The BEST Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

This Quinoa & Black Bean Salad is an easy make-ahead meal that you can use for packed lunches or fast meals all week long. It’s loaded with a complete source of plant-based protein, and is naturally gluten-free, too!

best quinoa black bean salad with avocado

How to Prepare Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad is incredibly easy to make, in just about 30 minutes. While your quinoa cooks to perfection, you can stir together the dressing and chop the veggies, to be as efficient with your time as possible.

I make the quinoa in my Instant Pot, to make the process as totally hands-off as possible (no need to worry about watching the pot on the stove!), but you can definitely use the stove top method if you prefer.

quinoa in the Instant pot

Is Quinoa Salad Healthy?

What makes this salad so healthy is the fact that it’s jam-packed with vegetables, for plenty of vitamins and minerals in each bite. Paired with quinoa and black beans, which are both good sources of fiber and protein, and a little extra-virgin olive oil, which helps with fat-soluble vitamin absorption, this salad makes a filling and satisfying lunch or dinner.

If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve probably seen me eating this salad a lot lately! It’s such an easy meal to enjoy straight from the fridge, and it’s even allergy-friendly since it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, and nut-free.

instant pot quinoa salad

How Long Does Quinoa Salad Last?

I usually eat this salad in about 4 days, so that’s as long as I’ve tested it’s shelf life, but I imagine that it could probably last 5 full days to get you through a busy week. In that case, you might need to double the recipe to get more servings, or add extra toppings to stretch the portion sizes.

As written, this salad is properly combined for better digestion (even when you add avocado on top), but you’re welcome to add in any other toppings that you like, too. I think a sprinkling of feta on top would be amazing! You could also add some leftover shredded salsa chicken if you want even more protein included.

quinoa black bean salad recipe overhead

5 from 7 votes
quinoa black bean salad
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins

STARCH  |  Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free

This Quinoa & Black Bean Salad is loaded with fresh vegetables and tossed in a spicy lime dressing, for a Southwestern flare. It's loaded with plant-based protein and makes an easy packed lunch or vegetarian dinner.

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: black beans, instant pot, quinoa, salad, vegan
Servings: 4
Calories: 315 kcal
Author: Megan Gilmore
  • 1 cup dry quinoa , rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 red bell pepper , seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion , finely chopped
  • 3 green onions , chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can rinsed and drained)
  1. To cook the quinoa in the Instant Pot, combine the quinoa and water in the bottom of the pot. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing, then use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook at high pressure for 1 minute. Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. When the screen reads LO:15, move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure, then remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Remove the stainless steel insert from the Instant Pot housing to help the quinoa cool faster. (See stove top directions in the notes below.)

  2. While the quinoa is cooking, stir together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt in a bowl and set it aside. This is also a great time to chop the pepper, red onion, green onions, and cilantro while you wait for the quinoa to finish cooking.

  3. When the quinoa is ready, stir in the dressing, pepper, red onion, green onions, and black beans, and toss well to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed. These should help to cool the quinoa even more, then stir in the cilantro. While the salad is still warm, the flavors might be a little strong, but they will mellow as the salad cools down in the fridge. I recommend chilling it for at least an hour before serving for best flavor.

  4. This salad should keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

Stove Top Directions: To prepare the quinoa on the stove, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let the quinoa cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid, remove the pan from the heat to let it cool, and fluff it with a fork.

Per Serving: Calories: 315, Fat: 10, Carbohydrates: 46g, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 10g

Recipe Notes:

  • This recipe is highly adaptable, so feel free to modify it as you see fit. I’ve made it with only lemon juice and no maple syrup, and with grains other than quinoa, and it’s always delicious. You can taste and adjust as you go!

Reader Feedback: Do you have a favorite make-ahead meal for packed lunches?

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I made this the other day and absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing!

Saundra M Singh

I love the way your recipes look and sound! I am eager to buy all three cookbooks. One of my necessities is to have the nutritional content displaced, and I see that. One problem: I don’t see any sodium content displayed. This is a deal breaker for me as I have liver disease and have to watch my salt very carefully. Do you have a more complete nutritional content of your recipes that I could access? I sure hope so. I have to keep track of all my fat, carbs, protein and sodium!!

Thank you

    Megan Gilmore

    I don’t have that yet, though I’m working on setting up a better nutrition display on my website. A lot of people might have already done the work for you on Many of my recipes have been calculated there if you search by recipe name! Otherwise, they have a really amazing nutrition calculator there where you just copy and paste the link to the recipe page, and then the calculator will do the rest of the work. It’s what I used for calculating the nutrition for my last book! And since you’re the cook, you get to control how much sodium goes into the recipe. My recipes don’t call for processed foods, so the sea salt is the main source of sodium (other than something like celery, with natural salt), and you can reduce that if needed.


Delicious! I made this multiplied by 5 for a party of 40 and it was a huge hit! Everyone keeps asking me for the recipe.


Delicious salad, and weloved the dressing. I can’t eat cayenne, but added 1/8 tsp. salt, which really brought out the flavors. Thank you!


Delicious! I didnt have red onion so just used more green onion. I also added some chopped tomato, a little more salt, black pepper, and corn. The dressing is great! Saving this one, thanks!

Christine de la Cruz

I made this because of the title and I had most of the things on hand. I usually don’t like quinoa, red peppers or cumin 🙂 I subbed fire roasted tomatoes for the red pepper and Chipotle pepper for cumin. It was downright delicious. And as you mention, it gets better as it sits. Thank you so much Megan I love your easy tasty fast recipes so much!


This was fantastic this week! We ate it as our lunch for a few days and it stayed really fresh! It was quick to put together and I love knowing my family is getting so many nutrients when they eat it! I’ve been using several recipes from your weekly meal plans and absolutely LOVE them! Thanks for your delicious meals, as always! : )


Simple and easy to make, yet flavorful! I didn’t have green onion so I just used a little more red onion. I plan to make this for the next meatles Monday potluck at work. Great, refreshing dish for summer.

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