This Sweet Chicken Quinoa Salad is the best salad for a picnic because it doesn’t need refrigeration. Without any mayonnaise, you won’t have to worry about it spoiling and it travels really well also. Plus, on top of all of that, you can totally make this ahead and let it sit overnight.

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Sweet Quinoa Chicken Salad – The Best Salad For A Picnic

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnut or pecans)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1.5 cups grilled chicken, diced


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add quinoa. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes at a simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 – 10 more minutes (This process creates a much fluffier quinoa than following the package directions, IMHO).

Fluff with a fork and add apple, celery, raisins, cilantro, nuts, onions & chicken. Stir together.

Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over quinoa salad and stir to coat well.

Serve immediately or pack up for an easy picnic salad. I personally think this salad tastes better after sitting for a while, even overnight. The flavors soak into the quinoa and it really does make the best salad for a picnic after sitting and marinating in the dressing.

Picnic salads that don’t need refrigeration make the best picnic salads in my opinion. There are enough things to stress over. And while yes this salad tastes good cold it tastes good at room temperature also.

I don’t recommend you leave this salad in the blazing sun all day but it doesn’t need to stay in the refrigerator either.

Sweet Quinoa Chicken Salad Tips

  1. This salad is great to make with leftover grilled chicken. When the chicken is cold from the refrigerator it chops up so easily and is a great way to use your leftovers in a new way.

2. Your quinoa does not have to be freshly made either. If you have leftover quinoa use that instead.

3. Also a great tip for measuring honey. If you grease the measuring spoon first the honey just slides out, like nobodies business. So I measure my oil first and then my honey. So, when making the dressing pour 1 Tbsp of oil into your measuring spoon, then put it into the 1/3 cup. With the oil still coating the spoon measure your honey. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

If for a different recipe you are using honey but not any oil you can use a non-stick cooking spray. I like to use this for my oil spray because it is not arousal and it is refillable. The bottles that I have found in the past that are specifically meant for you to use as an oil sprayer always seem to break or don’t work properly. I don’t have that problem with the one linked above.


If you like easy picnic salads that don’t need refrigeration and travel well you might like to try these great salads for your next picnic also.


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The best healthy picnic salad recipe, great for lunches, potlucks, summer parties. Nice and simple, make ahead dish. Sweet chicken quinoa salad with honey and no refined sugar or mayonnaise.