Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad

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Roasted sweet potato and quinoa salad! Fresh and healthy roasted sweet potato and quinoa salad made with spinach and avocados. A healthy and delicious lemon vinaigrette dressing coats this salad. from chelseasmessyapron.com

This lively and fresh Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad combines quinoa with baby spinach, tender roasted sweet potatoes, sweet, dried cranberries, and creamy avocado cubes. A tangy lemon vinaigrette dresses this salad.

We love quinoa salads! Try some other favorites next like this Kale and Quinoa salad, this Caprese Quinoa salad, or this Thai Quinoa salad.

Overhead image of the Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad in a bowl.

Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad

We’re obsessed with Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad — it’s filled with amazing textures, delicious flavors, and it’s simple to make! And that doesn’t even get into how many nutrients we are packing into this salad. It’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients that make for an incredibly satiating salad.

QUICK TIP

Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein which helps to make this salad much more filling than your typical garden salad. One cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein and unlike some plant-based proteins, quinoa is a complete protein. This means it has all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own.

Process shots-- images of the dressing being made and combined.

Lemon vinaigrette

We coat Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad with a light, fresh, healthy, and tangy vinaigrette. There’s Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dried herbs, vinegar, and olive oil. All great ingredients and together, they pack a flavor punch! This is one of the go-to dressing recipes that I always have on hand to drizzle over quick salads or roasted veggies. Here are a few tips:

  • If you prefer your dressings more on the sweet side, increase the honey to 1 tablespoon. As written, this is more of a tangy and acidic dressing.
  • Dress to your preference. I love a generously dressed salad, but I know there are a lot of different preferences here. Add the dressing slowly and to your personal preference. You likely won’t want the entire batch of dressing on this salad, but then again, you just might want it all! I’d rather you have more than not enough. Leftover dressing stores nicely for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. (See “quick tip” below). 
    • We use leftover dressing over roasted vegetables, quick side salads, or over raw garden veggies.
  • Vegan dressing: The entire salad is vegan, provided you swap out the honey for a different liquid sweetener. Agave nectar works fine in this situation.

QUICK TIP

Leftover dressing will likely separate and solidify a bit which is completely normal since olive oil solidifies at cold temperatures. Simply let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then shake to re-combine– and it’s ready to use! If you don’t want extra dressing (and prefer a minimally dressed salad) feel free to halve the dressing — it halves nicely!

Process shots-- images of the potatoes being seasoned and roasted.

Let’s chat sweet potatoes

  • Red and orange sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams at the grocery store–and that’s actually inaccurate. True yams are much larger, starchier, and drier than sweet potatoes, and they have thick and fibrous skin. 
  • Skip tan or purple-skinned sweet potatoes (known as the “dry” varieties) and stick with orange or red-skinned sweet potatoes. This variety (known as “moist” varieties) are sweeter and have a creamier texture. My favorite sweet potatoes for roasting in Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad? Either Red Garnet or Jewel. (Here’s an article breaking down different varieties.)
  • For the sweet potatoes to roast in the time indicated in the recipe, be sure to cut them into small, 1/2-inch cubes. This also makes them mix in easier and be more enjoyable in the salad! To see how I cube sweet potatoes, check out this Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe for step-by-step photos.
  • The more space the sweet potatoes have (the less crowded they are) the better they roast. When vegetables are overlapping on a sheet pan, they end up steaming instead of roasting. This will make them softer/mushier in the salad. I recommend using an extra-large sheet pan and making sure the veggies have plenty of space to roast.

QUICK TIP

When picking a sweet potato at the grocery, store look for firm potatoes without growths or discolorations on their skins. Avoid soft or wet potatoes.

Process shots-- images of the spinach, quinoa, veggies, and dried cranberries being added to the bowl.

Quinoa

We eat quinoa salads a lot at my home– especially in the summer with some grilled steak, chicken, or salmon. My number one tip is to prepare the quinoa ahead of time. With cooked and cooled quinoa ready to toss in the salad, the overall prep is so much quicker. Waiting for quinoa to fully cook, steam, and cool isn’t difficult, but can be time-consuming.

That said, if you’re making the quinoa at the same time you’re making the salad, here’s how to speed up the process for quinoa cooling: Spread the cooked and fluffed quinoa on a sheet pan in one even layer. Place the sheet pan in the fridge (or freezer) for 10-15 minutes or until cooled to room temperature.

Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad: the other toppings

Beyond the quinoa and sweet potatoes which we’ve already discussed, there is also baby spinach, avocado, and dried cranberries in this salad. More notes on each below:

  • Avocado. A ripe avocado lends an unbelievable creamy texture! If an avocado yields to firm gentle pressure, you know it’s ripe and ready to eat in this Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad.
  • Dried cranberries. We love sweetened cranberries to add some tangy sweetness, but feel free to use unsweetened or dried tart cranberries instead!
  • Spinach. I recommend baby spinach for this salad and highly recommend giving it a coarse chop — the chop makes it integrate with everything much better and eating it is much more enjoyable.

Image of the dressing being poured over the sweet potato quinoa salad and it being tossed to combine

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad Variation Ideas

  • Add some meat. This salad is vegetarian by default, but feel free to grill some chicken or grilled flank steak (thinly sliced) to serve on the side or to chop and put on top of the salad. (It’s not necessary to add meat to the salad; it’s actually a pretty macronutrient balanced salad with protein in the quinoa, carbohydrates in the sweet potatoes, and healthy fats in the avocado.)
  • Add some meat without cooking. Don’t want to do any more cooking after making this salad? I don’t blame you! Add in some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken (lemon herb-seasoned if you can find it).
  • Change up the herbs. If you aren’t a fan of basil, try cilantro or green onions in this salad. Herbs are optional but add a nice additional dimension of flavor.
  • Add other toppings. There are so many great options for adding to this Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad! Some ideas: roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, pistachios, fresh parsley, feta cheese, goat cheese. (I love the flavor of goat cheese with this salad!)

Up-close overhead image of Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad tossed together and ready to be eaten.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad Storage

  • This salad doesn’t sit very well with the dressing and avocado mixed into it. If you aren’t planning on eating the whole salad at one sitting, toss only what you’ll eat on day 1 with the dressing. If you keep the dressing separate, this salad can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days (with the exception of the avocado). 
  • Here’s how I store this salad to eat throughout the week:
    • Prepare the salad as the recipe indicates but leave out the avocado and don’t add the dressing.
    • Separate the salad evenly into three or four containers, keeping the prepared dressing in a sealed jar. Store everything in the fridge.
    • For the avocado: On the first day you’ll be enjoying the salad, halve the avocado. Chop 1/4 of the avocado and add it to the salad. Take the remaining avocado and squeeze lemon juice over it all. Store it in an airtight plastic bag in the fridge. Add 1/4 of the avocado each day slicing off the top layer if it’s browned.
    • To enjoy a portion of this quinoa salad each day, add the avocado, pour the dressing over everything, toss to combine, and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

4.95 from 37 votes
This lively and fresh Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad combines quinoa with baby spinach, tender roasted sweet potatoes, sweet dried cranberries, and creamy avocado cubes. A tangy lemon vinaigrette dresses this salad.
Print Recipe

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

4.95 from 37 votes
This lively and fresh Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad combines quinoa with baby spinach, tender roasted sweet potatoes, sweet dried cranberries, and creamy avocado cubes. A tangy lemon vinaigrette dresses this salad.
Course Main Course, Salad, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword sweet potato quinoa salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 -6 as a side
Calories 482kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $5.52

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4 cups (1.3 pounds; 550g) cubed(1/2-inch dice) sweet potatoes (~2 medium/large sweet potatoes)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup (190g) quinoa (uncooked) + 2 cups water
  • 5 cups (4.4 oz.; 125g) fresh baby spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (50g) dried sweetened cranberries
  • Optional: 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons (59g) red wine vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (26g) Dijon mustard, do not use regular mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: dried basil, honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (~1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup (108g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon (3 tablespoons (47g) juice)

Instructions

  • SWEET POTATOES: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Place on a large sheet pan with plenty of room so the veggies can roast (not steam). Drizzle with olive oil and salt + pepper. (Add to taste; I add 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.) Toss everything to coat, space out the potato cubes, and roast for 15 minutes, and then flip the potatoes and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes or until desired tenderness.
  • QUINOA: Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve in cold water for about 30 seconds. In a small saucepan, combine rinsed quinoa with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover the pan with a lid. Turn heat to the lowest setting and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until the water has completely absorbed in the quinoa. Turn off the heat and let stand covered for 5-10 minutes. After it's finished steaming, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In a hurry? Spread it on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • DRESSING: Combine all the dressing ingredients and salt and pepper (to taste-- I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) into a large Mason jar. Seal and shake until combined. Store in the fridge while you finish the salad. Shake again before dressing the salad. See Note 1.
  • ASSEMBLY: Remove the stems and coarsely chop the spinach. Toss spinach and completely cooled quinoa together. Add in the cooled sweet potatoes, chopped avocado, and cranberries. If desired, add in the basil.
  • ENJOY: (Before adding dressing, read note 2.)Toss the salad with the desired amount of dressing. (You'll have some leftover, depending on how dressed you liked your salads. We use about 3/4 of the dressing but add as much as you'd like.) Taste and season once more; I typically add another 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt to the salad. Enjoy immediately.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: To keep the salad fully vegan, swap out the honey for another liquid sweetener, such as agave.
Note 2: Storage. Only add dressing to the amount of salad you intend to eat that day. This salad is best eaten immediately after being dressed, so if you want leftovers, only add avocado and dressing to the portion that will be eaten immediately. For more storage tips read the last paragraph of the blog post.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.9g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 30.1g | Sodium: 173.6mg | Fiber: 8.4g | Sugar: 11.7g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




107 Comments

  1. This is a beautiful looking salad! So many great flavors going on in this, I totally need to try it! I made a vow to start eating better too (apparently I also like to eat a wee-bit too many cookies, haha), and this is a perfect healthy recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the second time I made this recipe and it is one of my favorites. The dressing is one of the best lemon dressing I’ve tried. It has such a great combination of flavors. A+++

  3. 5 stars
    This salad tastes AMAZING love love love. Great job on this recipe! Topped with fresh basil and parsley so good

  4. 5 stars
    Holy moly was this delicious! Even my husband loved it! Definitely adding to my roster of Meatless Monday meals! Well done.

  5. Can you eat this cold or does it need to be heated? Looking for more plant based options for lunch and have no way to reheat.

  6. I threw in some elderly broccoli and 3 unpeeled garlic cloves to the roasting. I used the smashed garlic cloves in the dressing (it IS phenomenal) and didn’t put craisins in the dish as I didn’t feel it was needed. I also used a combo or baby spinach and baby kale chopped fine. Finally, I added canned, cooked lentils (rinsed to remove the sodium) to increase the protein. DELISH!

  7. 5 stars
    My husband and I LOVE this salad. I’ve made it numerous times, and everyone always ends up calling and asking for the recipe. One question, about how long do you think I can keep the dressing? I’d love to keep a big mason jar full for a month or so, but wasn’t sure because of the lemon!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that! Yay! 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment Angelina! As far as the dressing, I think the garlic is more of a concern than the lemon (lemon is a natural preservative!) so you could use garlic powder instead of minced garlic to make it keep longer. I don’t know for sure, but I would think this dressing could last 2 (maybe 3) weeks in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge.

  8. 5 stars
    what a creative salad recipe, I love sweet potatoes so was drawn by the title, and really like all of these other ingredients, too, the dressing is very inspired, very impressive all in all, thank you for this wonderful salad< I'm having mine topped with pistachios!

  9. 5 stars
    I had my older son over for dinner who is vegan. This was so tasty and he loved it. I also baked some chicken breast and my husband and I ate this salad with it and all the flavors were so good. Excellent recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    The flavors are amazing! What would you recommend as a substitution for the sweet potatoes? I love them but they’re on my “avoid” list of foods to eat. Thanks!

    1. Flavors are very different; unfortunately the dressing would be pretty gross with normal mustard

  11. 5 stars
    Very adaptable recipe. Used kale instead of spinach. Roasted acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and then with 15 minutes left, added sweet onions and asparagus. In the dressing, I used fresh basil and mint leaves, an inch of ginger, avocado oil instead of EVOO, freshly ground pepper, and a heavy dash of sesame seed oil. Put it in a blender to smooth out the hard ingredients. It was a potluck hit, and my wife came home and had another big bowl.

  12. 5 stars
    I love this so much! I did sub baby arugula for the spinach, but otherwise made per the recipe. I used goat cheese and sliced almonds- it’s such a beautiful and tasty salad. Definitely going into frequent rotation. Thanks so much!

  13. 4 stars
    Really good recipe but it definately needed a crunch factor…added some chopped celery. Made it perfect.

  14. 5 stars
    I know this is an old post but just wanted to share how much I love this recipe. I’ve been making it all summer and sharing it with all my vegan friends.

      1. This salad looks delicious! I’m planing on making it today but my husband can’t stand any form of vinegar in anything. Can I substitute the red wine vinegar with something else? Lemon perhaps?

  15. Sounds incredible! I want to premake this salad the day before for a picnic, and it needs to go into individual serving containers, so I can’t dress it last minute! Which ingredients might I take out to make the dressed salad more stable? Thanks!

  16. Just a note that as pictured these are yams, sweet potatoes are white. Please clarify in your recipe. It is disappointing to buy sweet potatoes only to find out that the recipe shows Yams.
    Thank you.

  17. 5 stars
    I love this salad a lot! Amazing flavours and it’s my go to for friends lunches! I’m obsessed with the dressing and am actually using it on my green salads too. Perfect excuse to use my stash of herbed mustard jars! Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. 5 stars
    Absolutely love this salad! Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. Added some coarsely chopped pecans for crunch. So delicious!

  19. 5 stars
    I was skeptical at first. Thought the dressing was ok but not stellar. But then I tossed everything together and WOW!! This was amazing! I subbed dried blueberries for the cranberries and added almond slivers. Also used romaine Bc I didn’t have spinach. I will definitely be making this again!! Don’t skip roasting the sweet potatoes or the avocados – this is what makes it so delicious. Also I am dairy free so I skipped the feta but didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Thank you for the recipe!!!

    1. Yay! I’m soo happy to hear you enjoyed this! The dressing really helps emphasize the other flavors! Thanks Patty! 🙂

  20. Loved this dish! Hate to call it a salad because it’s so luxurious! The roasted sweet potatoes, avocados, and dressing were amazing together. I subbed pearled barley for the quinoa because that’s what I had on hand, just had to cook it a bit longer. I also added golden raisins and chopped pecans- amazing. The best accidentally vegan dish I’ve ever made!

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy you enjoyed this! My favorite part is it’s a luxurious salad but it’s not too hard to make! Thanks Samantha! 🙂

  21. 5 stars
    I’m not crazy about acidic dressings so I tried it without… it I’d excellent just as is as well!!! Loved it 😉

  22. This is a great recipe. Love all the veg, and the quinoa adds some substance so my husband gets filled up!!

  23. 5 stars
    This salad is so insanely delicious. I’ve been sitting here, eating leftovers for lunch (still just as good if not better the next day!) trying to find words that would do this salad justice. I’m at a loss. I want to send the recipe to everyone I know and tell them to make it right away. Every single flavor just blends together so amazingly well. So glad I ran across your site and this recipe!

    1. Ahh this comment made my day! Thanks sooo much for your comment and I’m sooo happy you loved this salad! 🙂

  24. I just tried this (minus the avocado – I don’t like a avocado enough for it to be worth the fat and calories!) – it was so so good! My roommate and I have been trying to make healthier choices, so I’ve been trying a bunch of new recipes- this was an instant favorite!

  25. 4 stars
    Super tasty! I feel like it needs something a little crunchy, though. I added raw onions, which helped a little, but next time, I’ll add some nuts. Thanks!

  26. 5 stars
    This is going to be my new go-to recipe for pot lucks and family gatherings. So colorful and flavorful, and flexible for modifications! I subbed kale for the spinach so that it would hold up better for leftovers; it’s day 3 today and so far so good! I tossed in some red onions with the sweet potatoes before roasting, and I tossed the avocado in lemon juice before adding and so far it’s not brown. I also added some goat cheese just to use it up and it added a nice tang. Will make for TG without the cheese as we’re hosting a few vegan family members; this is such a great hearty salad that we won’t miss it!

  27. 5 stars
    Recently came across this recipe and it’s simply delicious. My kids are obsessed with this salad and surprisingly they started to like sweet potato?. I shared this recipe with my family and friends and they all love it!!

  28. Just made this for my daughter who had a baby 3 days ago. Added 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, two chopped chicken thighs that I braised on the stovetop, and 1/2 chop chopped roasted almonds. Gave it protein and crunch! She loved it! Making it for my hubby and I for dinner tonight!

  29. 5 stars
    This was delicious! The dressing was so easy and so good! I added some fresh red onion and slivered almonds for some crunch! Thank you!

  30. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner as is. I was a little concerned that my kids would not like this as I served as a main dish but it was a hit! Had enough left over that my daughter took it to school for lunch. Thank you for sharing ????

  31. HOW IS THE SUGAR CONTENT SO LOW GIVEN THE DRIED CRANBERRIES?

    DRIED CRANBERRIES ALWAYS HAVE SUCH A HIGH SUGAR CONTENT:( DO YOU DRY THEM YOURSELF?

  32. 5 stars
    Fabulous recipe! I made it for my parents tonight and everyone loved it. It’s a little different from the southwestern quinoa salad that I always make. I didn’t have dried cranberries so I used my dried cherries instead. Definitely will make again.

  33. 5 stars
    Chelsea has done it again! On a quest to find healthy food with favor, this recipe succeeds expectations. The colors look absolutely beautiful. It was also easy to make. I enjoyed how the timing of each ingredient came together at the same moment.

  34. 5 stars
    We LOVE this recipe! The combination of flavors is so good. The one thing we did differently was cook the quinoa in coconut milk—so yummy!

  35. 5 stars
    I 100% agree with the others that this recipe exceeds expectations! This is definitely going to be a part of my rotation. I was sceptical of the individual ingredients but once all tossed together, the dressing combines everything PERFECTLY! The colours looks amazing and for the first time my salad bowl looked like the pictures 🙂 I didn’t have spinach so I substituted for kale (slightly wilted) and I added a bit of goat feta; it was divine.

    Thank you for sharing!

  36. 5 stars
    This was a great recipe! Will def make a regular in the rotation. I used frozen spinach because I had it on hand and added some roasted sliced mushrooms and onion and a dash of cumin. Paired it with some blackened salmon. Yum yum!

  37. 5 stars
    Chelsea! I have made this salad several times now and it is always excellent! Last night I brought it to a Passover seder and everyone commented how delicious it was! And beautiful to look at! So thank you. I didn’t change anything!

  38. This SWEET POTATO-QUINOA SALAD looks amazing but I saw that the calories are 954 per serving? Is this correct?

  39. 5 stars
    My husband and I LOVE this salad! We make it practically every other week! We add cucumber for a little crunch too

  40. 5 stars
    This salad was delicious! My husband is not an avocado fan, so I did omit that ingredient. We both enjoyed the remaining blend of flavors very much. The leftovers were good – even a couple of days out.

    I may decrease the amount of mustard in the dressing a bit the next time I make it. I think toasted pumpkins seeds and/or goat cheese crumbles would be good add-ins to try.

  41. 5 stars
    I added pepitas and walnuts for some added protein and healthy fats. Loved this recipe for a hot summer night’s dinner!

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