This healthy and refreshing zesty quinoa salad works great as a lunch, light dinner, potluck dish, or even for a picnic.
It’s made with simple whole-food plant-based ingredients like red bell pepper, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, black beans, avocado, and lime juice. Adding fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro brightens up this plant-based quinoa salad, making it light and flavorful.
The recipe is vegan/vegetarian, oil-free, whole-food plant-based, and gluten-free! It comes together in about 30 minutes and can even work for meal prep.
- It's a colorful salad packed with fresh vegetables!
- It's oil-free and whole-food plant-based!
- Can be made in advance!
- Easy to customize with different veggies!
- Great summertime recipe with vibrant flavors!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Simple fresh ingredients for a simple zesty salad!
Quinoa - The base is fluffy quinoa, white or tri-color work best. But use your favorite or what you have on hand.
Fresh or frozen corn - Quickly thaw frozen corn by placing it in a colander and running hot water over the corn, stirring to break up any frozen pieces. Thoroughly drain the frozen corn to not add excess liquid to the vegan quinoa salad. You can also substitute fresh or frozen corn with about one can of drained corn.
Black beans - One can of drained and rinsed black beans or use 1 ½ cups of cooked black beans. They can also be replaced with pinto beans or chickpeas.
Cherry tomatoes - They hold their shape well and don’t have many seeds. If you substitute with another type of fresh tomato that has a lot of seeds and is watery, you may want to de-seed the tomato to not add too much liquid to the salad.
Red onion - I finely dice these when adding them to the flavorful quinoa salad. If needed, you can leave this out or substitute it with green onions.
Red bell pepper - This can be substituted with a different color bell pepper.
Jalapeño - Remove the seeds and ribs to reduce heat or leave it out. I prefer to finely dice it. If you don't have jalapeños, try a pinch of red pepper flakes or leave the jalapeño out.
Fresh cilantro - If you’re not a fan of cilantro leave it out or use parsley if you’d prefer.
Fresh lime juice - This adds tanginess to our easy zesty quinoa salad. Use fresh lime for the best flavor. For even more lime flavor, add a little lime zest. If needed, you can substitute lime juice with lemon juice for more of a lemon take on the dish.
Avocado - Just like in guacamole, the lime juice will temporarily help prevent the avocado from browning.
Oregano and garlic powder - Just a little dried oregano and garlic powder to add more depth of flavor to this healthy quinoa salad.
Quinoa has a nutty, earthy flavor, and white or tri-color quinoa works well in this salad. I haven’t tested the recipe using only red or black quinoa, but it should work too. Red quinoa has a chewier and even nuttier flavor compared to white quinoa. Black quinoa has an earthier flavor with a slight sweetness. Actually, tricolor quinoa is just a mixture of white, red, and black.
It depends, some packaged quinoa is sold as “pre-rinsed.” I don’t find it necessary to rinse them again, but if you noticed your cooked quinoa has a soapy or bitter taste, then rinse it before you cook it next time.
If the quinoa is bought in bulk or your package doesn't say "pre-rinsed" it’s a good idea to rinse, especially if you're more sensitive to the saponins that naturally coat quinoa.
- Fresh or canned corn can be used instead of frozen corn.
- The beans can be interchanged with any other cooked bean.
- If you don’t like cilantro, it can be left out.
- The stems of the fresh cilantro have a lot of flavor, use them too but finely chop them so you don’t have large pieces. Trim off the woodier ends and finely chop the more tender parts of the stems closer to the leaves.
- Deseed the jalapeño to decrease the heat.
- Finely dicing the red onion and jalapeño ensures you don’t get a giant piece while you’re eating the quinoa salad.
- I think the salad tastes better served immediately, but if you’re prepping this ahead of time, wait to add the avocado until you’re ready to serve.
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, this can be skipped if the package says "pre-rinsed." Cook ½ cup of dry quinoa according to the package directions. When it's done fluff the quinoa and let it cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, dice and prep the rest of the ingredients. The frozen corn can be thawed by placing it in a colander and running warm water over it. Use your hands to break up any large frozen chunks. Then let it drain before adding it to the salad. Drain and rinse the can of black beans and dice the avocado into small bite-size pieces.
Add the cooked quinoa and the rest of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir gently to combine. If serving immediately, add the diced avocado to the quinoa mixture, otherwise wait to add it when you’re ready to consume.
Serve the quinoa and black bean salad at room temperature or cold. The recipe works great as an easy lunch or as a main dish. To serve it as a delicious side dish, pair it with veggie burgers, a cucumber hummus sandwich, or a chickpea tuna sandwich.
The lime juice will only temporarily help the avocado from turning brown in this easy quinoa salad recipe. If you are prepping ahead of time, wait on adding the avocado until you’re ready to serve. Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
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As always, I hope you enjoy this delicious zesty quinoa salad with avocado and black beans! If you like the recipe, feel free to rate it and leave a comment.Print
This refreshing zesty quinoa salad uses simple ingredients, fresh lime juice, and cilantro to brighten up this black bean quinoa bowl, making it light and flavorful.
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed if frozen
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, finely diced
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 avocado, diced
- Cook the rinsed quinoa according to the instructions on the package.
- Fluff the quinoa and let it cool to room temperature, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir gently to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings to suit your preferences.
If prepping ahead of time, wait on adding the avocado until you’re ready to serve.
Rinsing the quinoa may be skipped if the package says "pre-rinsed."
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: main course
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: zesty quinoa salad, zesty black bean quinoa bowl