Fresh Black Bean Salad

This dish for black bean salad was long in the making. It all started with my very first recipe article, which was published more than seven years ago. After college, I had only begun to learn how to prepare meals for myself, so I kept cooking that black bean salsa.

This recipe for a black bean salad with Mexican and Southwestern influences is based on my old salsa recipe, but it’s much improved.

Cookie and Kate was merely a side project back then. My dog Cookie and I were real people, but the blog was merely something I did to pass the time at a dull office job.

I eventually posted the recipe and discovered that I could tell a story and include images with a wholesome, approachable food. After seven years, I now devote all of my time to this site and have published a cookbook. At work, I’m no longer bored! What I do, I adore. I appreciate you allowing me to do it.


How to Make the Best Black Bean Salad

The base of this recipe is black beans, of course. I used canned beans, so this recipe comes together quickly and easily. Here’s what I changed to make this recipe so tasty:

  • 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. Lime juice and white wine vinegar give it such a nice zing.
  • 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.


How to Serve Black Bean Salad

Like all of my other bean salads, this recipe is great to keep in the fridge on busy weeks.  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.

Here are some ways to keep your leftovers interesting:

  • Serve it on fresh greens, perhaps with an extra spritz of lime juice for dressing. Feta, avocado and/or crumbled tortilla chips would be great on top.
  • Pile it onto cheese nachos to make them more redeeming.
  • Use it as a filling for burritos or quesadillas (just leave as much of the liquid behind in the bowl as possible).
  • 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).


Also read: Crunchy Thai Peanut & Quinoa Salad


  • 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.