Mexican Quinoa

in Cinco de Mayo, Grains & Rice, Lighter & Healthier, Mexican & TexMex, Quinoa, Vegetarian

Mexican Quinoa

We are great big fans of Mexican food. It’s a shame that traditional Tex-Mex is not very figure friendly. Things are fried in lard and served wrapped in other things that were fried in lard. But it’s delicious 🙂

In an attempt to lighten up Mexican night at home, I usually target the sides. Because trying to healthify queso is just… wrong 🙂 Pinto beans take a whirl in the food processor for homemade refried beans. And we swap the rice side dish for quinoa.

Quinoa is a grain that we’ve incorporated more and more into our menus over the last year. It’s higher in protein and fiber than rice and makes a healthier alternative – and it tastes a lot like brown rice.

On Mexican night, we mix a generous batch of pico de gallo and lime juice into cooked (and cooled) quinoa. It can be served warm but it really shines as a cold dish. The flavors are fresher and brighter and the veggies offer a cold, crisp contrast to the quinoa – it’s the perfect summer side dish when TexMex is on the menu.

Mexican Quinoa

Tomatoes, lime, red onion and quinoa make a fresher, lighter side dish for taco night.


  • 2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and diced
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (to taste)
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Cook quinoa in chicken broth, according to package directions.
  2. Place quinoa in a shallow dish and spread out, covering with damp paper towels and refrigerate until cold, about an hour. (This step is optional, but recommended)
  3. Toss cold quinoa with the juice of 1 lime, onion, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste and add additional lime juice if desired.
  4. Serve cold and store leftovers in an airtight bowl.


Yields: 8 generous side servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 2 hours

Nutritional Information
Calories: 195.0 | Fat: 3.5g | Fiber 11.7g | Protein 8.1g | Carbs 31.7
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4

16 comments… add one
  • This sounds so yummy! Love it!

  • Love love love quinoa!

  • Courtney McElhaney

    Are you able to find quinoa at HEB? I live in the same part of Texas as you (promise I’m not a creeper!) and was wondering where you buy it. Thanks! Courtney

  • KCatGU

    This is more about the pinto recipe, but just thought I would throw this idea out there. I toss my drained hot pinto’s in the kitchen aid and beat them. They give this awesome creaminess. When I put them in the Cuisinart I just find they end up a little too smooth. I love Mexican food (being in Phoenix it abounds) thanks for sharing some healthier takes, just in time for Cinco de Mayo 🙂

    • Interesting! I’ll have to try that next time! I usually process the heck out of ~2/3 of the beans and then pulse in the last 1/3 so that there’s a nice variety of texture.

      • Rachel

        Do either of you add anything to your beans for taste? I’ve tried making refried beans a few times, but the flavor seems off. I won’t use lard, and have actually tried adding bacon grease to it. Nothing seems to work and I was wondering if you have tips to share for awesome homemade beans. Thanks!

  • I’ve been craving tex-mex nonstop lately but I can NEVER figure out sides! Shawnda to the rescue, obviously! And no, healthy queso is just wrong. Seriously…what’s the point?

  • I love these kinds of dishes but usually substitute couscous for the quinoa.

  • I just bookmarked and pinned this one! As soon as I send in my manuscript (on Friday!!) it is back to HEALTHY meals again. …and now I know what is first on the list! Looks amazing!

  • Your food presentation are beautiful. Great job!

  • This sounds so delicious! I love the idea of a cold quinoa salad; I can’t wait to try out your recipe 🙂


    I made this last night and it exceeded my expectations!

  • You’re right, the contrast of flavors in this one sound amaaaazing! can’t wait to whip this one up as a healthier alternative to the traditional cheese-laden, sour cream-drenched, lard-fried stuff 🙂

  • Mollie

    Just made this for lunch…so delicious! Satisfied the chips & salsa craving, but much healthier! 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

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