This colorful Southwest Quinoa Salad is packed with flavor and serves perfectly as either a side or a meal by itself. Quinoa Southwestern Salad is made with quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, orange bell pepper, green onion, avocado, and a tangy but sweet Southwestern dressing. This cold salad serves well on warm days or as a delightful addition to any barbecue cook out. It’s both filling, healthy, and so delicious!
Why We Love This Recipe
- Great flavors. Tangy, spicy, sweet, and refreshing would best describe the flavor composition of this Quinoa Southwestern Salad. The quinoa, corn, black beans and tortilla chips also add a warm earthy flavor to this dish. You’ll find guests and friends drawn to this salad with spoons ready and second helpings requested!
- So easy to make! It almost feels like cheating when you find a great recipe with so much flavor requiring so little preparation. Cooking quinoa takes only 20 minutes which makes it one of my favorite ingredients to include in a variety of recipes. In this salad we used canned corn and black beans which also cut down on preparation time. For the dressing, all ingredients go into a blender. This truly is one of the easiest salads to make!
- Healthy. This recipe is loaded with healthy protein. Black beans are a great source of protein providing many health benefits such as blood sugar regulation and they’re rich in antioxidants. Quinoa is also one of the best proteins because it includes all nine essential amino acids which is why experts consider quinoa a complete protein. (1)(2)(3)
How to Make Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Cook quinoa. Refer to the instructions on your package of quinoa for accurate cooking instructions. However, included in the next section are some general guidelines for making perfect quinoa.
- Combine all salad ingredients. Add quinoa, corn, black beans, orange bell pepper, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, and avocado into a large mixing bowl and gently toss to combine.
- Prepare dressing. Add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add dressing. Drizzle dressing over the top of the salad ingredients and toss once more to combine.
- Garnish. Sprinkle tortilla chips and extra cilantro on top of the salad before serving.
How to Make Quinoa
- Measure quinoa and water. The best ratio of quinoa to water is 1 to 2: 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.
- Rinse quinoa. Most quinoa sold in stores is already rinsed. However, I like to give it a quick rinse anyways. Place quinoa in a mesh strainer and run cold water over it for roughly a minute.
- Cook quinoa. Pour quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt into a pot and stir with a spoon. Place a lid over the top of the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes until water has evaporated.
- Let cool. Remove the pot from heat and let cool for roughly 10 minutes.
When cooked correctly, quinoa should be fluffy and will break apart easily when stirred with a spoon.
If you want to use your Instant Pot to cook quinoa, check out my Instant Pot Quinoa recipe.
What Type of Quinoa Should be Used?
For this Southwest Quinoa Salad recipe I used tri-color quinoa which is a combination of white, black, and red quinoa. However, you can use any type of quinoa you like. There are slight variations between them however. Red quinoa has a stronger flavor while white quinoa is more mild. I personally like the way tri-color looks in this salad but it’s nothing to be overly mindful of, any quinoa will do.
Tips and Variations
- Cook quinoa using an instant pot. Simply place 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water into an instant pot and cook for 1 minute on high and then pressure release for 10 minutes.
- When tossing salad, do so gently to avoid bruising or mashing the avocados.
- For added spice and a nice smoky flavor, add a half teaspoon of adobo sauce to the Southwestern dressing.
- Add some greens by tossing in either lettuce or kale.
- Use salad as a great taco filling. Stuff your favorite taco shells with this quinoa salad and you’ve got a great vegan taco!
- Use guacamole instead of sliced avocado.
- For added protein and crunch, include some sunflower seeds or pepitas.
- Add your favorite salsa as a garnish.
While Southwest Quinoa is perfect for meal prep and stores well in the refrigerator for up to 7 days in an airtight container, I have just a few suggestions.
- Store the dressing separately. It’s best not to toss this salad with the dressing if you’re planning on storing large quantities for consumption throughout the week. If stored with dressing, the salad tends to become soggy.
- Don’t add avocado, tortilla chips, or cilantro to the salad before storing. Moisture from the salad will make tortilla chips and cilantro soggy, and avocado will begin to brown and lose it’s flavor.
- It’s best to store the quinoa, corn, black beans, bell pepper, and tomatoes together and then (when you’re ready to eat the salad) add fresh avocado, cilantro, chips, and dressing.
More Healthy Vegan Salad Recipes
If you enjoyed our Quinoa Southwestern Salad, here are some other great salad recipes you’ll love!
- Shirazi Salad
- Taco Salad
- Avocado Tomato Salad
- Vegan Potato Salad
- Mediterranean Salad
- Greek Quinoa Salad
- Strawberry Arugula Salad
- Cucumber Radish Salad
- Greek Potato Salad
- Vegan Ceviche
- Mango Avocado Salad
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Mixed Berry Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad
- 2 Cups quinoa, cooked (1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water)
- 1 Cup black beans, rinsed
- 1 (14 ounce) can of corn, drained
- 1 Small orange bell pepper, cored, seeds removed, and diced
- 4 Green onions, sliced thin
- 1/4 Cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 Cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 Avocado for topping
- 1/2 Cup tortilla chips, broken in small pieces
For Southwest Dressing
- 1/4 Cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Teaspoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 Teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, set aside to let cool.
- Combine quinoa, corn, black beans, orange bell pepper, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, and avocado into a large bowl; toss to combine.
- Add dressing and toss.
- Garnish with tortilla chips and extra cilantro.
For Southwest Dressing
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 311Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 7g
The Vegan Plate attempts to provide accurate information. However, this nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. The nutritional information provided comes from online sources and calculations.