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Southwest Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad is loaded with healthy black beans and corn tossed in a vegan and gluten-free cumin-lime dressing for an easy Mexican side dish or main meal!

top down view of freshly made southwest quinoa salad in a serving bowl with spoon.

Get ready for a taste of delicious Tex-Mex fare with this amazing grain-free salad featuring quinoa, beans, and veggies!

Why We Love This Recipe!

Quick + Easy. This recipe requires minimal chopping and is ready in 30 minutes. Plus, you can easily make this a one-pot recipe by mixing everything in the pot the quinoa cooked!

Healthy. Loaded with protein-rich and fiber-filled beans, quinoa, and veggies, this southwest quinoa salad is clean eating and as healthy as they come! See the nutrition label below.

Great for now and later. Serve right away or divide it up into individual portions for meal prep. It travels and stores well, making it perfect for planning potlucks, picnics, or BBQs.

top down view of ingredients used to make southwest quinoa salad.

Ingredient Notes

  • Quinoa – is full of fiber and makes a great base for veggies. I’ve used a mix of tri-color and white quinoa. Use your favorite type or mix – white, tri-color, or red quinoa.
  • Beans – add healthy plant-based protein. I’ve used both black beans and chickpeas here, but feel free to use all black beans (or your favorite beans).
  • Corn – can be fresh or canned sweet corn.
  • Cherry tomatoes – are juicy and add a pop of color.
  • Red onion – also adds a pop of color and can be subbed for green onions.
  • Olives – add a nice briny flavor. Use regular black olives. To save prep time, use presliced olives.
  • Dressing – will consist of lime, cumin, chili powder, salt, and optional olive oil. It’s simple but delicious!
  • Cilantro – adds herbaceousness and pop of color. Leave it out if you’re not a fan, and feel free to add more if you are!
side by side photos of fresh made chili-lime dressing and cooked quinoa.

How To Make Southwest Quinoa Salad

Here is a quick overview, with photos!

Cook the quinoa. I’ve included stovetop instructions in the recipe card below, but you can also make it just as fast with this easy, hands-off Instant Pot Quinoa.

Make the dressing, by whisking together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and salt in a small bowl or jar.

top down view of bowl filled with ingredients used to make southwest quinoa salad.

Prep the beans and veggies while the quinoa is cooking. The prep time should go pretty fast since there isn’t much chopping involved!

Assemble the salad once quinoa is ready by tossing together the beans, corn, olives, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro with the dressing.

And now you’re ready to enjoy!

Top Tips

  • Add seeds. For extra texture and crunch, add a sprinkle of pepita’s (pumpkin seeds). Even sunflower seeds or hemp hearts would be great. This is a perfect place for heart-healthy seeds!
  • Add diced jalapeno for a little spicy heat. To make it extra spicy, add a few of the seeds.
  • Storage. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It’s also freezer-friendly but I find it’s best eaten with a few days of making.

side angle view of freshly made southwest quinoa salad in a serving bowl with spoon.

Ways To Serve Quinoa Salad

I love pairing this Southwest Quinoa Salad with sliced or diced avocado and tortilla chips for scooping. It’s my favorite combination!

You can make it a filling for burritos, tucking it with shredded lettuce, Refried Beans, and Pico de Gallo or Mango Salsa. Even tacos with a little Vegan Queso drizzled over top would be delicious!

Try using it as a stuffing for Quinoa Stuffed Peppers, replacing the one in the recipe. It would be a perfect stuffing for Stuffed Avocados too!

up close view of southwest quinoa salad.

Adjusting For Dietary Restrictions

Need to make adjustments to the recipe for dietary reasons? Here are few tips for making an easy transition.

  • Oil-free + Low Fat: Skip the oil in the dressing for a virtually low-fat and oil-free recipe.
  • Nightshade-free: Omit the tomatoes and chili powder. You may want to sub with diced zucchini or radishes.

More Easy Quinoa Recipes!

top down view of southwest quinoa salad in a bowl with items surrounding.

If you try this quinoa salad recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.


Southwest Quinoa Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 12 reviews

Mexican-style Southwest Quinoa Salad is loaded with healthy veggies and tossed in a vegan and gluten-free cumin-lime dressing for an easy picnic or potluck idea!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 – 6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: boil, mix
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Vegan
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Units Scale
  • 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz) sweet corn, drained
  • large handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion or green onions
  • 1 small can of diced black olives
  • 2 limes, juice of (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • avocado, diced or sliced (optional)


Quinoa: In a medium pot, add the water and quinoa, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes at a gentle boil. Turn off heat, remove the cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Alternatively, use this Instant Pot Quinoa recipe.

Quinoa dressing: In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Season to taste.

Assemble salad: In a large bowl or pot, the quinoa cooked in, toss together the quinoa, corn, beans, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro with the dressing. Season to taste, adding more lime juice and salt or spices to taste.

Serves 4 – 6

Store: Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Oil-free + Low Fat: Skip the oil in the dressing for a virtually low-fat and oil-free recipe.

Nightshade-free: Omit the tomatoes and chili powder. You may want to sub with diced zucchini or radishes.

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  1. This is the fourth recipe that I have tried from this site. I have not been disappointed with any of them. So yummy! I had some collard greens left from another recipe that I had tried, so I chopped some and added it in when I ate the salad. Also added a few peanuts for crunch. Excellent!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the recipes! Thanks for sharing, Terry!

  2. Made this for dinner and it was so good! I followed the recipe just as is, except for the dressing. I used tahini instead of oil. It turned out great! Love that there is lots of leftovers for lunch and dinner the next few days.

  3. Easy to make recipe and really delicious!!

  4. I found the sweetness and quantity of the corn overpowered the flavors. I would have used half as much. I also thought there was not enough dressing to adequately cover the salad. I doubled the lime juice and still found it bland.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Sorry you didn’t find it to your liking as written, Kathy. We LOVE corn, so it’s perfect for us. Thanks for sharing, and we hope you make it again, adjusting the ingredients to your liking!

  5. When my husband saw this was made with quinoa he was very skeptical… he ended up having seconds! We ate it with a scoop of your vegan cheese and a scoop of quinoa on bite size tortilla chips. Yum! Thanks for a great recipe!

  6. I loved it! I’m always looking for a good protein high vegan meal. Only thing I did differently is cook the quinoa in my rice cooker and I added red bell peppers. Will make again!

  7. This was great! Threw it into the instant pot, using 1.5 cups water and cooked 5 minutes. Added cilantro, citrus.and tahini, instead of oil, when done. Delicious and easy! Thank you.

  8. I doubled the sauce, added 2 more limes on top. It is truly good. I was a bit worried ‘cause the sauce was a bit more cumin-esque. I used kidney beans and lentils. It works, but lentils are a bit dull looking.

  9. Made this yesterday. My husband raved about this salad. Good on every level.. Will definitely be making again.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yay, so glad you both enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

  10. This recipe came to my inbox and I literally had a bag of quinoa in my hand, and said I’ll make it right now! This was my husband’s and my favorite quinoa dish, I made this and the ‘best quinoa dish’ on the Internet—This was easily the winner! I do use the quick-pickled red onions in place of all red onions nowadays, and we served with salted avocado. Next time I will probably go a little heavy handed on the dressing, but being that it was SO easy to make (and better tasting!!) than the aforementioned ‘best quinoa’ recipe I used to make, i will now be using this recipe as my go-to for a side dish to take to a friend’s house!

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