Black Bean and Corn Salad

This black bean and corn salad is flavorful, refreshing, and great for making ahead. It's a crowd-pleasing cookout side dish or a perfect summer lunch.

Black bean and corn salad

This black bean and corn salad recipe has been a lifesaver around here lately. Jack and I have been crazy busy over the last few weeks, so a satisfying-yet-healthy, tasty-but-packable salad has been exactly what we’ve needed. I’ve made it ahead for quick weekday lunches, prepped it in advance the morning before a cookout, and eaten the leftovers as an easy side dish with dinner the next day.

To be honest, I usually get tired of eating one thing over and over. But this black bean and corn salad is so flavorful and refreshing that I’m happy to have it on repeat. Sweet, crispy corn kernels play off earthy black beans and creamy avocado, jalapeño adds a kick of heat, and a zesty dressing makes it nice and bright. Try it once, and, if you’re anything like me, this black bean and corn salad will have a permanent spot in your regular rotation.

Black bean salad recipe ingredients

Black Bean Corn Salad Recipe Ingredients

Another great thing about this recipe? It’s easy to make! Here’s what you’ll need to put it together:

  • Black beans, of course! I recommend cooking your own for the best texture and flavor, but in a pinch, canned ones work too.
  • Fresh corn – It’s summer! Skip the canned corn and frozen corn. Instead, slice fresh kernels straight off the cob.
  • Red onion and red bell pepper – For a pop of color and crunch. Try to cut them to the same size as the corn kernels so that you can get a little of everything in each bite.
  • Cilantro – I stir finely chopped cilantro into the salad and sprinkle a few whole leaves on top.
  • Jalapeño – For heat. If you’re sensitive to spice, start with 1/2 pepper and add more to taste.
  • Cotija cheese – It adds richness and tangy, salty flavor. If you’re vegan, feel free to skip it.
  • Avocado – I love how its creamy texture contrasts with the crisp corn and diced veggies.
  • Toasted pepitas – These guys are optional, but they add a lovely crunch to this black bean corn salad. If you have some on hand, toss them in!
  • And the dressing – This mix of lime juice, avocado oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper fills the salad with bright flavor.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Hand using whisk to mix dressing at the bottom of a bowl

How to Make this Black Bean and Corn Salad

This recipe’s first step is making the dressing. I whisk it together right in the bottom of the bowl. That’s right – this black bean and corn salad is a 1-bowl recipe!

Black bean salad ingredients in a bowl

Then, I add the other salad ingredients: the black beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and red onion.

Hands tossing salad in bowl with wooden spoons

Toss to coat before folding in the avocado and Cotija and seasoning to taste.

Finally, garnish the salad with a few cilantro leaves and the toasted pepitas. Enjoy!

Black bean corn salad on a plate

Black Bean and Corn Salad Serving Suggestions

This black bean salad makes a fantastic lunch. I love eating it with a generous side of tortilla chips as well as any leftover grilled veggies that we have hanging out in the fridge. It’s great over a bed of mixed greens, too.

Otherwise, serve this black bean and corn salad as a side dish. It pairs nicely with everything from cookout food (think veggie burgers and BBQ sandwiches) to tacos (see this post for my favorite recipes). If you want to get ahead, you can prepare it up to 3 days in advance. Just wait to add the avocado until the last minute. That way, it’ll still be nice and green when you eat.

Black bean and corn salad recipe

More Favorite Summer Salads

If you love this black bean salad recipe, try one of these salads next:

Black Bean and Corn Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 17 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Serves 4 to 6
This black bean and corn salad is a delicious summer side dish or healthy lunch! It keeps well for up to 3 days in the fridge, but if you're making it in advance, wait to add the avocado until right before you eat. Otherwise, it will start to brown.

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

  • cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn (raw), about 1½ cups
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (with stems), plus more leaves for garnish
  • ½ to 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced, or 1 serrano, sliced
  • cup diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons Cotija cheese
  • 1 ripe but firm avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas, optional

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, avocado oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the black beans, corn, red pepper, cilantro, jalapeño, and red onion and toss to coat.
  • Fold in the cheese and avocado and season to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and toasted pepitas, if desired.

Notes

I recommend cooking your own black beans for the best texture and flavor (canned beans can be kind of mushy), but in a pinch, canned ones work too.

 

12 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Jim
    08.03.2021

    5 stars
    This was really good. I am Looking for simple recipes to cook in my garage and outdoor kitchen while out kitchen is being gutted and rebuilt. (Hint do try this in the middle or out post epidemic ). I used grilled corn cooled as I have used raw corn in the past i it neither sits well with my taste buds or my gut . It is wonderful with grilled corn. Because I am camping in my backyard , I used quality canned beans. This recipe is a keeper . The best corn black bean dish I have made. Thanks

  2. Cindy Flagg
    07.15.2021

    Delicious! Loved this salad. Putting it on rotation.

  3. Ann
    07.05.2021

    5 stars
    Very clean and refreshing!

  4. Marie
    06.26.2021

    For the black bean and corn salad, 2 questions:
    1. What are calories per cup?
    2. Is the corn raw off the cob or cooked?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.26.2021

      Hi Marie, the corn is raw.

      I’m sorry, I don’t know the calories, but you can plug the ingredients into a site like my fitness pal.

  5. Hayley
    06.24.2021

    Will thawed frozen corn work here if fresh isn’t available yet?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.24.2021

      Hi Hayley, I would wait until fresh corn is available to you for this salad – it’s going to be mushier and more watery with frozen corn.

  6. Sasha
    06.23.2021

    5 stars
    Oh wow this sounds delicious!
    I have a question – am I supposed to steam or cook the fresh corn before removing kernels ? Or eat it raw ?
    I cannot wait to make this !!!
    Thank you for so many wonderful recipes and ideas. ( and all your time and effort)

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.24.2021

      Hi Sasha, the corn is raw, no need to steam it or cook it first. I hope you enjoy!

  7. Susan Critchfield
    06.22.2021

    Can I make the corn & bean salad the day before?

  8. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    06.22.2021

    thank you for a great summer salad, always nice change of pace to skip the lettuce, love having black beans in this too

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.