Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes

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.

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


  • 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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  • Dianne

    This recipe’ s ideal for dinner delicious and easy to make


  • Sabrina

    Made this so many times. I like to leave out the cheese and jalapeños but it’s great for packed lunch. It takes about a half hour to make once you get good at it


  • Lizzie

    I made this with heirloom tomatoes and loved it! Took it to work during the week and sliced up extra avocado. So easy to make and tasty. Thanks for a great recipe!


  • Nick Barnett

    Anybody know the nutritional content?

    • Rosemary

      I think you can go online and google the contents. Actually, if you find the recipe on Yummly, it will provide the nutrients for you. I haven’t looked for you but this is how you can find out.

  • Kate

    Hi there! Love this recipe! This will be my ump-teenth time making it. My boyfriend and I make these into tacos, add a little salsa and avocado on there and we have ourselves a good healthy dinner that we can stretch over a few nights. This time I’m going to try to swap out one tomato for a red pepper and adding an extra jalapeño to change it up a bit. Thanks for posting!


    • Elise Bauer

      I’m so glad you like it Kate! Love the idea of making them into tacos with salsa and avocado.

  • Trey

    switch the tomatoes for red peppers!!

  • Laura

    What kind of tomatoes do you recommend? Would grape tomatoes cut in half work?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Laura, grape tomatoes cut in half would work fine! You’ll need about 1 1/2 cups.

  • Maria

    What a tasty salad this was. Thanks for sharing it.


  • Cindy

    This salad is delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I soaked the jalapeño with the onion in the lime juice. And I used panela cheese. 2 ears of leftover corn on the cob. I could keep eating this all night! Definitely making it for the next potluck. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Christine

    Thanks for a delicious recipe! I made a double batch for a BBQ and it was well received. Leftovers are even better! I skipped the tomatoes (adding more lime juice to compensate for acid of tomatoes) and doubled the jalapeños. I used trader joes roasted corn. yum!!!


    • Elise Bauer

      Great Christine, I’m so glad you liked the recipe! Isn’t the Trader Joe’s roasted corn wonderful? So much flavor.

  • Amanda

    Delicious! I swapped the lime juice for lemon juice and it turned out great! Next time I would even add another Jalapeño pepper. Thanks for sharing! :)


  • Brian White

    This was delicious! A couple recommendations – use a little less water for the quinoa – 1.5cups instead of 2. I used fresh mozzarella pearls instead of queso fresco because they don’t crumble. The texture is different and the cheese offers a smooth contrast to the jalapeno. If you don’t like onion as much as I do, consider a sweet onion rather than a red. Also, the jalapeno could be subbed out for any pepper with milder heat, if desired.

  • Amy

    I just made this recipe and I cannot stop ‘taste testing’ it- lol! Can’t wait to serve it at my cookout this evening;) Thank you so much!

  • Sylvia

    This has become a summer staple for my recipe collection. I get fresh corn and other veggies from the farmers market and it always turns out fantastic, though I always omit the cheese. I have no idea why! Hah.

  • Lynn

    So this may be a silly question, but I can store the leftovers in the fridge right? I want to have it for lunch tomorrow at work. Thanks :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Elise Bauer

      Either way, whatever tastes better to you. I would serve it at room temp.

  • 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.

  • 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 Bauer

      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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

  • melissa

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

  • 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.

  • Kasia

    Costco has a great price for quinoa ….

  • Weiwen

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

  • Dan

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


  • 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.

  • Hannah

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • Emily

      Or Arugula

  • Sues

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

  • 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.

  • Tracey

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

  • Maria

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

  • 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!

  • hanna

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

  • Joann

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