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.

Black bean salad with sweet potato

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.

Uh, and to make it even more fulfilling, mix in some boiled quinoa or whole grain rice; use it as filling for a wrap, and drizzle with chipotle sauce, tahini sauce, or avocado spread.

black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing

Ingredients & Substitutions

Black bean salad ingredients

Black beans

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

Sweet potatoes are perfect with black beans.

You can roast the sweet potatoes in the oven, on a grill, or in the air fryer, and while the sweet potatoes cook, you can prep the other ingredients.

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.

Corn

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

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

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

Cilantro lime ingredients

Cilantro

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.

If you don’t like cilantro, you can use other fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, or mint instead or replace the cilantro dressing with an Italian vinaigrette or tahini sauce.

Lime

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.

Olive oil

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.

Ginger

We recommend fresh ginger, but ground ginger works too.

Maple syrup

You can use maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey.

Garlic

You can use fresh garlic or garlic powder.

Salt

We recommend sea salt or kosher salt.

black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing

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.

cooking black beans in water

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.

drained black beans

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.

diced sweet potatoes

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.

oven roasted sweet potatoes

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.

air fried sweet potato cubes

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.

all ingredients for cilantro lime dressing in a blender

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

cilantro lime dressing in a bowl

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.

avocado, corn, green peppers, black beans, jalapeno, red onion, and sweet potatoes in a bowl

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 cilantro lime dressing

Variations

Black bean salad with quinoa

black bean salad with quinoa and sweet potatoes

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 1/2 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.

Black Bean Mango Salad

Mango Quinoa Salad with black beans

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.

Lentils and sweet potato salad

lentils and sweet potato salad

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.

Serving Suggestions

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.

Storage

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.

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 “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.

Are black beans good in salads?

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.

How do you eat black beans creatively?

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.

Do canned black beans need to be cooked?

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

More Salad 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.

Get all salad recipes –>

black bean salad

Black Bean Salad

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 37 votes
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.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Course: Main, salad
Cuisine: International

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans or 1½ cups cooked black beans
  • 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

Instructions 

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.
    drained black beans

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 tbsp of olive oil, ½ tsp 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.
    oven roasted sweet potatoes
  • 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.
    air fried sweet potato cubes

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.
    cilantro lime dressing 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.
    avocado, corn, green peppers, black beans, jalapeno, red onion, and sweet potatoes in a bowl
  • Toss with the dressing then taste and adjust for salt before serving.
    black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing
  • Optionally, you can add about 1 cup of boiled quinoa.
    black bean salad with quinoa and sweet potatoes

Video

Black Bean Salad with Sweet Potato

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of black bean salad out of 6 servings.
STORAGE
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.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE
 

Nutrition

Calories: 312kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 809mg, Dietary Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 16536IU, Vitamin B6: 0.5mg, Vitamin C: 33mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 25µg, Calcium: 70mg, Folate: 75µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 63mg, Zinc: 1mg
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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




27 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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