Black bean salad is an easy recipe that combines simple vegetables with a refreshing and zesty cilantro lime dressing to tie all flavors together.

Expect an irresistible combination of textures. Crispy bell pepper, creamy sweet potatoes, velvety avocado, tender black beans, corn, and a juicy dressing.

Black bean salad with corn is inspired by southwestern cooking. It is a playful combination of sweet, tangy, zesty, citrusy, fresh, and herby flavors.

You can serve it as a side or main dish with added quinoa or romaine lettuce. It is excellent for summer cookouts, picnics, barbecues, potlucks, and meal prep.

black bean salad on a white plate with a silver spoon

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.

Don’t have time to read the full blog post? JUMP TO RECIPE HERE!

black bean salad with a female hand and lime on the side

Ingredients and substitutions for black bean salad

Ingredients for black bean salad

For the salad, you’ll need:

Black beans: you can use canned black beans or dried black beans cooked in water. Here’s our guide on how to cook black beans, should you need it.

Substitute chickpeas or garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black-eyed beans, or red kidney beans.

Sweet potatoes: peeled and diced into 1-inch or 2.5-cm cubes.

Substitute halved cherry tomatoes or diced vine tomatoes.

Green bell peppers: diced. You can substitute red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but they’ll have a slightly sweeter flavor.

Canned corn kernels: drained. You can substitute defrosted frozen corn or fresh corn cooked at home by boiling it in water and cutting it off from the cob.

Red onion: finely chopped. If you want a milder flavor, substitute spring onions or shallots for red onion.

Avocado: diced.

Pickled jalapeños. Substitute fresh jalapeños, thinly sliced and soaked in 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, and a pinch of salt for 30 minutes.

Ingredients for cilantro lime dressing

For the dressing, you’ll need:

Fresh cilantro (fresh coriander outside the USA).

Substitute fresh parsley, basil, or mint. Alternatively, if you don’t like cilantro, you can make another dressing, such as an Italian vinaigrette or tahini sauce.

Extra virgin olive oil. Substitute olive oil or avocado oil.

Fresh lime juice. Substitute fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Maple syrup. Substitute honey, agave syrup, date syrup, or brown sugar.

Fresh garlic: chopped. Substitute garlic powder.

Fresh ginger: peeled and grated. Substitute ground ginger.

Sea salt or kosher salt.

black bean salad with roasted sweet potatoes and hand holding a silver spoon

How to make black bean salad + Nico’s tips

US cups + grams measurements are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

1. Cook the beans if using dried ones

Rinse, then boil the dry black beans in a large pot with plenty of lightly salted water for about 1 to 1.5 hours or until tender.

If you use canned black beans, drain and rinse them.

Tip: Dry black beans don’t require soaking as they are smaller and have thinner skin than most other legumes.

Also, for salads, we recommend cooking the beans in salted water; they’ll taste much better and keep their shape.

Finally, to make the beans even tastier, cook them in vegetable broth or add aromatics such as bay leaves, onions, cumin, rosemary, carrots, and sage.

black beans in a white pot with boiling water

There’s no better method than tasting the beans to check for doneness.

black bean after cooking in a white pot and a silver spoon

Then, when you are happy with them, drain them and let them cool down at room temperature.

drained black beans after cooking

2. Roast the sweet potatoes

You can cook the sweet potatoes in the oven or the air fryer.

Preheat the oven or air fryer to 400°F or 200°C.

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes or 2.5 cm. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

diced sweet potatoes

OVEN ROASTING: Transfer cubed sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until fork tender and slightly browned.

roasted sweet potatoes on a silver trey

AIR FRYING: Transfer the cubed sweet potatoes into the air fryer basket.

The cubes can overlap. Air fry for 15 to 18 minutes, shaking the air fryer basket every 4 minutes to ensure even cooking.

air fried sweet potato cubes

3. Make the dressing

To a food processor or blender, add fresh cilantro, lime juice, maple syrup, chopped garlic, peeled and grated ginger, salt, and olive oil.

Blend for a couple of minutes, then taste and adjust for salt.

Tip: it’s best to use a mini food processor, small blender, or immersion blender.

You can also make the dressing without a blender by chopping everything by hand and whisking in a bowl.

cilantro lime dressing in a bowl

4. Mix the black bean salad

To a large mixing bowl, add the black beans, finely chopped onion, pickled jalapeños, roasted sweet potatoes, corn kernels, diced green bell pepper, and diced avocado.

Tip: only add the avocado if you are serving the salad within 2 hours of making it, as it will oxidize and brown. If you are meal-prepping, then add the avocado shortly before serving.

black beans, avocado, and sweet potatoes in a white bowl

Toss the salad with the dressing.

Taste and adjust for salt, and let the flavors meld for 15 – 30 minutes before serving.

black bean salad with avocado, corn, and a hand holding a spoon

Serving suggestions

We eat this black bean salad as a main meal, usually for lunch, sometimes for breakfast or dinner.

It’s excellent to stuff a tortilla wrap next to tortilla chips or to make an easy grain bowl with added lettuce and quinoa.

Also, you can add even more goodness by topping it with:

black bean salad with quinoa and a white plate

Storage and making ahead

Make ahead: Black bean salad with corn is an excellent recipe for meal prep. It keeps well for several days, and its flavors meld and intensify with time.

However, when making ahead, keep the avocado out until you are ready to serve it, and add some extra dressing the next day, as the salad can dry out in the fridge.

Refrigerator: Store the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

Freezer: we do not recommend freezing this recipe.

black bean salad with hand holding a spoon and lime in the background

Black bean salad variations

High-protein black bean salad

You have several options to increase the protein content of the salad based on your dietary requirements:

  • Vegan diet: Double the amount of black beans or add one can of chickpeas. For even more protein, add tofu. You can use air-fried tofu, grilled tofu, pan-fried tofu, or baked tofu.
  • Vegetarian diet: All of the above. In addition, you can mix in 1 hard-boiled egg per serving or serve it next to a dollop or two of cottage cheese or yogurt tahini sauce.
  • Omnivore and flexitarian diet: All of the above. In addition, you can mix in grilled or pan-fried chicken.

Black bean and quinoa salad

black bean salad with quinoa and a white plate

Add boiled quinoa to make this black bean salad even more nutritious. It’ll keep you healthy and satiated for the whole day.

It’s the perfect meal prep recipe for lunch, dinner, and post-workout meals, as the ingredients in the salad are packed with nutrition, wholesome plant protein, healthy carbs, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.

You’ll need 1/2 cup of dry quinoa boiled in 1 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Cook the quinoa as per package instructions, let it cool down for 15 minutes, then add it to the black bean salad.

Substitute brown rice, farro, buckwheat, amaranth, or millet for quinoa.

Black bean mango salad

Mango Quinoa Salad with black beans

Black bean salad with mango and quinoa is sweet, juicy, creamy, and refreshing.

It’s an original spin on classic black bean salad, and it’s perfect for hot summer days as a light lunch or as a side for barbecues and potlucks.

Here’s our black bean mango salad recipe.

Questions

Is black bean salad gluten-free?

Yes, our black bean salad is gluten-free and vegan.

What pairs well with black beans?

According to Karen Page’s “The vegetarian flavor bible” and our testing, black beans pair perfectly with bell peppers, jalapeños, chipotles, chipotle sauce, cilantro, avocado, corn, cumin, garlic, lime, red onion, oregano, quinoa, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and olive oil.

Are black beans good in salads?

Black beans are a great ingredient in salads thanks to their firm texture, earthy notes, creamy texture, and pleasant taste.

They pair well with various ingredients that make great-tasting and nutritious salads, like our black bean and sweet potato salad or mango quinoa salad.

How do you eat black beans creatively?

Make a mango salad with black beans. Juicy, sweet mangoes are delicious with nutty black beans. Add avocado, quinoa, red onion, and a simple tangy dressing.

Do canned black beans need to be cooked?

Canned black beans are ready to eat and don’t require cooking. Drain and rinse them from their liquid, and you are ready.

More Black Bean Recipes

More Salad Recipes

If you love healthy and fulfilling salad recipes, take a look at our most loved salads:

black bean salad with avocado, corn and sweet potato on a white plate

Black Bean Salad

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 46 votes
Black bean salad is an easy recipe that combines simple vegetables with a refreshing and zesty cilantro lime dressing to tie all flavors together.
Expect an irresistible combination of textures. Crispy bell pepper, creamy sweet potatoes, velvety avocado, tender black beans, corn, and a juicy dressing.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main, Side dish
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans or 1½ cups / 230 grams cooked black beans, or ½ cup / 100 grams dried black beans
  • pounds sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1-Inch or 2½ cm cubes
  • 1 cup green bell pepper diced
  • ½ cup canned corn kernels
  • ½ cup red onion chopped
  • ¼ cup pickled jalapeños add more or less to taste
  • 1 avocado diced

FOR THE CILANTRO LIME DRESSING

  • 1 cup cilantro use parsley if you don't like cilantro
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

Instructions 

PREPARE THE BLACK BEANS

  • Canned black beans: drain and rinse 1 can (15 ounces) black beans.
    Dried black beans: boil ½ cup dried beans in a pot with lightly salted water for 1 to 1½ hours or until tender.
    drained black beans after cooking

ROAST THE SWEET POTATOES

  • Preheat oven or air fryer to 400°F or 200°C.
    Peel and chop 1½ pounds sweet potatoes into 1-Inch cubes or 2½ cm. 
    Toss them in 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 twists black pepper.
    Oven: arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until fork tender and slightly browned.
    roasted sweet potatoes on a silver trey
  • Air fryer: transfer into air fryer basket. The cubes can overlap.
    Air fry at 400°F or 200°C for 15 to 18 minutes, shaking the air fryer basket every 4 minutes to allow for even cooking.
    air fried sweet potato cubes

MAKE THE DRESSING

  • Blend 1 cup cilantro, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt.
    To make it without a blender, finely chop ingredients and whisk them in a bowl.
    cilantro lime dressing in a bowl

TOSS THE SALAD

  • To a large mixing bowl, add the black beans, 1 cup green bell pepper (diced), ½ cup canned corn kernels, ½ cup red onion (chopped), ¼ cup pickled jalapeños, and 1 avocado (diced).
    Tip: only add the avocado if you are serving the salad within 2 hours of making it. If you are meal-prepping, then add the avocado shortly before serving.
    black beans, avocado, and sweet potatoes in a white bowl
  • Toss with the dressing then taste and adjust for salt before serving.
    black bean salad with a female hand and lime on the side
  • Optionally, you can mix in about 1 cup of boiled quinoa.
    black bean salad with quinoa and a white plate

Video

Black Bean Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of black bean salad out of 4 servings.
STORAGE
Make ahead: Black bean salad with corn is an excellent recipe for meal prep. It keeps well for several days, and its flavors meld and intensify with time.
However, when making ahead, keep the avocado out until you are ready to serve it, and add some extra dressing the next day, as the salad can dry out in the fridge.
Refrigerator: Store the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
Freezer: we do not recommend freezing this recipe.
NEED MORE PROTEIN?
Vegan diet: Double the amount of black beans or add one can of chickpeas. For even more protein, add tofu. You can use air-fried tofu, grilled tofu, pan-fried tofu, or baked tofu.
Vegetarian diet: All of the above. In addition, you can mix in 1 hard-boiled egg per serving or serve it next to a dollop or two of cottage cheese or yogurt tahini sauce.
Omnivore and flexitarian diet: All of the above. In addition, you can mix in grilled or pan-fried chicken.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 467kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 1082mg, Potassium: 1205mg, Dietary Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 24882IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 46mg, Vitamin E: 4mg, Vitamin K: 45µg, Calcium: 107mg, Folate: 117µg, Iron: 3mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 92mg, Zinc: 1mg
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If you liked this black bean salad, you might also enjoy:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




38 Comments

    1. Hi Brooke,

      Thank you for your question 🙂
      We usually serve 1/4 of the whole batch for 1 person for lunch. But that can change greatly from person to person and if you serve the salad next to something else.
      I hope this helps.

      Have a wonderful day.
      Nico

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you Nico and Louise. I love your easy but delicious receipes! Simple ingredients that I already had on hand. The bell peppers gave it a nice crunch for texture. For some reason i didnt notice the recommendation to add quinoa until later. I think that would have been a perfect addition since there appeared to be enough dressing to include that. Will do that next time. I did add a little extra corn to my liking and more lemon. Very good receipe.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is a 10/10, absolutely delicious! I made it exactly as written and added boiled quinoa as suggested option. My daughter added some seasoned and baked tofu to hers which was amazing but my first bowl was without it. This recipe is now added into my rotation, thank you!

    1. That’s wonderful news, Diana! I love the baked tofu addition for extra protein, great serving suggestion 🎉

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment and a rating here. All the best,

      Louise

    1. Hi Kate,

      If you are vegan you could add quinoa, air-fried tofu, or our baked tofu skewers.

      If you are vegetarian you can add boiled eggs or a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side.

      If you are omnivore this could work with either tuna or grilled/pan-fried chicken.

      I hope this helps 🙂
      Nico

  3. 5 stars
    What a great blend of flavors! Thank you for sharing your recipe with recommended variations. I added 6 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tsp brown sugar to a small can of diced green chilies before prepping the rest of the ingredients. I need to add some avocado or quinoa to balance the liquid content.

  4. 5 stars
    I tried the recipe with quinoa but without pickled jalapeño as I did not have some. I doubled the ingredients of the dressing as I prefer the strong flavor. PERFECTION. The salad is very creative and very delicious. I find hard to eat raw green capsicum but the choices of veggies & legumes was perfect. Each ingredient complemented the other. This is the second salad recipe I have tried from this website, & I am back to try more with confidence that the meal will taste perfect! Thank you!

    1. Fantastic, Hessa. We are so happy to have around, and delighted that you enjoy the salads 🎉

      Thank you for your kind comment and for your rating – it means a lot to us.

      Kindest,
      Louise