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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

Overhead shot of half of a large white bowl of Mexican Quinoa Salad, with two wooden spoons scooping some up.

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.
Overhead shot of a white serving bowl of Mexican Quinoa Salad with a dollop of Avocado Crema and a fork.

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.

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.
A large white bowl of quinoa salad separated out by ingredient.

How to make Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado Crema:

  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.
  2. Boil corn. Place the corn cobs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from pan to cool. You can also do an ice bath. When cool, cut corn from the husks and set aside.
  3. Prep remaining ingredients. Rinse and drain the beans. Chop up the peppers and green onions. Crumble the cheese.
  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.
  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.
  6. Serve. To serve, add a few drizzles of olive oil or a dollop of Avocado Crema. SO good!
Overhead shot of a hand holding a small bowl of Avocado Crema over the quinoa salad.

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!

Side shot of a large white bowl of quinoa salad being drizzled with olive oil.

Try this quinoa recipe next! Kale and Quinoa Salad

Please let know if you try this recipe. Be sure to comment and leave a review on the blog so I can see what you think. You can also like my Facebook Page, follow me on Pinterest, and catch me on Instagram.

xoxo ~Sue

Overhead shot of half of a large white bowl of Mexican Quinoa Salad, with two wooden spoons scooping some up.

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
Keyword: Avocado Crema, avocado quinoa, Mexican Quinoa Salad
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
  • 2 ears corn on the cob
  • 15 oz. black beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch green onions – chopped
  • 1/2 medium red pepper – chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow pepper – chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno – diced (with seeds removed)
  • 5 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.
  • In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add corn and plenty of salt, and reduce heat to rolling simmer. After 5 minutes, the corn should be done. 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

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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