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Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado Crema

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Add Mexican Quinoa Salad to your next meal plan. This recipe is protein packed combining two cups of quinoa with black beans, bell peppers, jalapeños, green onions, fresh corn, and Cotija cheese. Top it with Avocado Crema or just a drizzle of olive oil!

After you make a batch of this recipe (my favorite quinoa ever), try my Kale and Quinoa Salad and my Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad. For goat cheese lovers, I’ve also got a Simple Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese or a zesty Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing

Side view of a large bowl of Mexican quinoa and some avocado crema.

Best Quinoa Salad

My boys were the ones who actually got me hooked on quinoa years ago. While the texture was unfamiliar and not my favorite, I eventually really enjoyed it. Like truly. Now I’m constantly looking for new ways to enjoy it because it’s not only tasty, it’s also healthy and high in protein.

Quinoa is an edible seed that has become increasingly popular for the health-conscious. It’s loaded with many important nutrients. Quinoa is non-GMO, gluten-free and usually grown organically. Even though it’s technically a cereal grain, it still counts as a whole-grain food.

What does a high protein diet do for you?

  1. Keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time. Eggs for breakfast are my go-to.
  2. Help balance blood sugar levels. Donuts for breakfast? Nope, never.
  3. Makes it easier to build lean muscle mass. That’s why athletes drink protein shakes after a hard work-out.
  4. Gives you energy. Skip the packaged meals, and make your own protein packed meal instead.
A serving of Mexican quinoa salad with a dollop of avocado crema.

Ingredients needed for Mexican Quinoa:

  • Quinoa – Quinoa is a SUPER food. It’s a seed (prepared as a grain) that is high in protein and loaded with vitamins and minerals. It’s also high in fiber, naturally gluten-free (if you are watching that), and is low on the glycemic index.
  • Chicken Broth – I like using a lower-sodium broth.
  • Corn – Use fresh corn on the cob for best flavor. Otherwise, frozen corn or even canned would also work.
  • Black Beans – Just one can is needed.
  • Green Onions – The perfect mild onion for this salad, and one of my favorites for any salad.
  • Bell Peppers – You can use any color combination, but I love the sweeter flavors of red and yellow.
  • Jalapeño Peppers – If you take the seeds and rind out, the spice will be minimal. I like spicy, so I now like to serve some on the side – mostly for me!
  • Cotija Cheese – This Mexican cheese is best. I like to buy the chunk and crumble it myself.
  • Olive Oil – A few drizzles on top of each serving can easily replace the Avocado Crema. But both are excellent toppers.
  • Salt and Pepper – Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper are my go-to.
The ingredients on a white board, labeled.

Ingredients needed for Avocado Crema:

  • Avocado – Use one large or two small to medium avocados.
  • Sour Cream Light – You can substitute plain Greek yogurt here instead, if preferred.
  • Cilantro – The fresh herb I keep in my refrigerator at all times!
  • Lime – Use a citrus press or your hands to squeeze the juice out.
  • Garlic Salt – Add the amount you like.

How to make Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado Crema:

Step 1
Make quinoa. You’ll need to make this far enough in advance for it to cool. Make it on your stove top or instant pot (my preferred method). See recipe for more notes.

Step 2
Grill corn. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add a little oil. Place the corn cobs in the pan and cook on all sides until slightly darkened. When cool, cut corn from the husks and set aside.

NOTE: When grilling the corn (inside or outside on a grill), it’s not necessary to cook for too long. We want crunchy kernels, not over-cooked kernels!

Step 3
Prep remaining ingredients. Rinse and drain the beans. Chop up the peppers and green onions. Crumble the cheese.

Step 4
Assemble. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl – the quinoa, corn, black beans, peppers (both bell and jalapeños), green onions, and Cotija cheese. Add some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Step 5
Make Avocado Crema. In a food processor, combine avocado, sour cream, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and garlic salt. Pulse until you get the desired consistency. Test seasonings.

A bowl with Avocado Crema and a spoon on top.

Step 6
Serve. To serve, add a few drizzles of olive oil or a dollop of Avocado Crema. SO good!

Side view of two stacked bowls with quinoa salad and a fork.

Expert Tips for Mexican Quinoa Salad:

  • This recipe makes a pretty large quantity. Two cups of quinoa grows to about 7-8 cups when cooked. We usually gobble this up in a few days, but we love our quinoa. I actually eat it for breakfast when it’s available. Tip…warm it up and top it with an egg!
  • If you like spicy (like I do!), leave some of the seeds in the jalapeño. OR, just chop up some and keep separately for those who want to add it to a serving.
  • Cotija cheese is a Mexican crumbled cheese that really gives this salad flavor. Try to find the chunk that you crumble yourself. It’s the best!
  • Mexican Quinoa Salad stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Enjoy!

A large white salad bowl with the quinoa salad and a small bowl of avocado crema inside the bowl.

Try this quinoa recipe next! Kale and Quinoa Salad

xoxo ~Sue

A serving of the Mexican quinoa salad in a white bowl

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado Crema

Add Mexican Quinoa Salad to your next meal plan. This recipe is protein packed combining two cups of quinoa with black beans, bell peppers, jalapeños, green onions, fresh corn, and Cotija cheese. Top it with Avocado Crema or just a drizzle of olive oil!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 304kcal

Ingredients

For the quinoa salad:

  • 2 cups quinoa – rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups lower sodium chicken broth – only 3 cups needed if using instant pot
  • 4 ears corn on the cob
  • 15 oz. black beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch green onions – chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper (or any color) – chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno (or more!) – diced (with seeds removed)
  • 4 oz. cotija cheese – crumbled
  • olive oil – to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste

For the avocado crema:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup sour cream light – or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro – chopped and packed
  • 1 medium lime – freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt – or to taste

Instructions

For the quinoa salad:

  • Stovetop quinoa directions: Rinse quinoa in cold water. In medium pan bring chicken broth to a boil, and add quinoa. Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cool until liquid cooks out. When done, fluff with a fork, and pour into a large bowl to let cool.
    Instant Pot quinoa directions: Rinse quinoa in cold water. Combine quinoa and chicken broth (but use just 3 cups) in IP. Select pressure cook for one minute. Let it do a natural release for 10 minutes, and then release vent. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and pour into a large bowl to cool.
  • Use a cast iron skillet to cook the corn in a little bit of oil, rotating it as needed.Remove to cool, and then slice the corn off the cobs.
  • Combine all quinoa salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle some olive oil over top of each serving, according to taste.

For the Avocado Crema:

  • In a food processor, combine avocado, sour cream light (or yogurt), cilantro, lime juice, and garlic salt. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency.

To serve:

  • To serve, add a dollop of avocado crema to each single serving. OR, just add a drizzle of olive oil, and additional salt and pepper.

Video

Notes

Additional Notes:
  • This recipe makes a pretty large quantity. Two cups of quinoa grows to about 7-8 cups when cooked. We usually gobble this up in a few days, but we love our quinoa. I actually eat it for breakfast when it’s available. Tip…warm it up and top it with an egg!
  • If you like spicy (like I do!), leave some of the seeds in the jalapeño. OR, just chop up some and keep separately for those who want to add it to a serving.
  • Cotija cheese is a Mexican crumbled cheese that really gives this salad flavor. Try to find the chunk that you crumble yourself. It’s the best!
  • Mexican Quinoa Salad stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 434mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 403IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

3 Comments

  1. I will admit I was skeptical, quinoa was NOT my jam but so glad I tried it!! It is so fresh and delicious and bonus, healthy. I will make often now!!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Yes! You finally made my favorite thing to eat for breakfast! 🙂 You’ll soon be hooked. Thanks for your feedback, Shari.

  2. This is in my rotation and it is the best. I especially enjoy this during the hot summer months! Repeat.

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