Mexican Quinoa Recipe

This flavorful and easy Mexican quinoa recipe is inspired by Mexican flavors, featuring black beans, corn, tomatoes, and fajita seasoning.

Mexican quinoa

Two tips Alex and I have discovered for making healthy, home-cooked eating part of your lifestyle are 1. Plan ahead (hard when you are spontaneous by nature) and 2. Keep things interesting. I don’t know about you, but it’s easiest for me to want to eat unhealthy foods when I don’t have something on hand that is healthy and delicious. I quickly get bored, thus the need for new recipes and different takes on old ideas. This Mexican quinoa is something I whipped up before a road trip, and it quickly became a family favorite! Keep reading for our Mexican quinoa recipe.

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

Mexican quinoa

How to make Mexican quinoa

This Mexican quinoa is not authentic Mexican at all, but inspired by Mexican style flavors. It’s something I whipped up quickly before a road trip, trying to use up the last of assorted vegetables in our fridge. It was a very tasty dinner in the car (and I’m not sure how Alex can drive and eat quinoa yet I’m the one in the passenger seat with quinoa all over me…but that’s another story!). The recipe was so memorable that when we returned, we promptly wanted to make it again and share it with all of you. This Mexican quinoa recipe would also be perfect as a side dish to bring to a summer potluck, as well as a healthy lunch idea.

Perhaps there was something addictive in our fajita seasoning, but this Mexican quinoa recipe sticks out as one of my recent favorites. It uses all the summer vegetables that are nearing the end of their season here in Indiana, so it’s a good September salad before we get into pumpkin spice latte season. And it was incredibly nutritious, yet interesting enough to keep our tastebuds satisfied. For a full meal, we’d suggest serving with a green salad and perhaps a side of roasted sweet potatoes. It’s also a great lunch option and saves in the refrigerator well.

The only thing that requires any technique at all in this Mexican quinoa recipe is making the quinoa! Here’s our master method and quinoa to water ratio: How to Make Quinoa Perfectly. It also includes a video so you can see exactly how we do it!

Related: 15 Easy Vegetarian Lunch Ideas

Mexican quinoa

Looking for quinoa recipes?

Quinoa may be a bit trendy and we’ve made a whole bunch of recipes with it, but it is so delicious and versatile it’s hard not to love. It’s also a great gluten-free option and there are lots of great vegan quinoa recipes as well. Here are a few of our favorite quinoa recipes:

Mexican quinoa | Quinoa in a bowl

Looking for potluck side dish recipes?

This Mexican quinoa recipe is perfect for taking to a summer potluck, or as a healthy lunch. Here are a few more side dish recipes perfect for potlucks:

This recipe is…

This Mexican quinoa recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Mexican Quinoa

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (26 votes, average: 4.04 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 as a main course 1x


This flavorful and easy Mexican quinoa recipe is inspired by Mexican flavors, featuring black beans, corn, tomatoes, and fajita seasoning.


  • 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
  • 15-ounce can black beans (or 1 1/2 cups cooked or Instant Pot black beans)
  • 1 ear corn (or 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed)
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ large zucchini (or one small)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fajita seasoning or taco seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar


  1. Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): Rinse the 1 1/2 cups quinoa and drain completely. Place quinoa in a medium saucepan with 2 1/4 cups water and a few pinches kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot and simmer for about 13 to 15 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed (part the quinoa with a fork to check if the water is absorbed; if not, cook for a few more minutes). Turn off the heat and let sit covered to cool for about 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  2. If using canned black beans, drain the beans. Shuck the corn and cut the corn from the cob (or defrost the corn). Thinly slice the green onions. Dice the zucchini. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place all vegetables in a bowl.
  3. When the quinoa is done, let it cool slightly, then add it to the bowl with the vegetables. Stir in the fajita seasoning, kosher salt, olive oil, and white wine vinegar, and mix gently to combine.


Note that quinoa can vary. We prefer quinoa we’ve bought from bulk bins, which always has the correct texture. We recently bought some packaged that was a very dense texture, took longer to cook, and also had a fair amount of debris. Make sure to rinse the quinoa before using (though if you have a good product, it may not be necessary). You may need to adjust the cook time depending on the type of quinoa.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired

Keywords: Mexican Quinoa, Quinoa Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Lunch Ideas, Side Dish Ideas, Summer Potluck Recipes,

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    September 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Quinoa has to be one of my favorite “go to” foods. We always have a batch in the fridge. I love to see what ingredients and seasonings other people use and this sounds like a wonderful combination!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    September 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Planning ahead is so key, I couldn’t agree more. And quinoa is something I never tire of either, it’s definitely a staple in our house. Southwestern flavors seem to go so well with quinoa and I love everything about this salad.

  • Reply
    Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life
    September 17, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    This will be a perfect healthy lunchbox filler for next week. I love the combination of veggies, beans and quinoa with the fajita seasoning. Definitely going to make my colleagues jealous with this one!

  • Reply
    September 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    This sounds so tasty and exactly the kind of simple and delicious food that I need more of in my life!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann
    September 23, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Can you tell us how to make the fajita seasoning?

    • Reply
      September 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Sorry, we just used a store-bought mix. It’d be fun to try our own though!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Can’t wait to try this! Just double checking though, the corn and zucchini are never cooked?

    • Reply
      September 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      That’s right! Let us know if you like it :-)

  • Reply
    October 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Our food philosophy is on the same page but….if you use canned beans be sure to drain/rinse, lots of brine in the canned liquid.

    I’m an oldie, but now am a flexetarian too and I love it.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I didn’t measure, but I substituted oregano, cumin, chili powder, and garlic for the fajita seasoning and it turned out great!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I tried the recipe and I was very pleased with it! I wonder if making the recipe with part and part vegetable broth would enhance the flavor?

  • Reply
    March 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Hi – I made this for lunch today… It was really great! I substituted the juice of one lime, in place of the vinegar, and added some diced avocado and chopped cilantro, to give it more southwestern flavor!

  • Reply
    Sally Schroeder
    January 26, 2020 at 7:19 am

    This was delicious. I did make a few modifications: I didn’t have scallions so minced some Vidalia onion instead, which I lightly sauteed in olive oil with the zucchini. When this mixture was added to the quinoa, beans and corn, the result was sufficiently moist that it didn’t need the dressing.

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