Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad.

A hearty, healthy salad recipe with creamy avocado, nutty quinoa, chicken, fresh cilantro, and lots of bright citrus flavors. The perfect light dinner or easy lunch!

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

Ladies and gents (do any guys read my blog?), I bring you my new favorite meal. It’s protein packed, bursting with flavor, bright citrus, fresh cilantro, a little spice, a lot of avocado, and some serious staying power.

I made this colorful salad as a light dinner on Monday night and enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day; it kept me full for hours as I worked in the kitchen. I made two pies, one of these and a special one for Father’s Day. Stay tuned for that sweet summer recipe.

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

This satisfying bowl of healthy goodness has so much going on. So many flavors and textures; each bite you get a little something different! It’s the perfect recipe for those of us who like the “stuff” in salads, rather than the lettuce. Are you like that too? There’s no lettuce in this salad at all, by the way.

Hearty, super-healthy quinoa is the base for todays salad recipe. I love quinoa because it is impressively versatile. When I’m not adding it to salads, I love making crispy quinoa patties. Just had those for dinner last week – they’re so simple and make a ton of leftovers.

You’ll need about 1.5 cups of cooked quinoa. Quinoa is so simple to prepare. And if you’ve never cooked it before, don’t get nervous. I have a step-by-step post on how to cook quinoa for you. There’s hardly any work involved.

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - a hearty, healthy salad recipe with creamy avocado, nutty quinoa, chicken, and lots of bright citrus flavors. Gluten free and easy! @sallybakeblog

A lot of this salad’s flavor comes from the chicken. You’ll cook the chicken with roasted garlic and a little smoked paprika in some olive oil. If you don’t have smoked paprika, you may use regular or even a pinch of chile powder instead. I highly recommend the smoked paprika for optimum flavor, though.

Don’t know who to roast garlic? Again, don’t get nervous! I have an easy step-by-step post on how to roast garlic. Helpful tip: steer clear from using canned minced garlic here, you want the robust flavor from roasting it fresh.

Cook the cut up chicken breasts until the outsides are toasty and crisp and the centers are moist and tender. Here is what the chicken will look like:

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

Toss the chicken in with the cooked quinoa, 1 sliced avocado, and 2 sliced oranges. For a little dressing, simply whisk together fresh lime juice, honey, olive oil, fresh cilantro, and a touch of juice from the sliced oranges. That’s it!

So many bright, fresh flavors with none of the artificial stuff.

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

This recipe made enough for Kevin and I to enjoy for dinner with a side of roasted veggies. Plus, there was enough leftover to enjoy for lunch the next day. I personally loved it cold! By the next day, the flavors were more pronounced as well – the quinoa had the chance to really soak everything up. And the more I stirred it, the creamier the avocado became. (YES.) Since it tastes so wonderful on day 2, it’s a great make-ahead meal option.

This citrus chicken quinoa salad is a wonderful, gluten free choice for your healthy eating this summer… or whenever you’re looking to lighten-up lunch or dinner. Feel free to add a little more quinoa or even try serving this healthy salad over greens.

And if you have extra veggies laying around in your crisper drawer, throw them in!

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

Now how about some pie for dessert? Balance. ;)

 

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Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad

A hearty, healthy salad recipe with creamy avocado, nutty quinoa, chicken, fresh cilantro, and lots of bright citrus flavors. The perfect light dinner or easy lunch; makes great leftovers!

Serves 3

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (packed)*
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice*
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions or use my directions - my recipe will make 2-3 cups, more than what you will use. But leftovers are great! Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl and let cool.

Pour olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and roasted garlic, stirring it all around to coat with oil. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt. Stir and cook until chicken is done, about 8 minutes. Add cooked chicken, oranges, and avocado to the quinoa. Stir to combine. Set aside.

For the dressing: whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Pour over salad and toss to coat everything evenly. Serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

*If you love cilantro as much as I do feel free to increase to 1/2 cup.

*I simply squeezed the juice out of a couple pieces of the oranges I threw into the salad for the 1 Tablespoon needed in the dressing.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

 

Try my Crispy Quinoa Patties next!

Crispy Quinoa Patties - these versatile patties are crispy on the edges, warm in the center, and freeze well for a quick meal. Add your favorite spices and veggies!

 

Healthy, quick, flavorful. Enjoy!

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad - easy, flavorful, healthy, and protein-packed! @sallybakeblog

 

 

 

   

64 Responses to “Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad.”

  1. #
    1
    Chloe @ foodlikecakeposted June 12, 2014 at 6:19 am

    This looks amazing!

    Reply

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    Laura @ Raise Your Gardenposted June 12, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Oh Sally, this looks delicious. Citrus! Yes please. Need some nutritious recipes now that bathing suit season is upon us!!!

    And to answer your question, “do any guys read my blog”, YES. My husband is the biggest Pinterest man out there. He loves it! I would get in so much trouble if he knew I said that so hopefully he doesn’t read the comment section on your blog, hehe.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Hahahaha Laura I’m laughing so loud. Hope he doesn’t find the comments to read lol.

      Reply

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    Mirposted June 12, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Where’s the pie?! Way to hold out suspense!
    This looks great. Summertime is not the season for heavier chicken recipes. This one is perfect!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      I’ll be sharing the new pie recipe in a few days Mir! You will love it.

      Reply

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    Ashtonposted June 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Whoa. This looks crazy delicious!! I think I know what I’m making for lunch!!! pinned :)

    Reply

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    Lauraposted June 12, 2014 at 8:22 am

    This looks delicious. I keep meaning to try quinoa so when I finally get a packet this is the first thing I’m going to try =)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      Go for it, Laura! And then let me know how you like it. Enjoy!

      Reply

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    Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spiceposted June 12, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I love quinoa in salads, so amazing! Much better than plain ‘ole lettuce! :) This salad looks delicious…so perfect for the summer!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      Much tastier than lettuce if you ask me. :) Thanks Gayle!

      Reply

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    Chelsea @ Gal on a Missionposted June 12, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I love an amazing protein-packed quinoa salad, Sally! This one looks and sounds delicious.

    Hope you’re having a great week! :)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      You too Chelsea!

      Reply

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    Olivia - Primavera Kitchenposted June 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Wow Sally, that’s my type of dish. Love it so much. It totally has me craving for a big bowl now ;-) have a great weekend!

    Reply

  9. #
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    Sam@Baking Made Easyposted June 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Looks good!

    Reply

  10. #
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    Claraposted June 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

    It looks delish!

    Reply

  11. #
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    Hayleyposted June 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Oh I love salad! And quinoa especially is sooo good for you. I can’t wait to make this, thanks! :)

    Reply

  12. #
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    Averie @ Averie Cooksposted June 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Love citrus in salads and I bet with the quinoa and spices this is so good!

    Reply

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    mjposted June 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Oh yum! I can not wait to try this! I love that you are doing more smoothies and savory recipes. I am going to have to make this VERY soon. I love quinoa!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks MJ! Let me know how you like it.

      Reply

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    Jodee Weilandposted June 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    This looks so delicious and healthy! What a wonderful idea for a light summer meal…thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  15. #
    15
    ReneeWposted June 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I have everything but quinoa handy. Think this would work okay with whole wheat couscous?

    Reply

    • Victoriareplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. Maybe some bulgur wheat, it has more prominent flavor than couscous.

      Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Definitely! Enjoy, Renee.

      Reply

  16. #
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    Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Lifeposted June 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I made a quinoa salad for lunches this week too! I went heavy on the veggies and garlic in mine, but I’m keen to see what orange would be like paired with quinoa. I’ll swap chickpeas for the chicken and I bet this will keep me full at my desk for hours.
    Can’t wait to see what sort of pie you whipped up for Father’s Day!
    Happy baking :)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Chickpeas would be amazing in this Amy! Hope you enjoy.

      Reply

      • Jenniferreplied on July 23rd, 2014 at 12:42 pm

        Roasted chickpeas so you get even more varied textures!

  17. #
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    Danaposted June 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Wow this looks great! I made the crispy quinoa patties with my mom and they were delicious! This salad looks like a perfect way to use up some of the extra quinoa! Thanks! :)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Hey Dana! Happy you enjoyed the crispy quinoa patties – give this salad a try next. So flavorful, just like the patties.

      Reply

  18. #
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    Faith L .posted June 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    LOOK YUMMY SALLY! love anything with quinoa and….. roasted garlic
    makes everything better. can’t wait to read your book waiting for it to be delivery

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Thanks Faith! Let me know any recipes you try from the book – and if you give this salad a go!

      Reply

  19. #
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    Alexaposted June 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Sally – that picture of the roasted garlic, lime, and paprika is GORGEOUS!! The salad sounds great, too!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Thanks Alexa! I liked it too. For some reason, roasted garlic is very nice to shoot! Hope you try this salad sometime.

      Reply

  20. #
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    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queenposted June 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I’ll take a bowl of this and the pie of course! I adore fruit in my salads and the oranges look delicious with the quinoa and avocados! This is what salads should always be like!

    Reply

  21. #
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    Julia | JuliasAlbum.composted June 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

    What a lovely, light, refreshing salad! Will work great as a lunch to take to work!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Agreed! Thanks Julia.

      Reply

  22. #
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    Jessica @ Sweet Menuposted June 13, 2014 at 3:03 am

    I’ve never had quinoa! But this is sure making me want to try!!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Jessica, you must try it. It’s so good! And versatile.

      Reply

  23. #
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    Mary @ The Kitchen Paperposted June 13, 2014 at 6:08 am

    What a fabulous combination of flavors! I’m loving the citrus + spiced chicken + avocado… I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong there! This looks great!

    Reply

  24. #
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    Danielleposted June 13, 2014 at 8:48 am

    You are a genius! Somehow you managed to incorporate all of my favorite things into one dish. Will be making this soon!

    Reply

  25. #
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    Kelly @ Trial and Eaterposted June 13, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Love! I’ve been a little obsessed with quinoa salads lately, I love all the flavor options. Extra cilantro, totally!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Yes, I’ve been making them all the time. Let me know if you give this a try Kelly!

      Reply

  26. #
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    Keriposted June 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

    This looks fantastic! I’ve been obsessed with quinoa lately so I’ll definitely be trying this one!

    Reply

  27. #
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    Kate @ Diethoodposted June 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    #getinmybelly! This is the type of salad I eat at least 3 times a week. And lettuce is used only for decor – about 4 leaves on the bottom that serve as a bed for all the yumminess on top! :-)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      YES to the lettuce “decor” Kate. ;) Have a great weekend!

      Reply

  28. #
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    Lindsay Ann @ Lindsay Ann Bakesposted June 13, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Healthy, hearty and refreshing!! I must run to the market asap… I know what’s for dinner tonight ;) Love when the savory recipe sneak their way into SBA

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 13th, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      So glad you enjoy the savory recipes!

      Reply

  29. #
    29
    Dave M.posted June 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Hey Sally, I am a guy reader and follower. I do all the cooking and baking in the house so I have used a bunch of your recipes with success (especially the banana fudge muffins). I would bet there are more men out there reading we just aren’t active commentors.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 15th, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks Dave :) I appreciate you saying hi! Love those banana fudge muffins.

      Reply

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    Marziaposted June 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    This looks absolutely delish! Definitely going on my dinner menu for this coming week!

    Reply

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    Amy @ Amy's Healthy Bakingposted June 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I love all of the flavors and textures going on in your salad Sally! My dad is a huge fan of quinoa, so I’m trying to eat a little bit more of it… Slowly but surely. ;) Do you have any suggestions for replacing/skipping the avocado? I’m allergic, which is such a bummer — there as SO many fun recipes with it!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 16th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      You can simply leave it out – you won’t miss it! Maybe add some tomato or chopped bell peppers instead.

      Reply

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    Mackenzieposted June 17, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Yum! I made this last night and it was delicious!! I had it for lunch today and it was just as good. The only sub I made was using a few tablespoons of Trader Joe’s reduced guilt guac instead of fresh avo, since none of them were ripe :) Great recipe!

    Reply

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    Meggan | Culinary Hillposted June 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    What a great lunch or light dinner option! I definitely have smoked paprika and don’t always know what to do with it, so thanks for the idea. I love all the colors and flavors here, and it’s so easy to make, too! Great recipe!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 17th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Meggan! Let me know if you try it.

      Reply

  34. #
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    Saraposted June 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Made it, LOVED it, thought it was really photogenic so I took a picture of it, and linked to your blog in my post about it. Thanks for this great recipe!!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on June 25th, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Thanks Sara! It’s a very pretty salad – love your photo.

      Reply

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    Matiasposted June 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I do read your blog! I think it’s awesome! I love your recipes because of their simplicity! I’m a big fan of all of your muffins!
    Some times, it’s a bit difficult to find the same ingredients here in Argentina but I do my best and the result is always great!
    Thank you for love you convey with your recipes!
    Regards!

    Reply

  36. #
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    Paulinaposted July 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Look lovely! Doing it right now!

    Reply

  37. #
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    Eleonoraposted July 11, 2014 at 7:07 am

    How lovely! I just pinned this recipe and come to find out, it was posted on my birthday :)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on July 11th, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Sounds like this recipe was meant to be made in your kitchen ;) Enjoy!

      Reply

  38. #
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    Nadyaposted July 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I`ve never tried quinoa :) But this salad looks so good, I`ll have to make it. Can`t resist avocados!!!

    Reply

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    Jessicaposted September 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I don’t normally comment on blogs but I have to say that this recipe is delicious. I just made it for my husband and me for dinner and we were blown away by how good it is – amazing balance of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. Will definitely be apart of my normal recipe rotation!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on September 3rd, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thanks for reporting back Jessica! Happy you both enjoyed this salad.

      Reply

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    Kenposted September 25, 2014 at 10:24 am

    another guy reader – this looks delish, and thanks for the embedded helps/links for those of us on a learning curve. Your attitude is as bright and cheery as the pics and ideas – thanks!!

    Reply

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