Mexican Quinoa is a light and refreshing quinoa salad made with tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and a lime dressing for a flavorful refreshing, healthy Mexican salad.
Thanks to heartiness from the quinoa and beans, this simple Mexican Quinoa Salad is substantial enough to be served as a main course. But it is also delicious when served as a side for Vegetarian Fajitas, Easy Tacos, or Grilled Shrimp.
While I love to serve tacos and burritos with chips and salsa or guacamole, my entire family agrees, this Mexican Quinoa Salad makes a delicious accompaniment as well. And for them to be willing to give up chips--well that is saying something!
It is incredibly simple to make and is filled with smokey flavors from the cumin and paprika and bright acidity from the lime dressing and fresh tomatoes. It is perfectly balanced in flavor and nutrients.
This easy recipe is also a favorite go-to for a summer picnic, a pot-luck, or even a quick meatless meal. It makes a perfect option for a simple hearty lunch that is easy to transport or pack as well.
Bottom line, this Mexican Quinoa is an easy, versatile dish that is downright delicious.
Notes on Ingredients
- Quinoa: You can use any quinoa you like for this recipe. I used a mixed variety of quinoa, but red, white, or black quinoa all work perfectly well in this Mexican Quinoa Salad. Prepare the quinoa by cooking in vegetable broth or chicken stock and Mexican seasonings.
- Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans in this recipe. I like to use my instant pot black beans, but canned beans work as well. Just be sure to rinse and drain well.
- Cheese: Crumbled Queso Fresco or feta cheese can be used. To make this a Vegan Mexican Quinoa Salad, omit the feta cheese.
- Tomatoes: Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes are best in this Mexican Salad, but you can also use seeded Roma or vine-ripened diced tomatoes. In a pinch, you could also mix in 1 cup salsa into this Mexican Quinoa.
- Optional Additions: Corn and avocados are also a great addition to this Mexican Quinoa salad. You can add in up to 2 cups fresh corn kernels or defrosted frozen corn kernels. Add diced avocados right before serving so they don't turn brown.
- Cilantro: If you don't like cilantro, just omit it from the Mexican Quinoa salad. The lime juice and seasonings will still be enough flavor for this dish.
- Lime Dressing: To dress this quinoa salad, use a mixture of olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, and cumin. Simple, yet bright and savory.
How To Make Mexican Quinoa Salad
- The first step to making this salad is to prepare the quinoa. You can follow the directions to make on the stovetop in the recipe card, or use my recipe for Instant Pot Quinoa, which makes this salad super easy to throw together.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the Lime Dressing by whisking the ingredients together.
- Once the quinoa is finished cooking, fluff the dressing with a fork.
- Toss the quinoa with the lime dressing, to let the warm quinoa absorb the flavors of the dressing. At this point, it is best to refrigerate the Mexican quinoa for 30 minutes, so that when you add the fresh ingredients they don't immediately wilt.
- After the quinoa has cooled, add in the beans, tomatoes, onions, feta, and cilantro and toss.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. in the fridge and can easily be prepped with leftover quinoa or black beans.
More Mexican Side Dishes
- Mexican Grilled Corn
- Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
Mexican Quinoa Salad
- 2 limes zest and juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
For the Quinoa
- Bring 2 cups of stock to a boil with a dash of salt (omit the salt if not using low sodium broth). Add in quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan with lid, and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed water and is tender.
For the Lime Dressing
- Whisk together the zest and juice of 2 limes with the oil and seasonings.
For the Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Once quinoa has cooked add lime dressing and let cool completely. Then mix in the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, feta, and beans.
- Instead of preparing quinoa on the stove, use Instant Pot Quinoa to slightly speed up the process of making this dish.
- Omit the feta cheese for a dairy-free and vegan-friendly dish.
- Feel free to use pinto beans instead of black beans.
- Leftover Mexican Quinoa Salad can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.