Quinoa Black Bean Salad – I Heart Naptime

Quinoa black bean salad is loaded with fluffy quinoa, tender black beans, sweet corn and flavored with herbs and spices, and a squirt of lime to elevate each bite! Serve this fast and simple salad warm or chilled in a bowl or as a side!

quinoa black bean salad in bowl

Quinoa Salad Served Warm or Cold

One of the reasons I love putting together this quinoa black bean salad is that it’s simple, refreshing, and light but also super filling and highly nutritious. It’s one of those soul-soothing salads that makes you feel good about what you’re feeding yourself and your family!

I often use it as my go-to when I’m deciding on a recipe to bring to a BBQ. It reminds me so much of my southwest quinoa salad which is probably why I make either one of them when choosing side dishes that are always crowd-pleasers. 

Unlike the southwest salad, this one doesn’t arrive with a homemade dressing but instead is finished off with a squirt of lime. You can customize it with a homemade dressing if you want to!

Why You’ll Love this Quinoa Black Bean Salad

  • Healthy. This Quinoa black bean salad is loaded with protein, fiber, antioxidants, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The veggies, aromatics, fresh herbs, and spices all deliver flavor and nutrients. 
  • Naturally gluten-free. Also vegan/vegetarian, it’s refined sugar-free, dairy-free, and uses fresh wholesome ingredients.
  • Versatile. You can enjoy it warm or cold, as a salad, on top of a salad, or in a wrap. It’s a great way to eat complete protein if you’re looking for a meatless meal.
  • Meal prep. Quinoa black bean corn salad is the top for meal prepping! You can make as much or as small as you need and portion it out for lunches throughout the week.
quinoa black bean salad in black pot

Quinoa vs Rice

They are probably more similar than they are different, but the differences are important. Quinoa, despite its many uses as a replacement for grains, isn’t actually a grain at all, while rice is.

They’re both naturally gluten-free and high in fiber and protein. Where they differ, other than one being a grain and the other seed is that quinoa on its own is a complete protein, and rice, would need beans, for example, to form a complete protein.

Both white and brown rice has a slightly softer texture. Quinoa is a bit grittier, chewier, and has more of a bite to it. It’s also got a nutty element to it.


  • Olive oil – We use this neutral-tasting extra virgin olive oil to sauté the onions and garlic initially. 
  • Aromatics Chopped onion and minced garlic. Here’s where I share neat tips on how to mince garlic, not just for this recipe but for any recipe that requires it. 
  • Uncooked quinoa – Quinoa expands, just like rice does. Once you cognize how to cook quinoa you’ll commence using it all the time. It’s a commute from your everyday rice!
  • Water – Quinoa needs water to cook. It absorbs the liquid and becomes fluffy and slightly chewy. You can substitute the water for vegetable broth if preferred. It will add a bit more flavor.
  • Seasoning – Salt, ground black pepper, ground cumin. Cumin is a popular warm spice used in a lot of Tex Mex recipes.
  • Corn – I use frozen sweet corn because it’s fast and easily accessible, but sometimes I take it up a notch and use grilled corn. That delicious smoky char adds a modern layer!
  • Black beans – Drained and rinsed. 
  • Fresh cilantro and lime juice – The zesty, herbaceous terminate to this otherwise earthy robust salad. So good!
quinoa black bean salad in pot

 How to Make Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

You’ll end up craving this quinoa salad recipe over and over again. It’s a good thing it comes together in 45 minutes, and less if you’re using already cooked quinoa!

  1. Sauté aromatics. Start by heating the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion for about 4-5 minutes until tender, followed by the minced garlic. 
  2. Cook quinoa. Toss the quinoa into the same saucepan and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover it while it simmers. If this sounds similar to cooking rice, it is!
  3. Add corn and beans. Once the liquid has been absorbed, use a fork to fluff up the quinoa a bit, and loosen it up so it doesn’t stay clumped together. Then add in the corn and black beans. 
  4. Allow everything to sit. Cover the pot, and remove it from the heat. The residual heat will warm the corns and beans through, without them getting mushy.
  5. Mix everything. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, a small salt and pepper to taste, and give everything a mix. Do a small taste test and decide if you want a small extra salt or lime juice. 

Add A Dressing!

Mix 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of lime juice, and a pinch of ground cumin. Drizzle over top the salad and toss to combine. A creamy avocado lime dressing or cilantro lime dressing would also taste delicious on top!

Tasty Additions

To add more of a flavor punch and even more colors, consider adding any of the following:


Do I need to rinse quinoa?

More often than not, quinoa comes pre-rinsed. If not, it should mention in the instructions on the package. Either way, some people do prefer to rinse and drain the quinoa anyway, and that’s fine too.

What does quinoa taste like?

Quinoa is touted as a superfood, so even though it’s got a nutty flavor to it and is a bit chewy, it’s still mild and mellow enough to take on so many other ingredients and flavors. It’s kind of a cross between brown rice and steel-cut oats.

How to store quinoa black bean salad?

This salad will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Yes! I love using this salad for meal prep ideas. It can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re alert to serve. That’s one of the top things about this delicious recipe is that it works as a cold dish or served warm!

quinoa black bean salad in bowl

More Potluck Salads

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Quinoa black bean salad is loaded with fluffy quinoa, tender black beans, sweet corn and flavored with herbs and spices, and a squirt of lime to elevate each bite! Serve this fast and simple salad warm or chilled in a bowl or as a side!

Prep Time: 10 mins

Refrigerate: 35 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt , plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper , plus more to taste
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans , drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro , chopped
  • 1 lime , juiced

To store: Place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days. 
Variation: Another delicious variation is to add in red onions or chopped bell peppers to add a punch. Also, if you’d like more of a dressing on top, mix together 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, and a pinch  ground cumin. Drizzle over the top and toss.
To make ahead: The salad can be made ahead and served chilled.

Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 173IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *