Fresh Black Bean Salad


Hello from Minneapolis! I came to town with Tessa for Lindsay’s photography workshop. We had the best dinner last night with Amanda and my pal Grace at Hola Arepa. That dinner alone would have been worth the trip. Come here and go there, I insist.

Unlike the coconut “ceviche” that captured my full attention last night, the inspiration for this black bean salad recipe goes way back, all the way back to my very first recipe post over seven years ago. I was just learning to cook for myself after college, and I started making that black bean salsa on repeat. At that point, Cookie and Kate was just a creative project. Well, Cookie and I very much existed, but the blog was just to keep me from losing my mind at a boring office job.

black bean salad ingredients

I was running out of content. I knew I couldn’t just share pictures of Cookie and spring flowers every day and expect people to come back. At that point, I knew I didn’t like to share anyone else’s photos, or promote the impossible perfection level of perfection that was already popping up on Pinterest. I finally shared that recipe, and realized that I could wrap stories and photos around a healthy, approachable recipe.

I created more and more recipes, and seven years later, I work on this blog full-time and have a cookbook under my belt. I’m not bored at work any more! I love what I do. Thank you for letting me do it. This Mexican-ish/Southwestern black bean salad recipe is based on my old salsa recipe, but it’s way better.

cherry tomatoes, corn, red onion and bell pepper

I switched to a combination of cherry tomato and bell pepper for a more interesting texture, color and flavor. I added lime zest for extra lime flavor without drowning the salad in liquid. And, I actually offered amounts of vinegar and salt, since I know better now. I served individual portions with fresh avocado on top, rather than mixing the avocado into the salad, since it will deteriorate before the rest does.

Like all of my other bean salads, this recipe is great to keep in the fridge on busy weeks. You can enjoy it as is, or serve it on fresh greens (perhaps with an extra spritz of lime juice for dressing; feta/avocado/crumbled tortilla chips would be great on top). You can pile it onto cheese nachos to make them more redeeming, or use it as a filling for burritos or quesadillas (just leave as much of the liquid behind in the bowl as possible).

This salad is perfect for parties, too. It’s a healthy side dish on its own. You can also serve it as black bean salsa with tortilla chips. Or, make Southwestern lettuce wraps—serve spoonfuls of it on butter lettuce, topped with avocado and/or feta. Come to think of it, I’m describing something similar to the Zesty Black Bean and Corn Salad in Lettuce Cups recipe in my book (page 123). Please let me know how you like it!

how to make black bean salad

Perfect for parties and busy weeks! This fresh black bean salad recipe is as delicious as it is colorful. It's also vegan and gluten free.

This fresh black bean salad recipe packs great for lunch! It's also perfect for parties and potlucks. Get the recipe at


Fresh Black Bean Salad

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus chill time)
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 8 servings
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Southwestern

5 from 13 reviews

This Southwestern black bean salad recipe is healthy and delicious! This fresh black bean salad is perfect for potlucks, parties and busy weeks. Recipe yields 4 large or up to 8 side servings.


  • 3 cans of black beans (15 ounces each) or 4 ½ cups cooked black beans, rinsed and well-drained
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked, or 1 cup of canned corn (drained) or defrosted frozen corn
  • 1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped red onion (from 1 small onion)
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (about ½ medium bunch)
  • 1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped (keep the seeds for heat if you’d like, or remove them for mild flavor) or 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeño
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest (from 1 lime, preferably organic)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime), to taste
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, crumbled feta, lime wedges


  1. In a large serving bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss to combine. Taste, and adjust as necessary until the flavors really pop—I usually add another teaspoon or two of vinegar (you can use lime juice instead, for more mild flavor) and another ¼ teaspoon salt.
  2. Cover and chill to enhance the flavors—preferably for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Serve in individual bowls as is, or with any of the garnishes listed. Leftovers keep well for up to 4 days or so; you might want to wake up the flavors with an extra squeeze of lime juice or tiny splash of vinegar.


CHANGE IT UP: Serve this recipe as black bean salsa (you can omit the oil) with tortilla chips. If you don’t like corn, omit it and add an extra cup of quartered cherry tomatoes.

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