Mexican Quinoa Salad is made with tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and a lime dressing for a light, and refreshing Tex-Mex spin on Quinoa Salad.
Thanks to heartiness from the quinoa and beans, this simple 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.
Let me start by saying, that yes, this Quinoa Salad is not really "Mexican." But southwestern flavors are Mexican or Tex-Mex-Inspired.
It 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, and downright delicious.
In fact, this Quinoa Salad is SO delicious, that my family does not complain if I replace the customary side of chips and salsa with this Quinoa Salad for Taco Night. And for them to be willing to give up chips--well, that is saying something!
Bottom line, this Mexican-Inspired Quinoa is an easy, versatile dish that is everyone loves.
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. 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.
- 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. Anytime you cook rice or quinoa, be sure to fluff with a fork, not a spoon. To mix with a spoon will crush the grains and make it mushy.
- 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 quinoa salad 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 refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to really meld together.
One of the things I really love about this Southwest Quinoa Salad, is that it is so versatile. It is hearty enough to stand as a meatless entree, but also makes a delicious side dish for tacos or chicken enchildadas.
It also can be served safely at room temperature for up to 3 hours, making this dish great for pot-lucks and pinics, or to pack for a school or work lunch.
Leftover quinoa salad can be stores in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but can not be frozen due to the fresh tomatoes.
If you would like to prepare this dish in advance, I recommend preparing no more than 3 days before you intend to serve it.
More Tex-Mex Side Dishes
If you enjoyed this Black Bean Quinoa Salad, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
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
- Toss the cooked quinoa with the lime dressing and allow to cool at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the quinoa has cooled, mix in the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, feta, and beans and toss to evenly combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes for flavors to develop for best results.
This post was originally published in 2016 but has been updated in 2020 with new photos and a video.