quinoa salad with black beans, avocado and cumin-lime dressing

June 8, 2011

Quinoa Black Bean Avocado Salad

This is my kind of salad. I’ve written before about how awesome grain salads are as a go-to lunch option in the warmer months. I like big batches of things. Soups in the winter, salads in the summer. It’s easy.

Tomatoes and Avocado 650

Usually my grain salads lean towards Mediterranean flavours but this one has a Mexican spin. Black beans, avocado, cilantro, and a cumin-lime dressing all lend it that character. The cherry tomatoes I just couldn’t resist adding for a pop of juice and the red pepper adds sweetness and crunch.

Make this up on a Sunday afternoon and eat it through the week for lunches, you know, when it’s 100F (38C) outside (really, Minneapolis?). Corn tortilla chips on the side are optional but definitely recommended. Same with a Mexican beer. Yum.


Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Avocado and Cumin-Lime Dressing
serves 4-6


  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • small handful cilantro, diced
  • 1 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste


  1. Warm the olive/coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk it aggressively. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through.
  4. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips and a refreshing, cold beer.


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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

dana @ my little celebration June 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

Everybody’s loving on Quinoa right now. Maybe I should a hint. Lovely recipe and pictures, as always…


Jill June 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

Wow, this looks delicious and refreshing. I love cilantro in recipes, I just wish we could grow it longer here in NC! Your food photos are fantastic.


Ashley L June 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

This post has basically read my mind. I’m also suffering through this ridiculous heat wave, and a healthy, light salad like this sounds ideal. It’s finally time to get over my fear of cooking quinoa I guess! Thanks for the timely recipe!


Angharad June 8, 2011 at 10:45 am

It’s super easy! Very hard to mess up….and I should know :)


elise June 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

citrus based quinoa dressings are such gems. this sounds delish. and the vibrant photos! makes me wanna lick the screen…before 6 am? dont judge.


Angharad June 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

No judging here. Ever.


Mike July 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

This recipe looks unbelievable, I’m gonna try it really soon.
I recently wrote an article on the health benefits of quinoa, check it out.


Mike @TheIronYou


Janel August 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm

This looks really tasty and I’m all for cooking ahead but how do you keep the avocado from turning brown during the week?


Angharad August 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Hi Janel, thanks for your comment! The lime in the dressing does a pretty good job of keeping brownness at bay with all that citric acid. Some browning is probably inevitable after a few days but I don’t personally find that it affects the deliciousness of the salad – plus it’s not usually around long enough in my house for it to really be a factor! Hope you enjoy it. – Angharad


susan December 26, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Jane try a few drops lemon juice over the avocado. It works over apples too. Good luck!


Ethan May 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I’ve served a variation of this salad at my job to large groups and gotten rave reviews.

To keep the avocados from browning: add it right before serving. If you’re taking a portion to work, try saran-wrapping a half-avocado on the side – any oxidized areas can be lightly scrapped away before dicing.

When I take this to parties I keep the cilantro on the side and invite cilantro-adverse guests to take some before I mix it all together.



Mary Beth August 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Your photos are so yummy looking! I love the addition of the cherry tomatoes!


Kirsten September 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Found your recipe pinned on Pinterest….

Just finished eating a delicious bowl of your YUM-O recipe! Thank you soooo much for posting! I. can’t. wait. to share this with my family for dinner tonight! Thinking of making homemade flour tortilla chips to go with it…

: )


Angharad September 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I’m so pleased you liked it! It’s really great with tortilla chips – how awesome are you making your own!? Enjoy :)


Tanoi V September 26, 2011 at 2:53 am

I just got done making this, minus the avocados, for a party I’m having tomorrow. Making it up to that point was great so that I could get some preparations done early. I’ll admit I stole a small bowl of it, and I can’t wait to get the finished product tomorrow! It’s also awesome that I can offer a dish for my vegan friend that will be attending. I’ll be serving it without the chips tomorrow, but I’m sure it’s great either way.


Tanoi V September 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Well, it was a HUGE hit! So glad you shared this recipe.


Angharad September 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Oh hurray! I’m so glad you and your party-goers liked it!

Veggienista October 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Thank you!!! What an awesome vegan recipe! I am going to feature your post on my blog. This recipe is just perfect!


April November 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Just finished making this recipe and I am in LOVE! So delicious! The cumin lime dressing is tastes wonderful. The only change I made was I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain blend (which has Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo beans, and Red Quinoa) instead of just using the quinoa. Thanks so much for another great recipe!


Angharad November 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

That sounds like such a good alternative, April! I’d love to try it with a mix of grains. Thanks for sharing!


Ali November 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Wow, this was super delicious!! I would highy recommend. I modifed slightly and used half the amount of red onion and added 3 green onions sliced thinly as I like the flavor with quinoa. I also substituted yellow pepper instead of red due to availability. My salad looked just like your beautiful pictures. I brought it to work and shared with my co-workers who are raving about right now. Thank you for sharing!!


Karen January 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Just made this and it was delicious! Thank you!! I paired it with this equally amazing recipe for chipotle marinated chicken: http://youngmarriedchic.com/2011/06/model-chef-chic/


Jenelle January 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I found this recipe via pinterest. I specifically searched for quinoa recipes and this caught my eye! It is sooooo good. Love the dressing! Thank you for sharing this, it will now be a staple in my house for lunch and mid-afternoon snacks.


Angharad January 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Hi Jenelle, so happy to hear that! I love the dressing too – so simple but it really takes it to the next level. Thanks for saying hi :)


Danielle January 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for the great recipe! Made for a girls night :)
Re-pinned to Pinterest too!!


Jo February 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

OH. MY. GOSH. This is sooooo good. Sadly, I did not anticipate that my children would love it, too and so it’s already half gone. Seriously. I just finished making this and my little girls and I sat around with spoons eating it warm straight from the bowl, completely blissed out. :) Thanks for sharing!


Fran Thomas February 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

OMG! This is VERY GOOD! I served with blue organic corn chips. A little sour cream would be good with it too! This will definitely be a staple in my house!


meagan February 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Just made this for lunch and LOVE it! Great recipe using the staples that are always in my kitchen-added chopped raw zucchini-delicious!


Aly February 28, 2012 at 12:46 am

I just made a variation of this based on what I had in the larder: one box of Red Quinoa, can of black beans, frozen corn, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and English cucumber. I made the dressing with just olive oil and balsamic vinegar and it was so good my husband and I had a few bowls of it.
Packing the rest for lunches tomorrow. I’ll have to try adding avocado and diced red peppers next time. What’s nice is one can vary this recipe in so many ways.


Angharad February 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi Aly, I’m really glad that you liked the salad and I totally agree with you that it’s a great base to work from! I hope you’ll try the cumin-lime dressing sometime too because for me, it really makes the salad. Happy lunching!


Lisa March 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I found this on Pinterest too, and fixed it tonite, and I can’t say enough how delicious it is!!!!!!!! and soooo healthy too! Thank you very much for posting it!! :)


Sarah March 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

This was fantastic! Even my daughter, who I believe must be the pickiest child in the world, loved it! Thank you so much for a delicious recipe. We’ll absolutely be having this again & again!


Megan April 8, 2012 at 10:23 am

I found this on pinterest and since I couldn’t find quinoa at the store (I live in the middle of nowhere so, I’ll have to start ordering it online since it is delicous) I made it with elbow macaroni. It tastes amazing already and I am now waiting for it to chill so that I can eat it for lunch. Thanks for the recipe!


Jessie April 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Thanks for a great dish! I just found this via Pinterest, and made it tonight. To the cumin, I added a dash of chili powder and paprika (because I love those southwestern flavors with those ingredients). I was empty on bell peppers, so I chopped up a cucumber. Not the same sweetness, but did give a nice (substitute) crunch.
Thank you!


Krista April 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

This was super good!


claudia etling May 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It looked so good, I made this for dinner tonight. DELICIOUS! From now on, it will certainly be a go-to dish for us. Many thanks!


Shinamin May 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I love the mix of ingredients in this recipe! I made a few changes based on personal preferences. For starters, Since there are just the two of us I cut the amount of quinoa and water in half and we still had left overs. I then replaced the larger pieces of red onions (showed in the photos) with much thinner sliced and diced red onion since I enjoy only a hint of red onion taste. Also, I left out the red bell since I didn’t think it belonged in the mix of ingredients. We decided to add sunflower seeds to our left over serving and it was absolutely delicious. Will definately make this again…most likely for a crowd.


Aunt Kathy June 7, 2012 at 11:49 am

I made this last night and I shared it with work buddies at lunchtime today. Everyone wanted the recipe! Thanks Angharad!


ElisaM June 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I made this today, a friend found it on Pinterest. The only thing I added was some feta cheese, maybe not mexican but I love cheese! Anyway, cheese or not, the flavors were great, especially after I chilled it and let everything mingle for awhile. I’m looking forward to it for lunch tomorrow! Thanks.


Christina June 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

This sounds so good! I’m adding the ingredients to my shopping list and heading to the store.


Beth June 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

Found this on pinterest & tried it last night. We loved it! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


Deb July 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

This is an awesome recipe! I used half red and half white quinoa ( I like the red). I also added a medium sized fresh jalapeno pepper minced (I”m from the south and i like things spicy!). I used a bit more olive oil (I get mine from the California Olive Ranch….so good).
Otherwise, stayed true to the recipe….very, very delicious!!!


Allison August 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm

This was FABULOUS!!! I absolutely love it. Perfectly refreshing served cold in a whole wheat tortilla wrap during the hot Texas summer! Thank you :)


Stephanie August 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm

YUM-O!! My belly is full & happy! And since I was prepping avocado, tomatoes & red onion, I made a huge bowl of guac for later! Perfect for this HOT day in Arizona!


Christina August 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I can’t believe I actually have ALL of these ingredients on hand and don’t need to shop! It’s been in the low 90’s in sunny California so I’m trying this cool recipe for dinner. Thanks for posting – it really looks delicious. :-)


Kia January 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

This salad is the BEST!!!


Wendy January 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

After pinning this a while ago, I finally tried it. Fantastic!


Maurie February 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Discovered this through Pinterest and made it tonight. Delicious! We added some diced carrot to it and extra lime. Great dinner, thanks for posting it!


Leesa March 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Fantastic! I was skeptical about the dressing but wow it was great!

I did things a little different.. I added the garlic in during the last 5 minutes of the quinoa cooking and I added frozen peas, mushrooms, green peppers instead of red and I put corn in! So many possibilities!



Oregon Toni March 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm

This is one of our new favorites. Quick and easy – very delicious!


Zehring April 7, 2013 at 2:35 am

Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


Janet April 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

These look delicious and so many are healthy. I’ve given up with a lot of cooking after my kids have left home. My husband just opens a can of soup and that is so unhealthy. You include both the healthy and the husband-pleasers so I am excited to get going on these recipes.


Gail May 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Just made this and am having some now. I made it for a picnic today, but I’m not sure I want to share! :)
GREAT recipe!


Susie Keller-McCain June 1, 2013 at 8:33 am

Made this last weekend, minus the avocado and it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


Rachel June 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Wow!! I just made this for dinner and it turned out amazing. Loved the avacodo in it. Made it creamy without adding bad fats. We ate it cold and without chips because we didn’t have any. Deffent make agiain.


Pat July 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm

This sounds wonderful. My only worry is that one of my guests cannot stand cilantro. Could I substitute fresh basil for the cilantro?


Angharad July 3, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hi Pat,
I’ve never tried it without cilantro or with basil – I’m not sure that basil would complement the other flavours as well but you could certainly give it a go! Let me know how it turns out if you do.


Pat July 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Instead of experimenting and substituting a flavor as strong as basil in this recipe, I took the hint and stuck with cilantro. It was great! My cilantro hating guest had a green salad, which included the basil. All’s well that ends well.


Danielle September 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Delicious, although I got distracted with feeding my daughter and forgot the chips and beer! Added some hot sauce to spice it up a bit. Will definitely make this again. Thanks!


Jessica June 11, 2014 at 2:44 am

Delicious! Added diced tomatillos (2) and a little extra lime juice.


Kelli W. August 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm

This is hands down one of my all-time favorite salads to make! I loved it so much I blogged about it back in 2011 and still drool when I think on this salad. Thanks so much for sharing it!


April April 15, 2016 at 2:22 am

Omg was this ever good.. Made this the other night but instead of red onions I put in green and changed the black beans to kidney…I omitted the red peppers and added a jalapeƱo for heat and doubled the dressing… It was amazing thank you so much for an amazing healthy alternative and a very versatile recipe ????


April April 15, 2016 at 2:23 am

Sorry don’t know where the question marks came from..


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