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Best Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe

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Meet my favorite quinoa salad (for 10+ years!). This black bean quinoa salad recipe should be on the top of your recipes-to-make list! It’s light and bright, satisfying and nutritious, and loaded with plant-based protein and fiber, all with tons of layered flavor. Because it can be made ahead, it’s a great salad for everything from picnics to summer cookouts to healthy meal prep salads to get you through the week.

Back when quinoa salads were all the rage (2010s?) this recipe was really popular, and while it’s super old, it’s one that I (and you!) keep coming back to for a reason. It’s a delicious salad. It’s an easy salad. And it’s a nutritious salad. So it was time for a refresh and new pictures to better show off how pretty it is. 😉 If you love quinoa salads, be sure to try my quinoa arugula salad next time, it’s another go-to quinoa salad recipe!

Black bean quinoa salad in a bowl

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

What You’ll Love About Black Bean Quinoa Salad

  • Incredibly delicious with layered flavors
  • Satisfying and filling salad
  • Naturally vegetarian, gluten-free, and easily vegan
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Perfect for summer dinners or picnics


  • Quinoa – Use uncooked quinoa. If you prefer to use a shortcut, you could use frozen quinoa that you microwave.
  • Broth – I like cooking quinoa in vegetable broth for a little deeper flavor (plus, I don’t love the flavor of plain quinoa), but it’s totally optional. You could also use chicken broth or bone broth if you prefer.
  • Black beans – I’ve used canned beans, but you can also make your own if you prefer. You’ll want about 3 cups of cooked black beans.
  • Green onions – This adds great, mild onion flavor to the salad. You could also use chives if you prefer or use minced red onion or white onion if you want a stronger onion flavor.
  • Cilantro – The fresh cilantro adds really great, fresh flavor.
  • Cotija cheese – Cotija is a crumbly and flavorful cheese similar to feta, so if you can’t find it, you can swap feta cheese for the cotija. PRO TIP: Cotija stores really well in the freezer, so I always store in the freezer.
  • Quinoa salad dressing – Fresh lime, olive oil, shallot, honey, sea salt, black pepper
Ingredients to make black bean quinoa salad recipe

How to Make Quinoa Salad

This is an overview on how to make quinoa salad, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Cook quinoa. Cook quinoa according to package directions for perfectly fluffy quinoa. Let sit before fluffing with a fork.
Cooked quinoa for salad
Mix dressing. In a small bowl or jar, add lime juice, olive oil, shallot, honey, sea salt, and black pepper. Whisk or shake until emulsified.
Quinoa salad dressing in a small bowl
Prep ingredients. Drain and rinse beans, chop cilantro, and crumble cotija.
Assemble black bean quinoa salad. Fluff quinoa and add to a large serving bowl. Add black beans, green onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Drizzle with dressing and toss together. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
Quinoa salad with black beans in a bowl before stirring
Quinoa salad in a bowl


Is quinoa salad healthy?

Well I say everything is healthy. 🙂 Some foods are more nutritious than others, but all food serves a purpose. This quinoa and black bean salad recipe has a lot of nutritious components and provides protein, carbs, fiber, and produce. OH, and FLAVOR. So I would say, yes, it’s incredibly delicious AND nutritious.

Is quinoa a carb or a protein?

It’s BOTH! This is a great example of needing to lean into the grey area a bit when it comes to nutrition as so much of it is not a simple black and white answer.

One cup of cooked quinoa has approximately 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 39 grams of carbohydrates.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover easy quinoa salad with black beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

How to prep quinoa and black bean salad ahead

To meal prep this cilantro lime quinoa salad recipe, simply divide the quinoa salad into glass or plastic containers and store in the fridge. You could divide the salad into anywhere from 4-6 servings, depending on appetites/nutritional needs.

The day you are going to eat it, top the quinoa with a few handfuls of fresh salad greens and a small drizzle of dressing, olive oil, or lime juice. Toss together and dig in!

Spoonful of black bean quinoa salad

What to Serve with Quinoa Black Bean Salad

This healthy quinoa salad is certainly filling enough to be a main dish, but if you want to serve it alongside some additional protein, try one of these easy grilled recipes:

How to Feed Quinoa Salad to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I would recommend serving the cold quinoa salad in a pinch bowl (taster bowl) if it’s a new or learning-to-like it food. Serve the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter.

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Follow Emily on Instagram or TikTok for family dinner recipe videos and tips for feeding kids.

Healthy quinoa salad in a bowl

More Summer Salad Recipes

If you like this recipe for quinoa salad, you might also like some of these other summer salads:

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Close up bowl of quinoa salad with black beans

Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe

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This popular black bean quinoa salad recipe is delicious, nutritious, and easy to make! It’s great for summer dinners and picnics. 


Units Scale

For Dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 1 Tbsp.
  • 1 shallot (about 3 Tbsp. minced)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

For Salad: 

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (optional, can use water)
  • 2 15oz. cans black beans
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese


  1. Cook quinoa. Add quinoa and 2 cups of broth and cook according to package instructions. Remove quinoa from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, make vinaigrette. Add lime juice, olive oil, minced shallot, honey, sea salt, and black pepper to a large bowl. Whisk until emulsified.
  3. Prep other ingredients:
    Drain and rinse black beans.
    Chop cilantro.
    Crumble cotija.
  4. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add to large bowl with vinaigrette. Add beans, cilantro, and cotija cheese to bowl and toss together until incorporated.
  5. Chill for at least an hour before serving. 


  • Serving size: 1 1/4 cup. Makes about 8 cups. 
  • You can easily swap feta for the cotijia cheese if that’s what you have or if it’s easier to find. 
  • Swap the honey for maple syrup for a vegan salad. 
  • Use microwavable quinoa (in the freezer section) to cut off 15 minutes of cooking time. 


  • Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup

Keywords: quinoa black bean salad, black bean quinoa salad, quinoa salad, quinoa salad recipe

Food styling and photography by Loren Runion.

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  1. Mercedes

    Alright I clearly need to pick up some cojita cheese! This looks like the perfect side dish to any dinner and I love that quinoa feels like eating a carb, but it has all of that protein!

    • Emily

      Can you believe that I’ve never been to True Food?! I think I’ve had take out/catering but I need to get there ASAP.

  2. Maris (In Good Taste)

    I agree with you on behind behind on the quinoa salad trend. I’ve been eating and enjoying them for plenty of time but only recently started making it and thinking: “what can I actually do what this?”

  3. Elizabeth

    Thank you for posting this! I made a huge batch of it for lunches for me and my husband, and also to send along as a meal for a vegetarian coworker who is going through a rough time right now. It has been a hit all around!

    One quick edit, though: It’s cotija cheese, not cojita. That threw me for a loop at the grocery store. 🙂

  4. Evelyn

    I have made this twice now and love it! The first time, I followed the recipe’s ingredients list and the second time, I had to improvise with what I had available. I didn’t have a shallot and cilantro, but I did add well-shredded kale and used 1 can of black beans and 1 can of garbanzo beans along with some diced grape tomatoes. Both versions are great! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  5. Colin

    Tasted like a healthy chipotle bowl. Very easy and delicious recipe. Added some tomatoes I had to use and it was a nice touch.


  1. […] This black bean quinoa salad recipe should be on the top of your recipes-to-make list! It’s light and bright, satisfying and nutritious, and loaded with plant-based protein and fiber, all with tons of layered flavor. Because it can be made ahead, it’s a great salad for everything from picnics to summer cookouts to healthy meal prep salads to get you through the week.Get the recipe: Best Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe […]