Black Bean Salad

Black bean and corn salad is an easy summer picnic or potluck recipe. This recipe features fresh red bell peppers, jalapeños, avocado, and corn. Feel free to use canned or freshly cooked black beans!

Black Bean Salad
Elise Bauer

Featured in 11 Recipes to Make with Freezer Ingredients

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

Ingredients in Black Bean Salad

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 add some sweetness and color. Lemon juice and/or lime juice add some acid. Jalapeño or cumin will give it a kick, and avocado and olive oil will smooth it down.

Black Bean Salad
Elise Bauer

How to Make the Best 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 delicious if you have freshly cooked corn and beans on hand. (Here's how to make beans in a pressure cooker!) But if you don't, just use the canned beans and frozen corn (we used white corn here).

Make Ahead Tips

This black bean salad recipe comes together much more quickly if you use canned black beans and canned or frozen corn, or if you make them ahead yourself and have them ready to go in the fridge. See our post on how to make black beans in the Instant Pot, and our easy tip for getting corn off the cob

We recommend assembling this salad a bit ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. If you prepare it more than a day in advance, it's best to wait to add the avocado just before serving.

Swaps and Substitutions

  • Hate cilantro? Use fresh basil or parsley.
  • Use yellow or orange bell peppers instead of red.
  • If you’re sensitive to heat, you can also leave out the jalapeños without it affecting the flavor of the entire recipe.
  • If you don’t have lime juice, use lemon juice or red wine vinegar instead.
  • Swap other beans, such as pinto, for the black beans.

Storing Leftover Black Bean Salad

Refrigerate this salad in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. That said, due to the avocado in the salad and its tendency to oxidize and turn brown, it's best to enjoy this salad on the day you make it.

What to Serve with Black Bean Salad

More Black Bean Recipes to Try!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Black Bean Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

We've sampled 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. If you're using beans you cooked yourself, use 1 1/2 cups.

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

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or shallots
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced, or 1/2 pickled jalapeño pepper, minced but not seeded
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (and/or 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method

  1. Combine everything but the avocado and herbs:

    In a large bowl, gently mix the black beans, corn, scallions, jalapeños, tomatoes or red bell pepper, lime juice, and olive oil.

    Then, gently fold in the chopped avocados.

    black-bean-salad-method-1
    Elise Bauer
    black-bean-salad-method-2
    Elise Bauer
  2. Season and chill:

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

  3. Add cilantro and serve:

    Right before serving, add the chopped fresh cilantro.