Made in one pot and ready in under 30 minutes, this versatile Southwest-inspired quinoa taco salad is perfect for weeknight dinners! It's great hot or cold and is vegan, gluten-free, and great for meal prep.
- Dietary features: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free
- Quick & easy: Made in one pot in under 30 minutes.
- Flavors: Features healthy and fresh Southerwest-inspired flavors like cumin, chili powder, lime and cilantro.
- Easy to customize: The base of this salad is simple and is made with black beans, fire roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion. It's easy to make this recipe your own by adding your favorite salsa, guacamole, veggies, etc.
- Versatile: Great on its own as a hot or cold quinoa salad or served greens, in tacos, or burritos.
I'm all about easy recipes that use healthy pantry staples. This Southwest quinoa taco salad is no exception and fits in nicely with my other favorite meal prep recipes like black bean quinoa casserole, vegetarian black bean enchiladas, and black bean soup.
What you'll need
- Quinoa: Any color of quinoa works in quinoa salad. Choose white, red, or tricolor.
- Beans: Black beans are my go-to protein but kidney beans and red beans are also good options.
- Fire roasted diced tomatoes contribute a nice kick of acidity. The liquid is also necessary to help the quinoa cook.
- Red onion and diced bell pepper add the crunch factor. I also like adding thawed frozen corn for a bit of sweetness. Any color of bell pepper works and yellow onion can be used in place of red onion as needed.
- Spices: Cumin and chili powder provide the Mexican-inspired flavors. For even more flavor, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning instead.
- Nutritional yeast is optional but recommended because it adds a lot of depth.
- Vegetable broth: I like to cook quinoa in vegetable broth for extra flavor. Choose reduced sodium vegetable broth to cut back on added salt.
How to make
- Toast the quinoa in olive oil for about 2 minutes. This deepens the quinoa flavor and removes some of the astringent flavor sometimes found in quinoa.
- Add spices and toast another 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
- Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through and fluffy. Mix in a can of drained and rinsed black beans to balance out the quinoa.
While the quinoa cooks, prep the toppings. You can either stir the bell pepper and onion into the quinoa base or use them as a topping across individual servings. See below for serving ideas.
This quinoa salad is perfect for meal prep, but if you're like me you may get tired of having the same meal for lunch every day.
Good news: quinoa salad is very versatile and is good for more than just taco salads.
- Add extra protein with tempeh taco meat, tofu chorizo, or taco-seasoned air fryer chickpeas.
- Nachos: Make nachos by layering the quinoa taco salad on tortilla chips or sweet potato chips.
- Salad: Toss with spinach or romaine lettuce and drizzle with chipotle dressing.
- Burritos: Roll up in a tortilla with sour cream, fajita veggies, guacamole, and salsa.
- Dip: Quinoa salad is great vehicle for tortilla chips and makse a great healthy appetizer.
- For even more flavor try tossing the cooked quinoa with the Southwestern-inspired vinaigrette from my black bean salad. You won't regret it!
I haven't tried using rice but it should work in place of quinoa if you use an equal amount of white rice.
For best quality, keep leftovers refrigerated for 3-4 days. I like to eat leftovers cold but they are also good warm. Reheat single servings in the microwave or transfer to a small saucepot and heat over medium-low heat. Add a splash of vegetable broth if needed to prevent burning while reheating.
Yes, quinoa salad freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it cool completely before transferring to freezer-safe containers (these are the ones that I use). Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Yes! I actually have an instant pot version of quinoa taco salad that uses the same base recipe.
Looking for more easy meal ideas?
If you like this recipe you'll love my quinoa fried rice!
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Southwest Quinoa Taco Salad
Quinoa Taco Salad
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or other neutral oil
- 2 cup dry quinoa rinsed
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 can (15 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans see note #1
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro from ~½ bunch
- juice of one lime plus more for serving
- romaine lettuce for serving
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn thawed
- 1 medium bell pepper diced
- ½ medium red onion diced
- salsa for topping
- avocado for topping
- pumpkin seeds for topping
- Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the dry quinoa and toast for about 2 minutes. Stir frequently for even cooking.
- Add the seasonings: nutritional yeast, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, turmeric. Toast another 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
- Add in the fire roasted tomatoes with juices and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium-low to low heat.
- Once simmering, cover with a lid and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Prep toppings while the quinoa cooks. Once cooked through, fluff with a fork and mix in the drained black beans, cilantro and lime juice.
- To make a salad, serve on top of lettuce with the corn, bell pepper, red onion and other optional toppings. Enjoy hot or cold.
- Beans: Black beans, red beans and kidney beans all work. Make sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding to the quinoa.
- Leftovers: Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Enjoy hot or cold.
- Freezing: Let cool to room temp before transferring to a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before enjoying.
- Check out my Instant Pot version of quinoa taco salad.
- Toppings are not including in the nutrition calculations.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared September 2018. It was updated June 2021 with new photos, a video and more tips. The only change to the recipe is that the quinoa is now toasted in olive oil before cooking and more cilantro is added.