Black Bean Salad

What is it about a black bean salad that practically shouts, “summer potluck”? The mercury has been edging past a hundred degrees lately here and I’ve been getting nostalgic for some of the picnic foods I remember having often as a kid.

The basic structure of a black bean salad is black beans (canned or freshly made) with corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh). Parsley, basil or cilantro add an herby note to the flavors. Tomatoes or red bell pepper some sweetness and color. Lemon juice and or lime juice some acid. Jalapeno or cumin will give it a kick, and avocado and olive oil will smooth it down.

Black Bean Salad

I find adding a little bit of sugar almost always helps balance the acid from the citrus and tomatoes, and makes for a better tasting salad.

Obviously, this salad will be extra good if you have freshly cooked corn and beans on hand. But if you don’t, just use the canned beans and frozen corn (we used white corn here).

From the recipe archive, first posted 2007!

Black Bean Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

We've sample many brands of canned black beans (see our Black Bean Burrito Bowl for details). Our favorites for flavor are S&W Premium Black Beans, Bush's Best Black Beans, and Goya.

This black bean salad uses cilantro. For those of you who don't like cilantro, feel free to substitute with fresh basil.



  • 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups of freshly cooked black beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted (or fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled, or grilled and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (including onion greens) or shallots
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced, or 1/2 pickled jalapeño pepper, minced (not seeded)
  • 3 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped and/or 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (about the juice from one lime)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1 In a large bowl, gently combine the black beans, corn, chopped green onions, minced jalapeños, chopped tomatoes (or red bell pepper), lime juice, and olive oil. Gently fold in the chopped avocados.

black-bean-salad-method-1 black-bean-salad-method-2

2 Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with sugar to taste, enough to balance the acidity from the lime juice.  Chill.

3 Right before serving, add the chopped fresh cilantro.

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Black Bean Salad

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Showing 4 of 36 Comments

  • Tammy

    Delicious! My mom makes a very similar recipe, but with cumin added (and no sugar – for some reason the cumin adds a nice balance so we’ve never needed the little kick of sweetness added). This is a great recipe for improvisation – you could add any number of other veggies (like bell pepper – my favorite) and it would still be crunchy and refreshing. Thanks for the post, I always forget about this salad.

  • Vanessa

    Perfect – refreshing, full of vitamins AND taste! Great for a potluck! For a summer dinner you could round out the meal with grilled fish and avocado horseradish sauce, and vegetarians could do a seared tofu. Love the recipe, can’t wait to make for my next bbq!

  • Diggliana Alvarez

    Your site is great, I love bean salads…I make a mix lentil salad and sweet red peppers…

  • jonathan

    To add sweetness without adding sugar, try to use fresh picked sweet corn (no more than one or two days old – max), and roast/grill it at a high temp. for a 5 – 10 minutes. Scrape off the cob, and…voila! Bob’s yer uncle…

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