This picnic-worthy Mexican Quinoa Salad is simple to throw together and is ready in under an hour. Quinoa gets tossed in a vegan and gluten-free cilantro lime dressing and then loaded with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado. You can meal prep this side or main dish ahead of time for a quick and easy lunch or dinner recipe, too!
Healthy Mexican Quinoa Salad Recipe
Once the weather starts heating up, salads and smoothies consume the menu at my house.
And quinoa salads always make a frequent appearance.
Not only are recipes like this Mexican quinoa salad super quick and easy to throw together (especially when you make this Instant Pot Quinoa!)…
But they meal prep easily…
Can be served hot OR cold…
And always get rave reviews from friends and family.
This makes them the absolute PERFECT picnic or potluck dish for your summer festivities. Or, a meatless meal that is still filled with protein and so satisfying.
There are only a few simple and easy-to-find ingredients that you will need for this Mexican Quinoa Salad.
- Quinoa. Cooked quinoa is used as the base of this recipe. You can either make Instant Pot Quinoa or cook it on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.
- Corn. Either canned or frozen sweet corn will work for this recipe, or you can cook up some fresh corn kernels (here’s how to boil corn on the cob).
- Beans. Canned black beans are used and complement the other Mexican flavors nicely. However, feel free to incorporate whatever beans you have on hand, like pinto beans! Or make Instant Pot Black Beans yourself.
- Tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes are cut in half and then mixed into this salad. Other tomato varieties can be used but they do not tend to hold their shape as nicely.
- Onion. A red onion is added for a pop of color and pungency. You can also use white, yellow, or sweet onion instead.
- Avocado. This soft and creamy ingredient adds a great mouthfeel to this salad and is mixed in just at the end so it does not turn brown. Check out how to cut an avocado.
- Cilantro Lime Dressing. A homemade salad dressing seriously takes this recipe over the top! The only dressing ingredients you need are fresh cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, a spice blend, and a sweetener. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, feel free to choose another dressing. But try to stick close to the tangy lime vinaigrette for the best results.
How to Make How to Make a Mexican Quinoa Salad?
This easy quinoa salad recipe is so quick, easy, and simple to throw together.
Make the Dressing
There are 3 ways you can prepare homemade salad dressings:
- Whisk them together in a bowl: Everyone has a whisk and a bowl! The dressing will not emulsify quite like the other methods, though.
- High-speed blender, such as a Vitamix: A great method since it emulsifies and blends the ingredients together nicely.
- Mini Prep Food Processor: My preferred method for this cilantro lime dressing so you can control how finely you chop the cilantro pieces.
While you can always buy a store-bought cilantro lime dressing, I find making your own at home really delivers a great freshness to the salad.
Add the cilantro, lime, olive oil, a spice blend, and sweetener to the bowl and either whisk or pulse until combined.
Prep the Ingredients
Drain the black beans and corn in a colander or mesh strainer over the sink. You don’t want any extra liquid in the salad.
Cut the avocado into bite-sized pieces JUST before serving so it doesn’t brown.
Combine the Ingredients
Add the cooked, fluffy quinoa and the zesty cilantro lime dressing to a large bowl. Toss to completely coat the quinoa.
Stir in the black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onion until everything is completely mixed.
Let the salad chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Serve It Up
Remove the salad from the fridge and give it a good stir.
Add in the chopped avocado and cilantro. You can top it with shredded cheese or cotija cheese, sour cream, green onions, or salsa of your choice, as well.
How long does quinoa salad last in the fridge?
This Mexican Quinoa Salad stores wonderfully in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. For the best results, store it in an airtight container without the avocado and tomatoes, then add them in just before serving
Can you freeze quinoa salad?
You can freeze this quinoa salad without the avocado and additional cilantro for up to 2-3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge for a day or two before serving. Then give it a good stir with the cilantro and avocado.
Is quinoa salad healthy?
Yes! Quinoa is incredibly healthy with all nine essential amino acids your body needs. This salad adds in avocado, blacks beans, and tomatoes which all offer beneficial nutrients, as well.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Be a prepper. This salad is so simple to make a couple of days early; just hold off on the avocado until serving.
- Choose wisely. There are several different kinds of uncooked quinoa at grocery stores (like white quinoa, black quinoa, and tricolor quinoa), so choose a variety you like the taste of.
- Drain well. Be sure to remove as much liquid as possible from both the corn and the black beans.
- DIY. It’s quick, easy, and healthier to make your own dressing at home.
- Wait till the end. Don’t add the avocado until just before serving.
- Plus it up. Add some spice with chili powder, cayenne pepper, or jalapeño pepper, include some bell peppers for some extra crunch, or stir in some ground beef to make it a complete meal.
What to Serve with Quinoa Salad?
Mexican quinoa salad is a great side dish to any of these flavorful recipes.
More Quinoa Recipes
Quinoa is so versatile and is still SO good for you! Check out these healthy recipes next.
Enjoy this grain on its own with Instant Pot Quinoa.
Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado
This picnic-worthy Mexican Quinoa Salad gets tossed in a vegan and gluten-free cilantro lime dressing and then loaded with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado. You can meal prep this side or main dish ahead of time for a quick and easy lunch or dinner recipe, too!
- 4 cups quinoa cooked
- 1 cup corn drained
- 1 cup black beans rinsed and drained
- 16 oz. cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ¼ cup red onion finely diced
- 1 large avocado diced
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup cilantro divided
- 3 Tbsp. lime juice fresh
- 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. paprika
Place ¼ cup cilantro and remaining dressing ingredients in a high-speed blender, such as a Nutribullet, or a small mini-prep food processor and blend for 20-30 seconds, or until emulsified.
In a large bowl combine quinoa and dressing. Toss to completely coat the quinoa.
Mix in corn, beans, tomatoes, and red onion. Refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Top salad with diced avocado and remaining cilantro before serving. Enjoy!