Mexican Quinoa Salad is a super healthy and flavorful quinoa recipe that’s easy to make. It’s a great for meal prep and ready in just 20 minutes!
Mexican Quinoa Salad is a kid-friendly salad filled with delicious toppings like tomatoes, corn, black beans, and cheddar cheese. It’s a dish that’s fun to eat and serve for any occasion.
I personally love having a quinoa salad in the fridge for the week. Some of my other quinoa salads include Red Quinoa Beet Salad which uses store-bought vacuum sealed beets. I also love simple and quick Easy Vegetable Quinoa Salad that incorporates the veggies and beans of your choice. For another easy and delicious side, don’t miss this 5-ingredient Pesto Pasta Salad with store-bought pesto sauce.
Why this recipe works!
What makes this Mexican Quinoa Salad so special is the combination of flavors and textures. Plus, the southwest spices from the seasoning blend gives the salad so much flavor.
Quinoa salads are great to have on hand for meal prep or get togethers. The quinoa serves as a neutral flavor base and works great adding whatever toppings and dressings you want.
This salad is also very forgiving. If you need to make a substitution or leave something out, you can without compromising the dish.
Mexican Quinoa Salad is a great dish to get kids eating quinoa too! They are going to love the flavors and textures here, combined with the cheddar cheese and corn.
Just a few ingredients are needed to make Mexican Quinoa Salad: quinoa, corn, tomatoes, black beans, green onions, cheddar cheese, olive oil, taco seasoning, and lime juice.
- Quinoa: this grain is a great base for any salad or side. If you don’t have quinoa, you could substitute brown rice, barley, or any grain you like.
- Black beans: other canned beans can be used here like pinto beans or garbanzo beans. Just be sure to drain and rinse the beans before using.
- Green onions: I like to use green onions in this dish because they are milder and more kid-friendly. However, you can substitute red onion.
- Cheddar cheese: the cheddar in this dish is another kid-friendly add in. You can substitute your favorite cheese like cotija, pepper jack, or even feta would work here.
Read on to see how easy it is to make this recipe!
How to Make Mexican Quinoa Salad
The quinoa salad comes together in minutes. You can dice the veggies while the quinoa cooks and then toss it all together once the quinoa cools. All in 20 minutes or less!
To start, you will need to cook the quinoa. To do this, simply combine one cup of dried quinoa with two cups of water in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 12-15 minutes.
Let the quinoa cool slightly before adding the remaining ingredients. I like to pop it in the fridge or spread it out in a bowl so that it cools quicker.
Place the cooked cooled quinoa is a large bowl. Add in the corn kernels, black beans, green onions, diced tomatoes, and cheddar cheese.
To the bowl add the olive oil, taco seasoning, lime juice, and kosher salt. Toss the salad together and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or taco seasoning if needed.
Mexican Quinoa Salad can be eaten immediately or refrigerated for later use. Keep it fresh covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
To make the best Mexican Quinoa Salad, follow these tips and tricks:
- Don’t overcook the quinoa. You need one part quinoa to two parts water. Only cook until al dente and let the quinoa steam before removing it from the pot.
- Cool the quinoa slightly before adding the remaining ingredients. If the quinoa is too warm, it could melt the cheese.
- No limes, no problem. I’ve also made this many times with lemon juice and had great results.
Quinoa is a blank slate and you can add whatever veggies and dressing you want to flavor it up. It’s excellent tossed with diced onion, celery, avocado, whatever veggies you have on hand. To dress it, add a drizzle of good olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, and some kosher salt.
Quinoa Salad can last up to a week in the refrigerator as long as it is stored in an airtight container. If you add things like avocado or a soft mozzarella, you’ll want to eat it within a day or two.
Mexican Quinoa Salad start with a bed of cooked and cooled quinoa. To it you can add typical Southwestern flavors such as black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, onions, cheese, avocado, or jalepenos. Garnish the salad with a Mexican seasoning blend, olive oil, and a squeeze of lime juice.
What to serve with Mexican Quinoa Salad
This recipe is great on it’s own or served with your favorite Mexican-inspired entree. Here are some of my favorite things to serve with it.
For more delicious and healthy make-ahead side dishes, check out my Farro Tabbouleh Salad (goes great with grilled chicken) or my Mediterranean-Style Curried Couscous. For another salad with black beans, try my Mango Black Bean Salad recipe!
Mexican Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 cup corn (fresh or canned)
- 15 ounce can black beans
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tomatoes, diced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (like McCormicks)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- To cook the quinoa, add the dried quinoa and two cups of water to a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and cook over a low simmer until the quinoa is cooked about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add cooled quinoa, corn, black beans, green onions, cheese, and tomatoes. Toss gently to combine. Add in olive oil, taco seasoning, salt, and lemon juice, and toss to combine. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- This dish can be served cold or at room temperature.
- You can use leftover quinoa or any grain here. You will need about three cups of cooked grain.
- Frozen corn, canned corned, or fresh all work great. Make sure the corn is cooked before adding the kernels to the salad.
- To make this salad kid-friendly I used mild green onion and cheddar cheese, but diced red onion and cotija cheese would be a great substitute.
- Taco seasoning is a great way to add flavor to this dish. If you don’t have it, you could substitute your flavor blend of southwest spices like cumin, paprika, chili powder, onion and garlic powder.