Mexican Quinoa Salad Recipe with Cilantro Lime Dressing


An easy, 30-minute Mexican Quinoa Salad with charred corn, black beans, avocado, and a zesty cilantro lime dressing! Healthy, delicious, and so satisfying. Perfect for meal prep. 

overhead shot of a bowl of Mexican Quinoa Salad with charred corn, avocado and cilantro lime dressing

With warmer months upon us, it’s time to bring out some easy and fresh meals. We are currently pretty much counting the days until we can take that plane home to Yucatan, Mexico and I cannot wait to fire up that bbq again. Personally, I’m a fan of anything I can quickly throw on the grill and serve with a simple side like this healthy Mexican Quinoa Salad.

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressings – and easy healthy meal prep salad

This Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing is the perfect combo of fresh and colorful plant-based superfood ingredients and will add the perfect pop to your summer table.  It is:

  • Fresh yet filling
  • Super Healthy
  • Loaded with superfoods, plant-based protein, + fiber
  • Mega Flavorful
  • Quick and Simple

a bowl with warm Mexican Quinoa Salad with charred corn, black beans and cilantro lime dressing

This warm quinoa salad would make the perfect weeknight meal when you’re craving something quick and healthy. Bonus? It also happens to be vegan but would obviously please non-vegans alike! Make lots! Leftovers make a great lunch for the next day.

charred corn on the cob and a halved avocado being prepared for a quinoa salad recipe

Even carnivores and tough guys who won’t eat “chick food” will love this easy quinoa salad because it’s hearty and full of flavor. It feels like a full meal even though it’s definitely on the lighter side of Mexican-themed dishes. 

Is this Mexican Quinoa Salad spicy?

I don’t find this salad spicy but if you don’t tolerate any heat, you can skip the chili powder. 

Let’s talk about the Cilantro Lime Dressing for a minute, shall we? There are two kinds of cilantro lime dressings out there and you might be more familiar with the creamy kind, that has avocado in it. As we already have chopped avocado in the salad, I kept the dressing on the light side. It’s super easy – just a blend of cilantro, fresh lime juice AND zest, good olive oil, and a touch of honey for sweetness. Use maple syrup for vegan. 

a glass jar with healthy Mexican cilantro lime dressing

Ways to add more protein to this quinoa salad recipe: 

This Mexican Quinoa Salad would be also great with an additional source of protein like grilled chicken or shrimp. For a vegan version, add some tofu. Another way to add some plant-based protein is to add roasted pepitas. 

This salad is meant to be served lukewarm or cold.

I used my Instant Pot to make the quinoa, which saves some time plus you do not have to worry about water boiling over while you are busy prepping the veggies. 

How to cook quinoa in an Instant Pot

Instant Pot Quinoa Cooking: Place 1 cup rinsed quinoa in Instant Pot with 1 1/2 cups broth or water. Pressure cook on HIGH for 1 Minute. Natural release pressure for 10 minutes. Unlock lid, stir, and your Instant Pot Quinoa is done!

side view of a bowl of Mexican Quinoa Salad drizzled with healthy cilantro lime dressing

How to charr corn on the bbq?

This salad tastes best if using charred corn on the cob. Take 2 ears of corn, peel back the husk and rub with 1 tsp butter per ear. Sprinkle with salt and pepper mixture. Fold the husk back up over the ear to cover the kernels.

Grill the corn over the hot side of the grill, turning frequently, for about 25 minutes or until done. The exact cooking time will vary depending on how hot your fire is. Be sure to turn the corn frequently to keep it from burning. If you like more char, grill the corn over high heat.  For less charr, grill over low heat for a little longer. 

How long does quinoa salad keep? 

I’ve kept mine for at least 4-5 days and you can maybe stretch it to a week. If I make a big batch, I only toss with dressing what I plan on eating that day and the next. 

a clay bowl filled with warm quinoa salad with charred corn, black beans, avocado and cilantro lime dressing

Tips for making this Quinoa Salad recipe: 

  • I have also made this with diced fresh tomatoes, chopped mango, and a little bit of cucumber. SOOOO good.
  • This salad pairs well with salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, chips, and a margarita!
  • Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
  • To make this vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing. 
  • If you are not vegan, some crumbled feta or queso fresco would be a great addition.
  • This salad tastes best using charred corn ( see instructions above). 
  • I like to cook my quinoa in broth as it makes it more flavorful. 

Did you make and love this Mexican quinoa salad recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

An easy, healthy 30-minute Mexican Quinoa Salad with charred corn, black beans, avocado, and a zesty cilantro lime dressing! Healthy, delicious, and so satisfying. Perfect for meal prep.  

Course Appetizer, side
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican Quinoa Salad, Southwest Quinoa Salad, Warm quinoa salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 - 4 servings
Calories 450 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mixed greens I like arugula, kale and spinach
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa red or white
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper or 2 Jalapeños diced
  • 1 ripe avocado chopped
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • optional - 1 tbsps chipotle in adobo
  • 3/4 cup fresh or canned corn 2 ears of corn, grilled until charred
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped or torn

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Prepare quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer then bringing it to a boil with 1 cup water or broth in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.

  2. Prepare all other salad ingredients by chopping bell pepper and avocado, and dicing onion. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a saucepan. Add onions and diced bell peppers and fry for 2 minutes, adding spices and the oregano after 2 minutes. Fry a minute more and add corn and black beans into the pot. Seasoning with somre more salt if needed.

  3. Prepare the dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or honey or maple syrup as needed. I also added a dash of hot sauce.

  4. Put all salad ingredients in a big bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve sprinkled with fresh cilantro. 

Recipe Notes

  • I have also made this with diced fresh tomatoes, chopped mango, and a little bit of cucumber. SOOOO good.
  • This salad pairs well with salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, chips, and a margarita!
  • Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
  • To make this vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing. 
  • If you are not vegan, some crumbled feta or queso fresco would be a great addition.
  • This salad tasted best using charred corn ( see instructions above). 
  • I like to cook my quinoa in broth as it makes it more flavorful. 

For more Mexican recipes, check out: 


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