A mix of olive oil, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, kosher or sea salt, and black pepper.

As written, this recipe is gluten-free and vegan, making it extra flexible and versatile for serving at potlucks and picnics.

Can you substitute garlic powder for minced garlic?

Fresh minced garlic is often the go-to choice for maximum flavor, but garlic powder packs a great punch, too, and can more evenly dissolve in dressings and sauces. In this recipe, either works; I prefer garlic powder here for the ease! When substituting the two, a good start is to use 1 teaspoon of minced garlic for 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.

How To Make Chickpea Quinoa Salad

The most time-consuming part is just waiting for the quinoa to cool; that’s how easy this recipe is! Here are the steps:

  1. Rinse and cook quinoa. Cool fully to room temperature; hot quinoa will cause the veggies to lose their crispness.
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small jar or liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  3. Chop veggies and toss to combine. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, halve the tomatoes, and chop the cucumbers, peppers, red onion, and parsley. Drizzle with dressing and toss once again to combine.
Close up of a homemade lemon dressing being poured over a quinoa chickpea salad.

Variations & Extras

This salad is delicious as-is but also very well suited to being dolled up with add-ins depending on your preferences. Some ideas:

  • Greens: baby spinach, kale, or arugula mix in and add a pop of color.
  • Fresh herbs: oregano or dill are my favorites. Thyme is also lovely.
  • Pine nuts: toasted if possible.
  • Slivered almonds: or other nuts you enjoy.
  • Other veggies: include any roasted or sautéed veggies, such as zucchini, squash, corn, sweet potato, or butternut.
  • Olives: Green or Kalamata olives are a fantastic briny touch.
  • Feta cheese, avocado, or both: Adds a deliciously creaminess!

Why do you rinse quinoa before cooking it?

Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin, which some find to have a bitter or soapy taste. Rinsing quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer prior to cooking removes some of this saponin, which lessens the chance of a bitter effect, and can also minimize some of saponin’s potential effects on the gut. Many store-bought brands are now sold as “pre-rinsed,” but an extra wash at home never hurts.

An experiment published in The Kitchn found, however, that un-rinsed quinoa had a firmer texture and a nuttier flavor, without bitterness. So this may come down to personal preference!

Is quinoa hard on the gut?

Quinoa is extremely high in fiber–it packs nearly twice as much fiber per ounce as any other common grain. Although fiber is quite good for your digestion, consuming a lot more of it than you’re accustomed to can indeed cause cramps, bloating, and digestion problems. Saponin itself can be a gut irritant for some people. If quinoa is not for you, you can try consuming smaller portions and being sure to rinse it very well. Or skip it and make this pearl couscous or lemon orzo salad instead!

How healthy is quinoa salad?

Quinoa is rare for being a complete protein, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids. Combine that with the high fiber it offers, and the veggies and protein derived from chickpeas in this salad, and you have a wholesome, nutrient-dense side dish everyone can feel good about eating.

Serving Suggestions

We love this salad as a side dish to grilled chicken, either in a lemon marinade or quickly seasoned with our favorite dry rub. Quinoa salad is also terrific with lemon herb salmon or these Mediterranean shrimp skewers for a breezy warm weather meal.

Serving spoon ready to portion out quinoa chickpea salad.

Make-Ahead & Storage Tips

  • The best way to get a head start is to make the quinoa 2 or 3 days in advance. Store cooked, fluffed quinoa in the fridge and toss with veggies and dressing when ready to serve.
  • You can also fully assemble the salad up to 1 day ahead and store in the fridge. If making ahead of time, leave out tomatoes until time to serve.
  • Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Keep in the mind that as the salad sits, the tomatoes will give off more and more of their juices, which can make the quinoa and other vegetables soggy.

More Easy Salads

If you enjoy fresh sides like this, next try my chopped Greek chickpea salad, pearl couscous with tomatoes and cucumbers, or white bean tomato cucumber salad. Pasta salad with chickpeas and roasted red peppers is also a personal favorite.

If you try making this Quinoa Chickpea Salad or any other recipe on the blog, please rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!

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Bowl full of quinoa chickpea salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and a lemon dressing.
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Quinoa Chickpea Salad

The ultimate blend of grains, veggies, and plant protein. Everyone loves the textures, flavor, and light lemon dressing!

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper any color
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse quinoa very well in a fine-mesh strainer, then combine it with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low, so the water settles on a gentle simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature—about 30 minutes. (You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling if needed.)
  • While the quinoa cooks, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Halve the tomatoes, and chop the cucumber, pepper, onion, and parsley into small pieces.
  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to make the dressing. (Start with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper; add more to taste.)
  • Combine cooled quinoa in a large bowl with the chickpeas and veggies. Toss well, then drizzle dressing on top and toss once again to mix.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 318kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Sodium: 11mg, Potassium: 541mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 802IU, Vitamin C: 37mg, Calcium: 60mg, Iron: 4mg
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