The Best Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

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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.

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quinoa black bean salad
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5 from 35 votes

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

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
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 315kcal


  • 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)


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



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.


Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 839mg | Potassium: 583mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1020IU | Vitamin C: 47.2mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 3.8mg
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.


I just discovered your page and I couldn’t be happier. As a vegan, I am always looking for new big substantial salads. I made this today and it was delicious. This is my 2nd salad of yours I made this week. I love the way you don’t use too much olive oil. I literally debating on what I will make tomorrow!!! Thank you!


So good! Love that I always have the ingredients on hand and can whip this up. Great flavor and wonderful eaten on all week!


This is a great recipe; simple yet yields a salad that is flavorful and nutritious. It is also adaptable to adding any veggies you might have on hand. For example I had 3 Brussels sprouts left over in my fridge. What was I to do with those? So I sliced them thinly and tossed them into the salad. Also I had only lemons so used lemon in place of lime. It worked and the left-overs improved overnight.

Incidentally, I usually cook up a whole bag of dried beans in my IP. Once they have been drained and cooled, they are bagged and frozen in 9 ounce portions for freezing. I chose 9 ounces because that’s about how much beans you get from a 15oz tin. Super simple to do and convenient to have beans on hand whenever you want them.


Fresh and delicious. Great for a potluck and I ALWAYS double the recipe my kids gobble it up! Yes, totally versatile so if you’re short an ingredient you can substitute! I make my black beans in instant pot so much fresher and not mushy!


Love love love this. Not many recipes make it into my book but this one did. A keeper. Thanks!

Kat Long

So much easier to make then I thought, although I had to do my black beans from scratch using your instant pot recipe, so happy! Yum

Lucinda Jeffrey

A friend gave this to us for supper & I absolutely had to have the recipe! Loved it! If I can buy only 1 book which would you recommend for recipes like this that are filling & easy & high in protein?

    Megan Gilmore

    My personal favorite of my 3 cookbooks is the Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. You can probably use the recipes even without a pressure cooker, but they make my life SO EASY with the Instant Pot. Otherwise No Excuses Detox is my other most-used cookbook at the moment. But they’re like babies– I love them all!


Hey is the calories per serving im assuming or for all the setvings

    Megan Gilmore

    Nutrition info is automatically calculated per serving, based on the number of servings listed at the top of the recipe.


I’ve made this salad so many times, I absolutely love it!! It is delicious and really holds up well in the fridge. I take it to work all week for lunch.


Hi, is it okay if I use lemon instead of lime?




Amazing and healthy!!

Michael Stevens

So simple and delicious! We caramelized the onions before hand and YES

Ricardo Arocha

Delicious salad – so refreshing and tasty in the summer! Question: based on the recipe as written above, how would you measure an approximate serving size? (e.g. 1 cup, 1.5 cups) Trying to enjoy this wonderful recipe while counting calories – it’s the only way I know how to eat what I like and control my portions. Thanks!

Rosa Zubizarreta

I love this recipe! Just made it for the first time, and I went ahead and made a double batch b/c I knew I was going to love it… I really like the original recipe as is, and, I did want a bit more dressing, so after I made it I got creative and mixed up a bit of extra dressing with what i had on hand: a bit more olive oil, some fresh-squeezed orange juice, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and some hot pepper sesame oil (my favorite add-in!) yummm… looking forward to not cooking for the next few days, and just eating this… maybe also as a filling in some vegan cheese tacos… yum yum yum!

Dale Sawan

I love your quinoa salads. Made this with the small black lentils instead of the black beans. Delicious flavours! Thanks!


I just made this and it’s great. We were hungry and didn’t wait for it to chill but it’s still five stars and we have plenty left over to serve chilled. My only variation was to chop up half a zucchini I had in the fridge and add that. It’s a very accommodating recipe!


Favorite, go-to for a refreshing, flavorful and delicious meal! Good for lunch or dinner. This is one of my husband’s favorite! I have used lemon at times when I don’t have enough lime and it’s perfect! I’ve also added other veggies (like cucumber and zucchini) when I don’t have certain veggies, or simply because I want to use up what I have. Highly recommend!


Do you cook the beans?
Do you eat it cold or warm it up?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, this recipe calls for cooked beans– you can use a 15 oz. can so they are ready to add in. I like to eat it cold or at room temperature, but you could probably warm it up if you want to!


I’ve made this several times and have tweaked it by adding an extra half cup of cilantro, 12-15 inch stick celery finely chopped, zest of 1 lemon finely grated, and 1 thai red chilli finely diced (omit seeds if you don’t like heat). I also 1.5 times the dressing. Simply the best!!


This is my definite go-to recipe! Always a crowd-pleaser, good for lunch or dinner, year-round, and one of my husbands favorite dishes 🙂

Debra Gramkow

As with all of Megan’s recipes, this is so delicious and healthy. I just love her cookbooks and recipes.


Hubby and I just love this salad. I often make it ahead and pack for road trips and/or camping trips. It’s also really good with thawed frozen corn kernels added.


I love this recipe! The flavor is extra yummy! I’ve eaten it, “as is,” and mixed with tossed salad. It’s on my “must have” list quite often!
Thanks for the recipe!


I discovered this recipe in 2019 and just revisited again when I was trying to come up with an easy, crowd-pleasing side for a cookout. This was as great as I remembered! It’s just SO good! The tangy dressing is perfect. We like to add in a diced avocado.


I love this salad both ‘as is’ and as a jumping off point to try other herbs, proteins, etc. It’s super easy to make, tastes so fresh and stays with you all afternoon (no between meal snacking). Thank you so much for raising my brown bag lunch game!


Delicious! Full of flavor!


Super good!

Brenda Santora

I have already made this recipe 3x…we are hooked on it. It is certainly a staple in our house now. Love the lime in the dressing! I have two of your cookbooks and find I can adapt them to a vegan diet.


The dressing is amazing. I didn’t use onions or cilantro as my husband isn’t a fan, and it still tasted incredible anyhow. Yum!


This is (or should be!!) one of my keeper recipes… Where I’d make the meal once every 2 or so weeks. 4 out of 5 family members in our household like it. One child who’s 9, just doesn’t like quinoa. Sigh. Anyway, with quinoa being a complete protein, and the freshness that comes from flavourful veggies (during the wintertime, no less), this is a perfect dish. The quantity is excellent – I love that I can put the effort into making a good dish, and that it can be enjoyed 2 maybe 3 times. Tasty, yet guilt-free. I feel better after I eat it, and feel like it’s the right thing to feed my family with this quinoa bean salad!

Ruth Holt

Absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it. Another great recipe from Detoxinista 🙂


Absolutely the best!!


I’ve made this several times and just made it last week again. The flavors are great and it’s nice to have it ready for lunch for several days!

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