Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

If Thanksgiving weekend is the glorious, eat-all-the-things slow down, the week after it feels more like the hectic, eat-all-the-salads catch up. Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad is here to meet the demand. Wholesome, flavorful, and filling, it offers the healthy reprieve we crave after a long weekend of happy indulgence but doesn’t sacrifice on taste (it is SO YUMMY) or leave you hungry.

Maple Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries. A healthy, gluten free recipe filled with fall flavors. Easy, filling and perfect for make ahead lunches and dinners! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplatedPin it on Pinterest!

The ingredients in this roasted butternut squash salad recipe are straightforward, but once combined, they create the complete, colorful, and glow-giving salad I associate with shiny gourmet grocery store cases. You’ll love opening your refrigerator and seeing a container of it waiting to be your lunch or dinner.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries. Healthy, gluten free, and perfect for easy lunches and dinners! Add feta or arugula, or enjoy simply as it is. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

How to Make the Best Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

The ingredients you’ll need for this tasty butternut squash recipe are:

  • Roasted Butternut Squash. Adding a touch of maple syrup to the butternut squash prior to roasting gives it a subtle sweetness and autumn coziness. If you want to save time, you can purchase the butternut squash precut into cubes, though I find that a Y-shaped vegetable peeler like this one or basic vegetable peeler like this one makes the job fairly quick and easy.
  • Quinoa. Cooked quinoa gives the salad a pleasant nuttiness, along with filling protein and fiber.
  • Dried Cranberries. A salad with cranberries is a happy salad. They add pleasant sweetness, good texture, and tang.
  • Pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds). A win for crunch, toastiness, and savoriness, plus healthy fats and protein.
  • Fresh Thyme. It’s here for warmth, color, and distinct fall-ness that is right on time for the change in seasons. It also makes the salad taste really special. Don’t be tempted to use dried. Fresh is where it’s at here!

Once you have your ingredients prepped, it’s time to toss them with:

  • Maple Dijon Vinaigrette. It’s super quick and easy to stir together and plays harmoniously with the maple notes in the squash. A touch of apple cider vinegar cuts the sweetness and gives the salad a lightness and brightness that will keep you wandering back to the fridge to snitch an extra bite.

Butternut Squash Cranberry Quinoa Salad. The best fall flavors come together in this easy, healthy recipe! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

I’m loving this salad for lunch this week specifically, because Ben and I spent our Thanksgiving in Barcelona, Spain, where we took full (dare we call it excessive?) advantage of the tapas culture and late-night hours, squeezing in at least three places every night.

That said, this is also a butternut squash recipe I make regularly because I love its feel-good ingredient list, comforting flavors, and the fact that it keeps me full all afternoon. Here are a few of my other favorite ways to enjoy it!

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad Recipe Variations

  • Change the Temp. You can enjoy this Butternut Squash Salad warm or cold. Try it both ways and see which is your favorite. It depends on my mood!
  • Add Extra Veggies. If you have extra roasted veggies from another recipe or even leftover butternut squash (this Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash and this Roasted Butternut Squash Parmesan are great examples), feel free to add them in. Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts are another add-in I really like here.
  • Add Some Green. I’ll often make extra dressing so I can mix the salad with greens. Butternut Squash Kale Salad and Butternut Squash Arugula Salad are two faves, and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad is good too, though I don’t think it has as much flavor as the first two. (If you use kale, be sure to finely chop and massage it first.)
  • Make It Fancy. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds is delicious and pretty. You can use them either in place of or in addition to the cranberries.
  • Make It Cheesy. A handful of feta or goat cheese is ultra yummy if you have some on hand or want to add a dimension of creaminess.

Or you can enjoy this Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad just like it is ♥.

This roasted butternut squash salad recipe is perfect for packable lunches, can be a dinner side dish or a main dish, and is elegant enough to bring to a holiday party as well, especially if you add the pomegranate seeds and/or goat cheese.

This salad will last in the refrigerator several days. Feel like a meal prep maven by making a big batch at the beginning of the week, or get a head start on your holiday meal by making it a day or two in advance.

Maple Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries. A healthy, gluten free recipe filled with fall flavors. Easy, filling and perfect for make ahead lunches and dinners! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated
4.82 from 11 votes
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Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Yield: 7 cups, approx.
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries. A healthy butternut squash recipe filled with fall flavors. Great for a side or healthy lunch!

Ingredients

FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD:

  • 1/2 small red onion — diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 small 2-pound butternut squash — peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock — or vegetable stock or water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pepitas — pumpkin seeds, or roughly chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme — or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar — or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Set aside. (This keeps the onion’s flavor but helps soften its harsh bite…and endless onion aftertaste.)
  2. Place the butternut squash in the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then spread the squash into a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. While the squash is baking, bring the broth (or water) and quinoa to a boil in a medium pan. If you are using water, add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4. In a small bowl or large measuring cup (or a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid), combine the dressing ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle enough of the dressing over the warm quinoa to moisten it, then stir to combine.
  5. Scrape the roasted butternut squash and any pan juices into the bowl with the quinoa. Add the cranberries, pepitas, and thyme. Drain the red onion then add it to the bowl. Toss to combine, adding more dressing as desired. (I like to reserve a little of the dressing for adding to leftovers.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  • You can enjoy this salad on its own or try mixing it with arugula or spinach for an extra serving of greens. For the sake of streamlining the ingredients, I omitted the cheese, but if you feel so called, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue cheese such as gorgonzola would be delightful additions too.
  • No butternut squash? Try swapping diced, cubed sweet potatoes (note that they may need a little longer in the oven to roast).
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad, Easy Quinoa Salad, Healthy Salad Recipe

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6)) — Calories: 261, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 339mg, Carbohydrates: 39g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 5g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

53 comments

  1. This salad is a beauty!!! What a perfect easy and healthy Fall dish!

  2. Yum, after Labor Day weekend, I need something healthy like this!!

  3. I love your description of your refrigerator as a 3-dimensional game of tetris.  This week, mine is like that, too, except that it’s full of thawing things and leftovers (planned extra meals from one cooking session).  I didn’t realize until reading your post, that I needed to name its state.  This salad sounds like a wonderful side dish.  I especially love that you have a technique for eliminating the endless onion aftertaste.

  4. I love all of these flavors!

  5. OMG!! This has me SO excited for fall!!

  6. This looks and sounds absolutely heavenly. And I feel you on the fridge problems – It’s hard to fit enough for 7 people in one fridge!

  7. Lexi @Lexi'scleankitchen Reply

    Obsessed with the flavors in this! Such a great fall recipe! You had me at the combination of squash + dried cranberries!

  8. this looks delicious! Printing the recipe to add to my menu this week…

  9. This looks so tasty and fresh! And perfect for Fall. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. This is the most beautiful quinoa salad I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to make it!

  11. “For the sake of streamlining the ingredients, I omitted the cheese, but if you feel so called, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue cheese such as gorgonzola would be delightful additions too.” I did not see cheese in the list of ingredients or in the pic ..? (I have no imagination when it comes to recipes… :-} ).

    • Hi Catherine, that’s right, there’s no cheese in the recipe because I felt it was delicious without it, but I gave those suggestions in case cheese-lovers wanted some ideas for a crumble of cheese on top of the salad!

  12. Looks incredible, and fits my vegan needs! I’m looking for make-ahead dishes. How does this taste coming from the refrigerator one or 2 days later?

  13. just made this wonderful dish. substituted pomegranate seeds for the cranberries and added sheep feta on a bed of chopped spinach. so yummy! thanks for the recipe.  I will be bringing it to  Thanksgiving dinner.

  14. I made this for dinner last night and had leftovers for lunch today. Yum! I swapped the squash for sweet potatoes and stirred in fresh spinach while it was still warm so the spinach wilted a bit. I will definitely be making it again. Thanks for the great combination of flavors.

  15. This side dish has it all; crunch-taste-texture and oh yeah its healthy! I tried last week to “test” and it definitely has a place on my table, actually this is replacing my old squash dish…Thanks for sharing this one..

    • Second reply: THANK YOU for leaving this 5 star rating. It is SO HELPFUL to me and to others considering trying the recipe. I really appreciate it!

  16. Just made it for Thanksgiving! Perfect colors and it is also Gluten Free!
    Love it!

  17. Made this for our Thanksgiving and everyone raved about it!

  18. I made this delicious salad for Thanksgiving. Love the flavor and it looks very beautiful too. Going to make it again. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

    • Sindhu, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the salad! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this great review!

  19. I would like to make this the night before. Should I reheat it the day I plan to serve it or just leave it out till it comes to room temp? I’m thinking it would taste better warm? Or if anyone has made it, did you prefer it warm or cold?

  20. I left out the onion and used parsley, toasted pecans, and balsamic vinegar and it tasted delicious! I’ll definitely make again.

    • Patricia, I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing your tweaks and taking the time to leave this great review!

  21. I made this tonight and it is delicious!

  22. This recipe is excellent.  So good!!!  I substituted chopped dried mango for the cranberries and added a bunch of chopped fresh kale that I had lightly steamed.   I also did not add any salt.  

  23. Jenny Jo Niblett-Bonner Reply

    Love this  recipe. I have been making it since last thanksgiving.
    I have also meal prepped it for the week a lot. I have made it ahead for at least 5 days and it was still great. Do you think this would freeze good in individual servings to pull out for weekly lunches. (Instead of making it weekly?  

    • Hi Jenny, I actually wouldn’t recommend freezing this as the butternut squash may get mushy and watery once defrosted. I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the recipe!

  24. I’m in love…..with a quinoa salad 😵! This is so delicious! I doubled the recipe on my first go around hoping it would be good and I was pleasantly graced with excellent! Love all these flavors! Only one changed – had to use honey because I don’t have maple syrup. Thank you so much!

  25. Just curious have you tried swapping out the butternut squash for another squash like acorn? Only wondering because I already have an acorn squash at home lol Can’t wait to try this tonight!

  26. Delicious and very easy to make!

  27. This recipe is right up my alley!  I will be trying this for sure.  

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