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Easy Quinoa Black Bean Salad

This easy quinoa black bean salad is a hearty and refreshing salad that comes together in just 30 minutes! Quinoa and black beans are tossed with fresh vegetables like cucumber, bell pepper and carrot and topped with a zesty chili lime dressing. Perfect for meal prep, potlucks and as a side during grilling season!

If you’re a fan of quinoa salad and looking for more ideas, check out my Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing.  

quinoa black bean salad on white plate next to a lime

Originally published July 17, 2019. Photos and recipe updated on May 11, 2021.

This recipe is the quinoa salad that I’ve been making for friends and family for almost a decade. I discovered quinoa years ago when I first took an interest in nutrition and wanted to learn how to make healthier meals.

Quinoa salad became one of my favourite ways to use the ingredient, for a few reasons:

  • It’s so easy to make
  • It bumps up my veggie intake
  • The quinoa soaks up the flavour of the dressing

Plain quinoa can be a bit boring, right? This salad is anything but. 

Ingredients

Below is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make quinoa black bean salad. Be sure to check out the recipe card below for full details!

For the salad

  • Quinoa – cooked on the stovetop or in your Instant Pot.
  • Cucumber – I use English cucumber, but you can also peel and seed a regular cucumber.
  • Bell peppers  – I prefer the sweeter flavour of red, yellow or orange pepper, rather than green pepper.
  • Carrot – small dice, or you could julienne or grate the carrots, if you prefer those textures.
  • Green onion – the white and light green part only. You could save the dark green tips for another recipe or slice them for additional garnish.
  • Black beans – one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Cilantro – finely chopped

For the dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice – use freshly squeezed for the best results
  • Ground cumin 
  • Ground cayenne – adjust the amount to suit your taste     
  • Fine-grain sea salt
Ingredients for quinoa black bean salad in glass bowls

Step-by-step instructions

Step one: make the quinoa

Option 1: On the stovetop

  • With a dry measure, scoop one cup of quinoa into a medium sauce pan.
  • Using the same measuring cup, add two cups of water to the quinoa.
  • Place sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil; once boiling, turn down to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let the quinoa rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Option 2: In the Instant Pot

  • With a dry measure, scoop one cup of quinoa into the Instant Pot insert.
  • Using the same measuring cup, add one cup of cold water to the quinoa (that’s right, just one cup of water for this method).
  • Close the lid, set the vent to sealing and pressure cook on high for 1 minute.
  • Allow for a natural release (just leave it!), then when the pin drops, open the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  • Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Step two: Prepare the Mix Ins

  • While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the black beans (be sure they drain well or the residual water could dilute the flavour of the dressing).
  • Wash and chop all the vegetables and cilantro.

Step three: Prepare the Dressing

  • In a small bowl or mason jar, combine the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Stir well. 

Step four: Assemble the salad

  • Add the vegetables, cilantro and black beans to the quinoa in the large bowl.
  • Pour on the prepared dressing and stir until the salad is well coated.
  • Optional step: refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes or more to allow the flavours to blend.
ingredients for quinoa black bean salad together in a large glass bowl

Tips and Variations

Be sure to rinse the quinoa if it doesn’t come pre-washed to avoid undesirable flavour and texture. I like to buy a pre-washed variety to save time.

Choose your bean. I love black beans in this salad, but navy beans and pinto beans are also great options. If you don’t have any beans on hand you can leave them out altogether, but I prefer to include them for the extra protein and fibre. 

Buy extra lime. I always buy an extra lime in case two limes are not enough to yield a quarter cup. It’s so disappointing when limes aren’t as juicy as expected, and you don’t want to skimp on the lime flavour in this recipe! If you want a stronger lime flavour, increase the amount of freshly squeezed lime juice to 1/3 cup.

Adjust the spice. You can use more cayenne pepper in the dressing, depending on how spicy you like it. I find 1/8 teaspoon gives a hint of spice and tends to be a more kid-friendly flavour profile. 

quinoa black bean salad on two white plates next to a glass serving bowl and a sliced lime

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Quinoa black bean salad in a white bowl next to gold and white serving spoons and a cream-coloured linen.

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

Laura Lawless, BASc
This easy quinoa black bean salad is a hearty and refreshing salad that comes together in just 30 minutes! Quinoa and black beans are tossed with fresh vegetables like cucumber, bell pepper and carrot and topped with a zesty chili lime dressing. Perfect for meal prep, potlucks and as a side during grilling season!
Servings 6
Calories 262
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 15-oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 ½ cups English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, small dice (red, yellow or orange)
  • 1 cup carrot, small dice (about 2 medium)
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion (white and light green part only)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

For the dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or to taste)
  • teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Instructions
 

  • In a medium sauce pan, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl to cool. See note 1 for Instant Pot instructions.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, drain and rinse the black beans, then prepare the cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, green onion, and cilantro.
  • Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar.
  • Add the vegetables, cilantro and black beans to the large bowl with the quinoa, then pour the dressing on top and stir until well combined.
  • If you have time: let the salad marinate for about 30 minutes before serving to let the flavours blend. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.

Notes

  1. To make quinoa in your 6-quart Instant Pot: add 1 cup of uncooked quinoa to the insert. Using the same measuring cup, add 1 cup of water to the quinoa. Close the lid, set the vent to sealing and pressure cook on High for 1 minute. Allow for a full natural release (about 10 minutes or so). Once the pin drops, open the lid and fluff with a fork.
  2. Rinse the quinoa if it doesn’t come pre-washed to avoid undesirable flavour and texture. I like to buy a pre-washed variety to save time.
  3. I love black beans in this salad, but navy beans and pinto beans are also great options. 
  4. I always buy an extra lime in case two limes are not enough to yield a quarter cup. If you want a stronger lime flavour, increase the amount of freshly squeezed lime juice to one third of a cup.
  5. I find this salad tastes even better when made ahead of time, so it’s perfect for meal prep. I like to make this salad a few hours before serving, to allow the flavours to blend together. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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Equipment

Chef’s Knife
Juicer
Measuring Spoons
Liquid Measure

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 475mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4475IU | Vitamin C: 34.8mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 3mg
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Hey, I’m Laura!

Creator of The Recipe Well


I love food and cooking, but hate doing the dishes. I use my nutrition degree to create easy, approachable recipes that will help you find your happy place in the kitchen.

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