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Mango Coconut Quinoa Salad

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Quinoa has been gaining popularity for years. I know I’ve been aware of it for at least 7 – but I didn’t try it until less than a year ago! I even have my husband liking quinoa now, which I think is pretty cool. He does love wings, but it’s awesome that he also loves healthier options and doesn’t insist on “man food.” I think he’ll really enjoy this tropical mango coconut quinoa salad once he gets home!

Tropical Mango Coconut Quinoa SaladQuinoa is really easy to cook. The only thing “finicky” about it is that you need to wash it before cooking. This is really easy to do if you have a mesh strainer, but if you don’t, you can always rinse in the pot and carefully pour off the water. A few of the grains will float out, but most won’t! For me, the most complicated part of this dish is preparing the mango. I know you’re probably thinking “Really? You just slice it and do that little cube thing.” The problem is, I don’t do that. I peel mangos using my favorite Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler. While wearing nitrile gloves.

holding mango with a glove

No joke. I thought it was made up the first time I heard someone say it, but it’s true – mango sap contains the same active ingredient as poison ivy. It isn’t present in the flesh of the mango fruit, but it can be in the peel and the stem. Have you ever seen where the sap leaked out around the little bit of stem left on there? That stuff could make you break out like you’d played in poison ivy! That active ingredient is called urushiol, and you usually have to contact it multiple times before you start reacting. Some people just aren’t predisposed to reacting to it at all, which is why not everyone gets poison ivy. I, on the other hand, am highly reactive to poison ivy. I don’t say I’m allergic because that sounds like I go into anaphylactic shock, but I have visited the doctor for poison ivy treatment before. It makes me seem a little crazy, but I always pick mangos up at the store with my hand in a bag, and I don’t handle them with my bare skin at home.

Whether you feel comfortable cutting mangos the way everyone else does it or want to try my peel first method, you’ll need to cut a mango into about 1/2″ chunks while you’re quinoa is cooking. The smaller pieces blend better with the other ingredients!

mango, coconut, and cranberries

I have a set of those amazing Pyrex bowls with fitted lids, so I mixed my quinoa salad in one of them and simply popped the lid on to store it in the fridge. It keeps really well – I had this for about four days in a row and it was just as tasty on the last day as on the first! It looks just as pretty, too, so you can make it ahead for a cookout or potluck the following day.

Mango Coconut Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup quinoa (its before cooking volume), prepared according to its package's instructions
  • scant ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (go for the good stuff! I use Bragg's)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 mango, cut into roughly ¼" cubes (use two if you have "honey mangos")
  • ⅓ c dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
  • ¼ c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. Prepare your quinoa according to the package's directions. If you bought in bulk and don't have instructions: rinse 1 cup of quinoa clean then combine it in a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Allow the quinoa to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the grains are somewhat translucent and the germ has separated out from each grain (you'll see a ring around each one like it's wearing a pool float!). The water should be absorbed, but if the quinoa is otherwise finished and there's still extra water, you can pour the water off.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, combine the (very) scant ¼ of apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and honey. Whisk vigorously to combine the honey as well as possible.
  3. Prepare the mango and measure out the coconut and cranberries. Add all of them to a medium/large bowl, pour about half the dressing mixture over the top, then toss to combined.
  4. Once the quinoa is finished, remove it from the heat, then pour the remaining dressing over it. Fluff with a fork to combine.
  5. Allow the quinoa to cool for about 5 minutes, then add it to the fruit and coconut mixture. Toss to combine. Stir in the cilantro.
  6. Cover the quinoa salad tightly with a lid or plastic wrap until you're ready to serve it.
  7. Garnish with additional cilantro and coconut, if desired, and enjoy!

Mango Coconut Quinoa Salad

The quinoa’s earthiness contrasts so well with the vinegar and lime juice tang and the fruit’s sweetness. I’ve eaten this topical quinoa salad as breakfast, a side dish, and as a main! It works just as well for all three.

tropical quinoa salad

Have you tried quinoa yet? What’s your favorite way to eat this popular “pseudo grain?”


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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • BeadedTail May 25, 2015, 08:35

    I haven’t tried quinoa yet either but you make it look tasty here! The gloves do scare me a bit! I didn’t know that about mangoes!

    • Natashalh May 25, 2015, 12:03

      So many people are absolutely fine with mangos, I’m just a bit paranoid! You could also just use frozen and thaw/cut those pieces and not worry with the skin. I’ve been on perception steroids for poison ivy before, and the last time I had it I didn’t go that route so the…symptoms lasted for over a month.

  • LeAnn May 23, 2015, 03:04

    I haven’t tried quinoa. I love mango. Coconut–not so much.

    • Natashalh May 23, 2015, 09:27

      You can always leave it out. =)
      Honestly, I can’t eat to much coconut or else it will upset my stomach. You can hardly taste this little amount, though, it just adds a bit of sweetness.

  • Judy Nolan May 21, 2015, 19:57

    Looks tasty! I have never eaten quinoa, and would not recognize it if I saw it . . . although after your photos, that might change. 🙂

    • Natashalh May 21, 2015, 21:24

      It’s quite tasty, really. It has almost a nuttiness to it, and it is a complete protein (which is pretty rare for single plant food sources!).

  • Lana May 21, 2015, 01:43

    I love it! I love quinoa … it is remind me all russian grains! Typically I’m not sweet salads fan, but this is so looks delicious, I should try! Lately I’m on the no carb diet, so anything else you have under your sleeve? xx, L.

    • Natashalh May 21, 2015, 05:25

      Luckily, this one isn’t actually that sweet. A little, but I used unsweetened coconut and cranberries, so the overall flavor is more savory and tangy.

      I usually have too many ideas to decide what to post next! One is totally not low-carb, but two projects I’m working on don’t have much carbs.

  • Duni May 19, 2015, 21:12

    This type of salad I love! I first tried quinoa about 15 years ago, when it wasn’t trendy. Back then you had to wash it several times and cook it for a very long time. I did not know that about mango! Mangoes are not easy to find at the market here, but when they do have them (imported from Brazil) I buy a lot. I’m probably not sensitive to the sap, as I’ve always handled them with my bare hands 🙂
    p.s. chia seeds are all the rage here too, but the price is over-the-top so I’ve not bought them

    • Natashalh May 20, 2015, 04:00

      I’m not surprised to hear any of that, actually! You seem exactly like the kind of person who would eat quinoa (and I mean that in a good way!). It’s also not surprising to hear mangoes are scarce where you live and that you don’t react to them. Many Europeans do not react to poison ivy or mango because it’s typically an acquired reaction. It’s like how most Americans can wander through nettles and be okay – same thing. Until they acquire the reaction, at least! A small bag of chia seeds at the store here is $15-$22, which is too much for me to be willing to try it!

  • Rose May 19, 2015, 15:12

    I haven’t tried quinoa yet, honestly because I’m always wary of trends. Your salad looks delicious, though. I’m willing to try just about anything with mango and coconut in it.

    • Natashalh May 19, 2015, 15:55

      I know what you mean about food trends! Like how everyone is excited about chia seeds right now. I saw how much they cost in stores around here and decided to go ahead and pass on that one for now!

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