This black bean salad recipe is excellent as a main or side dish, and you'll love it for summer cookouts, picnics, and even more for meal prep and potlucks.
Nutritious black beans are paired with sweet corn, tender sweet potato, crunchy bell pepper, creamy avocado, and a tangy cilantro lime dressing. It's a perfect balance of colors, flavors, and textures.
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Black bean salad is a crowd-pleaser because it pairs the crisp and creamy textures of the veggies with a fresh and tangy cilantro lime dressing.
We add creamy roasted sweet potatoes because they are a love affair with the black beans, but you can substitute diced cherry tomatoes if you don't want to turn on your oven, grill, or air-fryer.
This happy and colorful summer salad is the perfect balance between a healthy and indulgent meal. The black beans add plenty of protein, making the salad wholesome and fulfilling.
The other vegetables add texture, color, and flavor, not to mention a variety of nutrients that make you feel great!
This corn and black bean salad is perfect for meal prep, for a quick and nutritious lunch, as a healthy dinner, or bringing potlucks, BBQs, and picnics.
The recipe is inspired by Mexican and Southern flavors and will be loved by all eaters.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Use canned black beans or cook dry black beans yourself. Dry black beans are easy to cook at home because they don't require soaking.
You can boil them in water or vegetable broth for about one and a half hours until tender.
You can substitute black-eyed beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans for black beans.
Sweet potatoes are perfect with black beans.
You'll need a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a few twists of black pepper.
Bright orange sweet potatoes are a superfood packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fibers. Adding them to this black bean salad is a great way to incorporate them into your diet.
You can substitute cherry or grape tomatoes for sweet potato.
We generally use canned corn kernels, but you can also use frozen corn (defrosted) or cook fresh corn at home by boiling it in water, then cutting it off from the cob.
Green bell pepper
Green bell pepper is crunchy and colorful, and its slightly acidic taste matches perfectly the sweet potatoes and the black beans.
You can substitute red, yellow bell pepper, and orange bell pepper for the green ones.
Red onion adds a hint of sharpness to the salad. If the red onion is too harsh for you, replace it with spring onions or shallots.
Jalapeños add a little heat and acidity to this Mexican-inspired black bean salad.
We use green pickled diced jalapeño peppers or sliced ones.
Cilantro Lime Dressing
Fresh cilantro (coriander outside of the USA) is a perfect match with all the other ingredients in this salad, and that's why we chose it for our dressing.
Use fresh lime juice or replace it with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Use apple cider vinegar instead if you don't have fresh limes or lemons.
Lime zest is optional, but since most limes are treated with not-so-healthy stuff, I wouldn't zest their peel.
Extra virgin olive oil would be best for this dressing as it's fruitier and more aromatic than regular olive oil.
Substitute avocado oil for olive oil.
We recommend fresh ginger, but ground ginger works too.
You can use maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey.
You can use fresh garlic or garlic powder.
We recommend sea salt or kosher salt.
How to make black bean salad
1. Boil the Beans
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, just drain them and rinse them.
Tip: dry black beans don't require soaking as they are smaller, and their skin is thinner than, for example, kidney beans.
Also, always cook beans in salted water; they'll taste much better and keep their shape.
Finally, to make the beans even tastier, you can cook them in vegetable broth or add aromatics such as bay leaves, onions, rosemary, carrots, and sage.
There's no better method than tasting the beans to check if they are done cooking.
Then, when you are happy with them, drain them.
2. Cook the Sweet Potatoes
You can cook the sweet potatoes in the oven, on a grill, or in the air-fryer. Preheat oven or air-fryer to 400°F or 200°C.
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-Inch cubes. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Oven Roasting: transfer cubed sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender and browned.
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 allow for even cooking.
3. Make the Dressing
Add cilantro, lime juice, maple syrup, chopped garlic, peeled and grated ginger, salt, and olive oil to a food processor or blender.
Tip: it's best to use a mini food processor, small blender, or immersion blender. You can also do the dressing without a blender by chopping everything by hand and whisking in a bowl.
Blend for a couple of minutes, then taste and adjust for salt.
4. Mix the Black Bean Salad
To a large mixing bowl, add the black beans, finely chopped onion, sliced 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. If you are meal-prepping, then add the avocado shortly before serving.
Next, pour in the cilantro lime dressing and toss well.
Taste and adjust for salt, and let the flavors meld for 15 minutes before serving.
Black bean salad with quinoa
Make this black bean salad even more nutritious by adding boiled quinoa. 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 ½ cup of dry quinoa and 1 cup of water.
Cook the quinoa as per package instructions, let it cool down for 15 minutes, then add it to the black bean salad. Alternatively, you can substitute brown rice for quinoa.
This mango salad with quinoa and black beans 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.
Check out our black bean mango salad recipe.
Want to try a different legume? Then our lentil sweet potato salad is perfect for you.
Still plenty nutritious and tasty, this variation with lentils features a Mediterranean-inspired dressing with lemon juice, cumin, paprika, garlic, and parsley.
This one is also perfect for making ahead and bringing with you for lunch. You can also serve this as an appetizer or side dish.
Check out our lentil sweet potato salad recipe.
We eat this black bean salad as a main meal, mostly for lunch, sometimes for breakfast or dinner. Try using it to stuff a tortilla wrap and top it with:
- Chipotle sauce (pepper in adobo sauce, mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, etc.)
- Tahini sauce (tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, salt, etc.)
- Avocado dip (avocado, tahini, lemon juice, salt, etc.)
- Sour cream (cashew nuts, water, apple cider vinegar, etc.)
- Guacamole (red onion, avocado, lime juice, salt, etc.)
You can also serve it with tortilla chips, almost like a dip. Or use it to stuff lettuce leaves and turn it into a cute appetizer.
Make ahead: this is a great recipe to make ahead of time, store in the fridge, and serve as you need during the week.
It lasts about 4 days in an airtight container, and you can eat it cold straight out of the fridge.
I'd advise you to keep the avocado out until you are ready to serve it and add some extra dressing the next day, as the salad can dry up in the fridge.
Refrigerator: store black bean salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer: we do not recommend freezing.
Yes, our black bean salad is gluten-free and vegan.
According to "The vegetarian flavor bible" by Karen Page and to 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.
Yes, black beans are a great ingredient in salads thanks to their firm texture, earthy notes, meaty and 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.
Make a mango salad with black beans. Juicy sweet mango is delicious with nutty black beans. Add avocado, quinoa, red onion, and a simple tangy dressing. Check out our mango salad with black beans.
No, canned black beans are ready to eat. Drain and rinse them from their liquid, and you are good to go.
More Black Bean Recipes
If you love healthy and fulfilling salad recipes, take a look at our most loved salads:
- Green bean salad (green beans, cherry tomato, shallot, mustard, olive oil, etc.)
- Sweet potato salad (arugula, sweet potato, avocado, feta, cranberries, etc.)
- Avocado salad (cherry tomato, red onion, lemon, bell pepper, avocado, etc.)
- Barley salad (roasted vegetables, sundried tomato, barley, lemon, olive oil, etc.)
- Rice salad (olives, cucumber, cherry tomato, bell pepper, wholegrain rice, etc.)
Or get more salad inspiration from our salad archive with grain bowls and healthy everyday salads.
Black Bean Salad
FOR THE SALAD
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans or 1½ cups cooked black beans
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1-Inch cubes
- 1 cup green bell pepper diced
- ½ cup corn
- ½ cup red onion chopped
- ¼ cup pickled jalapeños chopped
- 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
PREP THE BEANS
- Canned black beans: drain and rinse under running water.Dry black beans: boil in a large pot of lightly salted water for 1 to 1½ hours or until tender.
ROAST SWEET POTATOES
- Preheat oven or air fryer to 400°F or 200°C.Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-Inch cubes. Toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few twists of black pepper.Oven: arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until tender and browned.
- Air fryer: transfer into the 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.
MAKE THE DRESSING
- Blend all dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust for salt, sweet, and lime. To make it without a blender, finely chop ingredients and whisk them in a bowl.
TOSS THE SALAD
- To a large mixing bowl, add the black beans, finely chopped onion, sliced 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. If you are meal-prepping, then add the avocado shortly before serving.
- Toss with the dressing then taste and adjust for salt before serving.
- Optionally, you can add about 1 cup of boiled quinoa.