The Jennifer Aniston Salad is an internet sensation, and for good reason. It’s healthy, delicious, and easy to make. It’s a perfect summer salad for hot days, for entertaining, picnics, and meal prep.
I must be behind the times, or at least when it comes to salads, I’m behind the times. Because this grain salad was a viral sensation in 2022. Aniston apparently originally shared this salad in 2020 on Living Proof on Instagram. But it took Simply Vegetarian 777 to share it earlier this year for me to find it.
I wasn’t originally going to share this salad on my blog, but I’ve made it so many times now that I figured some of you would love it as well, and maybe you hadn’t heard of it either.
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Great for entertaining
Besides, it fits so well with my other salads. And you know I’m a big fan of salads for entertaining.
Serving cold salads at a baby shower or bridal shower makes it so easy on the host. Many salads can be made days in advance and simply pulled out of the fridge when guests arrive.
This salad would also be perfect for summer cookouts and BBQs. It can be a main dish for vegetarians or a side dish for meat eaters.
Reasons you’ll love it
It’s filled with fresh herbs and vegetables. This salad is nice and healthy and quick to toss together!
Here are some other reasons to give salad a try:
- It’s nice & filling: using grains as a base, this salad will keep you satisfied for hours.
- Easy to customize: I’ve played around with the ingredients many times. Sometimes because I’m out of something. Or, maybe you have leftovers to use up. Feel free to customize this salad and swap out ingredients to make it your own! We’ll talk about playing with the ingredients in a bit.
- Perfect for meal prep: This wholesome recipe is the perfect salad for meal prep. It keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you can make a big batch and enjoy it for lunch all week. I’ve even taken it on car rides to eat while traveling.
Variety is the spice of life
Like I said, I’ve made this so many times. And, the nice thing about it is you can make it a little differently each time if you want.
Let’s look at the ingredients and get some ideas going.
Jen’s original Instagram share was for a wheat bulgur salad. The more recent shares of the salad use quinoa or bulgur.
Really any whole grains will be great here; they’ll provide a hearty and filling base for the salad. Try farro, barley, black rice, brown rice, bulgur, or quinoa.
Cook the grains according to the package directions.
And, just so the internet trolls don’t come down on me, quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain. But most people use at as a grain, so that’s what I’m going with here.
For added flavor, cook the grains in low-sodium broth like my Vegetarian Vegetable Broth.
The recipe calls for 1 cup cucumber. I always just chop up the whole cuke and toss all of it in.
Use a large English cucumber, which won’t need to be peeled or seeded.
There are lots of kinds of cucumbers, even at the grocery stores. Garden (regular) cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, mini cucumbers, and Kirby cucumbers are all fairly common. Some may need to be peeled if they have a waxy coating on them. And you may want to remove the seeds as well. Feel free to use any kind of cuke here.
The recipe also calls for 1/3 cup chopped red onion. The onion adds a nice crunch and flavor to the salad, but if you find raw onion too strong there are a few solutions.
Run the chopped onion under cool tap water for a bit. The water will rinse off some of the pungency and soften the flavor. Be sure to drain the onion well.
Or use chopped green onion in place of the red onion. Green onions (or scallions) are softer in flavor.
Add extra veggies if you want. I love the color and crunch of a chopped red pepper, so I’ve added it to the recipe.
Chopped avocado would be lovely in the salad as well. Of course, I think avocado would be lovely in almost every salad.
Serve it over fresh spinach for even more veggies!
The combination of parsley and mint are fresh and vibrant in this salad. And you know I love fresh mint; read All About Fresh Mint.
Feel free to mix up the herbs based on what’s in your garden or your favorite.
Basil is a lovely addition, or a good swap for the mint if you prefer.
Fresh dill, tarragon, chives, and cilantro are all good options for this salad.
The salad was originally shared with pistachios. I have made it several times with other nuts depending on what I have, and it’s always delicious.
Since pistachios are fairly expensive, almonds are a great option, and you’ll see almonds in my salad in the pictures.
If you need this salad to be nut-free, you can swap the nuts for roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds and still have a nice crunch.
Walnuts, peanuts, or cashews would all be great alternatives.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a high fiber source of vegan protein, and they’re budget friendly.
Grab a can of low-sodium or no salt beans to make it even healthier.
Sometimes I’ll add in two cans of beans if I want more protein.
You can also add more protein with tofu, shrimp, shredded chicken, or bacon.
The dressing is nice and light and simple. Just some lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper.
Feel free to use any citrus that you like.
Lime would be fantastic. You could make it a cilantro lime styled salad and add cotija cheese as well.
Also, feel free to use your favorite oil here.
Also, the salad recipe doesn’t give amounts for the salt and pepper. Some cheeses will be saltier than others, and tastes differ, so you may want more or less S & P than I do.
The recipe calls for feta cheese, but again, this is easily changed. Use your favorite or whatever you have in the fridge.
I usually use queso fresco in place of feta because it’s my favorite white crumbly cheese.
Or, you can simply leave the cheese out, and the famous salad is vegan.
How to store
Just pop this salad into an airtight container, or into several smaller containers, and into the fridge for up to 5 days.
It makes lunchtime so easy! And I’ve found that the flavors all meld and the salad tastes even better as it sits.
More great grains recipes
Grain recipes are so good, filling, and nutritious. Check out some of my quinoa recipes: Shrimp with fresh tomato sauce and cilantro lime quinoa, Spinach quinoa muffins, and Breakfast quinoa.
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The Jennifer Aniston Salad Recipe
Jennifer Aniston Salad
- 1 cup quinoa or bulgur wheat uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- ½ cup mint chopped
- ⅓ cup red onion chopped
- ½ cup roasted and lightly salted pistachios or almonds chopped
- 15 ounce low sodium canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 5-6 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from about 2 lemons
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco
- Kosher salt to taste
- ground pepper to taste
- Rinse and drain quinoa until the water runs clear. Add cleaned quinoa and 2 cups water to a small pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool for 5-10 minutes.1 cup quinoa or bulgur wheat, 2 cups water
- Quinoa can be cooked a day in advance and kept in the fridge to cool if desired.
- In a medium bowl, stir together cooked quinoa, cucumber, bell pepper, parsley, mint, red onion, pistachios, chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, and feta cheese.1 cup cucumber, 1 red bell pepper, ½ cup parsley, ½ cup mint, ⅓ cup red onion, ½ cup roasted and lightly salted pistachios or almonds, 15 ounce low sodium canned chickpeas, 5-6 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice from about 2 lemons, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco
- Give it a gentle toss to mix, taste for seasonings, and add salt and pepper as desired.Kosher salt to taste, ground pepper
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Salad is great cold from the fridge.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.