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Quinoa Southwestern Salad

This zesty quinoa Southwestern salad brings together flavorful black beans, sweet corn, and fresh tomatoes tossed with fluffy quinoa and creamy avocado dressing.

Close-up Overhead image of Quinoa Southwestern Salad in a salad bowl tossed with black beans, tomatoes, and corn.

If you’re looking for a quick and filling meal to make for lunch this week, you’ve found it! This quinoa Southwestern salad is piled high with black beans, sweet corn kernels, and ripe tomatoes, and topped with zesty and creamy avocado dressing.

Why You’ll Love This Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • Satisfying. This quinoa salad is packed with tasty Tex-Mex flavor. It has creaminess from the black beans paired with crisp corn kernels and juicy tomatoes tossed with tender quinoa and zesty avocado dressing. 
  • Quick. You’ll have all the ingredients ready in the time it takes for the quinoa to boil.
  • Versatile. Serve this zesty salad as an easy lunch or side dish. Turning it into a full meal is as easy as adding your choice of protein!
Ingredients for quinoa Southwestern salad.

What Is Quinoa? 

While many people consider quinoa a whole grain, it’s an edible seed of the quinoa plant. Quinoa is a great source of plant protein and it’s easy to find in most major grocery stores. The seeds come in different colors such as white, black, or tri-colored, and you’ll often find it in the same aisle as the grains, rice, and beans.

Quinoa Salad Ingredients

  • Quinoa – You can use any variety you’d like. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions before you start.
  • Corn and Black Beans – Canned corn kernels and black beans work perfectly. Remember to drain and rinse them well before using.
  • Tomatoes – Dice up your choice of full-sized tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
  • Avocado – Scoop out the flesh from the peel and remove the pit. Ripe avocados will be blackish-green in color and feel soft to the touch (but not mushy).
  • Plain Yogurt – You can use regular or low-fat yogurt. Sour cream is also a good substitute.
  • Lemon Juice – Or lime juice, freshly squeezed.
  • Soy Sauce – I recommend low-sodium soy sauce. You can also use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Olive Oil – Avocado oil also works great here.
  • Salt and Pepper

How to Make a Quinoa Southwestern Salad

  1. Cook the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. Add the quinoa to the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the corn and black beans. Meanwhile, drain and then rinse the canned corn and black beans, and dice up your tomatoes.
  3. Make the dressing. Combine and blend the avocado dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. 
  4. Assemble the salad. Give the cooked quinoa a fluff with a fork and then transfer it to a serving dish. Layer on your corn, black beans, and tomatoes, then drizzle over the dressing (or serve it on the side).

Recipe Tips and Variations

  • Rinse the quinoa first. Most quinoa brands come already rinsed, but I recommend using a fine mesh sieve to rinse the grains under cold water either way. Rinsing helps the cooked quinoa taste less bitter.
  • You could use fresh corn and beans. In place of canned veggies, you can prepare dried black beans and shave fresh corn kernels off corn on the cob.
  • For a lighter dressing, swap out the cream avocado dressing with a vinaigrette, or try another easy homemade salad dressing.
  • If you’d like to adjust the dressing consistency, thin it out by adding water, about one tablespoon at a time. For a thicker consistency, simply add more yogurt.
  • Salad wraps. Dish up spoonfuls of quinoa salad over a bed of fresh leafy greens for a quinoa salad bowl or wrap.
  • Add cheese. Top this quinoa Southwestern salad with feta cheese, or crumble over Mexican cotija cheese or queso blanco.
  • More add-ons. Try adding on chickpeas, diced avocado, jalapeños, sliced bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or cooked crumbled bacon.
  • Grains. In place of quinoa, layer your salad ingredients over a bed of couscous, orzo pasta, or lentils.
Overhead image of Quinoa Southwestern Salad in a salad bowl topped with sliced avocados and slices of lime.

Ways to Serve Salad

An easy quinoa Southwestern salad makes a great light lunch on its own. Top your salad with chicken strips seasoned with taco seasoning, as I do in my Southwest chicken salad, or try adding zesty cilantro lime chicken or steak fajitas to make it a main meal. I also love this salad topped with spicy Mexican camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp) in the summertime. You could pair this quinoa salad as a side to more Southwestern favorites like baked tacos, homemade chicken enchiladas, or this baked salsa chicken.

Do You Eat Quinoa Salad Hot or Cold?

I usually give the quinoa some time to cool off before I assemble this Southwestern-style salad. However, you can enjoy the salad warm or cold depending on the season and your preference. It tastes amazing, warmed up with a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

Aerial view image of a large quinoa salad in a salad bowl tossed with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and slices of avocado.

How to Store Leftovers

Quinoa salads are great for meal prep. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to one week. I don’t recommend freezing the finished quinoa salad. However, cooked plain quinoa can be stored airtight and frozen for up to 3 months.

More Quinoa Recipes

Overhead image of Quinoa Southwestern Salad in a salad bowl topped with sliced avocados and slices of lime.

Quinoa Southwestern Salad

Katerina | Diethood
This easy quinoa Southwestern salad is a mix of nutritious quinoa, flavorful black beans, sweet corn, and fresh tomatoes. Drizzle over some homemade creamy avocado dressing and dig in!
No ratings yet
Servings : 4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


For The Salad
  • 2 cups water, or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
For The Creamy Avocado Dressing
  • ½ avocado, peeled and pit removed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh green onions, for garnish
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish
  • thinly sliced avocado, for garnish


  • Prepare the quinoa by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in 1 cup quinoa, stir, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover; cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetables and the dressing.
  • To make the dressing, combine avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste the dressing and adjust it to your liking.
  • Arrange the quinoa on a large plate and top it with black beans, corn, and tomatoes.
  • Toss the quinoa salad with the dressing, or serve the salad with the dressing on the side.
  • Optionally, you could garnish the salad with chopped green onions, cilantro, and sliced avocado before serving.


  • Rinse Quinoa: Before cooking, rinse quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer to remove the coating.
  • Cool Before Mixing: Let the quinoa cool for a bit before adding it to the salad. This prevents it from becoming mushy and allows it to absorb the dressing better.
  • Include Textures: Quinoa salad is versatile, so feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients and dressings. You can add chopped bell peppers, chickpeas, diced cucumbers, cubed chicken, etc. 
  • Serving: This salad can be served as a starter or a light lunch.
  • Make Ahead: Quinoa can be made ahead of time, making it perfect for meal prep.


Calories: 290 kcal | Carbohydrates: 33 g | Protein: 8 g | Fat: 14 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Cholesterol: 3 mg | Sodium: 111 mg | Potassium: 554 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 580 IU | Vitamin C: 12.4 mg | Calcium: 70 mg | Iron: 2.3 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Salads/Side Dishes
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: quinoa southwestern salad, southwest quinoa salad, southwestern salad recipe
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26 comments on “Quinoa Southwestern Salad”

  1. This is so good! Just made this as a last-minute lunch for today, and eating it right now! I didn’t have any red bell peppers, so I added tomatoes instead, and used frozen corn and canned black beans. I’m sure it’d taste even better fresh, but this is great for a quick meal! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Avatar photo
    She Rocks Fitness

    This looks awesome! I have all the ingredients and need to use up some avocados before they go bad. Can’t wait to try…thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Avatar photo
    Katja Williams

    I tried quinoa for the first time since my 14 year old son is now into his fitness and power foods. I added some fresh mint to the avo dressing and swapped the yogurt for fat free sour cream. This is now going to be a staple in my house d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s Thank you for broadening my pallet 🙂

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      That is so awesome!! I loooove the addition of mint! Such a great idea!! Thank you and I am SO happy to know that you enjoyed it! Enjoy the weekend!

  4. I just made this and it was a big hit, even the husband enjoyed it. I added diced avocado between the toms and the corn and I seasoned the blakbeans with cumin, chili powder, and garlic. I also used veggie broth to make the quinoa. We didn’t miss the “meat” at all, it was so flavorful. Thank you for sharing!

  5. What a meal! I love the salad, but I especially love that Creamy Avocado Dressing. It might just end up on the salad I have planned for tomorrow night.

  6. I love the avocado cream with this! I hope you had a great time at the conference! And believe me…I’m probably whiter than you this summer. It’s driving me nuts!

  7. Avatar photo

    I have no quinoa (the unfurled prophylactic thing really gets to me) however I do have barley and farro which ought to sub. Meanwhile, though, the avocado sounds really tasty and something I’ve never tried before.
    And my pale pasty skin? Well, let’s just say nah. Let’s not. I don’t know the public viewing this comment well enough to go there.

    Enjoy the conference, Kate!

  8. Avatar photo
    Sarah De Diego (Journeys of The Zoo)

    I have quinoa in my cupboard and y M0ther raves about it but I haven’t tried it yet. I et couscous almost every day so I’m not sure why that is.

    As for avocados, we eat that so Ill definitely try that recipe out.

    I am a new follower of yours via BlogLovin and would love it if you linked up to my weekly BlogLovin Hop ( Hope to see you every Thursday.

    Looking forward to connecting further.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    journeysofthezoo at hotmail dot com

  9. Gorgeous salad! If I were a normal, boring, salad – I’d be super-jealous.

    I’m pale as new snow too! It’s okay. 😀

  10. This looks so good! I’ve been wanting to make quinoa salad for a while now, and this might be the first one I try! I love how bright and summery it looks.
    Also the dressing sounds really good and different from most avocado dressings that I’ve tried.

  11. Avatar photo
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen

    Gorgeous healthy quinoa and bean salad, Kate! Love quinoa and it is nice knowing when you eat it that it is a complete protein. I need this after all the badness I’ve been eating of late, LOL! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Avatar photo
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    I love this colorful salad and it looks so healthy that I could eat the entire thing guilt-free, right? 😉

  13. Actually, black beans are a high protein food. 🙂
    This looks so good! I’m new to quinoa and am obsessed. Can’t get enough of it. (or black beans or corn or avocado for that matter hehe) Thanks! Can’t wait to try it. 😀

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Dang! I should have said “meat” instead 🙂 But you know what I mean. 🙂 I hope you have a chance to try it… I could not stop eating it.

  14. Looks awesome! I love all things quinoa…and avocado…..and black bean…..ok I might want to marry this salad

  15. Avatar photo
    Denise Browning@From Brazil To You

    I am laughing and laughing… I have finished one of my next posts yesterday which recipe is a quinoa salad (not a southwestern). Well, it really seems that good minds think alike. Your salad looks delish. The avocado sauce (instead of sliced avocados) was a creative idea. Have a great week, Kate!

  16. Avatar photo
    Emily @ Life on Food

    I would be eating this everyday too if it was available. I need to get more quinoa. I had so much for the longest time and then all of a sudden the pantry is empty.

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