Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

And to think that I used to not even like quinoa. What’s happening to me, you guys?

So this Mexican-type casserole is life changingly amazing, but first, let’s catch up. Mother’s Day just happened.

Did you have an awesome one? I was far far away from my mom and family, but something really sweet happened: our young married neighbors invited us out to lunch with them to celebrate Mother’s Day with their sweet 6 month old baby girl, Maggy. Even though he won’t hold her, or any baby for that matter (working on that one), Bjork says she’s the cutest baby he’s ever seen in his entire life. And he has good taste in babies. She is seriously adorable.

Mother's Day

The cheeks. Ohhhh the baby cheeks. We were thrilled that they invited us and a little nervous since this last year, we’ve spent most of our time socializing with kids under 10 years old. But they are so friendly, we had a great time, and I was honestly so touched that they showed such hospitality to us.


Now for a flavor explosion. Do you see all that goodness in the slightly bent skillet? That’s onion, garlic, and JALAPEÑO. Truth: I had to capitalize that because I don’t know how to make a tilde on the n using lower case letters. But it works because that spicy green guy adds capital D-ELICIOUS flavor, right along with that fragrant garlic (♥) and sweet onion.

And then those peppers that look like they’re roasted? That’s more of a 5 minute trick that I do sometimes when I don’t want to sweat to my death in our hot apartment. They just get fake-out blistered a tiny bit by leaving them in the hot, dry skillet without stirring. Not fancy, but still totally pretty and yummy.

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

This whole quinoa black bean casserole thing is actually a remake of an earlier post I did: Southwest Black Bean Casserole. By earlier, I mean like 2 years ago earlier.

At that time I was probably still calling quinoa kin-o-wa because I was clueless. Or because I didn’t like and I was being spiteful. Now I’m more open-minded, I call it keen-wa, and I actually know how to hide it in my food to make myself enjoy it.

I basically replaced the ground turkey in the older version of this recipe with the quinoa in this recipe. It’s possibly the most I’ve ever loved this weird healthy semi-crunchy stuff, although I also equally loved it in last week’s curry squash quinoa. I dry-toasted it (that’s fancy terminology for “put it in a hot pan with nothing else”) with some spices and and salt, and it was so delicious even just plain. What? Plain. I said it.

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

Then it gets layered between the most delicious black bean garlic onion jalapeÑo mixture reminiscent of homemade refried beans, and a top layer of blistered sweet bell peppers, and then you bake it with my favorite ingredient of the whole world lately: cheese. White, melty, ooey gooey cheese.

I didn’t bother finding Mexican cheese… it just doesn’t exist here. So I used some really melty Mozzarella and my new favorite, Emmental. Yum. Do they have Emmental cheese in America, and is it cheaper than it is the Philippines? I feel so out of touch.

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

PS. Chips chips chips chips chipschipschips.

PSS. HINT OF LIME. It’s kind of trickery because I’m showing you Bjork’s man-hand dipping a girly RiceWorks chip into this yummy mountain of Mexican black bean casserole goodness, but if you’re a Hint of Lime person, you won’t be dissapointed with this combo. Or maybe you could buy some of those citrus-y and extra salty ones from Chipotle?

I think I just had a business idea.

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

I love this so much that I’ve decided it will be my TV snack when I watch the last ever episode of the Office. Which, by the way, I’m already emotional about. I read an article about Pam today (ok fine, Jenna Fischer) and I almost cried. That’s… my real life.

Distracting myself with chips now.

4.8 from 26 reviews
Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole
Serves: 9
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4½ cups cooked black beans, rinsed
  • 1¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 bell peppers, diced (mine were red and yellow)
  • 1¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • sliced green onions
  1. Black beans: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno, sauteing for 4 minutes and stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and black beans. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Mash beans to desired consistency. I like to make them a little more like refried beans while still leaving some of the beans whole. The mixture should be thick, not watery. If you still have a lot of moisture, let it cook out by keeping it on the heat for another few minutes. Taste and season with salt.
  2. Quinoa: In a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat, toss and toast the cooked quinoa with the cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and salt for 1-2 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.
  3. Peppers: In the same dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat, place the diced peppers and do NOT stir. This allows the peppers to get a brown roasted look on the outside. Wait for 2-3 minutes before stirring, then let them "roast" for another few minutes before removing from the heat.
  4. Assemble: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon black bean mixture into a glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with quinoa, bell peppers, and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese was golden and bubbly. Sprinkle with green onions and let cool for at least 10 minutes (otherwise it will be too runny). Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips, on tacos, on a salad, or just eat it plain!
I used an 8 inch square baking dish and it was VERY full. You could also spread this into a thinner casserole by using a 9x13 baking dish.


This Southwestern quinoa and black bean casserole is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy Mexican comfort food! Just 240 calories per serving.
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  1. That sound like a pretty fun Mothers day and this sound amazing!! Looks like we both thought to do Quinoa on monday!

    I LOVE this casserole. It has all my very favorites. Pepper, bean and cheese. Holy yum!

  2. This looks fabulous!

  3. I’m a big fan of Mexicany/south westerny foods, especially when they’re already vegetarian :) This recipe sounds so good. That picture with the chip? Drooling all over my desk.

  4. Another winner!

    Also, I love the blistered peppers trick! I’m going to try that! Thanks :)

  5. Quinoa is the best! This recipe sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it out!

  6. Quinoa is my newest BFF… and this casserole is so happening! LOVE IT!

  7. That baby! Those cheeks! This casserole!

  8. Great recipe. Thanks for sharing

  9. I love quinoa and black beans! The two of them together must be amazing, I can’t wait to try out the recipe.

  10. Haha, I used to work at a grocery store salad bar, and would always have customers asking me what “QUEEN-OH-WEE” is :)

    Dry-toasting it is definitely the way to go! That changed my feelings about quinoa, totally!

  11. This sounds so amazing! I love everything in this casserole…I hope I can get the rest of my family on board. If not, I’ll just eat it all.

  12. You make it look good – you’d never know you weren’t a quinoa lover! Man I love casseroles. This one looks fantastic, and scooping it up with tortilla chips? Pshh. ON BOARD.

  13. This is just totally up my alley! YUM!

  14. Christi says:

    This looks delicious!

    Also, the code for a lower-case tilde n is:
    Alt 0241

    Hope that works for you!

  15. Emmental is what the Swiss call Swiss cheese. I can thank my food science degree for that one.

    • Thank you! Actually when I studied abroad in Spain they always called it Emmental and it was so creamy and melted perfectly. I’ve always wondered what kind it really is!

  16. And suddenly I have a craving for something cheesy, zesty, and beany. :)

  17. I am so sad about the Office ending too! :-(

    I love quinoa and could definitely eat it plain, he he. Your casserole looks like a much better alternative though.

  18. Oh man, not only am I a quinoa lover, I am a Mexican-food junkie! This recipe looks perfect. And all of that cheeesseeeeee. Yes, please! :)

  19. LOVE this! I’ve had Mexican food on the back of my mind for DAYS now, and I think i know what I’ll be eating tonight. Love the quick and easy blistering technique, definitely throwing that into my pepper-cooking rotation!

  20. This is beautiful! I have a quinoa lasagna on my must-make list, but now I totally want a southwestern casserole :)

  21. YUM. I made my first Quinoa casserole recently and decided that may be my favorite way to use it. It combines so well with other flavors–i know I’ll love this. Already printed it and might just make it tonight :)!
    aloha and thanks for all of your yumminess!

  22. This looks so good! I love finding new quinoa recipes. I just recently started eating it. And I LOVE hint of lime chips! :)

  23. This made me laugh, Lindsay. Frank won’t hold babies either, but sometimes I just plunk them down in his arms anyways (I’m sure their mothers love that) – I figure he’s got to learn some time. 😉 I’m so glad you’re turning a corner on quinoa if only so that I can benefit from these creations – this looks absolutely incredible.

  24. I make something like this but never thought to sprinkle cheese on top and bake it! Genius!!

  25. YUMM!!! just pinned another recipe just like this and plan to make it this week.

  26. This looks really good! Hopefully this dish will get my dear quinoa-hater of a husband to like it! Thanks for sharing.

  27. I am fond of Mexican food! Cannot wait to try out the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Ohhhh…I love chubby cheeks on babies! It’s sooo cute. You are lucky to have such nice neighbors. I don’t like some of mine lol.

    The photos are making me drool! It has all the ingredients I love.

  29. Ohhhh man, this looks incredible! I’m pretty much a sucker for anything involving quinoa and/or melty cheese. :)

  30. So I’ve been pronouncing quinoa wrong all this time. That’s so unsettling to find out. Good thing I can make this casserole to make everything better. 😉

  31. Re: tilde – Do you have a mac? hold down option key +n, then n again.

    • Oh my gosh! ñ ! I seriously tried that 100 times whn writing the post and couldn’t get it to work, but now I got it to work. :) I must have been doing something wrong. You’re a genius! thanks!

  32. This looks amazing! And about the ñ–don’t sweat it. You knew the squiggly mark is a tilde, so you’re good in my book. If you have a Mac, though, just hold down option + n, then type the n again. Should work like a charm.

  33. I love quinoa and I love this recipe! This will definitely be tried at my house. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Hey Linds,
    I called you that so I can pretend we are friends! I want to make this ahead of time as I have company coming, but also won’t have kitchen access for most of the day while we are having some work done. Any hints or just make as is and delay bake? You know how dry beans are a little like a mouthful of peanut butter?
    Side note: stumbled on your blog from PW and I LOVE it! Thanks for the smiles and yummy
    . On the menu this week: stuffed sweet potatoes and red lentil curry!

  35. Hey Linds,
    I called you that so I can pretend we are friends! I want to make this ahead of time as I have company coming, but also won’t have kitchen access for most of the day while we are having some work done. Any hints or just make as is and delay bake? You know how dry beans are a little like a mouthful of peanut butter?
    Side note: stumbled on your blog from PW and I LOVE it! Thanks for the smiles and yummy food. On the menu this week: stuffed sweet potatoes and red lentil curry!

    • Two of my favorites! I hope you like them, Jodi. As for making the casserole ahead of time, I would make it as is but maybe add a little more liquid to the beans, and just mash them partially. Once they get mashed they start to really soak up the water, which could potentially dry them out. You could also layer some extra cheese in between the beans and quinoa so that you’d be sure to have some moisture there. :) Good luck!

  36. What a brilliant recipe! I’m always trying to think of hearty recipes for my veggie friends. I couldn’t get hold of black beans so used kidney beans in chilli sauce – – worked perfectly. Used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella for the topping with some fresh coriander. So tasty! Quinoa convert right here.

  37. Oh my, this looks pure magical! Pinning and making soon – cant wait!

  38. Aww, what a sweet Mother’s Day! That baby really is adorable, and I’m sure the parents wouldn’t have minded too much if you broke out in “Peace Like a River” or any other songs you sing with your typical 10-year-old company. 😉

    And I’m sure someone’s already told you this tip, but it’s easy to type a tilde above a lowercase n! Just hit option/alt (depending on Mac vs PC) + n, then hit the n key again. Tada!

  39. Made this tonight! YUM!!!!! I needed a ‘little’ more cheese on top – but everyone loved it!
    Next time I’m going to make them in individual tortilla shells!


  40. So… in terms of the cooked black beans… would canned black beans work? I’m making this for dinner tomorrow night… don’t care what the kiddos think. Not to be a nit picker, but how many cans of beans is 4 1/2 cups, do you think?? :)

  41. I made this last night (along with a jicama slaw salad and delicious mango margaritas) and it was fantastic, definitely a new stable in my dinner line-up. I strayed from the recipe a bit… I lined the baking dish with whole-wheat tortillas to make it more casserole-y. It worked really well but I would suggest if you do this to bake off the tortilla shells in the baking dish for a few minutes before adding the mixtures to make sure you have a crispy outside crust. I like my food on the spicy side so I added some extra jalapeno making sure to leave in the veins (the spice is actually in the veins, not the seeds; who knew!) and since I didn’t have any cayenne pepper in the spice cabinet I left that out. I am a vegetarian so this dish it great for me but my boyfriend who isn’t a vegetarian commented on how this dish left him satisfied in the way a heavy meat dish would. Vegetarian success!

  42. Made this for dinner tonight and it was excellent! Thank you!

  43. Made this today for the second time and it was great! My husband thinks this should make a weekly appearance in our house. I definitely agree!

  44. I’m a recent vegetarian and hearing about this quinoa, not sure how to say it still, but don’t know what to cook it in. Cant wait to try it out in this recipe!

  45. Lindsay, just wanted to tell you that all of the recipes of yours I’ve made have been COMPLETE successes. I made this with two friends last night and we could not stop raving (very much the way my boyfriend raved about your cauliflower lasagna. And how I raved over your blueberry flax muffins!). It’s a definite keeper for all of us! Thank you for the amazing recipes!!

  46. Hello,

    Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe! It was awesome!

    I did make some changes to the recipe. I used tri-colored quinoa, 4 canned jalapeños in vinegar, and I used dairy free- rice pepper jack cheese, I used 1/2 Adzuki and 1/2 Black beans, added a lot more cayenne pepper.

    I served this dish as nachos, I topped it with some homemade salsa verde, and some store bought red salsa, and toffuti cream cheese. My daughter, who is almost 6, loved it!

    Once again thank you for sharing this recipe!

  47. katie bell says:

    Any suggestions for bell pepper substitute? I love them, but my husband (often the dinner chef) loathes them.

    • Hmm, tomatoes? Corn? Sweet potatoes? Carrots? I also think something like zucchini would be really delicious but would get too mushy. It’s got to be a semi-sweet, sturdy veg if you’re going to bake it with the casserole! :)

  48. Okay, that little girl is about the cutest thing I have EVER seen! Thanks for the recipe!

  49. This looks phenomenal! But I’m not a huge fan of spicy. If I left out the jalapeno, would it be too bland?

  50. I just made this for dinner and it is amazing! I’m dipping the Hint of Lime chips in it and I don’t ever want to stop! I doubled the jalapeño and instead of cayenne pepper I used a fiery 5 pepper blend (and quite a bit, too), but only because I looove spicy food.

    Thanks for the great recipe! :)

  51. I found your recipe on Pinterest and immediately knew I had to try it (being a big fan of Southwestern food). IT WAS SO GOOD!

    I actually added some corn to the black bean mixture, and a can of mild Rotel tomatoes to the bell peppers. I think the tomatoes definitely added another great level of flavor! Also, I used Hatch chiles since that was all I had on hand, but they’re grown only in New Mexico, so that seemed appropriate.

    I will be making this again!

  52. Hey Lindsay,
    Any idea how this will freeze and whether it would change the cooking time? This sounds so delicious I’m thinking of trying it and then batch cooking!

    • Hm, I think you could just combine all the cooked ingredients (beans, peppers, quinoa) and then freeze it with the cheese before baking it. That way it’s already cooked but just pop it in the oven to heat and the cheese will melt nicely. :)

  53. Kristi Rose says:

    Just wanted to say that I love your blog and recipes! We’ve tried and loved most of them but this one – Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole – is our absolute favorite! I made a large batch of it for a family BBQ this last weekend and received raved reviews. Thank you for having such fun – and yummy! – recipes!!

  54. I made thus yesterday for a crowd, served it as a dip with corn chips. I have never has so many people ask me for a recipe. I did add two cups of roasted corn for color.

  55. This is delicious, easy and versatile. Thank you!

  56. You are hilarious – such a great writer. I felt like I was leaning on my elbows on your kitchen countertop with my sweats on, having just finished a bit of gossip about someone we knew in college. I’m going to try this recipe tonight. By the way – I found it originally on Pinterest, so… good for you (being pinned!).

    • Tried it last night and it was amazing. It was my first go with quinoa so I’m pretty excited about it. Big hit with my serious meat-eating husband as well (he’s basically a t-rex) and my 2-year-old!

    • Ahahaha that’s so great, kitchen counter and sweatpants friend. :) THanks Mindy!

    • Chantelle says:

      Yes, you are hilarious. I’m so glad to have found your blog! Reading your thoughts about the recipes is making me laugh out loud. I’ve only read about five so far and am totally looking forward to reading more. These are truly awesome vegetarian ideas. I live in Germany and can’t find packed brown sugar. Any suggestions?

  57. lesportsac ポーチ ラグビー ラルフ

  58. I found your blog when I was searching for Quinoa recipes. I’ve made this 3 times for guests and it’s been a huge hit every time. It’s my 8 year old daughter’s new favorite dish. Love your writing and photos.

  59. I too found this while searching Pinterest for quinoa recipes. It is great!! My 4 year old loved it and when I asked my husband what he thought he said “really good but I usually like to have bigger chunks of ground beef”. So I had to let him know he had just participated in meatless Monday and that was in fact quinoa 😉

    Would love to make it again this week but we are very busy, do you think it would hold up ok if prepped an assembled in the morning and then refrigerated until dinner time? Quinoa doesn’t get soggy or does it? Thanks again!

  60. This was so Yummy!!! My husband loved it. Because we now eat low sodium and with very little dairy I changed a couple of things. No salt and I used soy cheese. Because of all the spices you listed you could not even tell. Thank you we absolutely loved our New Years Eve dinner. Please keep giving me new recipe ideas. :)

  61. My brother and I were making a quinoa dish at Christmas and it came out a little stickier than we would have liked, so instead of tossing it we tried it in this recipe and it was amazing! We didn’t have peppers so we used a jar of salsa and, to my surprise, it was delicious. But here’s the best part…for breakfast the next day I reheated a slice and put a fried egg in top. Sooo heavenly. Thanks for the great idea!

  62. Chocolate LadY says:

    I’ve just discovered Your site and LOVE it!! This dish looks absolutelY delicious ~ I am going to make this for sure this week! Forgive the use of multiple capital ‘Y’s ~ ’tis what happens when one accidentlY spills water on one’s keYboard (that and losing the abilitY to tYpe a period ~ oY veY)

  63. This looks great!! I live alone tho sooo how do you think this would be if i froze the leftovers?? Still tasty when thawed??

    • I hardly ever freeze things so I’m not the best person to ask. :/ Can you just halve the recipe and then keep some for leftover lunches this week?

    • I’ve baked this and frozen the leftovers four or five times. It always turns out great. I usually refrigerate the uncut casserole overnight and cut it into serving sizes the next day — this keeps the slices mostly intact. I put the individual portions on a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper and freeze them completely before putting them in a plastic freezer bag. My husband takes them to work for lunch.

  64. This recipe turned out delicious! It was devoured by everyone who tasted it.

    We added zucchini and roasted corn to the pepper layer, put some avocado on top, and it was amazing.

  65. This is one of my favorite dishes !!! I follow the recipe and never change a thing. Everyone that try’s this recipe loves it.

  66. YUMMM. This is my family’s favorite quinoa recipe. Thank you!! It was sooooo good.

  67. stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s a family favorite now. My one and three year olds devour it! I do leave out the jalapeños. I look forward to finding more recipes on your site!!

  68. This is delish…my family loved it!

  69. I found this recipe when googling for quinoa and black bean recipes. It’s really delicious! I replaced about half the specified peppers with some sweet potato and zucchini, and roasted the lot. I also added some corn to the beans. Quite sure I will make this again.

  70. um this is the best thing I have ever tried. I made it a week or so ago and I added chicken to it (shredded from a pre roastede store bought chicken) and omg. we had it for dinner, then I heated some up for breakfast with two fried eggs on top! oh lordy! and then I had it for lunch. and Im making it again tonight. LOVE!

  71. I made this last night, it was SO delicious!! and oh so filling, I had it again for lunch today and it was just as delicious.

    I’m looking forward to trying more of you delicious looking meals!

    Thanks for sharing


  72. Wow, made this for dinner tonight, and it is delicious! ,I already know this will be a family favorite! Thank you for the awesome, healthy recipe!

  73. Brynda Booey says:

    How does one dice a green onion?

  74. This recipe was excellent. I just finished preparing it and eating it. I prepared it a little differently than your instructions and also through in some zucchini that I had and it was very delicious! I ate it plain just out of the oven and I’ll be taking the rest for lunch the next couple of days. I plan on making it again. Thanks!

  75. Absolutely delicious! I only had two peppers and added some leftover corn which gave it a nice bit of sweetness. Looking forward to the leftovers tonight:)

  76. Stephie Thibeault says:

    Hi Lindsay!

    I recently decided to go the vegetarian/vegan route after watching documentaries like Food Inc., Vegucated and, most recently, Earthlings. One night while browsing for some yummy recipes to try, I stumbled across your website and this wonderful recipe. All I can say is WOW! I just made it this afternoon and it is spectacular! Thank you so much for posting it. I will be sure to take a look around and try some more of your other recipes as well. Thanks again for spreading the love :)

  77. healthy holly says:

    I am excited to try this but am no chef by any means! I want to add ground turkey to this recipe but don’t want to ruin it, how do you suggest I modify? Maybe 1 cup quinoa and 1 lb turkey? Also wondering if pureed fresh tomato would mix well suggestions on these additions? I would love to hear what you think!

  78. We’ve made this twice now and LOVE it! We top it with some sour cream and Chipotle tabasco sauce. And by serves 9, do you actually mean serves 4?? Michael and I can easily eat half of the dish. :)

  79. I pretty much combined this recipe with the original you posted back in 2011. I have made the recipe from 2011 at least a 3 or 4 times.. except my boyfriend is a vegetarian so we use MorningStar “crumbles” instead of ground turkey (no bacon either). I did the black beans on the bottom, then my faux meat mixture, the roasted veggies (added frozen roasted corn since I had it), and topped it all of with cheese. So so good! I will definitely be making it this way from now on. Though I am tempted to try it with the quinoa some time instead.

    I first tried dry roasting peppers/corn on in a skillet in one of your other recipes. I use it all the time now.. it’s such a great method!

  80. Having this for lunch right now and it’s delicious. I think next time I’ll add a can of tomatoes and throw it in the quinoa when I’m mixing the chili powder and other spices with it.

  81. I just made this tonight for dinner and it was soooo good! Loved all the different flavors of the casserole, and I especially LOVED the suggestion of the Hint of Lime chips with it!! I hadn’t eaten those in a very long time and seriously that lime flavor along with the rest of the casserole was such an awesome addition! The only change I made was I left out the jalapeno and I reduced the cayenne pepper because I am such a wimp with spicy food! Still was delicious though, and I’ll definitely make again.

  82. Love this casserole, but I only LOVE it when I make it in a cast iron large skillet or dutch oven. The flavor is just that much different. Don’t get me wrong, in the glass dish is still a very good meal, but in c.i. is over-the-top better.

  83. Brandy Callaway says:

    I was so psyched to try this but mine did not turn out right. I followed the recipe to a T except I used Almond cheese. The pic looked so delicious

  84. My wife makes something almost exactly like this except instead of jalapeno she uses a lot of New Mexico Hatch Green Chile and it is truly amazing. I used to give her a hard time (jokingly) whenever she made an entree without meat but this is practically my favorite dish now. I enjoyed your article!

  85. Jill Curry says:

    1cup of dry quinoa = the 2 cups cooked in your ingredient list?

  86. Cooked this last night and even my “i don’t like anything different” husband LOVED it! And those hint of lime chips? On point.

  87. Love that you used quinoa! It’s one of my favorite grains and I’m always looking for new recipes to use it in.

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