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Southwestern Quinoa Salad

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This naturally gluten free Southwestern Quinoa Salad uses the classic southwestern combination of black beans, corn and cilantro to make a delicious salad that is sure to be a hit at your next picnic or Pot Luck. It is also a nice change from a green salad and I love to take it to work for my lunch.

Quinoa is often referred to as a superfood and is perfect for a gluten free diet. A seed rather than a grain, quinoa is packed with protein and vitamins. It is available in red, black, white or golden colour and all varieties cook the same so can be used interchangeably.

Cooking Quinoa for Cold Salads

I see a variety of cooking directions for quinoa so use your own method if you have one. I cook it like I cook rice; bring it to a boil in water (or stock) then put the lid on, turn the heat down and simmer. Rice takes twenty minutes, quinoa takes ten. Recipes often advise you to let your quinoa rest for about five minutes with the lid on. I might do that while I am prepping other ingredients but I’m not too fussy about that. Sometimes I cook the quinoa a day in advance and put it directly into a plastic container with a lid and into the fridge.

Cook Once, Eat Twice for Southwestern Quinoa Salad

This is a big salad so I think to make it for a Pot Luck. I always portion some into a container for my lunch too so I at least get to enjoy it twice. I try to pack it up for your lunch right away to be sure and enjoy it fresh. If I have some leftover meat from my Lime Marinated Flank Steak I add that and it is an amazing lunch.

A Little Pantry Tip

There is no denying that fresh food tastes the best. But the reality is (in my world) that balancing many commitments and making homemade dinners often requires some skill. One of those skills is keeping your pantry, fridge and freezer stocked with items you need but not overstocked so that food goes bad.

In this recipe I use quinoa and canned black beans from the cupboard as well as corn from the freezer. I don’t always have fresh limes so I keep a bottle of (fake) lime juice in the fridge. And perhaps my most important secret ingredient is canned chipotle chiles. Using good cross contamination practices they will last a long time and I never let myself run out of them.

You can make this salad with fresh jalapeños and I have two ways to store them. If I have too many I simply freeze them whole. Another option is to buy sliced jalapeño in a jar or small tin. Once transferred to a jar they can be kept in the fridge for months.

Let me know in the comments below if you like this Southwestern Quinoa Salad and what you like to do with your leftovers.


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2½ tsp cumin
1 tsp minced jalapeño pepper (or 1/2 tsp chipotle chile puree)
1¼ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 – 19 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste


Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for a few minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and allow to cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Can be prepared a day in advance.
In a small bowl whisk together the oil, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin and jalapeño. Put quinoa in a large bowl and stir in the dressing.
Add the corn, red pepper, black beans and cilantro. Stir well. Season to taste with salt.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.


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