Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes


Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, fresh tomatoes, jalapeños, farmers cheese, lime juice, and cilantro. Make this southwest quinoa salad for any occasion.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Quinoa is 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.

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While quinoa is indigenous to the Andes, not Mexico, it works beautifully with Mexican and Southwestern flavors, and especially well with cheese, in particular farmers cheese, a soft, mild cheese like queso fresco or fresh mozzarella.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is a quick toss together with canned black beans, fresh garden tomatoes, corn, farmers cheese, jalapeños, red onions, cilantro, and lime. (Want to use homemade beans? Make them ahead on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker.)

It will last for several days chilled which makes it a great make-ahead salad for picnics and gatherings. Enjoy!

Mexican 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 extra virgin olive oil


1 Cook the quinoa: 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 Soak onions in lime juice: 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.

3 Mix the prepped black beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapeños, cilantro, and oil into a large bowl.

4 Add quinoa and onions to bean mixture: 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 Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro - from Kalyn's Kitchen

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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60 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sue

    Had one cup of a very similar yummy salad at Whole Foods for $6.50, and that inspired me to look for a recipe that was easier on my budget. The only change I made was substituting red bell pepper for the tomato, and I added more cilantro. This recipe was so good and versatile. When I first tasted it, I left out the jalapeno and queso fresco, and it was great! Then I added the jalapeno (about 2 tablespoons) and queso fresco and it was even better. People who don’t like heat can omit the jalapeno.


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  2. Kris

    This is a staple in our house. I’ve been making it for many years. My favorite recipe with quinoa.


  3. Loni

    Made this several times and everyone loved it, even my brother who doesn’t like quinoa.


  4. Chris

    Awesome! I’m new to quinoa so I was a little nervous to make this as a side dish for my meat eaters and main course for my vegetarians. But I’m so glad I did! Not only did I like it but my whole family did too! (I omitted the jalapeños and it was still great.) Thanks so much for this recipe.


  5. Mia Barker

    I used a lot of corn but it was great! Just a little sweet but maybe I’ll just use extra jalepeno next time


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Mexican Quinoa SaladMexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes