Southwest Quinoa Salad (2024)

Filled with black beans, corn, avocado, and veggies, and tossed in a zesty chili lime dressing, this southwest quinoa salad is a quick and easy recipe that works well as a light main course, colorful side dish, or easy meal prep idea.

Southwest Quinoa Salad (1)

I don’t know about you, but I love hearty bean and grain salads. Not only do they keep for days in the fridge, but they are so versatile as they can be enjoyed hot or cold, for lunch or dinner, on their own, or as part of a larger meal.

Since quinoa is a high-protein grain, it’s a great base for this southwest quinoa salad recipe as it helps to boost the protein content of the dish and provides some healthy fats and fiber at the same time. Paired with veggies and the chili lime dressing, this easy quinoa salad recipe is the perfect addition to a picnic, BBQ, potluck, or family dinner, and works equally well as a make-ahead meal for healthy weekday lunches.

Southwest Quinoa Salad (2)

Why You’ll Love It

  • Quick and Easy to Make – Ready in 30, this southwest quinoa salad recipe is super quick to prepare.
  • Full of Flavor – The zesty chili lime dressing ensures this salad is full of flavor.
  • High in Fiber – The combination of quinoa, black beans, veggies, and avocado ensures this healthy quinoa salad has over 7 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Great for Meal Prep – This southwestern quinoa salad keeps well in the fridge for several days making it a great make-ahead meal.
Southwest Quinoa Salad (3)

Ingredients + Substitutions

  • Quinoa – To add some plant-based protein to the salad. You can use white quinoa, red quinoa, or tri-color quinoa blend.
  • Black Beans – To add some more plant-based protein and fiber to this southwestern quinoa salad. I used canned black beans, but you can cook dry black beans if preferred. If you don’t like black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas will also work.
  • Corn – The recipe calls for frozen corn, however, you can use cooked fresh corn or canned corn if needed.
  • Red Bell Pepper – To add some veggies and color to the salad. The recipe calls for a red bell pepper, however, yellow or orange bell peppers will also work.
  • Red Onion – To add more color and flavor. If you’re not a fan of red onions, green onions will also work well.
  • Avocado – To add some healthy fats and creaminess to the salad.
  • Cilantro – To add some freshness and brightness. If you don’t like cilantro, you can swap it for parsley or omit it completely.
  • Olive Oil – To make the dressing, avocado oil will also work well.
  • Lime Juice – To balance the dressing.
  • Garlic – To flavor the dressing.
  • Honey – To add a touch of sweetness to the dressing. If you don’t like honey, you can use maple syrup instead or omit it completely.
  • Spices – A mixture of ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper to season the dressing.

Dietary Adaptions

To Make it Gluten-Free: This recipe is gluten-free, no adaptations are needed.

To Make it Dairy-Free: This recipe is dairy-free, no adaptations are needed.

Southwest Quinoa Salad (4)
Southwest Quinoa Salad (5)

How to Make Southwestern Quinoa Salad

  1. Cook the quinoa. Add the uncooked quinoa to a pot of boiling water, season with a pinch of salt, and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Strain the cooked quinoa in a fine mesh colander and then run under cold water until cooled.
  2. Chop the veggies. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the bell pepper, red onion, and avocado, thaw the corn, and strain and rinse the black beans.
  3. Make the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, add the dressing ingredients: olive oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper, and whisk to combine.
  4. Mix the salad. In a large bowl, add the quinoa, black beans, corn, bell pepper, red onion, avocado, and cilantro, toss to combine, cover with dressing, and toss again until everything is well coated.
  5. Serve and enjoy. The southwest quinoa salad can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for several days.

You can find the detailed instructions in the recipe card below.

Southwest Quinoa Salad (6)
Southwest Quinoa Salad (7)

Red’s Nutrition Tip

Quinoa is a good source of plant-based protein; however, it is considered an incomplete protein source as it does not contain all essential amino acids in the appropriate ratios. Fortunately, pairing it with black beans creates a complete protein and increases the fiber content of the salad at the same time.

Southwest Quinoa Salad (8)

Variations and Tips for the Best Quinoa Salad

  • Cook the quinoa in broth. To add extra flavor to a quinoa salad, cook the quinoa in chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water. To ensure the salad is gluten-free, use certified gluten-free broth.
  • Season it well. Quinoa has a rather bland and neutral taste, so don’t skimp on the salt and pepper when seasoning the salad. You can add additional cumin, chili powder, and spices to this southwest quinoa salad if you want to make it extra tasty.
  • Make extra dressing. This zesty lime dressing is so tasty you’ll want to make extra. Plus, additional dressing can be used to brighten the salad when eating leftovers.
  • Add more fresh veggies. You can increase the vegetable content of this salad by adding extra bell pepper, red onion, and corn, or add additional fresh vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, or arugula.
  • Add shredded chicken. To increase the protein content of this southwest quinoa salad, add some leftover chicken to the mix.
  • Add the avocado when serving. If making this salad a day or several days ahead of time, don’t add the avocado until you are ready to serve. This will ensure your avocado remains green and creamy and doesn’t brown in the fridge.
  • Serve it warm. While this recipe is designed to be a cold quinoa salad, you can serve it warm too! Instead of cooling the quinoa after cooking, add it to the bowl warm, then sauté the bell peppers and onion, warm the beans, and grill the sweet corn before adding them to the bowl, then top everything with fresh cilantro, avocado, and the dressing and serve the salad warm.
  • Serve it with tortilla chips. While this is designed to be served as a salad, it works well as a chunky dip too! You can serve it with a big bowl of tortilla chips as a snack or appetizer.
Southwest Quinoa Salad (9)

Serving Suggestions

This southwest quinoa salad can be enjoyed on its own as a healthy vegan meal and is also a great addition to a BBQ, potluck, or party as it can easily feed a crowd. While it works well with anything off the grill, I think it pairs particularly well with a flavorful grilled chicken recipe such as:

  • Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
  • Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs
  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs
  • Honey Lime Chicken Skewers
Southwest Quinoa Salad (10)


To Refrigerate: Once dressed, this southwest quinoa salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste before serving.

To Meal Prep: If making this quinoa salad ahead of time, prepare the salad (without the avocado) and dressing separately and store them in airtight containers separately. When you are ready to eat, add the avocado and dressing to the salad.

More Easy Quinoa Salad Recipes:

  • Quinoa Chickpea Salad
  • Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl


Southwest Quinoa Salad (11)

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Author: Stephanie Kay

Filled with quinoa, veggies, black beans, corn, and avocado, and ready in less than 30 minutes, this Southwest quinoa salad is a quick and easy recipe that is equally nutritious as it is delicious.

  • Author: Stephanie Kay
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (12)Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (13)Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (14)Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (15)Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (16)Category: Salads
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (17)Method: Stovetop
  • Southwest Quinoa Salad (18)Cuisine: American

Print Recipe



Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Chili Lime Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add a generous pinch of salt and uncooked quinoa and cook for 15 minutes, or as per package directions, until tender. Once cooked, strain the warm quinoa in a fine mesh colander, rinse under cold water to cool, and shake the colander to remove as much excess water as possible.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the vegetables and prepare the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, add the olive oil, fresh lime juice, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper, whisk until well combined, and then set it aside.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooked and cooled, prepare the salad. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, red bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro, and toss to combine. Add the diced avocado and toss again.
  4. Pour the dressing over the cold quinoa salad and toss again to combine. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  5. The southwest quinoa salad can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


If making this salad ahead of time or for meal prep, prepare the salad (without the avocado) and dressing separately and store them in airtight containers separately. When you are ready to eat, add the avocado and dressing to the salad.


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 270 calories
  • Sugar: 5 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 32 grams
  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams
Southwest Quinoa Salad (2024)


How healthy is Costco quinoa salad? ›

Incredibly Nutritious: I have nicknamed my take on Costco's quinoa salad my superfood salad. It is truly bursting at the seam with nutrients! You have tons of fiber and plant based protein from the lentils and quinoa. Then extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the fresh veggies.

Is quinoa good for your gut? ›

Studies suggest quinoa may improve gut health by enhancing the diversity of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing the inflammatory symptoms of conditions like colitis. Acting as a prebiotic, quinoa supplies the fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, allowing them to thrive.

How to eat quinoa for weight loss? ›

To consume quinoa for weight loss, you can cook it into a sweet breakfast porridge with chia seeds, milk and fruit on top. Quinoa can also be popped like popcorn in a pan. Add some seasoning and enjoy it as a snack, or make your own granola or chiwda using popped quinoa.

How long can you keep quinoa salad in the fridge? ›

Make ahead: The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Is there any downside to quinoa? ›

Allergy to other foods used as grains: Quinoa may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to foods used as grains, such as buckwheat, wheat, and rice. If you have allergies to grains, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using quinoa.

Can I eat quinoa salad everyday? ›

Studies have reported that consumption of one serving of quinoa (about 40 g) meets an important part of daily recommendations (RDA) for essential nutrients and health-improving compounds.

What happens to your body when you eat quinoa everyday? ›

The fiber in quinoa can also help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa is rich in antioxidants, which can prevent damage to your heart and other organs. A diet high in antioxidants has been linked with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Does quinoa clean your colon? ›

Whole grains are rich in fiber and will help to cleanse the colon. Oats, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa are all great sources. Try to incorporate 3 – 5 servings per day into your meals. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and most leafy greens are fiber-dense and are always healthy choices.

Is quinoa inflammatory or anti-inflammatory? ›

Quinoa (kiːnwɑː)

With its mild nutty flavor, this edible seed packs a powerful nutrition punch, containing anywhere from 17-27 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per cup cooked. Quinoa is also considered to be a whole grain, gluten free and contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Does quinoa burn belly fat? ›

Quinoa: High in protein, quinoa keeps you full with its high levels of plant-based proteins. It decreases your appetite and promotes belly fat decrease.

Is quinoa a protein or carb? ›

Quinoa is considered a carbohydrate because it contains many carbs per serving. Although it contains some protein, the macronutrient distribution is closer to what you find in other grains and starches.

What is the best time to eat quinoa? ›

Quinoa can be consumed anytime – at breakfast, lunch or dinner. But it is best to eat healthy food like quinoa before going to bed. It induces sleep, because it relaxes the muscles, due to its high magnesium and protein content. “One can eat one-two cups of cooked quinoa in a day.

What happens if you dont rinse quinoa? ›

It wasn't a huge difference in texture, but definitely noticeable. Rinsing quinoa definitely starts to hydrate the seeds. Flavor – In terms of flavor, the unrinsed quinoa definitely had a nuttier, earthier flavor, but I didn't find it bitter at all. The rinsed quinoa was definitely milder and the flavors more muted.

What to pair with quinoa? ›

Quinoa's got the carbs covered, so you'll likely want to add some additional protein (eggs, lentils, beans, tofu, chicken), a fat (olive oil, nuts, butter, cheese), and, ideally, some kind of fruit or vegetable (broccoli, berries, squash, spinach).

Can you freeze a quinoa salad? ›

Yes! You can freeze the quinoa salad for up to six months.

What is the healthiest thing at Costco food court? ›

Navigating the Costco Food Court Menu
What to Order and Avoid at Costco
Most Nutritious OptionsLeast Nutritious Options
BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich (Hot Food)All-Beef Hot Dog (Hot Food)
Chicken Caesar Salad (Cold Food)Al Pastor Salad (Cold Food)
Latte Freeze (Drinks)Mocha Freeze (Drinks)
1 more row
May 20, 2024

What are the benefits of quinoa salad? ›

The fiber in quinoa can also help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa is rich in antioxidants, which can prevent damage to your heart and other organs. A diet high in antioxidants has been linked with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Is quinoa better for me than rice? ›

Quinoa is rich in both fiber and protein, contains a much higher amount of other nutrients, and has a similar fluffy texture to the rice. A cup of quinoa contains twice more protein and about 5 g more fiber than white rice. Quinoa contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice.

Is quinoa the healthiest carb? ›

Quinoa is considered a whole grain, which is better for you than refined grains like white flour. Quinoa has a glycemic index of 53, which is a measure of how quickly it will raise your blood sugar levels. That score puts quinoa in the middle range of “good” vs. “bad” carbs.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Allyn Kozey

Last Updated:

Views: 5471

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Allyn Kozey

Birthday: 1993-12-21

Address: Suite 454 40343 Larson Union, Port Melia, TX 16164

Phone: +2456904400762

Job: Investor Administrator

Hobby: Sketching, Puzzles, Pet, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Dowsing, Sports

Introduction: My name is Allyn Kozey, I am a outstanding, colorful, adventurous, encouraging, zealous, tender, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.