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:

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 38 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
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.


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


  • 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.


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.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Rill Wright

    5 stars
    Best salad EVER! Flavors are vibrant and perfectly balanced. Don’t change a thing! We can’t go longer than 2 weeks without it. If you’re out of Cojita, Feta also works great. I’ve been enjoying this salad for over a year. Sorry it took me so long to rave about it. Jeanine, you’re a flavor genius and I just subscribed to your newsletter. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it and I hope you enjoy the newsletter!

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.