by Olena

Southwest Quinoa Salad

by Olena

5 from 8 reviews

Superfood Southwest Quinoa Salad that is perfect for dinner, meal prep, lunch, cookout side. It is healthy, bright and tasty. Make ahead as Southwest quinoa salad tastes even better when cold.

Southwest Quinoa Salad closeup

Everyone will love this Southwest quinoa salad with a heat kick. It is packed with Mexican flavor and protein.

I absolutely love quinoa salads for so many reasons. One of them is that hearty quinoa soaks up the dressing so well. Which makes quinoa salad taste so-so-so good cold straight from the fridge.

Quinoa salad becomes the ultimate lunch food. Don’t you agree?

Southwest Quinoa Salad in a bowl with a spoon


To make Southwest quinoa salad I used:

  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Bell pepper
  • Corn
  • Onion, jalapeno, cilantro
  • Spices
  • Olive oil and lime juice

To be honest, you can also add diced mango, tomato, avocado (if making ahead add right before serving) and finely shredded kale.

quinoa, black beans, corn, cilantro, pepper, lime, spices, oil

What Quinoa Is the Best?

There are 3 main kinds of quinoa you can find in North American supermarkets: white, red and tri-colour.

For quinoa salad, I prefer tri-colour quinoa. It has softness of white quinoa and heartiness of red quinoa. But BIG “but” – you can use any.

Best quinoa is well cooked quinoa – fluffy, not mushy, al dente. I do not follow package instructions for cooking quinoa. I use less water. Or cook perfect quinoa in Instant Pot.

How to Make Southwest Quinoa Salad

Cook quinoa. More often than not I make quinoa salads with leftover quinoa from fridge or freezer.

While quinoa is cooking, chop vegetables and herbs.

We will not be making separate dressing (vinaigrette) because I simply do not see the point. I add lime juice, olive oil and spices straight to the bowl with chopped veggies.

Add fluffed with a fork and a bit cooled down cooked quinoa. Stir well. Good thing quinoa salad is not a delicate matter so you can stir for a while.

Southwest Quinoa Salad chopped ingredients in a bowl

What to Serve Southwest Quinoa Salad With?

I absolutely recommend to refrigerate Southwest quinoa salad (any quinoa salad) for at least 30 minutes. It tastes best cold and all the flavors have a chance “to marry” each other.

Southwest Quinoa Salad served with chicken on a plate

How Long Does It Last?

Quinoa salad is like wine – gets better with time. I usually cover the bowl with salad with plastic wrap or beeswax wraps and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

If you get tired of it – do what I did. I sauteed ground beef with onion, a bit of salt and pepper. And then mixed with this Southwest quinoa salad. Shut the front door! Was so-so good!

I would not freeze leftovers because of all the veggies.


More Quinoa Salad Recipes


Southwest Quinoa Salad

5 from 8 reviews

Superfood Southwest Quinoa Salad that is perfect for dinner, meal prep, lunch, cookout side. It is healthy, bright and tasty. Make ahead as Southwest quinoa salad tastes even better when cold.

  • Author: Olena of
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 sides 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Cook + Chop
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • 1 cup dry (2.53 cups cooked) quinoa
  • 14 oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup corn, cooked or thawed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 large limes, juice of
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/23/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Cook quinoa as per package instructions or… Stovetop: I personally like to cook quinoa with a ratio of 1 cup dry quinoa to 1.5 cups water. Unlike most packages that state 1:2 ratio. Bring to a boil, cook on low for 12 minutes, let stand for 5 minutes and fluff. This way quinoa comes out less mushy. Instant Pot: I’m obsessed with Instant Pot quinoa. It takes 30 seconds of prep and I walk away. Quinoa comes out fluffy and each grain separate after 9 minutes.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, chop the veggies.
  3. In a large salad bowl, add black beans, bell peppers, corn, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add to the bowl.
  5. Stir gently to combine and serve cold or warm.

Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 4 days.

Make Ahead: Add all ingredients to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Stir right before serving.


White, red or tri-colour quinoa works. Red quinoa is more hearty and chewy.

I cook my own black beans from dried in Instant Pot. They contain no salt. So if you use low sodium or regular canned black beans, add salt to taste.

You can also add diced mango, tomato, avocado (if making ahead add right before serving), finely shredded kale.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

16 comments on “Southwest Quinoa Salad

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  1. This is the second recipe from you that I tried since yesterday. Just made this, and it is rock star! I can only find the whole grain quinoa, but I tried your water trick (reduce the water) and it came out perfectly. Next time, I will use one green bell pepper and one red pepper, mainly to add more beautiful color. When I think bell pepper, I only think green. We’re having this with BBQ ribs tonight, but I can see using it in a wrap.

    1. Fantastic! Glad you enjoyed another recipe, Carolyn. Yes, less water in quinoa is my favorite way to cook it. And I love green peppers!

  2. My family really enjoyed this recipe. It was the first time I cooked quinoa. I followed your suggestions on how to cook it and it came out great. My one year old also enjoyed chowing down on the quinoa. I like that you can adjust the flavors and spice factor very easily. Thanks!

  3. Wow the flavors in this is amazing! I used orange and red peppers and I was out of black beans so I use cannellini ,really love the salad , thank you again all recipes I’ve tried are five stars and I’ve tried a lot of them from Olena

  4. It was my first time making anything with quinoa and I just have to say it’s amazing. I will definitely be making it again.

    Highly recommend ❤️

  5. Excellent recipe, as usual. Added some ground turkey cooked with onion, garlic, and cumin so it could be our main meal instead of a side. Topped with more lime, avocado, and tomatoes. Fantastic!

  6. I absolutely love this salad! I made very few changes – added mango and avocado and didn’t use the oil.
    My thanks for great lunches.

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