Thai-style Chicken Quinoa Salad

My family is halfway on the quinoa train. My kids far prefer the quinoa patties or little ham and cheese bites to quinoa salads. Brian on the other hand would much rather have a quinoa salad but the only one he really, really loves with his soul is this mango version. Which is fine, but I like to branch out and get away from the quinoa-and-black-bean-theme once in a while.

All that quinoa history is to let you know that this Thai-style quinoa salad is a quinoa game changer. It is hands down the best quinoa salad I’ve ever had and Brian literally stopped mid-shovel to tell me how incredibly awesome it is. Then he grabbed the leftovers the next day (he has never taken quinoa leftovers in the history of ever until now) and above all that, he’s asking when I’ll make it again.

Thai-style Chicken Quinoa Salad

It’s deliciously phenomenal and really, really easy to throw together. The sauce is so good as to be drinkable – sweet with hints of spice and lime but it gets even better when poured over the quinoa, crunchy veggies and tender chicken. Oh, and the edamame? Don’t even think about leaving it out. Besides the sauce, it was my favorite part (I was stabbing the little green nuggets off everyone’s plates). I’d probably have a heart attack if I found fresh edamame where I live so I bought frozen, thawed the little babies and then just popped them out of their shells and into the salad. My just-took-all-five-kids-swimming-by-myself hungry tummy could definitely use a bowlful of this goodness right now.

What To ServeSoft Wrap Bread or Flatbread
A simple green salad or something like this Asian Chicken Salad
Fresh Fruit

One Year Ago: Peanut Blossom Cookies
Two Years Ago: Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls
Three Years Ago: Schoolyard Cupcakes

Thai-Style Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Yield: Serves 6

Thai-Style Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Be aware that this recipe makes use of already cooked chicken so plan ahead (it's a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken and is delicious with grilled chicken or even leftover turkey). I can't find fresh edamame in my neck of the woods, so I bought frozen, let it thaw and popped the edamame out of the shells and right into the salad. Also, for the most part, the amounts for the salad ingredients aren't rocket science and can just be eyeballed based on your taste preference.


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 lime juiced, about 2 tablespoons
  • Pinch of ground ginger


  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. I usually cook quinoa in low-sodium chicken broth: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups liquid.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a liquid measure and whisk to combine (or pulse in a blender). When the quinoa finishes cooking, scoop it into a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and mix well. Stir in the chicken, carrots, edamame, red pepper, green onions, peanuts and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

Recipe Source: adapted from How Sweet Eats

58 Responses to Thai-Style Chicken and Quinoa Salad

  1. Ginny says:

    I made this over the weekend for lunches for the week. On a rec from a friend who has made this frequently, she advised to make more sauce since the quinoa soaks up the liquid–I did, and boy is is delicious! (doubled the sauce) I just wish my knife skills were better, as a lot of chopping takes me a long time. What a perfect summer salad!

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Ginny – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Thank you for reporting back on the salad. Mel will be happy that you loved this!

  2. jen says:

    So I have some prepared quinoa sitting in the fridge… how much prepared quinoa is 1 1/2 c dry?

  3. Marcia J says:

    I am new to Pinterest and this is the first thing I’ve made of the things I’ve pinned. I am eating it right now and couldn’t wait to let you know how much I love it! Even my meat and potatoes husband loves it. It is so light and flavorful. I followed the recipe exactly as written except that I used shrimp in place of the chicken. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe with us! Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes I’ve pinned!

  4. Jamie says:

    Loved it! I made a few changes to decrease calories because I’m trying to lose weight, but it was awesome. I think I might start keeping these ingredients on hand for healthy lunches.

  5. […] Thai-Style Chicken and Quinoa Salad by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  6. Liz D. says:

    I loved this! I had to make it with couscous but it was still delicious. My 5 year old thought it was too spicy so she ate it without the sauce. Thanks for sharing!

  7. ashley says:

    Made this tonight and since I’m trying to eat healthier I substituted light coconut milk and reduced fat peanut butter. Just wanted to say that this is the amazing quinoa salad I’ve been searching for!!!!!! Perfect, just like your other recipes I’ve tried

  8. Amanda Z says:

    Wow, the dressing on this is amazing! I made this for dinner imagining a quinoa salad with lots of veggies would elicit a groan from my hubby, but he ended up really liking it. I love edamame beans so I was thrilled to see this recipe with them. Thanks for the delicious dinner

  9. I made this today for dinner and it was a hit! My husband couldn’t stop raving. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  10. […] from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally adapted from How Sweet […]

  11. Deb says:

    Made this tonight with the Chipotle Chicken Skewers on your site and they were a great pair! Made for a light but filling meal. I made a couple alterations to the recipe – used cashews in place of the peanuts and almond butter in place of the peanut butter (peanut allergy in the house) and I added red cabbage with the rest of the vegetables. Delicious!

  12. Emily says:

    I’ve never ever commented on a recipe, but this was so good I had to! SOOO GOOD!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Erika says:

    Oh my goodness is this delicious! I have made it twice now, and I really think I could eat the entire bowl myself. My kids and husband like it, too, which is huge! Thanks for an awesome recipe!!

  14. Susan says:

    I finally made this for a party and had to give out the recipe to all who ate it. We all loved it. Thanks so much!

  15. fmandds says:

    Made this tonight and it was wonderful. I saw it on How Sweet Eats and thought it looked fantastic there but when you highlighted it I knew it must be something special. I suffered the same user error as Kate. The chili sauce I have is more spicy than sweet so I added extra sugar and extra coconut milk. It was still spicy so only the adults ate it. But it was good!!

  16. Melissa says:

    This was yummy!! Loved it!!

  17. Katie says:

    This was absolutely delicious! Definitely one of my new favorites…thanks!!

  18. Tami says:

    My family ate this right up. They loved it. Several nights a week I need meals like this because everyone is going a million directions and I have girls that prefer salads over a ton of meat. This one is a winner.

  19. Erika says:

    This was so tasty!!

  20. Kate says:

    First comment, but want to say your recipes are generally a huge hit at our house. I had a bit of “user error” on this recipe and used sweet chilli sauce that was pretty spicy. Since I followed the recipe pretty precisely it was a litte spicy – use caution – make sure the sauce you are using is more sweet than spicy or use a little less. But this recipe was FANTASTIC! I loved it – I just had to make some plain rice and chicken for the kiddos.

  21. Kirsten says:

    Hey! Love your website so much! So my son is allergic to peanuts – any substitute for the peanut butter and chopped peanuts?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kirsten – could you use sunbutter or soy butter for the peanut butter? For the crunch, what about toasted sunflower seeds? That would be delicious! (or you could just leave out the crunch)

  22. Jessica says:

    Making this tonight! I made a homemade sweet chili sauce- super easy.
    Do you prefer it warm, room temp, or chilled? I have everything prepped except the quinoa, so if its better chilled, I’ll get on that stat!

  23. CChar Riippi says:

    O my gosh! A sugar cookie bar! What an amazing idea! Look so yummy! I am making those as soon a I am able.
    (broke my foot …in a cast)

  24. Judy says:

    This was awesome! I didn’t have sweet chili sauce, so I subbed just one tablespoon of hot sauce and it was just the right hint of kick.

  25. Brett A says:

    I’m guessing Sweet Chili Sauce is different than Chili Sauce (like from Heinz)?

  26. Pauline says:

    This was such a wonderful change from, as you said, the usual black bean/corn dish (which, of course, is wonderful). We love Asian food and why oh why? had we (I) never thought of using quinoa in a Asian-inspired meal. I just finished the leftovers for lunch. Don’t you just LOVE edamame…… a salad or in the shell as an appetizer. I’m lucky, I can find both in the freezer section of our local grocery stores. Don’t know how close you are to MSP airport, but there is an incredible Asian market that has all things Asian called United Noodles (612)721-6677. They will mail things to you.
    Thanks again! Pauline

  27. Carol says:

    Once again, a wonderful recipe! It was a hit at our house-quinoa and all! Thanks so much! So enjoy your site!

  28. Robin says:

    This is a delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing, had leftover quinoa and chicken so I was able to whip it up for lunch yesterday 🙂

  29. Sue E says:

    Was so happy I had all the ingredients already – made it and am currently enjoying it for lunch! Thanks again for another great recipe!

  30. Stephanie says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! I made everything around lunchtime and put it in the fridge. Served it chilled for dinner and it was great! Even my mother-in-law had seconds. 🙂

  31. Valerie says:

    This is fantastic! What a great way to include all these healthy ingredients in one meal! I’ve tried many of your recipes, and this one goes right in the “keeper” file with all the others!

  32. Heidi says:

    Tried this last might and liked it. It’s great for lunches too!

  33. Drool! This salad sounds amazing! And if your husband loves it that much then maybe I can convince my guy to eat a little quinoa too!

  34. I’m really trying to eat less wheat products these days and rely on quinoa as a stand in. I’ve been making the same things though. This sounds amazing. I just so happen to have all the ingredients on hand!

  35. Meg says:


    THANK YOU! I have had a bag of quinoa in my pantry for a year. I make something and think “Eh.” But this recipe inspired me to try again and this is healthy deliciousness at its best. Now I will use my whole bag of quinoa because this recipe is a keeper. Your website saves me every time.

  36. Sherri says:

    Just made this and it was delicious! Thank you!

  37. Leigh Anne says:

    I was just looking for a new quinoa recipe! Putting this one on the menu!

  38. Janssen says:

    I’ve made this a couple of times and LOVE it (although I leave the chicken out for a vegan version).

  39. teresa says:

    it’s taking everything i have not to run to the store and make this as a late night snack. it looks amazing!!

  40. Jennifer H. says:

    …Oh, and major kudos for taking all 5 kids swimming with you. This salad must have been a great reward!

  41. Jennifer H. says:

    Mel, after nearly 3 years of being a BIG fan of your site, I thank you so much for giving me so many yummy recipes to feed family! Believe it or not, this is my FIRST comment. I’m a big fan of the black bean/mango quinoa salad as well, and can’t wait to try this one. Again–a big thank you from me!!!

  42. Andrea says:

    Talia- put leftover canned coconut milk in the freezer. I do it all the time. Sometimes a recipe doesn’t call for very much, so I thaw it slightly and use a fork to scrape it out. It thaws quickly. About the recipe… Mel, if anyone is going to help me get over my dislike of quinoa, it will be you. It’ll happen soon, I promise.

  43. Looks wonderful, Mel! I have a box of quinoa sitting in my pantry in need of an inspiring recipe… I think this is it! Thanks for sharing.

  44. I am on such a Thai kick lately….this fits in perfectly!!

  45. I love Thai style anything. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations. Can’t wait to try this!

  46. Robyn L says:

    Mel this dish looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. Just wondering what brand of sweet chili sauce did you use?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Robyn – the only brand I can find in my little town is Frank’s (same brand as the famous hot wings sauce) and it worked just fine. In the past when I’ve lived in bigger cities, I’ve found a great selection in the Asian foods aisle at a well stocked grocery store. Also, I found a recipe online I want to try to make my own – it looks super simple!

  47. Teresa R. says:

    I love one dish meals and this looks like it would fit the bill. Plus, quinoa is healthy. This past weekend I made the carrot cake cheesecake and shared it with my parents. It was a huge hit!

  48. Becky says:

    This looks amazing! I have edamame in my freezer for moments like this!

  49. Talia says:

    Definitely going to try this; I LOVE quinoa and am always looking for new recipes. But the canned coconut milk…what can I do with the rest of the can? I don’t want to use so little, then pitch the rest. Can I use the refrigerated boxed stuff (like the So Delicious brand) instead?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Talia – I use coconut milk in so many things that I never have trouble using it up (most notably we use it in morning smoothies). The refrigerated coconut milk isn’t the same thing so I wouldn’t recommend subbing it in.

  50. I love the looks of this delicious salad! I’m always looking for new ways to prepare quinoa. I love adding the chicken in this one. I’ve got to try this one!

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