This Quinoa and Butternut Squash salad is a delicious way to use some of autumn’s best produce! You can prep this salad ahead of time and take it out of the fridge when you’re ready to serve it!

quinoa and butternut squash salad in a bowl
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Why I Love This Recipe

This is an easy make-ahead dish that travels well so it’s perfect for a potluck or dinner party! Fluffy quinoa is the base of this salad and the crunchy apples, tart cranberries, and sweet butternut squash make this combination uniquely delicious. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegan, so everyone can enjoy it!

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa cooks like a grain but it’s technically a seed. It can be made on the stovetop, in an Instant Pot, or in a rice cooker. It’s typically sold in most major grocery stores near the rice and dried beans. If you want to learn more about this versatile superfood, check out my post that’s all about quinoa!

A bowl of quinoa on a table

Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad Ingredients

  • Quinoa– This seed is the base of the salad. You can prepare the quinoa ahead of time, if you like.
  • Butternut squash– This sweet squash adds a lot of flavor and texture to the salad. You can substitute with sweet potatoes if you like.
  • Cranberries– I used sweetened, dried cranberries. You can use unsweetened, if you like.
  • Apple– I’ve made this recipe with golden delicious or fuji. Any kind of sweet apple works great.
  • Almonds– I love the crunch of sliced almonds. You can substitute with walnuts or pine nuts, if you like.
  • Balsamic vinegar– This savory vinegar has enough of a bite to add interest and depth to the dressing.
  • Maple syrup– A little sweetness helps create a balance of flavors.
  • Olive oil– A little healthy fat adds richness to the dressing.

How to Prepare Butternut Squash

First, peel the squash with a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skin. Then chop the butternut squash into 1″ pieces. Try to cut the squash into evenly sized pieces so they cook at the same rate.

chopped butternut squash

Toss the squash with olive oil and salt and spread it into an even layer on a baking sheet. Be sure to line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to prevent it from sticking.

Once the squash is roasted and the quinoa is prepared, it’s as simple as tossing the ingredients together!

quinoa and butternut squash salad in a bowl

Make Ahead Tips

This recipe is a great one to make in advance! Be sure to toss the ingredients together with the dressing. The oil in the dressing will help prevent the apple from turning brown. I recommend serving this salad within 4 hours of making it, but it still tastes great the next day.

Substitution Suggestions

  • Feel free to swap the butternut squash for another sweet winter squash like acorn squash. Or you can substitute roasted sweet potato in place of the squash.
  • The almonds can be swapped for any other roasted nut like walnuts or pine nuts.
  • If you don’t have dried cranberries, try dried cherries or dried apricots instead! Just chop them into small pieces and add to the salad.
  • If you don’t have butternut squash, try using patty pan squash! It’s a similar, sweet squash that would be perfect in this recipe.

More Butternut Squash Recipes

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Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad is a delicious way to use some of autumn’s best produce! You can prep this salad ahead of time and take it out of the fridge when you’re ready to serve it!


Units Scale
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. Spread the squash onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. While the squash cooks, prepare the quinoa. Add the water to a pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Add quinoa and boil for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed.
  6. Once the quinoa is cooked, add to a bowl and fluff with a fork.
  7. Toss with cooked squash, cranberries, almonds, and apples.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, and salt.
  9. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa mixture and add salt to taste, if needed.