Get ready for this show stopping, perfect meal prep lunch, Jennifer Aniston Salad. Made famous by Jennifer Aniston herself, learn how to make this tasty copycat salad made with Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas), Cucumber, Red Onion, Pistachios, and Feta Cheese.
This is a great meal prep meal, it's quick and easy and can easily go in a mason jar or meal prep container. Perfect for the summer and spring months.
We fell in love with the original salad recipe but felt like it needed a pick-me-up. To add to the taste, we altered the dressing to have a little extra flavor with additional red wine vinegar and garlic.
We also substituted the bulgar for quinoa. This makes this a gluten free option and protein packed grain salad! Make it a meal by pairing it with Lebanese falafel.
Why Jennifer Aniston?
Though this isn't the actual salad Rachel ate on Friends, she has been known to have eaten this real meal for over 10 years. It's Jennifer Aniston's favorite recipe and she shared it in a 2010 interview with People Magazine. The dish was not created by the actress herself. It was a recipe that she had discovered from her friend and chef, Kathy Najimy.
Here is a list of ingredients we used for this tasty grain salad. Be sure to look at substitutions and variations to help fit dietary needs and preferences.
- Quinoa- While the original recipe calls for Bulgur, Quinoa helps make this a gluten free option. Quinoa is also great to have on hand. We throw it in lunch time salads all the time.
- Cucumber- For this recipe, we used baby cucumbers because of the crisp texture. You can use any variety of cucumber.
- Red Onion- Red onions gives this recipe a great look and taste. White onions, shallots, or green onions can be substituted.
- Feta (not pictured)- This distinct crumble cheese is the perfect pairing with the vegetables. If you aren't a fan, skip the feta but we personally love that added taste.
- Pistachios (optional)- We love adding pistachios to this dish. It adds a great taste and texture to the whole salad.
- Mint- A great addition of flavor. Pairs well with the contrasting flavor of the feta and onion.
- Parsley- A great way to add variety and flavor. It also adds a fun splash of color.
- Chickpeas- Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans add texture, flavor, and protein to the dish. These can also be substituted for lentils.
- Olive Oil- The base of the dressing. Gives a nice flavor without overpowering any other ingredients.
- Lemon- A fresh flavor to enhance the flavor of all the ingredients.
- Red Wine- Another great flavor to enhance the other flavors. It also add a zest to the dish.
- Garlic-Garlic powder is a quick and easy way to add a splash of flavor.
- Salt and Pepper-Salt and pepper this recipe to taste. The salt will help enhance the flavors of the vegetables.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Jennifer Aniston Salad
Follow these step by step instructions for best results. The guided pictures can help with texture and look.
- In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.
2. Cook and cool quinoa. Add chopped vegetables and cooled quinoa to a large mixing bowl.
3. Mix until the ingredients are well mixed. Pour on the dressing and mix again.
4. Serve chilled as a side dish, main meal, or put in individual containers for meal prep.
Hint: Make sure the quinoa is cooled after cooking it. Warm or even hot quinoa will wilt the vegetables and melt the feta cheese making it not last as long.
Substitutions and Variations
Mix up the recipe and try some new flavors with these variations. Add in a new protein or some extra greens. You can even make it greek style.
- Kalamata Olives - add ½ cup of diced kalamata olives, or green olives for an extra flavor burst. You can also add in black olives, though they are more mild in taste.
- Spinach- for more color and flavor, add 1 cup of diced spinach leaves.
- Chicken- Grilled or canned chicken can add a tasty protein. Top the salad with it, or mix it in.
- Avocado- Top with avocado for extra flavor and protein.
How To Serve
What we love most about this salad is that it can be either a stand-alone main dish or a side dish. I've made it for meal prep and have enjoyed it for several days as my main entree for lunch. I've also made it as a side for a family picnic. It paired great with the grilled chicken and potato salad that was also there.
Learn From Us
When I first found this recipe I made it with the bulgar. It was really good but it isn't something I keep on hand and so I didn't make the recipe often. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a pantry staple because you can add it to some may different recipes. I started making this Jennifer Aniston Salad with quinoa and now my family requests it all the time!
Storing Jennifer Aniston Salad
Store mixed Jennifer Aniston Salad in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
This recipe does not freeze well. The textures of the vegetables will change once frozen.
The original recipe calls for a mild dressing. We added the red wine to add more flavor but it may still need additional salt and pepper. Or add dijon mustard for a stronger taste.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with Jennifer Aniston Salad:
Jennifer Aniston Salad
- 2 cups Quinoa cooked
- 1 cup Cucumber chopped
- 1 cup red onion chopped
- ½ cup feta
- ½ cup pistachios chopped
- ⅓ cup mint diced
- 1 ¾ cup chick peas
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cook according to package directions. Fluff and let cool completely.2 cups Quinoa
- While the quinoa cools, chop the cucumbers, onions, mint, and pistachios. Drain the chick peas.1 cup Cucumber, 1 cup red onion, ½ cup feta, ½ cup pistachios, ⅓ cup mint, 1 ¾ cup chick peas
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and garlic powder. Set aside. See photos above for a great visual.¼ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Once the quinoa is cooled add it to a large mixing bowl and add in the chopped vegetables, pistachios and chick peas. Mix until evenly distributed. Pour the dressing over the top and mix together.
- Add salt and pepper according to taste preferences.salt and pepper to taste
- Make the quinoa the night before so it's nice and cool when you are ready to make this recipe.
- Add a protein like grilled chicken, or top with avocado.
- Orzo- this is a low carb salad but you can mix it up by substituting the quinoa with 2 cups of cooked and cooled orzo pasta. You can use any pasta noodle but we love how small orzo is.
- Couscous - though not a gluten free option, another base you can use for this salad is couscous instead of quinoa. It makes for a great base and can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio.
- Bulgur - the original recipe was made with bulgur. You can use bulgur instead of quinoa at a 1:1 ratio fora great tasting recipe.
- Lentil-Instead of chickpeas, or in addition to them, you can use 1 ¾ cup cooked lentils for a high protein substitute.
- Kale- try add 1 cup of diced kale leaves for extra flavor, texture, and vitamins. It add a nice color as well.
- Cilantro Lime Crema Sauce- Instead of the of the traditional dressing, try mixing in our Cilantro Lime Crema Sauce.
- Dijon Mustard- Want a stronger tasting dressing? Add in 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard instead of lemon juice to make a mustard vinaigrette.
- Tahini Dressing - instead of the lemon/red wine vinegar dressing that is written, you can use a tahini dressing. We have a this delicious lemon herb tahini that can be watered down for tasty dressing.