Mint Julep Quinoa Salad


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(Note: this post was originally published on July 18, 2019 and the photos were updated on August 30, 2020. It has since been tweaked with a few additions).

A Cocktail Turns Into a Salad

A salad inspired by a mint julep?? Oh yes! This summer quinoa salad is unique, unexpected, loaded with southern-inspired seasonal ingredients, wonderfully versatile, and just so darn fun.

Fresh mint is a special, seasonal gift that we enjoy all spring and summer. Because it grows so abundantly, I'm always experimenting with new ways to use it (see my go-to Green Goddess Hummus, this summery Watermelon, Snap Pea, and Mint Salad, and my vegan pesto guide, just to name a few). We also of course enjoy mint juleps, to such an extent that I have an entire post dedicated to mint julep variations. In case you can't tell, I adore fresh mint recipes!

One of my best mint creations of all time, however, is this southern-inspired Mint Julep Quinoa Salad.  It features fluffy quinoa, ripe juicy peaches, sweet succulent corn, charred red onions, hearty sweet potato, cozy black-eyed peas, and crunchy pecans, all topped with a seductive bourbon peach balsamic dressing. This summer quinoa salad is a symphony of flavors, colors, and textures!

Healthy vegan quinoa salad with grilled vegetables

Make it Work for YOU

This summery fresh mint recipe is incredibly versatile, so I'm confident it will work for all your parties, potlucks, and picnics this season. Are you grilling and chilling on a summer weekend? If so, this salad can work great as a side dish. Going on a picnic? Bring it along; it travels great since all of the ingredients are quite hearty. Having a party on the patio or deck? Serve it on a platter with some fancy peach garnishes. This summer quinoa salad even works well as a main course thanks to the protein from the black-eyed peas, quinoa, and nuts.

Make-Ahead Tips

This picnic-ready vegan quinoa salad is very make-ahead friendly, and you have a few different options for preparing it in advance. At the least, make the quinoa ahead of time and store it in the fridge overnight or for a couple days; the texture is actually better if you cool the quinoa completely before adding the dressing. This easy fresh mint recipe is also a great way to use up leftover quinoa.

To save even more time, you can do all the grilling in advance. Grilled sweet potatoes, onion, and corn can easily sit in the fridge overnight in a sealed container. You can also make the dressing a day or a few days ahead. When you're ready to serve, just add the chopped peaches, pecans, and mint. I don't suggest adding those items more than a couple hours in advance since they'll get soggy.

Summer quinoa salad with fresh mint

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Quinoa. Feel free to use other colors of quinoa or even farro instead; just make sure to adjust the cooking method accordingly.
  • Black-eyed peas. I love the southern flair these add, and they're a great source of protein in this vegan quinoa salad. You can use chick peas if you can't find black-eyed peas.
  • Sweet potato
  • Red onion
  • Corn. In season, I love to grill corn outside and then cut the kernels off the cob. Out of season, I grill frozen corn indoors. Trader Joe's sells bags of frozen, grilled corn which are incredibly convenient and make preparing this picnic-friendly fresh mint recipe a breeze.
  • Peaches
  • Fresh mint
  • Pecans
  • Peach balsamic vinegar. I love the flavor that peach balsamic adds to this summer quinoa salad. Look for it at an artisan oil/vinegar store. If you can't find it, regular white balsamic will work; however, if you use regular white balsamic, I suggest increasing the amount of maple syrup to compensate. Dark-colored balsamic won't work well since it will turn the quinoa brown.
  • Bourbon. If you're sensitive to alcohol or are preparing this dish for children, then omit this. However, if you're a bourbon lover, I adore the richness it brings to the dressing. You may want to start with half the amount and then increase it to your own tastes.
  • Maple syrup
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegan quinoa salad with peaches, pecans, and mint

Cheers to Mint Julep Season

Let this vegan quinoa salad be your new summer best friend. I love how unique and surprising this fresh mint recipe is. It's incredibly versatile, make-ahead friendly, and easy to transport. Especially for a party or potluck, I really enjoy preparing options that can serve as a main course for some people and a side dish for others.

Cheers and happy mint julep season! This southern-inspired, summer quinoa salad has become a go-to for us and we hope it will for you as well.

Fresh mint recipe for summer: a colorful quinoa salad

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Fresh and Summery Mint Julep Variations

Watermelon, Snap Pea, and Mint Salad

Summer Picnic Chick Pea Salad

Fig, Bourbon, and Cinnamon Nicecream Cake

Boozy Nicecream Guide (see the Kentucky Mule flavor in particular!)

Mint Julep Quinoa Salad

The mint julep goes salad-style with hearty quinoa, colorful grilled veggies, crunchy pecans, and fresh mint. Serve this healthy, vegan quinoa salad as a side dish or main course all summer long!



For the Salad

  • 1 c uncooked quinoa
  • 15-oz can of black-eyed peas
  • Medium sweet potato
  • Small red onion
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 peaches
  • ~20 fresh mint leaves
  • Big handful of roasted salted pecans

For the Dressing

  • 0.25 c peach balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Generous sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cook the quinoa as directed.
  2. Let the quinoa cool completely; conversely, make it the night before and keep it in the fridge. This is very important for texture, since adding dressing to warm quinoa makes it gummy and sticky.
  3. Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas.
  4. Cut the sweet potato into rounds and grill over medium heat until tender and lightly charred.
  5. Cut the red onion into rounds and grill over medium heat until tender and lightly charred.
  6. Grill the corn until until tender and lightly charred.
  7. Combine the dressing ingredients and stir.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, black-eyed peas, chopped grilled sweet potato, chopped grilled onion, and corn. Pour the dressing over the top and give it all a thorough mix.
  9. When you're ready to serve, mix in the peaches (diced into bite-sized pieces) and the mint (cut into very fine ribbons).
  10. Transfer the salad to a serving platter.
  11. Garnish with pecans and a few additional mint leaves.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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