Southwest Quinoa Salad
A healthy Southwest Quinoa Salad with a zesty chili lime vinaigrette. This cold quinoa salad is a favorite side dish! Or, make it ahead for meal prep lunches or dinners.
This southwest quinoa salad is one of our favorite side dishes to serve at a BBQ or potluck. Packed with flavor, this tasty salad has crunchy red bell pepper, sweet corn and black beans. The flavors of chili and lime make the perfect southwest dressing!
Quinoa is a great base for salads because it’s nutritious and it soaks up the flavors of the dressing and seasonings. Quinoa is gluten-free, rich in fiber and a great source of protein in vegetarian recipes.
While I love making this salad to serve at a party, I also like to make a batch of this quinoa salad on Sunday and then eat it for lunches during the week. You can divide it into individual meal prep containers for grab and go lunch portions.
Southwest Quinoa Salad Recipe Ingredients
- Olive Oil & Garlic: I sauté a little fresh garlic in olive oil to flavor the quinoa as it cooks.
- Quinoa: You can make this salad with white or red quinoa. All quinoa has a nutty, earthy flavor. This flavor is stronger in red quinoa and milder in white quinoa. Red quinoa also has a chewier, almost crunchy texture. For more about quinoa, see How to Cook Quinoa and Instant Pot Quinoa.
- Vegetable Broth: Cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water flavors the quinoa as it cooks. I recommend using low sodium vegetable broth to limit the amount of salt in the finished dish.
- Corn: I usually use canned corn for ease, but fresh boiled corn on the cob or grilled corn on the cob would be delicious. Just slice the kernels off the cob and add them to the salad.
- Black Beans: Full of protein and fiber, they are delicious in this salad.
- Red Bell Pepper: For color and crunch.
- Green Onions: Their mild onion flavor works perfectly here.
- Fresh Cilantro: Adds fresh flavor and goes well with the other salad ingredients, but if you don’t care for it you can leave it out.
- Chili-Lime Dressing: For the dressing you’ll need lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. It’s zesty with just a touch of spice.
How to Make Quinoa Salad
This is one of our favorite healthy salads because it is so easy to make! Here’s an overview of the recipe steps. Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
- First, rinse the quinoa. Quinoa has a bitter outer coating called saponin that can be easily removed by rinsing the quinoa under running water. Place your quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse for one minute.
- In a medium saucepan, sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil. Then add the quinoa to the pot along with the vegetable broth and cover the pot. Simmer the quinoa in the broth until all of the liquid has been absorbed, 12-16 minutes.
- While the quinoa cooks, prepare the salad dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa with the corn, black beans, chopped bell pepper, green onions and cilantro.
- Finally, pour over the dressing and stir gently until everything is well combined. You can serve the salad immediately or chill it in the refrigerator before serving.
- Appetizer: Southwest quinoa salad will be the hit of the party! Serve it with tortilla chips for scooping.
- Side Dish: This salad is perfect for serving alongside Grilled Chicken Thighs, Grilled Pork Chops, Crockpot Chicken Breast and more.
- Lunch: It’s a delicious, satisfying lunch that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.
Store quinoa salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. This salad is perfect for making ahead because the ingredients hold up well in the dressing and the flavors develop over time. If you’re preparing it for meal prep lunches, you can portion out individual servings and store in smaller containers.
More Quinoa Recipes
- Buddha Bowl
- Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Quinoa Lunch Bowls
- Spinach Salad with Quinoa
- Kale Quinoa Salad
- Mexican Quinoa
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Southwest Quinoa Salad
For the salad:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
- 1 3/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth, or water
- 1 cup canned corn, drained
- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
For the lime vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- guacamole or avocado, if desired
- Heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the quinoa and vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 12-16 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- While the quinoa cooks, prepare the lime vinaigrette. In a small bowl or jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk (or shake in a jar with a lid) until well combined.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and stir in the corn, black beans, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro. Add the dressing and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Serve salad warm or cold, with guacamole or sliced avocado if desired.
- Quinoa salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.