Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil

by Gretchen · May contain affiliate links

Published Updated August 3, 2021

“Judy’s Quinoa Salad”

~ This gorgeous salad is perfect as a main course, or as a hearty side! Fabulous served warm or totally chilled, it can even be adapted for vegetarians. So easy and incredibly delicious – it’ll quickly become a favorite at picnics and at dinner! ~

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

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Let’s take a little walk. Down memory lane, of course.

Walk with me … won’t you??

Many moons ago (okfine, it was 14 months), we published one of our most popular posts of all time. How to Cook Quinoa (and Why You Should!) sorta took on a life of its own … and thousands (millions! billions!) have read it – and loved it!

Well, way back when … my mother-in-law left us a comment on that quinoa post. Shelley and I were super excited about this. Ya see, we really weren’t getting too many comments back then. Like when we did get a comment on a post, we literally called each other and each did our own respective happy dance in our kitchen.

It sometimes still happens …

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

So anyhow. The comment. Yes.

My MIL (that’s short for mother-in-law, BTW … which is short for by the way. Ahem. I digress.) looooooves to travel. She’s been all over the world … north, south, east, west. And when she travels, she really tries to immerse herself in the culture. (I, on the other hand, would maybe try to find food I at least recognize and a Marriott. I’m kidding! Only kind of.) And in her comment, she shared that she had first tried quinoa while on a trip to Peru several years ago.

She also listed off a few ingredients that she loves to combine to create her favorite quinoa dish.

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

Well, if you know Shelley like I do, then you know that was enough to send her into a flurry in the kitchen.

So the next time we got together, Shelley presented me with her version of my MIL’s quinoa salad. (With chicken. Which is funny because I had wanted to add chicken to it. It’s only slightly scary that we think exactly alike.)

And then we sat and tasted and added a pinch of salt, and a tad more parm, mixed in a few more bites of chicken. Hmmm … more tomato? Less tomato?

And then it was perfect, so we sat and ate this phenomenal salad. By the heaping forkful. There were mumblings of “mmmm sooooo good” and “I could eat this every day” while we still had food in our mouths. Whatever. Don’t judge.

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

‘Cause once you try this, all manners will probably go out the window. And that’s ok … really. Anyone who thinks you aren’t showing your utmost best … well, just serve them up a plate of this salad. And then they’ll understand.

I mean, really … just look at it. Bright, cheerful little tomatoes, crunchy walnuts, salty parmesan, tangy lemon, fresh basil, loads of healthy spinach … it’s so delicious it’s worthy of a celebration.

A celebration?!? Why that’s totally perfect for today! Because today is my world-traveling, quinoa-loving, sweet mother-in-law’s birthday! Yayyyy!

So I’m sending very Happy Birthday wishes to Judy! (Everybody sing! Happy Birthday to youuuu …)

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

And Shelley and I are sending our thanks for the inspiration for this fantastic salad!

Loving Quinoa? You’ve Gotta Try:

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil

Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil

Yield: 13 cups
Prep Time: 17 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

This chicken and quinoa salad is perfect as a main course or as a side! Serve warm or chilled – it can even be adapted as a vegetarian meal. Delicious!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead  Vegetarian Option •  Gluten Free  


  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups quartered grape or cherry tomatoes (from about 1 1/2 pints)
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups diced, cooked chicken breasts (see note)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. After cooking, allow to cool, then fluff with a fork. (If serving as a warm, main-dish salad, allow to cool just enough that the basil and spinach won't wilt when added and the cheese won't melt.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, tomatoes, spinach, chicken, basil, walnuts, parmesan, and garlic. Stir to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until serving.


Chicken: Nearly any boneless, skinless chicken breasts will work in this recipe, as long as they're not overly flavorful from spices or marinades. A store-bought rotisserie chicken is an easy option, or you can plan ahead and cook a couple of extra chicken breasts whenever you're making chicken, so you have extra cooked chicken for this recipe without any extra work.

Make-ahead tip: This recipe can easily be made in advance and refrigerated until serving. It makes a large bowl of salad – perfect for sharing at a party, or for storing leftovers in the fridge for meal prep, lunches and snacks throughout the week.

For a vegetarian version: You can simply omit the chicken completely, especially as the quinoa offers so much protein. Or, you can offer the diced chicken on the side, and diners can mix some in if they choose.

Not sure how to zest a lemon?: Check out our post on the easiest way to zest a lemon (and grate other stuff, too!).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 26 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 258mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 7g

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.

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Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}
Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil Recipe {www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com}

50 thoughts on “Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil”

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Don! We really do just love this quinoa recipe – it’s so flavorful and filling, yet light and refreshing, too! Just a really satisfying, super-nutritious meal that truly would be perfect to take to work and power through the rest of the workday (no more mid-afternoon energy slumps 🙂 )! ~G&S

  1. This is the third item I have made off of your website and I think it’s my favorite. Everything has been great and I tell everyone I know about you 🙂

  2. I agree with you ladies I love love love quinoa and get so excited whenever I find great new ways to spice it up! I love the look of this quinoa salad – the combo of tomatoes, basil and Parmesan is always a superb one!! Now my only dilemma is trying to figure out if I should make this quinoa salad or your Mediterranean confetti quinoa salad for my grandma’s 75th this weekend!! 😀


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