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Kalyn's Kitchen

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans

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 with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro 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.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans process shots collage

How to Make Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans:

(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. Then combine the quinoa and water with a little salt and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  2. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool while you prep other ingredients.
  3. Drain one can of black beans into a colander, rinse until no more foam appears, and let them drain until they are dry.
  4. Chop up a red bell pepper into small pieces (about the same size as the black beans.)
  5. 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.
  6. Thinly slice the green onions. Wash, dry, and chop the cilantro. (Oops, didn’t take a photo of that!)
  7. 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.)
  8. 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, Cucumbers, and Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette 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 with Parsley and Mint from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a new 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, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro

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

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans 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.

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    76 Comments on “Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans”

  1. Kalyn, this looks so healthful and I can't get over the beautiful colors. My husband just leaned over and asked me if I'd make that for him! He will anything and everything if it involves cilantro! 🙂

  2. I love the idea of adding jalapeno. So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I made this today for lunch. It was delicious! I didn't have Spike, so I added a little Mexican seasoning. My husband also added some sliced, pickled jalapeños to his.
    This is definately a keeper. Thanks for another delicious recipe.

  4. TW, my nephew Jake and I both thought the Spike added a lot to this dressing, so I hope you enjoy it! (And I've definitely over-purchased quinoa too, but I'm chipping away at it!)

  5. This looks absolutely great – I love quinoa, and have probably over purchased it, so I'm always looking for creative ways to cook with it. In fact, this post prompted me to go online and by Spike Seasoning, which you've talked about so many times. I'll finally be in the know!

  6. CJ, glad I have inspired you to cook some quinoa!

  7. I haven't made quinoa in a while but this looks great so I may just have to pull out the bag and get going. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Kelly, I do love the red and black quinoa as much as the plain kind. (But I have that big bag of plain to use up!)

  9. I love quinoa and have been enjoying it for years. This salad has so many great flavors in it — iI'd really enjoy it! Have you tried the red or black variety yet? Adds an interesting look to dishes.

  10. I'm happy so many people are liking the sound of this! Spike is a blend of many different spices, usually sold near the health foods or you can buy it at Amazon.com. If you can't find it, any kind of all-purpose seasoning blend that would taste good with these ingredients will work.

  11. Our local school district serves a salad somewhat like this that the students love. It's such a healthy salad, and it's nice that Costco sells it now. It's much more affordable than it's been in the past.

  12. Such a great, colorful dish. I'm thinking I'd sub tomatoes for the red bell pepper.

  13. This looks delicious, and I can hardly wait to try it. I love Quinoa and use it frequently. A nice way to use Quinoa is to combine equal parts red and white varieties. What would one recommend to replace Spike seasoning? I live in Canada, and although I think that I may have seen it, I'm not sure if I'll find it.

  14. What a gorgeous salad, Kalyn! Who can resist this one with its colorful, healthy goodness? Not I, for sure.


  15. Kalyn, I love how all the colors pop in this healthy quinoa salad.

  16. Quinoa is such a great grain (seed?) and I love that it's such a healthy source of protein for vegetarians (or anyone)! I didn't realize that costco carried it…I'll have to coerce my mother to get me a giant bag. This salad sounds so tasty! Definitely the perfect workweek lunch.

  17. You're welcome; glad you like it!

  18. Another winner! All my favorite flavors and ingredients – you really do put together the perfect dishes for me. Thanks, Kalyn.

  19. So glad you like it; this was definitely a hit at my house.

  20. I love this recipe! I cannot wait to try this. Beans and quinoa are a couple of my favorite things, but I have never put them together, nor thought of putting them together. So I am super excited about this! Plus the health benefits from the beans coupled with the health of the quinoa is a double winner. Thanks for sharing.