Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado

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Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado with a creamy cilantro lime dressing is a hearty salad that works for a main dish or side dish. This delicious salad is packed with good for you ingredients and so so tasty.

346 CAL 45g CARBS 16g FAT 13g PROTEIN 6

This easy Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado is the best quinoa salad. You will crave it. This salad is so easy to make and the homemade cilantro, lime, and yogurt dressing tastes good on everything. If you love these flavors, you may also love this Mexican Chopped Salad and Southwest Kale and Sweet Potato Salad.

I am on a quinoa salad kick and have been making huge salads almost every day for lunch. Usually, I fill them with whatever leftover veggies and protein we have in the fridge, but this Southwestern-inspired one came out so good I had to recreate it and share it. Between the sweet corn, earthy black beans, creamy avocado, and the best cilantro dressing - it's hard to find a better quinoa and bean salad. And I would know, I make them all the time.

Ingredients for Southwest Quinoa salad including black beans, cooked quinoa, avocado, corn, red onion, avocado, cilanto, and limes.

Like many good recipes, this salad was born out of necessity. I was starving and staring at a fridge of leftovers that needed to be used ASAP. There was some leftover grilled corn on the cob, a half-open can of black beans, some cooked quinoa, and avocado within minutes of its life. I quickly began to throw these things together but then realized that I needed something to bring everything together. Enter my favorite creamy cilantro dressing.

This simple dressing was made for a Southwestern Quinoa salad like this one. It's creamy, full of bright cilantro and lime flavors, and super easy to make. Everything goes into the blender and that's it.

You will have a delicious homemade cilantro dressing in just a couple of minutes. This dressing will keep in the fridge for 4-6 days so consider making a double or triple batch. You can also make it spicy by throwing in some jalapeno or chipotle peppers. So good if you like spice. It's also really delicious on this Turkey Taco Salad.

How to Meal Prep this Southwest Quinoa Salad

This is a great recipe for meal prep and I love making it for lunches on the go since it is really filling and satisfying. It never leaves me looking for a snack an hour after lunch. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when prepping this salad in advance.

  • Dressing: Pack the dressing separately from the rest of the salad so that you can add it right before eating it. Sometimes if it is added in advance, it will thicken up and lose some of its creaminess.
  • Avocado: It's best to add the avocado right before eating so it doesn't brown. You can store leftover avocado in the fridge. Just squeeze some lime juice over it to prevent extra browning. And if you notice your avocado has browned, you can always scrape off the top brown layer with a knife. Underneath it is usually nice and green.
  • Extra protein: If you want to add some extra protein to the salad, consider adding some grilled chicken breast, shrimp, steak, or tofu. It's also delicious with canned tuna or canned salmon if you want something that doesn't take any extra prep time.
  • Mix it up: If you get sick of eating the same thing after a couple of days, consider mixing things up by serving it in different ways. Eat it as a salad one day. Then try it wrapped up in lettuce the next day for some quinoa lettuce wraps. Finish the week by adding it to a wrap with some sliced chicken or canned tuna.

Black bean and quinoa salad with avocado, cilantro, corn, and red onion in a bowl with limes on the side.

What makes this salad healthy?

There are so many healthy ingredients in this simple salad. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of these ingredients.

  • Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains out there and is high in protein and fiber. Additionally, it is a plant based source of all nine essential amino acids. Plus it is packed with vitamins and minerals including magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants.
  • Black beans are packed with fiber and will help you stay full. Plus they are a good source of folate and Vitamin B6.
  • Cilantro has a ton of health benefits including helping your body to rid itself of heavy metals and preventing urinary tract infections. It also supports heart health and can digestion.
  • Limes and lime juice are known to help aid digestion and pack in tons of Vitamin C.
  • Avocado is a superfood is packed with good for you fats that will keep you full. They also contain more potassium than bananas and is one of the most nutrient packed foods out there.

Tips and Recipe Ideas

  • Make it spicy: If you like things spicy, consider adding fresh jalapeno or canned chipotles to the dressing. You can add as little or as much as you like to get it to your desired heat level. Usually, I use about half a jalapeno for this recipe. You can also add a touch of honey or maple syrup to balance the heat if needed. Red pepper flakes will work as well but I like the flavor of the jalapenos or chipotles better.
  • Shortcut quinoa: If you don't want to spend time cooking quinoa, look for the prepared frozen quinoa instead. Cook it for about half the time required in the microwave so that it is just defrosted and warm.
  • Add greens: If you like a really voluminous salad, add greens to the mix as well. I love this salad with arugula or chopped romaine.
  • Add protein: For extra protein, you can always add grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or tofu. For a quick option, use canned salmon or tuna.
  • As a side dish: This makes a very hearty portion. If you are planning to use it as a side dish, you can easily get eight servings from this salad.
  • Hate cilantro: Cilantro is a pretty polarizing ingredient. If you don't like cilantro, you can make the dressing with fresh basil or a combination of basil and parsley. 

Avocado cilantro dressing being poured on a quinoa and black bean salad in a white bowl.

Looking for more healthy quinoa recipes?

The Recipe
Southwest Quinoa Salad with black beans, corn, and cilantro dressing in a bowl.

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado

346 CAL 45g CARBS 16g FAT 13g PROTEIN 6
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  • 1.5 cup cooked quinoa
  • 14 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or canned)
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (for dressing)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (for dressing)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (for dressing)
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice (for dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic (for dressing)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (for dressing)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (for dressing)

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Toss together the quinoa, black beans, corn, avocado, red onion, and fresh cilantro.


Add the cilantro, yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and cumin to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding extra yogurt or oil if it is too thick.


Toss the salad with the dressing and serve. If making ahead of time, wait to add the avocado and dressing.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 346
Calories from Fat 146
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 550mg
Total Carbohydrate 45g
Dietary Fiber 13g
Sugars 4g
Protein 13g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado
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August 27, 2018 - 09:38
This looks great! One question - the cilantro is listed as for the dressing. How much goes in the dressing and how much tossed?
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August 27, 2018 - 11:37
I use all the cilantro in the recipe for the dressing. Then I added some extra on the top for the photos as garnish. If you love cilantro, you can always add some extra on top as well.
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