Black Bean Salad

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 35 Comments

  • Oakville Chef

    Made this for a family BBQ recently. Nice and fresh. You should consume within 2 days max. Otherwise, it loses flavour , becomes watery and the vegetables soggy with the avocado turning brown. I added red pepper which made for nice contrast in colour.

  • Ruth

    Made this tonight to go with fish tacos, it was great! I didn’t have jalapeno’s but did have dried ground jalapeno so added a dash of that, cumin, chili powder and some chipotle powder to the skillet where I was toasting the corn in a bit of oil. Added great flavor! A keeper! In fact, it’s so good I’m making another batch to take to a gathering tomorrow. There are loads of great salad recipes on this site – thank you!

  • Jennifer Mosher

    I’ve been making this salad since it was first posted in 2007- it’s always a hit at parties. Thanks for keeping the recipe online!

  • 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!

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