Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

Have you jumped on the quinoa train yet? This salad just might be your ticket to climb aboard and love the ride.

It is so absolutely simple and delicious, not to mention refreshingly light and healthy. The hearty black beans, sweet corn and fresh cilantro compliment the delicate nature of the quinoa perfectly.

As I found out after doing a bit of looking online, quinoa is not technically a grain but can be substituted for many grains, like rice and couscous. It is high in protein, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fiber. There’s a lot to love about quinoa, I’m telling you!

Health benefits aside, these little tender morsels cook up to be fluffy and light but still hold a bite to their texture. This was one of my first forays into quinoa and I know I’ll be using it over and over again based on the success of this salad. My husband, the ultimate skeptic about any food that starts with the letter “Q”, gave this two thumbs up.

Served with grilled chicken or pork, this would make a tasty and easy summer meal, not to mention a great take-along to your next BBQ.

As a note, quinoa can be found at most grocery stores and health food stores near the other grains, usually (I found it reasonably priced at Trader Joe’s).

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

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Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen sweet white corn
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When shimmering and hot, add the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add the quinoa and cover with broth. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).
  3. Stir in the frozen corn and black beans. Cover and let the pot sit off the heat until the corn and beans are heated through, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve warm or chilled – it is delicious both ways!

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from The Dish on Delish

59 Responses to Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

  1. Valerie says:

    This recipe looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it – I love the combination of black beans, corn and quinoa.

    I have a simple chicken and quinoa salad with vegetables that is great in the summer:

    Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  2. Kelli Tuttle says:

    amazing organic quinoa at Costco

  3. Jen says:

    I’m thinking of making this for a party we are having. Do you think I can make it a day ahead of time and serve it cold?

  4. Alice says:

    This was excellent! I added a fresh diced tomato and it turned out really well.

  5. Joanna says:

    I served this as a crunchy taco filling with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tomatoes. Everyone loved it! 🙂

  6. Georgia says:

    Oh, this looks like a fantastic recipe for lunch! I am going to try it out 🙂

  7. Cindy says:

    Thanks for this recipe. We love it here! I add in shredded rotisserie chicken… it’s a hit! I also serve it with sour cream, guacamole and tortilla chips (to scoop).

  8. Monique says:

    Can anyone tell me what the serving size and calories, fat would work out to be?
    Thank you!

  9. […] Mel’s Kitchen Café (go there to see a much more pleasing […]

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  11. Deb says:

    This is the second quinoa salad I’ve made off your site this week (and it’s only Tuesday!) and both have been exceptional (the other one was the Thai one). I loved the flavors of this salad and I loved the simple preparation. I almost always make your Mexican Rice when I’m making fajitas or tacos but this could definitely bump the rice!

  12. Salem says:

    I suppose since every meal I make comes from your website, I should start complimenting you! This was wonderful!! We ate it warm with corn chips, as our main dish! So good!

  13. Laura says:

    I love this recipe, but it has been a while since I made it. How many servings would you say one recipe makes?

  14. Brittany K. says:

    This was yummy! I’m not a huge cumin fan, so next time I think I’ll try a different spice combo, but it’s a great base recipe that will be easy to jazz up in lots of different ways! Oregano, chopped tomatoes, and some mozzarella would be awesome.

  15. Laurel Anderton says:

    This is one of my favorite recipes from your site! We’ve made this so many times and even took it to a church potluck where every “quinoa skeptic” couldn’t get enough. I’ve also cooked it using vegetable broth when we were entertaining a “vegetarian” crowd- it was good, but I think chicken broth is the best. THANK YOU!!

  16. […] onion and garlic, and some balsamic vinegar. I’ve also tried combinations similar to this, more Mexican in influence. A great, easy, filling […]

  17. […] list in favor of winter-appropriate stews, chilis, and casseroles.  In the spring I tried this Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad and adored it, and sadly the mango version was forgotten. […]

  18. Mel says:

    Lisa – I’ve only ever served this at room temperature or chilled so I don’t know how it would fare in the crockpot.

  19. Lisa Guyer says:

    Could you keep this warm in a crockpot or will the quinoa get mushy?

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  22. Tiffany says:

    I doubled this recipe and we loved it, it was a little spicy with the cayenne pepper and the ground pepper. I did not have freshly ground pepper so that might have made a difference. I think next time I will lessen the cayenne and the pepper and add a little at a time. I also added 1/2 of a lemon to the doubled recipe and it was really good.
    This will be going on my favorite list it was amazing. Thanks Mel.

  23. Mel says:

    Tiffany – yes, I would double it for that many people.

  24. Tiffany says:

    We are having 10-15 friends over this weekend and are grilling burgers. How far will this go as a side dish? Should I double the recipe?

  25. Laura says:

    Just made this tonight so I could take it for lunch tomorrow at work. It smelled so good I had to eat a bowl right away! I love it! So yummy and flavorful! Can’t wait to make it again and share it with friends.

  26. Tasha says:

    I printed this out the day you posted it, but never got around to making it until tonight. Can I just say Y.U.M. I couldn’t believe how flavorful it was! I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised though, I’m pretty much in love with every recipe I’ve tried on your blog. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  27. Marie says:

    I first tried this salad last summer, and have made it over and over since! It’s my go-to for when I haven’t been grocery shopping, because it consists of pantry staples. I’ve tried similar recipes, but the broth in this one really makes a difference. When my kitchen IS fully stocked, I usually add a bell pepper, a jalapeno, some lime juice, and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some salsa verde. Yum!

  28. Veronica says:

    Has it really been almost a year since I saved this recipe?! Sheesh! Well, I FINALLY got around to making it and it’s incredible! I love it! Thanks, Mel! (Wow, I ended every single sentence with an exclamation point. I can’t help it. Your recipes make me effusive. :))

  29. Bri says:

    I realized I have never commented on this recipe and we make it ALL THE TIME! It was actually the very first recipe I ever made off of your site. I am trying to do a few vegetarian meals a week (although my husband thinks a meal without meat is not a meal unless it’s pizza). On Wednesday nights my husband eats at the hospital, so we had this as our main dish last night. My son LOVES this salad. We eat it warm so it’s more of a meal than salad. My two year all says “more quinoa salad with jelly beans please”. I wont correct what he calls black beans cause if calling them jelly beans makes him love black beans then power to him! Just wanted to say that we make this all the time and it’s fantastic as leftovers for lunches! Thanks Mel! We sure love you around these parts!

  30. Alicia says:

    I have never made quinoa before, but I have been hearing about it a lot lately. Then my son was assigned the letter Q for an ABC parade at school, which meant I had to produce a dish that started with the letter Q. I knew you would be my go-to gal, as usual, and this recipe did not disappoint. My son’s teacher even asked for the recipe. I really enjoyed it and I will be making it again. Yummy!

  31. This salad was SO good! I made it yesterday for Sunday dinner at my mom’s house and everyone there agreed. I doubled the recipe but still only used two cans of black beans, and I thought it was perfect. This is definitely going to be a recipe I make again and again!

  32. Sara Angel says:

    Looks great! I linked back to it in my blog…hope this helps!

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  34. Katrina says:

    Mmm, this looks delicious. I have used quinoa a bunch, but not enough. I will be making this soon, especially since I just froze TONS of fresh corn cut off the cob.

  35. Tami says:

    I shouldn’t admit this, but because I am an addict to good food, I shall. I have made this 3 times. Count them THREE since you posted, what like 10 days ago. Genious, this dish. I love it so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  36. Cindy says:

    Can you use red quinoa in this dish?

    • Mel says:

      Cindy – I wish I knew the answer to this question but I’m not familiar with red quinoa since I’ve never cooked with it before. You might try googling whether or not you can substitute red quinoa for the “regular” kind.

    • Rhonda says:

      Hi Cindy…I’ve used red, black and white quinoa. To me they all taste the same; the only difference is the color. So yes, I believe red quinoa would work just fine in this dish.

  37. Need to get a hold of some black beans asap this salad look so very good!

  38. maameemoomoo says:

    Beans, grains, pulses… Yums!

    Jotting down the recipe now!

  39. Lauren says:

    The flavors and ingredients in this dish are incredibly appealing to me, so I will be making it soon!

  40. JJ says:

    For some reason our grocery store only sells one brand of organic quinoa and it’s outrageously priced. This is the second quinoa salad recipe I’ve seen and I made one before subbing couscous which turned out fab. I think I’ll try the same sub here. It looks great!

  41. emily says:

    We are riding the quinoa train at our house . . . great recipe . . . I will have to try it out . . . I have quinoa, quinoa, quinoa that needs some attention . . .

  42. Veronica M. says:

    PS There’s no picture with the “printable recipe w/ picture” link.

  43. Veronica M. says:

    Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t put anything with this on the plate–this WOULD be my meal! LOL–I’ll have to try this. I’ve been saving quinoa recipes but haven’t tried any yet. Can’t wait.

  44. Emily says:

    This is one of my favorite Quinoa dishes. We make it all the time. We love serving it as a side with any Mexican food…but we also love adding it to the filling of our tacos making them more Quinoa Bean burritos.

    Another one of my favorite Quinoa dishes is this Quinoa Chili recipe. It’s amazing!

  45. grace says:

    even if i didn’t love quinoa, which i do, i’d enjoy this salad. in fact, i can envision myself eating it with tortilla chips or wrapped in a tortilla with pepperjack cheese. is that wrong?

  46. Jenny says:

    Oh yummy, I will make this tonight. I always have a big container of quinoa salad in my fridge in the summer. For lunch today I am finishing off the last of a Chicken Bacon Club Quinoa salad (rotisserie chicken, bacon, onions, spinach, tomatoes, fresh chives, garlic, fresh basil, quinoa, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Delicious!!) Thanks for another great recipe.

    Also- if you are new to quinoa, I love it as a breakfast food with yogurt and cinnamon. Mmmm. I buy bags of quinoa at Costco.

  47. StephenC says:

    You are right on the money with quinoa, it is a marvelous alternative to the ubiquitous rice. Coincidentally, I’m polishing off a squash/quinoa dish I made last fall and just took out of the freezer. Nice work.

  48. Reyna says:

    Oh thank goodness! I have a whole package of Quinoa waiting for me to figure out what do with it. I will be using this recipe pronto!

  49. Lindsay says:

    Sounds good – you should make a note though: Quinoa is covered in a bitter substance so you should always rinse it well before cooking.

  50. […] Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad […]

  51. Kim in MD says:

    I agree with Jessica- I love all of the ingredients in this dish! If you and your husband love it, then I know my family will, too! I can’t wait to try this recipe! 🙂

  52. I love black beans, corn AND quinoa, so this sounds like a perfect dish for me!

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