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.
This quinoa salad is delicious served as is, but it’s even better with chopped avocado or Guacamole on top. We also love it with a spoonful of Salsa or Pico de Gallo.
- 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
- Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Quinoa and Mushrooms
- 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.
This looks so yummy! I will have to make it soon!
You really should- we loved it! If you do try it, let me know how you like it.
I made it for dinner tonight and loved it! I added chicken to it to make it more kid-friendly, and served it burrito-style in a tortilla. My kids loved the guacamole too! It will be great to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
I’m so glad you liked it!
I should add that originally we were going to order pizza tonight but then you posted this recipe and it seemed easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. And it was so much healthier than pizza!
Yum! This looks so good! I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate quinoa! Thanks!!
I know – I’m trying to add more quinoa to our meals too. I’m glad I can help with a new possibility!
I love finding new quinoa dishes.This was so good and really flavorful, thank!! I
This is SO good! Next time that I make this, I am going to add a jalapeno and chopped tomato. My farm-boy husband thought it was good, too!
I also used the southwestern corn and kidney beans (out of black beans). I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Your modifications sound delicious!
I really like this recipe. I tried it yesterday to have with dinner. I’m trying to implement more nutrient dense foods into my diet. I figured I needed to find a good quinoa dish, and I think this is it. It would be delicious on its own, but it’s also good used as a good base, in place of rice. I made everyone else, “fajita quesadillas” which is just onions, peppers, and chicken cooked with my homemade taco seasoning, in a tortilla with cheese. instead of having mine in a tortilla, I paired it with this quinoa salad, and added a little salsa and guacamole on top. I think that combination of flavors was absolutely perfect. This is definitely a keeper recipe for me. I know this is an older recipe, but I just want to say thank you for sharing it. It’s delicious and simple.
Hi Hannah, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! Your dinner sounds absolutely delicious!!
Easy, quick and delicious recipe ! Thank you for sharing. I added a few slices of pickled jalapenos, was great. Love from France 😉
Yum! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe!
I just made it and it’s delicious! I will definitely make it again. I like someone’s suggestion of chicken with it. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
I’m glad you enjoyed this! I agree, adding chicken is a great idea to make it a more substantial meal.
Just made this and I thought I blew it! Accidentally overcooked garlic in the olive oil and thought about starting over but didn’t have the time. It ended up turning out absolutely delicious!! I’m so happy as I’ve wanted to start incorporating more quinoa into our meal rotation. We will definitely make this again and again. I ate it warm but plan to eat leftovers cold tomorrow. Already looking forward to it! Thanks for the great recipe 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed this! The leftovers are great for lunches or a dinner side dish. 🙂
I made this today. My 14 year old daughter loved it! This will definitely be something I will make often.
I’m so glad! Isn’t it the best when the kids like a new recipe? 🙂
Is this good for Keto ?
This salad is fairly high in carbohydrates so it is not keto.
Perhaps you could substitute vegetable rice, as in cauliflower rice, or broccoli rice. Perhaps that would lower the carbs enough, to enjoy it occasionally. Just thinking.
This is a staple around my house and one of my son’s favorite meals. Thank you!
I’m so happy to hear that!
OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO EXCITED FOR LUNCH THIS WEEK. I decided to meal prep this for lunch this week and it turned out SO GOOD! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!!!
Oh my gosh! This was an absolute hit at a barbecue last night. Everyone loved it. It was so easy to make and looked like we were eating a rainbow! Definitely going into the rotation! Thank you!
This is the best quinoa salad that I have tried. The lime vinaigrette is delicious and you can vary the veggies to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. We brought it camping and it went great with burgers and salmon. I highly recommend!
This salad is much better than I hoped! Wow. My husband was even impressed. I have Gestational Diabetes and this recipe came up as a suggestion when I was looking for suitable ideas for my evolved diet. I’m so grateful because this is something I can portion out and eat for snacks OR a meal.
I chilled the quinoa in the freezer while I chopped that ingredients. I didn’t want the fresh veggies to wither. It worked great!
The dressing is what makes this dish a star. Bravo!
This is good but do yourself a favor and add a little Tabasco to the dressing.
There’s no vinegar in the vinaigrette?
No vinegar, lime juice provides the acidity. So I guess it’s not technically a vinaigrette, just a dressing. 🙂
I made this recipe for my family last night and it was a huge hit! I added shredded chicken to my husbands and he said that tasted great as well! Thanks!
This salad is DELICIOUS! I’ve made it several times now and it never ceases to amaze my taste buds! Leaves me feeling satisfied and healthy.
I’ve also made it for several friends who ALWAYS ask for the recipe to make it for themselves too.
Thank you for this!
This is delicious. I didn’t have all the ingredients for the dressing so I used Zesty Italian. My daughter suggested adding dried apricots or dried mango to make it tropical. I haven’t tried that yet.
This is a really yummy salad! We make it all the time! Thanks for sharing your recipe!
I made this salad to take to a potluck. I’m a vegetarian and am always looking for more ways to get healthy protein sources. Everyone including me loved this recipe. Thanks for posting.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Yum. Never sure how to make quinoa. This would be a good start to try out.
Great recipe with great ratio of dressing to ingredients! We made it last night. Had to leave out the honey because my daughter is vegan. We were out of agave syrup, but the dressing is still delicious without the added sweetness. We added some edamame and tofu (not very southwestern, but tasty). Thanks so much. We’ll be making this all summer long!
This is a delicious recipe! My culinary students made this in class when learning about rice and grains, as well as other nutritious options for grains. They couldn’t believe how good this dish was without any meat. (We also added chopped tomatoes). We decided to do this as bowls because not all of my students liked everything offered in the salad, so they were able to make it as they wanted. Most of my students wanted the recipe afterwards so they could go home and make it again for their families. Yummy!
The recipe was delicious, but since I was making it for just the two of us, I will only make a half recipe next time. Also, since it was a side dish 1/2 cup seemed plenty with our baked chicken. Did anyone else find 1.5 cups to be a very big serving? Or was that a typo in the nutrition at the end of the recipe?
Hi Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! 1.5 cups would be the serving size if you were eating this as a meal, rather than a side dish. 🙂
Everyone who has this wants the recipe. I’ve taken it to potlucks and fixed it for family. It is healthy, fresh, and incredibly easy to prepare. My only variation is chipotle powder instead for chili powder (always), and maple syrup for honey for a true vegan dish.
This is such a tasty, easy to make dish! I will be adding it to my “family & friends’ favorites” collection and I know it will be made often!!
This recipe is sooooo popular in my home! DELICIOUS!!
It’s my son’s favorite. Easy to make. Perfect for potluck as well.
Thank you for this great recipe!
This salad is so flavorful, bright, delicious, and crisp. I am in love with the dressing, it complements the salad perfectly. The aroma of everything combined is very tantalizing, the chili powder, cilantro, & lime give this dressing a addicting flavor profile. I made this for my meal prep dinner for Mon-Fri. & I am going to run it back again this coming weekend. I will only add in some chopped Kale for some splash of green. If I could give this a 10 star rating I definitely would. Thank you.