Quinoa, Kale, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

This quinoa kale salad with cranberries and pecans is a light, healthy salad that comes together quickly and is easy to make.  A great choice for lunch or a healthy side with dinner. 

White bowl with salad and a fork.

UPDATED:  This recipe had been updated on 4/1/19 with new pictures and nutritional information.

I’ve eaten this quinoa and kale salad with cranberries and pecans two time this past week…and I’m thinking about making it for lunch tomorrow as well.

The secret ingredient for this quinoa and kale salad is baby kale.  I had a hard time getting behind the kale movement – I find it too tough and chewy.  Then I found baby kale at the supermarket and it completely changed my mind.  It’s more tender than “grown up” kale and easier to eat.  No slicing or chopping required – just add the baby kale to the salad bowl.

Ingredients to make quinoa kale salad in a white bowl with a wooden spoon.

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse – it’s a cruciferous vegetable (member of the Brassica family) – and it’s packed with fiber and vitamins A, C and K.  I look forward to adding baby kale to different salads in the future.

I love how simple and fresh this salad is.  It’s perfect as a light main dish for lunch or dinner and it works really well as a side salad with some soup or a sandwich.

Large and small bowl of quinoa kale salad on a marble countertop.

How to make this quinoa and kale salad – step by step:

  • Cook quinoa as per the package instructions.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, make the salad dressing and toss half of it over the kale in a large bowl.  Stir to combine so all the kale is coated with the dressing.
  • Prep the rest of your ingredients – mince the onion, dice the feta cheese and measure out the pecans and have them ready to go.
  • When the quinoa is ready, turn it out onto a baking sheet to let it cool slightly before adding to the kale.
  • When quinoa is cool, add the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients to the kale in a large bowl.
  • Toss with the remaining dressing and serve.

Substitutions and additions:

  • If you want to make this salad a little more substantial then apples or pears would make a great addition.
  • Don’t like feta – then blue cheese would be a good substitution.
  • If you don’t have pecans, then walnuts would be a good choice for this quinoa and kale salad.

A couple of notes:

  • Add half the dressing to the chopped kale before you do anything else.  This will give the kale a chance to marinate and soften in the dressing.
  • This salad stores well in the fridge for a few days.
  • Make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking – dry quinoa needs to be rinsed before adding it to the pot to cook.
  • Once you’ve cooked the quinoa, if there’s any liquid in the bottom of the pan then drain the quinoa in a fine meshed strainer.   Then turn out the quinoa on to a baking sheet to cool – this will keep it from being mushy.
  • I used plain pecans.  I didn’t toast them but you can if you want.  You could also use candied pecans if you have a sweet tooth.

Quinoa, Kale, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

This quinoa kale salad with cranberries and pecans is a light, healthy salad that comes together quickly and is easy to make.  A great choice for lunch or a healthy side for dinner. 

  • Author: Geraldine
  • Prep Time: 12 mins
  • Cook Time: 14 mins
  • Total Time: 26 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 4 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: American


  • 4 cups baby kale
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa – cook quinoa as per the package instructions
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove minced or put through a press
  • 8 twists of black pepper from a pepper mill
  • 1 squeeze of honey – about 1 tsp
  • 2 tbs red onion – minced
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 ounces of feta – cubed


  1. Roughly chop the baby kale and place in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, minced garlic, black pepper and honey. Pour half of the dressing over the chopped kale.
  3. Cook dry quinoa according to package instructions. Add 1 veggie bouillon cube to the water.
  4. Add minced red onion, cranberries, chopped pecans and feta to the kale and toss gently.
  5. When the quinoa is done and cooled slightly, add it to the bowl with the kale, red onion, cranberries, pecans and feta.
  6. Toss with remaining dressing and serve.


If you make and enjoy this recipe, please leave a message and rating letting me know what you think.


  • Serving Size: 2 to 4 servings
  • Calories: 466
  • Sugar: 6.1 g
  • Sodium: 196mg
  • Fat: 26g
  • Carbohydrates: 38.2g
  • Fiber: 6.6g
  • Protein: 11.5g

Keywords: Quinoa Kale Salad, Healthy Salad

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21 comments on “Quinoa, Kale, Cranberry and Pecan Salad

  1. Mary Ann

    This recipe is AMAZING! It was the family favorite, huge hit at thanksgiving this year. I couldn’t get enough.

    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks, Mary Ann – love that you shared this salad with your family at Thanksgiving – glad everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and rating – I appreciate hearing from you!

  2. Andrea

    This salad is fantastic! I made it for my sons birthday party expecting it to be more adult fare but the kids enjoyed it too! I’m making it again now without red onion as I don’t have any, but I’m sure it will still be delicious. This has definitely made it into our summer CSA rotation!

    1. Geraldine Post author

      Hi Andrea – Thanks so much for letting me know! It’s funny what you think kids won’t like – and then they surprise you! Glad it helps use up your CSA rotation – those boxes can be overwhelming sometimes. And thanks for leaving a rating as well – I appreciate it!

  3. Lois

    I made the salad this evening to eat for lunch tomorrow. Planned to give half of it to my son and his wife. I took a taste and decided the entire salad will remain with me. It is delicious! Glad I found this recipe online. Thanks!

    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks so much, Lois! So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking time to leave me a message and a star rating – I really appreciate it when readers let me know that they liked a recipe.

  4. Carrie Chappie

    I just made this for a brunch tomorrow (I added only 1/2 of the dressing for now and will add pecans tomorrow). This salad has ended my extreme dislike of kale! Thanks!

    1. Geraldine Post author

      Hi Carrie – glad you enjoyed it. Doesn’t baby kale make such a big difference! Thanks for leaving a comment and a rating – I appreciate hearing from you!

  5. Jane

    Taking it to my Italian class potluck – like every good chef I tasted it first – delicious. I find myself hoping there are leftovers!

  6. Terri

    Love!! Eating my second helping now. I used a kale mix and added avocado. DELISH!! dressing is perfect

  7. bruce

    I have a family member on blood thinners that can not eat cranberries, so substituted currants. Very good. BTW, this is first time eating quinoa that I’ve actually enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks so much for letting me know, Bruce! I appreciate that you took the time to comment. Glad this was a hit for you and your family. Quinoa is a great addition to salads – since it makes it more filling and give a boost of protein to the salad.


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