Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that quinoa is insanely good for you. There’s a reason that every grocery store’s health aisle seems to be stocked full with quinoa-based snacks and meals: this “superfood” grain is full of plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates to keep you going throughout the day. If you haven't already jumped on the quinoa bandwagon, this Southwest Quinoa salad is the perfect way to start.

When I’m craving something light and healthy, I often have a quinoa salad, which makes for a delicious and satisfying meal. In college, I’ve gotten into the habit of buying the large pre-made quinoa salad at Costco Wholesale. It's delicious, zesty, and lasts me several meals for only around $10. However, after getting bored of eating the same quinoa salad every time, I decided to try and make my own.

This salad is a flavorful and tangy mix of quinoa, honey-charred shrimp, and other fresh ingredients that you’d find in a classic southwest salad. It adds a healthy protein kick to your day with beans, quinoa, and shrimp, while the fresh vegetables give it a flavorful and light crunch. It's topped off with a chipotle honey-mustard dressing to give it a tangy and mildly spicy edge.

This recipe is a great meal to prep ahead of time for busy weeks. I like to make it in bulk and grab it on the go when I’m short on time between classes. It's also a perfect way to start your summer out right with a light, healthy, and delicious meal!

Southwest Quinoa Shrimp Salad

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:20 mins
  • Total Time:30 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Medium


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 lb peeled uncooked shrimp
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 15 oz canned corn drained and patted dry
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz canned black beans drained
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro optional
Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 1

    Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside and let cool.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 2

    In a large bowl, toss together shrimp, garlic powder, chipotle powder, sugar and pinch of salt.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 3

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook until lightly browned on either side. Set aside and let cool.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 4

    Make sure corn is drained and patted dry with a paper towel. Using the same skillet that the shrimp was cooked in, cook corn over medium-high heat until slightly charred. Remove from heat and let cool.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 5

    Prepare dressing in a bowl by whisking together apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, cayenne, and salt.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 6

    Once quinoa and shrimp have cooled, mix together quinoa, shrimp, black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, green onion, bell pepper, and cilantro.

    Ellie Yamanaka
  • Step 7

    Mix in desired amount of dressing.

    Ellie Yamanaka

If you’re feeling creative, feel free to throw in extra ingredients laying around in your fridge or pantry to mix it up. It’s an easy way to use up any leftover ingredients, such as other types of beans, vegetables, or spices. So get innovative and get cooking with this colorful and light summer meal!