Kalyn's Kitchen

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Luckily this Southwestern Quinoa Salad (with black beans, red bell pepper, and cilantro) is loaded with healthful ingredients, because it was hard to stop eating it! Use more thinly sliced green onion if you’re not a cilantro fan. 

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Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans top photo

Lots of people are becoming fond of the South American seed product called quinoa (keen-wah). I knew quinoa had become mainstream when I noticed you could buy a giant bag of it at Costco, and although I resisted for a week or two, eventually I bought one of those huge bags and stored it in the freezer. I’ve made a lot of tasty things with my big bag of quinoa, but this Southwestern Quinoa Salad  is probably my favorite quinoa dish so far.

Besides the cumin-lime-chile flavors in the dressing, I loved this because the crunch of the red pepper, the softness of the beans, and the slight chewiness of the quinoa was such a nice combination of textures. The salad stayed good in the fridge for days, so it would be perfect to make on the weekend and take for lunch during the week. And if you haven’t tried quinoa yet, this may be the recipe that will turn you into a quinoa fan.

This lovely salad with quinoa is perfect for Meatless Monday, and since it’s one of the world’s healthiest foods, quinoa is perfect for anyone who’s a health-conscious eater.  My quinoa salad is adapted from Santa Fe Quinoa Salad at Food and Wine, but I switched out the ingredients a bit and added a lot more seasonings to the dressing.

What is Quinoa?

Many people think of quinoa as a grain, but it’s actually a seed and this healthy ingredient is loaded with fiber and high in protein. Read about health benefits and nutrition facts of quinoa to find out more about this healthy food.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • quinoa (rinsed if needed, check the package)
  • water
  • salt
  • red bell pepper
  • canned black beans
  • green onion
  • fresh cilantro (or use more green onion)
  • fresh-squeezed lime juice, I used my fresh-frozen lime juice
  • Spike Seasoning (affiliate link), or other all-purpose seasoning blend
  • ground cumin (affiliate link)
  • ground Ancho chile (affiliate link) (see notes)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans process shots collage

How to make the recipe:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Check the label to see if your quinoa has to be rinsed and rinse if needed.
  2. Then combine the quinoa and water with a little salt and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool while you prep other ingredients.
  4. Drain one can of black beans into a colander, rinse until no more foam appears, and let them drain until they are dry.
  5. Chop up a red bell pepper into small pieces (about the same size as the black beans.)
  6. Stir together the lime juice, Spike Seasoning (affiliate link), ground cumin (affiliate link), ground Ancho chile (affiliate link) or chili powder, and black pepper and then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.
  7. Thinly slice the green onions. Wash, dry, and chop the cilantro. (Oops, didn’t take a photo of that!)
  8. When the quinoa is fairly cool, stir together the quinoa, diced red pepper, black beans, and sliced green onions so they are well combined. Then stir in enough of the dressing so all the ingredients are moistened. (Save any extra dressing to add after the salad has been refrigerated.)
  9. Gently stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.

Make it a Meal:

This salad would make a lovely side dish for something like Quick and Easy Spicy Broiled Shrimp or Cuban Flank Steak.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro [KalynsKitchen.com]

More Tasty Ideas with Quinoa:

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Radishes, and Cucumbers from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Stuffed Tomatoes with Quinoa, Soft Tofu, Basil, and Shallots from White on Rice Couple
Quinoa Side Dish with Pine Nuts, Green Onions, and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Stuffed Peppers from Everyday Southwest
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Southwestern Quinoa Salad is a great meatless side dish that's loaded with healthful ingredients.


Salad Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa (rinsed if needed, check the package)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into small dice
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Ancho chile pepper (see notes)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Check the quinoa package to see if it needs to be rinsed (it often does) and rinse in a fine-mesh strainer if needed.
  2. Combine quinoa, water, and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let it cool while you prep other ingredients.
  4. Drain the beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water, until no more foam appears.
  5. Let beans drain until they are quite dry (or pat dry with paper towels if you want to speed it up.)
  6. Cut out the stem and remove seeds from the red bell pepper and cut into very small dice (about the size of the black beans.)
  7. Slice the green onions into thin slices and wash, dry, and chop the cilantro.
  8. When the quinoa is fairly cool, combine quinoa, black beans, diced red bell pepper, and sliced green onion in a bowl.
  9. Add enough dressing to moisten all the ingredients.  (You probably won’t need all the dressing, but save the extra to stir into any leftover salad that’s been in the fridge.)
  10. Gently stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.
  11. This keeps very well in the fridge for several days.
  12. The salad absorbs the dressing when it’s refrigerated, so it’s best with a little more dressing stirred in when you’re eating the leftover salad.


Just use regular chili powder if you don’t have Ancho chili.

This recipe adapted from Santa Fe Quinoa Salad at Food and Wine.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 727mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Even though quinoa is a seed and it’s a low-glycemic ingredient, this Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro would be limited to phase 2 or 3 for the South Beach Diet and is probably too high in carbs for traditional low-carb diet plans. But quinoa is gluten-free, vegan, low-fat, and high in protein, fiber, and nutrients.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This salad was first posted in 2012. It was last updated in 2021.

Pinterest image of Southwestern Quinoa Salad

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    76 Comments on “Southwestern Quinoa Salad”


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  4. I made this recipe last week for lunches and it was delicious! Except.. I followed the recipe for the dressing, with 2 T fresh lime juice and it was WAY too strong. I just end up dumping half of the dressing out and diluting the strong flavor with more olive oil. It turned out tasting great.

  5. To be honest, I was so excited to make this recipe until I tried the dressing by itself. I wasn't a fan. I decided to go ahead and add it to everything else anyway. I am so glad I did! The flavor combination works so well. I am excited for lunch this week! I'll definitely make this again.

  6. I just made this recipe and it is DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for sharing

  7. Thank you! Also I couldn't find Spike seasoning, what is a good substitute? Can I use Mrs. Dashs?

    • Spike is often sold by the health foods. I haven't used Mrs. Dash, but I think it would work. Any seasoning that's an all-purpose seasoning will be fine

  8. Hi, is it 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa or 3/4 cup cooked quinoa? Thanks!

  9. I don't calculate nutritional info since I don't use it, but if you look under FAQ above there's a link for Calorie Count where you can enter the recipe and it will calcualate it for you.

  10. Love this! Great lunch for the week. Do you have the nutritional info for this recipe?

  11. Marie, my pleasure. Glad you are enjoying it. I have made this many times myself!