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A bowl of Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette is photographed from the top view from a close up distance

Southwest Quinoa Salad Recipe

This Gluten-Free Southwest Quinoa Salad with chili-lime vinaigrette is a protein-packed cold quinoa salad that can be made ahead for meal prep, lunch, or dinner.
Course Salad
Cuisine Southwestern
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 268kcal


For The Quinoa:

  • 1 cup uncooked white red, or tri-color quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt

For The Chili Lime Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup for a vegan salad

For The Salad:

  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10 oz cans (small can) of whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno deseeded and chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes rinsed and chopped
  • 4 stalks of scallions chopped
  • ¼ cup of red onion chopped
  • 1 ripened avocado cut into cubes
  • 1 cup cilantro chopped (optional)


  • To cook the quinoa*: Place quinoa in a saucepan and cover with water over medium-high heat. Add in a pinch of salt. Put the lid on, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 14-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
  • To make the chili-lime dressing: Place olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and honey in a small jar, put the lid on, and give it a vigorous shake.
  • To Make the Salad: Place black beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and red onion in a large salad bowl. Add in the cooked quinoa, cubed avocado, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle it with the dressing. Give it a gentle toss. 
  • Serve.


A Few Helpful Tips For The Best Quinoa Salad:
  • Need a different way of cooking quinoa? Try my foolproof recipes for Microwave Quinoa or Rice Cooker Quinoa.
  • Rinse the quinoa. Quinoa has a bitter outer layer called saponin that can be washed away by rinsing the quinoa under cool running water. Simply place in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse for 1-2 minutes. To save you a step, certain manufacturers sell pre-rinsed quinoa - just look for the note on the package
  • Add a bit of smokey flavor. When making the vinaigrette, substitute the chili powder for an equal amount of sweet smoked paprika instead.
  • Toss the ingredients and dressing with the quinoa while still warm. Warm quinoa soaks up the dressing much more efficiently and warms up the remaining ingredients so that they can soak up more of the dressing, too! Allow the mixed salad to cool for a few minutes and then add the finishing touch of the avocado and cilantro. Serve it warm, room temperature or chill it down in the fridge for a cold quinoa salad.
  • Make Ahead Instructions: I actually like to make it one day in advance, cover it and store it in the fridge overnight. The quinoa soaks up more of that delicious dressing while all the other ingredients have a better chance to blend together with an overnight rest.
  • To Store: As long as it is stored in an airtight container, this quinoa salad will last for up to 5 days in the fridge.


Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 309mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1165IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg