Slow Cooker Cheesy Mexican Quinoa Casserole

A vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole made entirely in the slow cooker. Packed with sweet potatoes, black beans and taco seasoning, this is sure to be a family favorite! Vegetarian and gluten-free.

You’re in for a treat with this slow cooker meal! Cheesy casserole goodness with verrrrry little effort. In case you didn’t know, you can throw dry, uncooked quinoa directly into your slow cooker with liquid (in this case, water or broth) and it will cook right up! For this particular dish, just add in the quinoa, liquid, veggies and spices and turn your slow cooker on. When it finishes cooking, stir in the cheese and top with some more for good measure and voila! A healthy, cheesy casserole is ready to eat.

Slow cooker vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole on a plate topped with melted cheese, sour cream, jalapeno, cilantro, green onions and avocado slices.

This recipe is inspired by my Quinoa Fiesta Bake, which is delicious BTW, but I have to say that I might like the slow cooker version even better than the original. I think it has to do with the cheese being melty and gooey with the slow cooker version. The cheese tends to get hard and crispy on top. I know some people love that crispy cheesy layer, but the melty and gooey cheese speaks to me with this dish.

Slow cooker vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole on a plate topped with melted cheese, jalapeno, cilantro, and green onions.

So let’s talk about quinoa for a minute, because it is the powerhouse ingredient behind this recipe!

What is Quinoa?

Although it’s grain-like, quinoa is not technically a grain (like wheat or rice) but a seed more closely related to spinach and amaranth. Weird, I know! Having said that, it’s basically a grain! You prep it the same, eat it the same and it tastes really similar to other grains.

Quinoa is considered a superfood. It’s classified as a carbohydrate but it’s also high in protein and fiber and a good source of antioxidants and minerals. It’s naturally gluten-free, so perfect for anyone with gluten sensitivities or allergies.

How Do You Cook Quinoa in a Slow Cooker?

I had to check this before recipe testing! It was my first time making quinoa in a slow cooker and I honestly didn’t know if I should put it in uncooked or cooked. I wasn’t sure if the slow cooker would get hot enough to cook the quinoa but turns out it does!

Through my research, I also found that you can cook plain quinoa in your slow cooker too. Here’s how:

  1. Add 1 cup of quinoa, 1 3/4 cups of water or broth into your slow cooker. You can also add any seasonings you want, like sea salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the quinoa on low for about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. The time will vary based on the brand and size of your slow cooker. The first time you try this method of cooking quinoa, make sure you’re nearby so you can watch the slow cooker and figure out the appropriate cooking time. The quinoa is done when it’s fluffy and cooked through.

Vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole in a slow cooker topped with melted cheese, sliced jalapeno, green onions and cilantro.

How to make this Mexican Quinoa Slow Cooker Meal:

This is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of slow cooker meal. Hooray! Simply add the liquid, uncooked quinoa, sweet potato, black beans, salsa, bell pepper, onions, cilantro and seasoning to your slow cooker. Seriously, dump it all in there! Give it a good stir to combine all of the ingredients and then cover. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 6 hours.

To decide which cooking time to choose, look at your schedule! If you’re starting this in the afternoon and need a quick turnaround, cook on high. If you’re starting this in the morning and have the flexibility of it going all day (or won’t be home), cook it on low.

It’s ready when the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. You’ll remove the lid and give everything another stir at this point. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and then top with another cup. Cover and cook a little longer, just until cheese melts. You don’t need to turn your slow cooker back on – if it’s still on the “warm” setting, it should be giving off enough heat to melt the cheese.

When the cheese is nice and melted, scoop out portions, top with desired toppings and serve!

Vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole in a slow cooker topped with melted cheese, sliced jalapeno, green onions and cilantro.

This might just be one of my favorite slow cooker meals to date. The combo of sweet potatoes and black beans with the taco seasonings and cheese is so good and so comforting. One thing to note: the dish does tend to get a little mushy if you let it cook for too long. I don’t mind this at all and honestly, think it makes a great dip this way BUT if you want more texture with the sweet potatoes and quinoa, just be sure not to overcook the dish.

More Quinoa Recipes You Might Enjoy:

If you make this slow cooker cheesy Mexican quinoa, please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers.

Print

Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa Casserole


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Description

A vegetarian Mexican quinoa casserole made entirely in the slow cooker. Packed with sweet potatoes, black beans and taco seasoning, this is sure to be a family favorite! Vegetarian and gluten-free.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup water or veggie broth
  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 3 cups diced sweet potato (about 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups prepared salsa (mild, medium or hot)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion + more for topping
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons taco or fajita seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese, divided
  • Toppings: Greek yogurt or cashew sour cream, avocado, green onion, cilantro
  • Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add water, quinoa, chopped sweet potato, black beans, salsa, bell pepper, yellow onion, green onion, cilantro and taco seasoning in your slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-6 hours, or until the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
  3. Remove the lid and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and sprinkle 1 cup on top. Put the lid back on and cook until the cheese melts, about 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with desired toppings and tortilla chips if using.

Notes

  • This quinoa dish can get a little mushy if you let it cook for too long. I don’t mind this at all and honestly  think it makes a great dip for tortilla chips this way, but if you want more texture with the sweet potatoes and quinoa, just be sure not to overcook.
  • Make this dish in the oven by following this recipe: Sweet Potato Quinoa Fiesta Bake.
  • This recipe can is part of my vegetarian freezer meal prep series. <– Check out the post to learn how to prep and freeze it in advance.
  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 303
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fat: 10g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Protein: 13g

Keywords: slow cooker mexican quinoa, cheesy quinoa

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    61 comments
  1. Planning on making this recipe, this weekend! I am not too much of a chef but can you explain the sweet potato process. Do I need to cook the sweet potato before I put it in the crockpot?

  2. Made this last night and it was delicious and so filling. Immediately sent the recipe to my mum who’s going to make it and see if she can trick my stepdad into eating quinoa…

    • Haha! Definitely keep me posted how your mom succeeds! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Eleanor. Thanks so much for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. I really appreciate it!

  3. I don’t own a slow cooker. How would I do this on the stove top? Should I cook quinoa, sweet potatoes separately then cook all the rest on a stove top and mix?

      • It was great! I just cooked it at very low temperature for a couple hours. But I believe the taste was there even though the consistency wasn’t the same. But I added some tortilla chips and sour cream and nobody noticed the texture 😉

  4. Soo good and so easy. Made this during the quarantine and it provided meals for many days. It was so comforting…something we all need right now!

  5. I’ve made the Cheesy Mexican Quinoa Casserole (Slow Cooker Version) several times – it’s my fav! Has anyone tried freezing it?

    • I’m so glad you love this recipe, Chris!! You can definitely freeze it. I included instructions for freezing here. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. I so appreciate it!

  6. I have made this w chicken in the past and now can’t remember how I did it… though you had recs at one point. Any thoughts?

    • Mmm, you could either add pre-cooked shredded chicken once the dish is done cooking or you could try adding chicken directly to the slow cooker to shred. Let me know what you end up trying!!

  7. I used the instant pot and it was so incredibly easy! I added corn too for a little extra texture! Cooked it on manual for 12 minutes and it was perfect! I have so much leftover for lunch/supper the next few days!

    • Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Stacey. So glad it turned out for you in the instant pot. I really appreciate you coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It’s super helpful to other readers!

  8. This was so tasty! We’re trying to eat more plant based, so I made it with cashew pepper jack shreds to make it vegan and it was so delish! My husband got seconds and my 4 year old son finished his bowl! Another great recipe Brittany!!

    • Ahh yay!! This makes me so happy to hear, Allie. I’m so glad this casserole was a hit with the entire fam. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It’s super helpful to other EBF readers. 🙂

  9. This is an amazing recipe! I used Daiya cheddar style shreds to make it vegan, and made my own taco seasoning. So delicious — my husband thought it tasted like restaurant food! 😄 So easy and loved that I didn’t need to use the stove top.

  10. Hi! I just made this in my slow cooke r since I’m about to move out of my apt and already packed my pots and pans. I loved the thick consistency although I could see how an extra cu p of broth might make it yummy in a stew format? THanks as I enjoy it with a dash or two of hot sauce! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes Kudos from south texas!

  11. I would give this 20 stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️If I could 😊. So delicious & so easy. And The Cheese!!!! 😍 Thank you, Brittany!! 🙏

  12. I made this with these mods:
    – cumin and chili powder for the taco seasoning; added can of green chili’s; added frozen corn/bell pepper/soy bean mix; added left over shredded slow cooker chicken 🙂 delish!!

  13. Made it in the instapot (10 minutes high pressure-quinoa cooked perfectly). Did use one extra cup of broth. Really good!!

  14. This was amazing! My whole family liked it, including my 6 year old who doesn’t like sweet potatoes. He said he couldn’t believe there were sweet potatoes in it. We will definitely make this one again!

    • Hi Holly! I’m so glad that you and your whole family (including your little one) enjoyed this recipe. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and star rating on the recipe as well. I really appreciate it.

  15. I don’t love Sweet potatoes so I tried mine with diced butternut squash and it was good. I did need a whole packet of seasoning though for more flavor. I made this 1.5x the amount to make as a weekly meal prep dish. Made 6 large servings. Might try adding in corn next and even zucchini instead of the potatoes or butternut squash.

  16. I am not a huge sweet potato fan. Is there anything you would recommend any possible substitutions?

  17. Just made this recipe for dinner. So easy and it turned out great. I topped this dish with ranch dressing, less clean but so delicious. Thank you for this recipe I will definitely make it again.

  18. No exaggerating here, this is seriously one of my favorite foods now. Thank you, you wonderful human!

  19. Seriously soooo good and easy! I made it this morning while babywearing my sick 10 month old. I loved being able to still cook something delicious and have the extra time needed to care for my son. Thanks for sharing–it will be added to our meal rotation for sure.

  20. Hi! I’m preparing this right now—I swapped out the sweet potatoes with Japanese squash because I had sweet potatoes last week, and since kabocha is supposed to be similar in terms of taste and cooking method as sweet potato I figured i might as well try something new! I also added a chopped yellow pepper and chopped anaheim pepper—the green peppers you added to the pictures of the finished dish inspired me 🙂 will let you know how it goes! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Nikki. To add ground turkey, I’d recommend sautéing it in a pan until it’s fully cooked, then add it to the slow cooker at the same time you add the quinoa, black beans, etc. Let me know if you try this!

  21. Brittany, this was really good and easy! Thanks for making dinner easy! And I love having leftovers too!!

  22. Has anyone tried a different way of preparing the sweet potatoes? I was thinking of possibly shredding them in the food processor instead of dicing them. Found they took the longest to cook when cubed.

  23. I made this using the slow cooker button for 2 hours in the Instant Pot. Then I just stirred the 1 cup of cheese in then topped individual portions with more cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. I plan on making freezer packs of this that I can take out and cook and just do 1 giant prep.

  24. Hi! Would this recipe double well? I am always looking for a good slow cooker recipe to feed my crew of 5. Thank you!

  25. I’d like to make this recipe, but I recommend that the quinoa is rinsed thoroughly before adding it to the slow cooker. Naturally occurring saposin on the quinoa can make you sick if you don’t rinse the quinoa first. That’s why the package instructions always tell you to rinse before cooking.

  26. I loved this. I would have never thought to use sweet potatoes. I cooked the sweet potatoes on the stovetop and the quinoa separately. I used chili powder vs seasoning; added frozen corn; used a bag of frozen red/green peppers and onions; and layered deli Colby Jack cheese on top. Thank you!!

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