The most delicious Mexican Quinoa Salad of all time. Healthy avocado, protein-rich black beans, a boatload of cilantro, and a little heat make this Mexican quinoa recipe more than a complete meal.
So let’s start this with “yes, I know quinoa isn’t Mexican”. I’m half Peruvian, believe me, I know where quinoa comes from.
I’m still going to call this Mexican Quinoa Salad because it’s prepared Mexican-style ;) For non-Mexican-style quinoa recipes check out this Instant Pot Quinoa Bowl or this Turmeric Quinoa Salad. If there is one ingredient that I use A LOT in my kitchen, it’s hands down quinoa. If you are new to this grain/seed dive into all the details on how to cook quinoa all the different ways.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Quinoa — I find quinoa to be the BEST grain/seed for this salad but literally any other grain works perfectly well of course. Farro, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, anything.
- Corn — I love fresh corn but canned or frozen works perfectly well, too of course. If you’re not a fan of corn simply replace by peas or omit it completely.
- Avocado — nothing beats the creaminess of avocado. By adding avocado we can omit oil when dressing the quinoa salad. If you’re leaving out avocado I recommend adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to the salad so it’s not too dry.
- Red onion — the color contrast of the purple-colored onion and the mildness of the onion is why it’s the best choice but scallions or white onion work well, too.
- Tomato — juicy tomatoes are super important. Make sure you use very ripe tomatoes on the vine. The more flavorful and juicy the better.
- Cilantro — this quinoa salad couldn’t possibly be called Mexican if it was without cilantro. However, I know some simply can’t stand cilantro. I recommend using parsley in this case as a replacement.
- Jalapeño — most jalapeños are fairly mild so if you want more heat in your salad use Serrano chilis instead. If you don’t want it spicy at all use just a little green bell pepper for crunch.
- Black beans — use either home-cooked black beans or canned. Both work perfectly.
- Seasoning — I keep it super simple with this salad and only add sea salt, pepper, and lime juice but of course the sky is the limit. Get creative and add any and all spices you like to this.
How to make Mexican Quinoa Salad
It’s super easy. Only 3 simple steps and you’re done.
1 >> Cook Quinoa & Corn
Stove: To cook the quinoa and corn you can either add 1 cup of quinoa and 1.5 cups water + sea salt and pepper and a cob of corn on a trivet into a pot. Bring to a boil and once boiling immediately cover and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer/steam for 12-15 minutes and you’re done!
Alternatively, you can use an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker for that. I prefer this method because it’s a more hands-off approach AND I prefer the texture of the quinoa this way.
Instant Pot: Add a cup of quinoa and a cup of water + sea salt and pepper and a cob of corn on a trivet to the Instant Pot. Seal, set the valve is in the sealing position, and set it to 1 minute on high pressure. Then let the pressure release naturally until the pin drops. In other words, walk away and don’t even think about the quinoa.
2 >> Chop All Ingredients
While quinoa and corn are cooking away you can take advantage of that time and chop all ingredients: red onion, tomato, cilantro, jalapeño…
…once the corn is cooked cut off all the kernels and lastly cube the avocado. Do this last so it doesn’t brown as quickly.
3 >> Season And Mix
Now all left to do for the best Mexican Quinoa Salad is assembly. Add fluffed quinoa, all the chopped things, and black beans to a bowl. Season everything with sea salt, pepper, and pleeeeenty of lime juice. Now mix and serve!
Frequently Asked Questions
You bet! It’s full of protein, complex carbohydrates, and a boatload of fruits and vegetables. You can serve it as a side dish or as a well-balanced main dish.
Because of the avocado, this Mexican quinoa salad only lasts 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container. However, if you leave out the avocado and add each day you plan on eating the salad you can store it for up to 4 days.
If you want to eat this salad as a side dish I recommend serving it with anything you cook on the grill OR with baked chicken breasts.
Mexican Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1-1.5 cups water
- 1 cob corn - or 1/2 cup cooked kernels
- 1/4 red onion
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 avocado - (ripe but firm)
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 jalapeño
- 2 limes
- Add quiona, water, and sea salt to the Instant Pot. Place the trivet inside and place the cob of corn on top. Seal and set to 1 minutes on high pressure. Wait for full natural pressure release. For stove-top instructions see above in blog post.
- In the meantime, finely chop red onion, dice tomato, chop cilantro, deseed and finely chop jalapeño, and set everything aside.
- Cut off kernels of cooked cob of corn and set aside.
- Cut avocado in half, pit and peel, and then dice. Do this last right before assembling the salad to keep fresh longer.
- Assemble the salad by fluffing the quinoa and adding to a large salad bowl, then add chopped vegetables and fruits as well as black beans. Season with sea salt, pepper, and lime juice, then mix and serve.