This Southwestern Quinoa Salad is super flavorful and incredibly easy to throw together for quick, already-prepped weekday lunches! 

southwestern quinoa salad garnished with a lime wedge and cilantro in a glass bowl on a marble surface

This recipe is…

While this salad would make an incredible dinner, our favorite way to enjoy it is for lunch! The bell pepper, corn, black beans, cilantro, lime, and avocado give the salad its crave-able southwestern flair, while the chicken and quinoa give it a punch of protein that’ll keep you full and energized for hours! No more afternoon slump or mindless snacking with this as your midday meal. 

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is: “What about lunch?” You see, after Cook Once, Eat All Week (our incredibly time-saving, life-giving dinner meal prep solution) was released, you guys wanted MORE! We get it! Cook Once, Eat All Week made such an impact that you wondered if the same template would work for other meals. The answer? YES! This Southwestern Quinoa Salad + our Thai Chicken Salad were designed to be made together, all in one day (don’t worry, the process is QUICK – here’s how you do it: Easy Meal Prep Lunch Plan), and result in a seriously tasty, incredibly nutritious, meal prep lunch duo!

Recipe Ingredients

Here’s all you’ll need to grab to whip up three lunch portions of this salad!

  • Quinoa – we’ll divide 2 cups of cooked quinoa evenly between our 3 salads. Quinoa adds healthy carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants to this meal. It’s definitely an ingredient you don’t want to skip!
  • Red Bell Pepper – we’ll dice 1 red bell pepper to add to our salad. The bell pepper not only adds a pop of color + crunch, but also a good dose of veggies! 
  • Diced Chicken – 2 cups of diced chicken gets added to the mix too! Pro tip: buying rotisserie chicken saves SO MUCH time!
  • Corn Kernels – is it even a southwestern dish without corn?! You can use frozen (just thaw first) or canned for this recipe.
  • Black Beans – a ½ cup of black beans brings flavor and some *extra* protein to your lunch! If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, feel free to replace the chicken with more black beans!
  • Cilantro – we’ll give the cilantro a rough chop and toss it in too. 
  • Green Onion – thinly sliced green onion adds great flavor to this dish!
  • Avocado – the avocado won’t go in our salad until we’re ready to eat it, but it’ll add some healthy fats to keep us satisfied.
  • Lime Juice – 3 tablespoons of lime juice goes into our salad – freshly squeezed is the best, but if you only have bottled, that’ll work too!
  • Avocado Oil – a couple of tablespoons of avocado oil (sub with olive oil if needed) will help our salad to stay moist while adding a dose of healthy fat.
  • Salt + Pepper – the only seasoning we need! A couple pinches of salt + a pinch of pepper will get the job done. 
two rectangular glass containers filled with southwestern quinoa salad side by side on a marble surface

How to Make

Making this quinoa salad is SO easy, and basically just a chopping and tossing situation. Here’s how you’ll do it:

  1. Cook the Quinoa – we’ll use 1 cup dry quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water to get our 2 cups of cooked quinoa. For the low-down on perfect, fluffy quinoa, check out click HERE.
  2. Dice the Chicken – if you’re using rotisserie chicken, dice the breast meat into ½ inch chunks. If you aren’t using rotisserie chicken, you’ll just need about 2 cups of diced chicken breast.
  3. Dice the Bell Pepper – dice the pepper into ¼ inch pieces, and…
  4. Chop the Cilantro + Green Onion – …give the cilantro a rough chop + slice the green onions!
  5. Rinse the Beans + Corn – thoroughly drain and rinse your black beans and corn (if using canned).
  6. Assemble – toss the quinoa, chicken, bell pepper, corn, black beans, cilantro, lime juice, avocado (or olive) oil, salt, and pepper together and divide equally between 3 containers. When you’re ready to eat, mix ⅓ of a diced avocado into your salad and enjoy! 

How to Store

Keep your meal prepped salads in airtight containers (we like this same-sized glass set) in the fridge. They’ll stay good for 5 days this way! If you need a storage solution for your avocado (since you’ll only use about ⅓ of the avocado at a time), these work great to keep your already cut avocado fresh!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

5 — Votes 7 votes
By Cassy Joy Garcia
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
This southwestern quinoa salad is the perfect make-ahead lunch with fluffy quinoa, crunchy red bell pepper, corn, black beans, and chicken!


For the Quinoa:

  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the Salad:

  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cups diced chicken – either from a rotisserie chicken or 1 pound of cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup black beans rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • Soak the quinoa for 2 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly and add to a pot with the water, salt, and olive oil.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat.
  • Toss the quinoa, chicken, bell pepper, corn, black beans, cilantro, green onions, lime juice, olive oil salt, and pepper together in a large bowl, then portion into 3 containers.
  • Once you are ready to eat, dice up 1/3 of an avocado, then mix it into the salad and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • If you’re going to eat the salad immediately, go ahead and stir in the avocado. If you are prepping it for later, don’t add the avocado until it is time to eat.


Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 724mg | Potassium: 1055mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1650IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4mg

Additional Info

Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 568
Keyword: lunch, meal prep, quinoa, salad, southwestern

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About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I omitted the bellpepper (husband doesnt like them) and tossed the quinoa mixture with baby salad greens. It was delicious!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Claire! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  2. Delicious! I chopped some cherry tomatoes and cucumber from the garden and added about 1 tsp cumin and honey to dressing. I keep sneaking bites and it’s only 10 AM 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Erin! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Lauren! It’s a good one for sure!