Grandma's Chicken Quinoa Salad

The perfect dish for entertaining guests. Or to use up any type of chicken you have in your freezer.

Posted on Nov 29, 2015 by Jack McCann
Tags: recipes chicken shredded chicken thigh drumsticks wings

The perfect dish for entertaining guests. Or to use up any type of chicken you have in your freezer.

Despite the long instructions (which includes random tidbits), this dish is reasonably quick and serves a lot of people for very little cost. (We fed 25 people with a double batch!)

Plus it tastes super good and is easy to make!

Here is what you’ll need to make this dish:


  • 2 cups pre-cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 ½ cups dry sprouted organic quinoa
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3-5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup (or more) cranberries (or other dried fruit of your choice)
  • ½ - 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 apple diced

Dressing – Combine:

  • ½ cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1+ teaspoon cumin -- see note below
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Step 1: Soak your beans

The night before, put 1 cup or so of your dried beans into a medium saucepot full of water, at least two inches over the beans. Let sit overnight. (Read about why you should soak your grains here.)

If you didn’t do this the night before, you can just bring the water to a boil and let sit for one hour or longer before cooking.

Step 2: Slow cook your chicken

Here is my YouTube video again where we made a chicken pot pie… but first thing in the morning, take any package of chicken and place it in a crock pot with about 1-2 cups of water. Cover and turn on low. If you’d like to speed things up to start, use the high setting for a hour or so, but don’t leave it on high all day.

Slow cooking chicken really brings out the flavors and it works great in a dish like this. However, this would work just fine with some breasts cooked in a pan and chopped up.

Step 3: Cook your beans at least 90 min before you want to eat

This can be done a day or perhaps two ahead of time

Drain the water from your soaking beans and refill with at least 4 inches of water on top, cover and bring to a simmer for about an hour or so. Check with a fork to see when they are tender enough to be eaten without further cooking, then drain and set aside.

Slow simmers work best here, a hard boil will break apart the beans and make a mess. If you’re using a can, then just open the can when you mix everything together later.

Step 4: Cook quinoa

Heat the 3 cups of broth in a sauce pan until it begins to boil, add your 1 ½ cup of quinoa – no need to rinse if you are using sprouted quinoa. Cover and reduce to a slow simmer for 15 – 18 min until done.

Step 5: Shred your chicken

If you haven’t already, shred your chicken off the bone and set aside… it works best to pull the pieces out of the crock pot onto a cutting board so they can cool first! Then put all of the bones back into the crock pot with the original juices, add water until all the bones are covered and turn the crock pot back on low to simmer overnight and make some more broth. You can add veggies if you’d like or just salt works too.

Step 6: Combine all ingredients into a big bowl

Step 7: Combine all dressing ingredients into a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk

Step 8: Mix the dressing into the salad and stir

It is ready to serve or keep in the fridge for later good eats, I usually add extra salt, but I do that to pretty much everything.

Optional ideas:

Add in toasted almonds or other tree nuts, grapes are good too!

Tip: Cumin
Cumin is really good… but it usually is terrible. Allow me to explain.

That ground cumin you get in the store is WAY past it’s shelf life by the time you buy it. Take the time to buy whole cumin and then toast it in a dry pan over medium heat. Then store the whole seed for up to a few weeks… grinding it yourself in a pestle and mortar right before use. Trust us, this is worth the effort!

A big plus is that the dish uses quinoa, which is a grain allowed by nearly every diet and is super good for us, especially if compared to other grains. Here are some quick benefits of sprouted quinoa:

  • High in antioxidants, even rivals cranberry!
  • Anti-inflammatory (inflammation is the root cause of heart disease and many other health issues)
  • High nutrient density (manganese, foliate, phosphorus, vitamin B2, essential amino acids, etc)
  • Twice the fiber of other grains

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