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. Jalapeño 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).

Updated with new photos, 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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Showing 4 of 36 Comments

  • Nina

    What Do you mean by “1/2 pickled jalapeno”? How much do you mean?

  • kelly

    This is so good. I put it over couscous. The dressing is so much better with the sugar. Definitely a keeper recipe!

  • Gary

    This was wonderful as a salad topper and tortilla chip-topper the next night. Easy,tasty, and healthy. (I skipped the sugar.)

  • Penny

    Nice hot day in the Bay Area and this salad hit the spot! Next time I will double the recipe. Elise, your bean salads are a lifesaver for fast healthy, inexpensive and delicious eating!

  • alicia

    I made this the night before my boyfriend’s birthday party. The only thing different was that instead of sugar I added about 1/8 t cumin and I didn’t add the avocados until about an hour before the party. Before mixing in the avocado I squeezed about 1 t lime juice over the avocado chunks to prevent browning. It was delicious and a big hit with everyone. we used it as both a dip for tortilla chips and as a salad. I also made your chile verde and Spanish rice. I received so many compliments! Thank you for making my party such a huge success!

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