Mexican Quinoa (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Stovetop)

This easy Mexican Quinoa with black beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, and zucchini is a healthy vegetarian main course or side dish! Use it for tacos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, and more.


This hearty Mexican Quinoa couldn’t be easier to make! We love it as an easy one-dish meal with melted cheese and your favorite taco toppings. It is also great as a filling used for tacos, burritos, bowls, salads, stuffed peppers, quesadillas, and more. It’s healthy, packed with plant-based proteins, and great for meal prep.

I’m always looking for new ways to add different grains to my meals. Don’t get me wrong, I love rice just as much as the next person, but I feel like it’s a good idea to mix it up whenever possible.

Quinoa is the perfect way to do that since it is packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients.

This easy Mexican inspired recipe combines quinoa, beans, corn, and tomatoes are all combined and cooked with taco seasoning. What you get is a delicious and easy taco filling or vegetarian meal. 

Mexican style quinoa with beans, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl with avocado and chips.

Ingredients and Substitutions

This recipe is healthy for so many reasons, particularly, of course, because every ingredient in and of itself is healthy.

  • Quinoa: Quinoa is full of fiber, is good for your blood sugar and heart, has tons of essential vitamins and minerals, is gluten-free, and also is a great plant source of protein. Don’t swap in rice or another grain since they cook differently and require a different amount of liquid. Any color quinoa will work.
  • Vegetable broth: Use any type of broth or water. 
  • Black beans: Beans are high in fiber and help make this dish hearty and filling. Swap in any bean you like, including homemade black beans or pinto beans,
  • Diced tomatoes with green chilies: Use any canned diced tomatoes you like. If you don’t want the extra spice, use fire-roasted tomatoes.
  • Corn: Use canned corn, frozen corn, or fresh corn. If using fresh corn, saute it with the onion and bell peppers. 
  • Taco seasoning: Taco seasoning is a quick and easy way to add tons of flavor with just one ingredient. Swap in fajita seasoning, blackening seasoning, or use your own homemade taco seasoning.

How to Make Mexican Quinoa

There are three easy ways to make this dish on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or in the crockpot. 

30 Minute One Pan Dinner

Start by sauteing the onions and peppers until they are just softened. Add any other vegetables you like at this time. Feel free to add some minced garlic, tomato paste, or jalapeno to add even more flavor.

Now add in the rinsed quinoa, beans, corn, diced tomatoes with their juice, broth, and spices. Give everything a good stir and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn the heat down to medium-low so the quinoa is simmering. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the cilantro. Add any toppings you like. We recommend cheese, fresh lime juice, and avocado.

Instant Pot

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat using the Saute function. Add the onion, bell peppers, and any other veggies you like. Cook for 3-5 minutes until beginning to soften.

Stir in the quinoa, vegetable broth, black beans, tomatoes, corn, and taco seasoning. Stir well.

Close the lid and cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. Let naturally release for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and stir in the cilantro.

Serve with fresh lime juice, avocado, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like.

Slow Cooker

This is by far the easiest option! Add everything to the slow cooker, adding an extra 1/2 cup of vegetable broth or water. Stir well. Cook on low for 2.5-3.5 hours or until the quinoa is cooked through. Fluff and add any toppings you like. 


Mexican Quinoa Toppings

If you are going to serve this as a one-dish casserole style meal, I recommend melted some cheese on top under the broiler and then adding all your favorite taco toppings. 

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Guacamole or avocado
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Sliced black olives
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh limes
  • Sliced jalapenos

Quinoa with Mexican flavors including beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning, onions, peppers, and cilantro served with chips.

Ways to Serve Mexican Quinoa

One of the best parts of this recipe is how versatile it is! Here are some of my favorite ways to serve this Mexican-style quinoa. 

  • Taco or burrito filling: All you need is tortillas, cheese, and salsa. Add some sliced avocado or guacamole if you like. Shredded lettuce is also great if you want to add some crunch.
  • Make burrito bowls: This can serve as the base for a burrito bowl and then just add all your favorite toppings.
  • Add it to quesadillas: A hearty vegetarian quesadilla filling with cheese.
  • Make stuffed peppers: Make stuffed poblano peppers or bell peppers with leftovers.
  • Make a breakfast bowl: This taste so good with eggs for a Mexican-style breakfast bowl
  • Use it as a side dish: Serve this as a side dish with Chicken Tinga, Machaca, or Cilantro Lime Chicken. This makes a great side dish for any Tex-Mex or Mexican meal. 

Variations and Recipe Ideas

  • Fajita style: Add extra bell peppers, red onions, and use fajita seasoning instead of taco seasoning.
  • Enchilada style: For a saucier option, add 1 cup of red enchilada mix to the recipe as well. This adds a smoky flavor to the quinoa and adds extra moisture.
  • Add more veggies: Add some chopped zucchini, summer squash, fresh tomatoes, spinach, or kale to the skillet while sauteing the peppers and onions. 
  • Add protein: It’s easy to add protein to this dish. The easiest option is to fold in some cooked chicken (or rotisserie chicken) to the finished dish. You can also saute some ground turkey or beef in the skillet before adding the quinoa and other ingredients. Sliced spicy chicken sausage is also really good. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about making this Mexican inspired quinoa.

This Mexican quinoa has a similar flavor profile to Mexican rice but it has more spices. It also has beans, which aren’t typically used in traditional Mexican rice.

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