Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes

Quinoa is quickly becoming one of my favorite foods. How about you? Grain-like, but not really a grain, quinoa has a wonderfully nutty flavor. It’s also happily very good for you, being high in protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Quinoa goes well with Southwestern flavors and especially well with cheese, in particular farmers cheese, a soft, mild cheese like queso fresco or fresh mozzarella.

This quinoa salad is a toss together of black beans, fresh garden tomatoes, corn, farmers cheese, jalapeños, red onions, cilantro, and lime. Yum! It will last for days chilled which makes it a great make-ahead salad for picnics and gatherings. Enjoy.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

If you are working with frozen corn, you can add more flavor by taking the frozen corn kernels and searing them directly on a hot pan, without defrosting first. Save time by prepping most of the ingredients while the quinoa is cooking.



  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted, OR 1 cup of fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled (approximately the amount of kernels from one ear of corn)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 5 ounces Queso fresco, Queso Panela, fresh Mozzarella or other mild farmer's cheese, cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, including tender stems, packed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil


1 Put the rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it cool more quickly.

2 While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. Soak the red onions in the lime juice and set aside. Soaking the onions in lime juice (or lemon juice or water) helps take the edge off of them. Mix the prepped black beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, and oil into a large bowl.

3 When the quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bean mixture. Add the red onion and the lime juice and add salt, more oil or lime juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

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Quinoa Salad with Beets, Chickpeas and Orange - from Gluten Free Goddess
Quinoa Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro - from Kalyn's Kitchen
Quinoa Salad with Mango and Avocado - from Two Peas and Their Pod


View Comments / Leave a Comment


  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This looks so fantastic!! Yum!

    • Hazzea

      Great recipe! One big recommendation: amp up the amount of tomatoes a ton. The deliciousness of the recipe is directly proportionate to the amount of tomatoes in it, I’ve found.

  2. Hilary Minor

    This sounds such a lovely recipe. I’m getting to like quinoa better now although it took me some time to get the hang of how to use it – it is quite an unusual grain. Thanks so much for all the super recipes that you post :-)

  3. Joann

    I will definitely try this recipe.Quinoa with dried cranberries and slivered almonds is also a nice blend:)

  4. hanna

    looks delish, but i’d go with red quinoa – much more flavor and better texture.

  5. Rachel

    I’ve just discovered quinoa too! It’s yummy. And versatile. And the kids like it. It’s like a triple win in this house.

  6. Paz

    I love quinoa salads! Mmm!

  7. Tina

    This looks great! I’m a big quinoa fan, after a friend turned me on this: quinoa, lots of chopped fresh parsley, chopped sundried tomatoes, frozen peas, and (optionally) chunks of feta cheese, with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to taste. I like a bunch of raw pumpkin seeds instead of the cheese.

    Thanks for all the great recipes; love this site!

  8. Maria

    I could eat this salad every day! Thanks for the link love! Happy Labor Day!

  9. Tracey

    This was a great side to some spiced-up chicken sausage I served with it. Yummers!

  10. anna

    oooooohhhh! will try, thank you. i’m addicted to the tri-colored quinoa from trader joe’s. so good! i always make it with chicken stock and then dried cherries, marcona almonds, onion, arugula and goat cheese…olive oil, lemon. so good but love to try your recipe.

  11. Minnie Pandit

    I am a nutritionist and this kind of a recipe
    which is highly beneficial for our people is a welcome and of great help. Thanx !

  12. Sues

    The perfect quinoa summer salad! I could eat this for every single one of my meals every day :)

  13. juliet

    this recipe looks great, but I don’t like cilantro. can you suggest a substitution? thanks!

    Just leave it out. If you want you can add a little chopped fresh parsley. ~Elise

  14. Lisa

    This is pretty much the same recipe I use for my filling for stuffed bell peppers. There’s so much you can do with quinoa.

  15. J.

    A similar version of this is a staple at our house. The only real difference is we typically use avocado and no cheese. It’s great and everyone likes it.

  16. Sheeijan

    Funny, I just discovered quinoa myself just a few weeks ago. Delicious, and what I read considered super healthy, but why must it be super expensive? One itty bitty box at my local grocery was nearly $5! Not even organic quinoa either. *sigh* So maybe I’ll make this next month…

  17. Theresa Nordquist

    Did you know that you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker? It simplifies the process, and still turns out marvelously. Another great salad is to use your Tabbouleh recipe with quinoa instead of bulgar wheat, but adding green and black olives, bell peppers, and cucumbers. You can also substitute sundried tomatoes for fresh, using the olive oil from the tomatoes, and then adding enough extra olive oil to make up the difference. Just another great use for quinoa!

    Great ideas, thank you! ~Elise

  18. Dave

    Since going gluten free I’ve been looking for more dishes that use alternate grains. This quinoa salad looks like a great one to add to my list. Thanks!

  19. robin hutchins

    Loved the quinoa salad with black beans… We aere having a big open house at our animal shelter and I am making a huge salad as my pot luck. I like the fact that it keeps well and has no mayo.

  20. Rita

    Added small thinly sliced carrot and eliminated the cheese so it’s now vegan. Really wonderful flavor with ripe garden tomatoes; I will make this often.

  21. Barbara

    I love quinoa! But… the first time I made it, it was gummy, overcooked, and mushy. SO… I have since learned…
    rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse!!!!
    At least three if not four times. Then drain thoroughly. And then, don’t add 2 cups of water… (too much) to 1 cup of quinoa… Add 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup quinoa.
    Boil water first. Then add your quinoa and cover. Turn down heat. Leave on the stove covered for approx. ten minutes. Then turn stove off and walk away (no peeking from the time you first cover it) for about ten minutes.
    Then uncover and stir. I don’t have the original times from instructions with me right now, but these should work. If it’s really different, I’ll post it later:) Happy Fluffy Quinoa!

  22. Donna L.

    This salad, topped with thin slices of grilled steak, made a lovely summer supper. I left out the jalapeno because of the kiddo, then gave my portion a squirt of sriracha. The whole family enjoyed this. Thank you!

  23. cane9man

    I recently made a very similar dish that I used as a relish for grilled chicken. Slight variations in my recipe; I used red quinoa, and I roasted my corn (on the cob) as well as roasting some green onions. Delicious.

  24. Hannah

    I made this salad this week and it was really delicious!

  25. Steffanie

    This is a great recipe. I am making it for the second time tomorrow for our tailgate party. We are playing the Houston Texans (NFL) so we decided to go with a tex-mex theme. I am making this salad as a healthy addition to our menu.
    I added a little more corn and black beans because I didn’t want to throw away the extras.

    This salad is a foundation for sooooo many other ideas.

  26. Kathy

    Thank you for this recipe. As an individual who has celiac disease, I’m always looking for tasty and healthy gluten free foods. I love quinoa and use it many ways. I can’t wait to try this and add it to my list of “approved” recipes!

  27. Dan

    Great recipe Elise. I served it in little romaine leaves. They were easy to eat, crispy and delicious.

  28. Patricia

    Been following your site for about six months and enjoy it tremendously. Learned to love quinoa but always looking for new recipes. Thanks for this one. Your site is beautifully done and enjoy your comments. Sincerely, Patricia

    Thank you Patricia, I’m so glad you are enjoying the site! ~Elise

  29. Weiwen

    I’ve also used quinoa to replace bulgur wheat in tabbouleh and kibbi.

  30. Kasia

    Costco has a great price for quinoa ….

  31. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator

    Love, love, love quinoa and this combo sounds wonderful. I just made a quinoa salad today with a tahini-based dressing and fresh veggies and the Hubs scarfed it down. It’s so high in protein yet tastes light at the same time.

  32. melissa

    I made this tonight. OMG so good! I could have eaten the whole recipe myself!

  33. Ashley s

    A friend brought this to us after we had our baby and it has become a family favorite. It’s so light and delicious. I could eat it everyday. We leave out the cheese and add diced chicken. Next time we are going to top with avocado. Thank you!!!

  34. Carolann

    I used red quinoa and it came out delicious. i also substituted queso fresco with ricotta insalata since the store didn’t have the fresco. i added lots more tomatoes, jalapeños and corn, too! My 17 year old son loved it, too!

  35. sandy

    I made this today, with a few variations. I used white onion because I didn’t have red, no tomatoes, and frozen cilantro instead of fresh. I don’t know how it was supposed to taste, but I am quite happy!

  36. gina @ skinnytaste

    Looks awesome, sharing this on my blog today!

  37. Joe

    This is a great recipe. All my co-workers loved it at our potluck. I choose it because it is a healthy alternative and “out-of-the-box” for most people at my work. I would love it if Nutritional Facts went along with it. It would help me promote a more healthy lifestyle choice.

    • Elise

      Hi Joe, I have neither the time nor the expertise to provide nutritional information on the recipes, but there are plenty of online tools available for you to do that on your own if you need that information.

  38. Jess

    Hi. If you make it ahead of time, do you serve it chilled, let it warm to room temperature or warm it? Thanks! It looks delish!

  39. Torrey Peacock

    Wonderful! Love this salad, such a great combination of flavors. Used fresh corn and fresh Mozzarella. Took quite a bit longer than 15 minutes, but well worth it – will make this one again.

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