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Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Feta

A Disney World Salad, Reinvented!

~ This Quinoa and Chickpea Salad is bursting with vibrant, fresh-tasting flavors and scrumptious textures! Nutty quinoa, protein-packed chickpeas, creamy feta, crunchy carrots and sweet citrus are a surprisingly delicious combination. It’s a quick and easy quinoa salad that’s loaded with nutrition! ~

(Originally published as Citrus Quinoa and Chickpea Salad on August 22, 2013. Updated text, tips and photos.)

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free   

Flatlay of Quinoa Chickpea Salad on decorative little white plate with fork; salad bowl and parsley sprig nearby.

This was one of the earliest recipes we published, way back in 2013 when we first started this website.

Inspired by a favorite Disney recipe (more on that in a sec …), it’s become a family favorite now, spanning more than a decade!

But, even though more than 10 years have passed, this delicious Chickpea Quinoa Salad has 100% stood the test of time, and it still keeps us coming back for more!

Why all the love?

Because …

  • It’s super easy to make, and only requires a few ingredients.
  • It’s filled with nutritious, powerhouse goodies that you’ll feel terrific eating (and serving up to those you care about).
  • And it’s just so, so gosh-darn GOOD!
  • The tangy, sweet citrus and the salty, creamy feta cheese strike a fantastic balance.
  • They make the protein-rich quinoa and chickpeas absolute stand-outs.
  • The carrots add a second layer of intriguing, earthy sweetness, plus some welcome, crunchy texture.
  • And the parsley is a light breath of extra freshness.

Yum, yum, and YUMMMMM.

Bowl full of salad on cutting board with serving spoon in it.

After more than 10 years of making this Quinoa and Chickpea Salad, I thought it was about time to give it a little refresh, with better photos and more step-by-step guidance – all those things our readers expect from a modern food blog.

But not to worry … the recipe still works perfectly, the same as it always did.

Fantastic every.single.time!

How to Make Your Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Ingredient Prep (and Shortcut Tips!)

There isn’t a lot of prep work here. Just a little chopping and grating and juicing, which should really only take you about 10 minutes, tops.

Flatlay of ingredients for salad arranged on cutting board with each labeled.

But I do have a few quick tips and shortcut ideas for ya (you knew I would, right??) …

Prep Tip #1: Zesting

If you’ve never zested a lemon before, we have a helpful article with all the details on how to zest and grate.

But basically, the biggest key here is not to zest too deeply into the lemon. You want to get just the flavorful yellow outer layer, while avoiding the bitter white pith beneath. It helps to use the right tool, preferably this microplane zester / grater (or small holes on a grater if you don’t have a microplaner).

Prep Tip #2: Always Zest BEFORE You Juice

Half lemon on cutting board with zester and pile of zest, juicer and bowl of juice; plus additional ingredients nearby.

This might sound obvious, but it truly is SO much easier to zest your lemon first. Then, cut it in half to do the juicing.

Take it from someone who’s forgotten to do the zesting first (embarrassed to be raising my hand here) … it’s a real hassle to try to zest a floppy, already-squeezed lemon half! No fun at all.

Prep Tip #3: Faster Carrots

To save time, you can buy matchstick carrots in little bags in the produce section of most grocery stores.

Alternately, you can shred your own carrots, using the large holes of a box grater.

I personally think that the chunkier, thicker matchstick carrots give this Quinoa Salad a heartier, crunchy texture.

But, I think whispier, shredded carrots look a little prettier.

You really can’t go wrong, whichever you choose.

Prep Tip #4: Buying Your Quinoa Precooked (to Skip the Cooking Step)

When we first published this recipe, there weren’t too many options for buying precooked quinoa, but now you can often find precooked versions in either your grocery store’s freezer section or in the rice aisle.

If you wanna try this shortcut, be sure to buy completely PLAIN precooked quinoa – no seasonings or flavorings.

(And check out all my substitution tips for purchased, precooked quinoa in the notes section of the recipe card down below.)

But seriously … cooking your own quinoa is cost-effective and easy to do. So let’s get cooking, starting with Step 1 of our recipe (if you’re cooking your own quinoa) …

Step 1 (How to Cook Quinoa the Right Way!)

As we explain in our full article on How to Cook Quinoa, properly cooked quinoa should have fairly individual grains with little white “tails” visible at the edges. It shouldn’t be soggy and wet, or glopped together in clumps.

In general, you should be fine if you follow the package directions on your particular quinoa brand’s packaging.

Most brands will direct you to dump 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water into a saucepan, bring it to a boil, cover the pan, and then simmer for 10-20 minutes (or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender).

Pan full of uncooked quinoa with water being poured in; parley and bowls of feta, chickpeas and carrots surrounding.

But here are some keys to help you get the BEST quinoa for this recipe …

And remember, this Chickpea Quinoa Salad (like most quinoa salads, really) is MUCH better with properly cooked quinoa that’s light and fully fluffed … not soggy and gloppy.

• Rinse your quinoa before you cook it.

When it’s harvested, quinoa has a bitter coating called saponin, which acts as a protection against pests while the quinoa is growing in the field.

(Fun fact: since the saponin layer acts as a natural pesticide, quinoa is often able to be sold as organic.)

Some brands of quinoa will say they’re prerinsed, to save you the rinsing step. But in testing, we’ve found that we still sometimes need to give even those brands an extra rinse to get the best flavor.

To rinse quinoa, put 1 cup (or the amount you need for any recipe you’re making) into a sieve under running water, until the water runs clear.

• No Peeking!

Once your water has come up to a boil and you’ve put the lid on, trust the process. Don’t keep taking the lid off to check how it’s going!

Equipment Tip:

A pan with a clear, glass lid makes it easy to keep an eye on how much water is left, without having to remove the lid.

As The Daily Meal explains, “Removing the lid cooks the quinoa unevenly and makes it hard for all the water to absorb properly, resulting in a mushy and gummy quinoa mash.”

After your cook time is up, keep that lid on for another 5-10 minutes (again, following your brand’s package directions) to let the quinoa finish steaming and soak up any residual moisture in the pan.

Then (and only then!) should you lift the lid and fluff your quinoa.

Hand using fork to fluff cooked quinoa in pan with other ingredient sin bowls nearby.

If, by chance, you find that your quinoa isn’t quite fully cooked and there’s still some water in the bottom of the pan, you can fix this by putting the lid back on and cooking the quinoa for a little longer over a low heat.

If your quinoa is just a tad on the wet and clumpy side but isn’t so wet that it needs further cooking, Bon Appétit suggests that you can try simply letting it sit in the hot pan for up to another 15 minutes longer, until it dries out enough to be fluffy and wonderful.

Simple, right?!? Just don’t peak. Truuuuussssst the process!

And it’s all so worth it, since really terrific, perfectly cooked quinoa will give you the best salad!

Step 2 (Tossing Everything Together)

Allow your quinoa to cool completely, and give it another fluffing, if needed.

Then simply pile all your ingredients into a big bowl …

Overhead of ingredients in mixing bowl before quinoa salad is mixed together and dressing is added.

… and stir it all together. Make sure you mix everything very thoroughly, so all those yummy flavors and textures are evenly distributed.

Hand using wooden spoon to mix together chickpeas, quinoa, feta and other ingredients; cut lemon and parsley in background.

That’s it. So easy!

You can serve it up right away, or pop it into the fridge for as long as a day or two before serving. It’s delicious, either way!

Step 3 (Adjusting the Seasoning)

We sometimes find that, if this Quinoa Chickpea Salad has been refrigerated overnight (or longer), that the salt may need to be adjusted a little.

The right amount of salt takes this salad from good to great, and really makes the flavors pop.

So, if it’s been hanging out in the fridge for a while, give your salad a taste, and tweak the seasoning again before serving, if it needs it.

Two hands holding up white serving bowl of finished Quinoa Chickpea Salad, with ingredients in background below.

The Backstory of This Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Some of you will no doubt remember my original writing partner, who started this website with me waaaaaaay back in the day (more than 11 years ago). Besides having a master’s degree in nutrition and a passion for cooking, Gretchen also LOVES Disney World. All caps there … L.O.V.E.S. She and her mom used to go every summer together, and once Gretcen had kiddos, the magic continued into the next generation, too.

She especially loved the fun character meals. (Because, seriously, does it get any better than hugging Mickey while you eat Disney-magical food?? Nope … it really doesn’t.)

Well, back around the time Gretchen and I were launching this website, she and her fam were back in Florida for the umpteenth time, visiting Winnie the Pooh and his friends, and she had an incredible quinoa salad. Of all the amazing food on the buffet, she just HAD to have more of that quinoa salad with citrus dressing. The kids even liked it!

So, of course, when she got back home to Ohio, she totally wanted to make that salad. She even emailed Disney and asked for the recipe, so she could recreate exactly what was in it. They ever-so-kindly sent her a recipe for the quinoa salad that’s usually on the menu, but it wasn’t the same as the one she’d had – not even close. Harrumph.

But she didn’t give up. She started cooking quinoa … lots and lots of quinoa.

She tweaked and tasted and tweaked some more (pretty much like we always do when we’re perfecting a new recipe for all of you).

And finally … jackpot! The irresistible bright flavors she remembered!!! She’d done it!

Overhead of salad on fluted white plate with fork; bits of feta, carrot and parsley surrounding.

All the effort was worth it!

And now … even more than a decade later … we are still 100% happy to have this for lunch, dinner, or a side salad. It is so, so good, every time!

And it’s so very quick, easy, loaded with nutrition, and full of vibrant flavors.

It tastes great the moment it’s made (I can’t help but dig right in!), but it’s also a lifesaver as a make-ahead recipe I can throw together a day or so before a potluck or picnic.

So what are you waiting for?? Try it as a vegetarian lunch. Or snuggle some lovely chicken or even our Grilled Flank Steak next to it for dinner. Mmmmmmm … delicious, however you serve it!

FAQs At-a-Glance

Can I Double This Quinoa Chickpea Salad?

Absolutely! This salad is a snap to double (or even triple!) for large groups.

Is Quinoa Good for You?

As we discuss in more detail in our article all about quinoa, it’s one of the only plants that has all the amino acids needed to be considered a complete protein. Quinoa also has a very high ratio of protein to carbohydrates. And, the carbs it does have are complex carbohydrates. So, quinoa will help you feel full longer, and it’s a better source of sustained energy than simple carbs. Plus, it’s naturally gluten free and full of bonuses like fiber, potassium, magnesium and iron.

How Far Ahead Can I Make This Salad?

This salad is at its best in the first day or two, but if you have lots of leftovers from a big batch, you’ll still probably enjoy them for even a day or two longer.

Nope, Gretchen did not buy these Mickey-shaped Rice Krispie Treats the size of my head.

(But I know she definitely thought about it!)

Of all the souvenirs Gretchen could possibly have brought home from Disney, this Quinoa and Chickpea Salad is definitely the best (honestly … even better than those giant Rice Krispie Treats!)!

If you haven’t tried it yet, wait no longer! Seriously. Don’t let another decade pass you by without this in your life.

Get the ingredients on your grocery list stat! (You’ll be so glad you did!)

~ by Shelley

Quinoa and Chickpeas salad on scalloped white plate with orange napkin and fork in background.

Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?


Please leave a 5-star rating by clicking on the stars in the recipe card below. I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!

Closeup of final quinoa salad served on decorative plate with pretty fork tucked into it.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Feta

Full of vibrant flavors! Nutty quinoa, protein-packed chickpeas, creamy feta, crunchy carrots and refreshing citrus. A quick and easy salad recipe that's loaded with nutrition!
•  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less  •  Make Ahead  •  Vegetarian  •  Gluten Free  •
4.58 from 7 votes
Pin Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 cups


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (to equal about 4 cups, cooked and really well-fluffed), or an equal amount of purchased, precooked quinoa (see notes)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup matchstick or shredded carrots (see note)
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Prepare quinoa according to package directions. After cooking, allow to cool completely and fluff with a fork. (Ideally, your cooked quinoa should be fairly dry [not wet, soggy, and globbed together] and, when really well-fluffed, would equal about 4 cups if lightly spooned into a measuring cup. Wetter quinoa may yield closer to 3 cups because it will be more densely packed if measured.) This salad is best with fluffy quinoa, not soggy. (See details in article above for tips on cooking quinoa, if needed.)
  • In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, parsley, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, feta, salt, and pepper. Eat immediately or refrigerate until serving.
  • If refrigerated overnight, taste and adjust seasoning again before serving, if needed. (The right amount of salt takes this salad from good to great!)


Using purchased, precooked quinoa: Nowadays, it’s usually fairly easy to find fully cooked quinoa at the grocery store, either in the freezer section or in the shelf-stable section near the rice. It’s a great option that saves an entire cooking step for this recipe. Two important notes on that, however: (1) Be sure that you buy precooked PLAIN quinoa, without any seasonings, vegetables or dressing. (2) For this recipe, you will need 3-4 cups of quinoa. The exact measurement can vary slightly depending on the brand of quinoa you purchase, since moister quinoa will pack more densely into a measuring cup (yielding closer to 3 cups of quinoa), whereas light and fluffy quinoa will lightly spoon into a measuring cup (yielding closer to the ideal 4 cups). This salad is best with lighter, fluffier quinoa, not wet, soggy, clumpy quinoa. You may need to slightly adjust the amount of quinoa between 3-4 cups, depending on your brand of precooked quinoa. To do this, we recommend starting with closer to 3 cups, making the entire salad, then tasting and adding up to an additional 1 cup of quinoa (for 4 cups total), if needed.
Matchstick vs. shredded carrots: For this salad, you can use either shredded carrots, or matchstick carrots (which are readily available, already cut and packaged in small bags, in the produce section of most grocery stores). Matchsticks offer a more hearty, crunchy texture. But, I think shredded carrots look prettier. The choice is yours.
Make-ahead tips: This is delicious served immediately but also if made ahead. It can easily be refrigerated for 1-2 days prior to serving.


Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 153 | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0g | Unsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 383mg | Carbohydrates: 24g | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Protein: 8g

* Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

Course: Salads
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?We’d LOVE to hear … please leave a star-rating!
Citrus Quinoa Chickpea Salad
Chickpeas for Citrus Quinoa Chickpea Salad
Ingredients for Citrus Quinoa Chickpea Salad


  1. 5 stars
    Well I must have missed this one at Disney! Happy to have found it here – it reminds me of a quinoa salad we made in school that I just loved. I could eat this often!!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you found this, too, Lauren! And I totally agree – I could eat this quinoa salad practically on constant repeat. It’s exactly the kind of salad that I love to keep in the fridge, ready to pull out anytime I need a light lunch or a little snack throughout the day, and then of course as a bonus side dish at dinnertime. I always REALLY look forward to it! 😀 ~Shelley

4.58 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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