Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage


Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage is packed with sweet and savory autumnal flavors, perfect for a light lunch, supper, or side. 

Obsession alert!

Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage. I, uh, well I ate an entire batch throughout the day by myself last night…then afterwards Ben found quinoa stuck in my hair. Probably because I practically had my head in the bowl licking it clean. You’ve been there.

That is to say, OMG THIS STUFF IS SO GOOD!

Sunday evening I was flipping through my iPhone photos, reliving fun summer moments like our epic trip to Pittsburgh’s own Beer World, soaring above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon, and enjoying our faces off at the Lake of the Ozarks, when I came across a picture I’d snapped of a prepared salad at Whole Foods in June. Because this is what I do.

I had intended on re-creating the salad for a light summer supper, which is why I photographed the ingredient list, but I’m so glad I waited – then upgraded. Whole Foods’ combo of apple, dried cranberries, almonds, quinoa, green onions, with my addition of maple sausage, is SO FALL, that I can hardly even stand it.

Not only are the textures and flavors in what might be my favorite preparation of quinoa to date absolutely mouthwatering, but the recipe can be made in just 30 minutes, and enjoyed warm or cold. Serve as a light supper for one two, or flavorful side for more. Either way – you have GOT to try this!

Start the Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage by rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa very well in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water, then cook in 1 cup gluten-free chicken broth until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and cool slightly.

Don’t you just love the texture of cooked quinoa, by the way? They look like tiny springs – boing! Ahem.

While the quinoa is cooling, brown 3oz gluten-free maple breakfast sausage (I like Johnsonville brand) in 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. The oil keeps the sausage from sticking to the skillet, and helps it to start browning. You could use any type of sausage, but I love the hint of maple-y sweetness this particular sausage adds to the dish.

Tip: to get nice sausage crumbles, break the sausage up before you start cooking (as seen in the above left picture,) then use a hard, spatula type thingy (helpful) to further break the sausage up as it cooks. I got this spatula with my food processor. It’s hard and just short of being sharp (twss,) which means it won’t scratch my skillet, but it’s really good at breaking up ground meat. Moving on…

Add the sausage to the quinoa cooling in a bowl, then add the rest of the salad ingredients:

2 small chopped green onions (or 1 large green onion,) 1 small chopped apple,

1/4 cup chopped almonds, and 2 Tablespoons gluten-free dried cranberries (I like Ocean Spray brand.)

Toss everything to combine…

Then serve. That’s it!

Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage

Serves 2 as a light main, or 4 as a side


Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage is packed with sweet and savory autumnal flavors, perfect for a light lunch, supper, or side. 


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3oz gluten-free maple breakfast sausage (I like Johnsonville brand)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free dried cranberries (I like Ocean Spray brand)


  1. Rinse quinoa very well in a fine mesh strainer under cold, running water. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan then add rinsed quinoa. Place a lid on top, then simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sausage then brown and drain, if necessary. Add cooked sausage, green onions, chopped apple, almonds, and cranberries to the slightly cooled quinoa. Toss to combine then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Between the nuttiness of the quinoa and almonds, sweetness of the apple and dried cranberries, and fresh bite from the green onion, there’s no need for dressing on this salad – it is incredibly flavorful all on its own. It’s really good cold too, but my favorite is when the quinoa and maple sausage crumbles are still nice and warm. SO YUM!

I’m jazzed to keep this recipe around for the holidays too. Thinking it’d be a great side for Thanksgiving or Christmas, what with all the bright, seasonal flavors and colors. I’m also toying around with the idea of using pomegranate arils instead of dried cranberries…

How bad could that be?! ;)

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  1. Love love love your creativity. And your pics. ;)

    Also… do you post recipes of the current evening’s dinner? Or do you plan your posts ahead, and share recipes on a few days’ lag? I’m just curious as far as your cooking, stylying, picturing (it’s a word), writing and posting time management. I have no idea how you can post EVERY single day and always have good content, good recipes, AND good (nay, great!) photos, etc.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.31.2012

      Great question. Sometimes I test several recipes in one day, then post later in the week, or a week later. I also blog/freelance write/recipe develop as my full time job now, so that is what my main focus is on!

  2. Sarah 10.30.2012

    That looks delicious! I bet it would be equally amazing with the pomegranate arils!

  3. Bethany 10.30.2012

    Hey there! Any suggestions on a swap out for the almonds? I’m allergic (MAY-JAH bummer), but only almonds. Is that ridiculous? But in any case, it’s true…

  4. SWR 10.30.2012

    This looks delicious. Adding it to our November menu plan!!

  5. Lauren 10.30.2012

    Okay, I’m sold on this one. I’ve made an apple quinoa salad before but I love your thoughts of adding maple sausage. Looks outstanding!

  6. Belinda 10.30.2012

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING! Next time I will double the recipe. Yummy!!! Thanks for sharing. I always look forward to reading your blog. :) You do a great job! I just started the Couch to 5K today after a very long break in running.

  7. Beth 10.30.2012

    I’m still new to using quinoa without dressing or sauce…I think this sounds super fall-ish and yummy! I’ve been loving apples in my salad lately!

  8. Kristen 10.30.2012

    Wow. I think I’d make it vegetarian using veggie sausage and broth. What a unique and tasty dish to bring to a potluck, too!

    • Samantha 10.28.2013

      I made it last night with the Field Roast Apple Sage sausage and added a teaspoon or so of maple syrup! It was really good! You could of course use regular vegetarian breakfast sausage but I love field roast so I opted for that!

  9. Dawn 10.30.2012

    Best tool ever for chopping up sausage/hamburger is the Pampered Chef Mix N’s Chop…makes perfect crumbles everytime no matter what size you desire.

    • Allison 10.31.2012

      I have to agree with Dawn! I’ve been selling Pampered Chef for 6 years and the Mix ‘N Chop is my number one seller for this exact reason. I have two in my kitchen because they are just so handy.

  10. Melissa 10.30.2012

    I was just introduced to quinoa tonight. We had it with green and red peppers, tomatoes, and scallions which was pretty good.. Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  11. Quinoa in your hair, huh? Yes, have to admit I’ve been there. Maybe not with quinoa but with a lot of other foods. lol! This looks amazing…

  12. First of all, ‘twss’! My sister and bro-in-law started to say it that way because their 3-year-old started saying ‘that’s what she said’. So this made me laugh!

    Also, good call on the maple sausage.

  13. mamawolfe 10.30.2012

    Oh wow-looks wonderful! I can’t wait to make it! I pinned it…love the photos, too.

  14. Lillian 10.31.2012

    Thanks for the recipe, looks great! In your opinion is there a huge taste difference between plain quinoa and wheat quinoa? I saw the wheat quinoa at Trader Joe’s and wasn’t sure if that was the only option.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.31.2012

      I’ve actually never seen wheat quinoa – I wonder what the difference is? I can’t imagine the taste is much different though!

  15. I love the addition of sausage to quinoa – most recipes I see with quinoa are vegetarian but sausage with it sounds so good!

  16. DanaB 10.31.2012

    Kind of surprised not to see any dressing on this, especially with the tasty one from the Whole Foods photo! Still looks very yummy. I’ll have to try.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.31.2012

      I know! I had all the ingredients ready to make a lemon-orange dressing to drizzle on top, but it didn’t need it at all!

  17. That looks absolutely delicious! I love the idea of using sweet apples in a “salty” dinner meal. So creative.

  18. Rach 10.31.2012

    This recipe is bookmarked and I will be making it ASAP!

    xo Rach

  19. Ed 10.31.2012

    Looks good..that is a great go to salad for potlucks!

  20. traci 10.31.2012

    Looks fabulous – I love that you photo’d the ingredients tag at Whole Foods for inspiration – genius for the food obsessed :)

  21. I’m teaching an Economically Organic class tomorrow night at New Bo City Market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and I just pulled the quinoa salad I was going to make out of the line-up in favor of this. It’s awesome. It’s perfect for fall. Hooray. Good Job! :)

  22. Cindy 10.31.2012

    I wonder if this would work as a Turkey stuffing. Any thoughts on how the quinoa would hold up if cooked again?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.03.2012

      I think it would be fine! Whenever I make mini quinoa muffins I cook the quinoa on the stove top then bake for 15-20 minutes, and it turns out great!

  23. […] planned for tonight except Iowa Girl Eat’s Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Sausage (YUM) and hopefully some scary movies on […]

  24. I made a very similiar salad, but with chicken and an apple cider dressing. Love the addition of sausage and you’re right this would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving menu!

  25. Julie 10.31.2012

    Your “twss” parentheticals crack me up every time! :P

  26. I’m ob-sessed with quinoa. I make some kind of quinoa dish every Sunday to bring for lunch 2-3x that week…And I’m always looking for new ways to dress it up. This sounds awesome! (plus, no added oil from a dressing! Score.)

  27. Stephanie 10.31.2012

    Hello Iowa Girl, Love your site and your inspirational recipes & pictures, especially the ones with quinoa. Thanks for what you do!

  28. Jaime Napier 10.31.2012

    made this this morning! One of my all time favorite recipes!! Simple, fast, healthy and delicious… what more can a girl ask for!

  29. Looks like an absolutely fabulous meal. I love the addition of the sausage – sounds like this dish has staying power!

  30. LissKB 11.01.2012

    Mmm I love fall recipes like this – can’t wait to make it! And I was just thinking how I never feel more like a “fat kid” than when I find food where it doesn’t belong, like my hair, neck, bed, etc.

  31. Hannah 11.01.2012

    I have tried every quinoa recipe of yours and they are all amazing! So no doubt this will be top notch as well.

  32. Lisa 11.01.2012

    I am cooking this up tonight. I can’t wait to try it!

  33. marla 11.02.2012

    Love this recipe! Will be linking back to this in my upcoming post :)

  34. Becky 11.02.2012

    I just made this for my coworkers. I wanted something less messy, so I tried adapting to make them ‘bites’ by baking in mini-muffin tins (with a little egg, flour, and parmesean cheese for binders). It didn’t quite work as planned, but the staff agreed with the crispy little punches from the muffin tins and warm this would make a great Thanksgiving stuffing dish!!

  35. Amy 11.02.2012

    This looks so delicious. Thank you for posting such great quinoa recipes. Before I tried your recipes, quinoa was something I really, really wanted to like, but didn’t. Not at all. Now I have my daughter eating it too. Keep the recipes coming!

  36. Ginny 11.03.2012

    Making this tonight! As per usual I’m always missing just one of your ingredients but feel like raisins will be a fine substitution. I’m still eating Miss Luann’s Kale salad weekly!!!!

  37. […] some extra because I wanted to try a recipe from IowaGirlEats.  She made a Whole Foods inspired quinoa dish with apples, almonds, maple sausage and dried cranberries.  When I read this recipe the first […]

  38. Keira L. 11.04.2012

    I’m making this for lunch this afternoon with maple apple chicken sausage! I absolutely LOVE your blog. So many great recipes, and everything I’ve made so far has been husband-approved ;-)

  39. Kaitlin 11.06.2012

    I’ve made quinoa a few times as stated in recipes, but it has turned out mushy instead of fluffy like it looks in your pictures. Any tips would be much appreciated! Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.07.2012

      Make sure you drain the quinoa really well after rinsing, then try cooking it in 1/3 cup less liquid. Let me know if that does the trick!

  40. Patty 11.07.2012

    OH MY! This was delicious. My 4yo loved it too! I used the Al Fresca Apple Maple breakfast sausage links. It was soooo good. THank you!

  41. […] Soup w/ tortilla crumbles, Side Salad Thursday: Apple Almond Quinoa Friday: Homemade Pizza (dough comes from our bread machine) Saturday: Annual FRIENDS Thanksgiving […]

  42. […] almond and maple sausage quinoa from Iowa Girl Eats . Holy […]

  43. […] had put this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats onto my “Dinner for Two” Pinterest board a couple of weeks ago. The name alone sounded […]

  44. Jen 11.26.2012

    First time I’ve tried quinoa (I’ve been wanting to try it FOREVER). Anyway, this recipe is amazing, I should have made a double batch! I subbed apple chicken sausage for the maple which was awesome. Super healthy too. :)

  45. Kate 11.27.2012

    No wonder you’re obsessed with this recipe–it was fantastic! I roasted up some chicken and apple sausages and served this (left out the sausage) and some sauteed broccoli rabe on the side. I could eat the whole bowl!

  46. Andrea 12.01.2012

    I have been wanting to make this since you posted the recipe and finally did today. Now I’m wondering why I waited so long! OMG this is delicious! I will probably eat the whole thing today

  47. […] Apple almond quinoa with maple sausage from Iowa Girl Eats […]

  48. […] this week was this recipe for apple almond quinoa with maple sausage. I made a few changes including using walnuts instead of almonds because that’s what I had […]

  49. Hannah 04.09.2013

    This is delicious! I skipped the craisins and almonds, because I was out. I cooked the green onions with the sausage and then threw it all together. Loved it.

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