This black bean and corn salad is a healthy and delicious vegetarian recipe made with fresh ingredients and a zesty Southwest-inspired vinaigrette. It's ready in 15 minutes and is perfect for lunch or as an appetizer!
One of my favorite ways to celebrate spring and summer produce is with this black bean and corn salad.
This is a veggie-packed salad inspired by Texas caviar that features fresh and crunchy bell peppers, sweet corn, and creamy avocado tossed in a Southwest-inspired vinaigrette.
- Diet-friendly: Vegetarian, vegan-optional, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free.
- Quick & easy: This black bean and corn salad is ready in 15 minutes and can be made a day in advance.
- Tossed in a Southwest-style vinaigrette that you'll want to drizzle on everything!
- Easy to customize: You can use fresh, frozen or canned ingredients depending on the season.
This black bean and corn salad features a combination of Southwest and Mexican-inspired flavors, just like my favorite Southwest-style quinoa salad.
While I think this salad is great on its own, it can also be enjoyed as a salsa with chips or combined with quinoa for a more satisfying meal. The options are endless!
- Black beans are the backbone of this salad. You can use canned or dry beans. Even though it's called a black bean salad, this recipe also works with chickpeas, black-eyed peas, or any other bean you have on hand.
- Corn adds a pop of sweetness and texture. You can use fresh, frozen, or even canned corn.
- Red bell pepper adds flavor and crunch. Orange or yellow bell pepper can be used too.
- Red onion can be substituted with yellow, white or green onion. It can be omitted if you don't like raw onions.
- Grape tomatoes make this salad feel a lot like a salsa. I halve them but you can also leave them whole. Diced Roma tomatoes, beef steak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes also work well.
- Avocado provides healthy fats and helps make this black bean salad more filling.
- Southwest-inspired vinaigrette: This bright and zesty combination of apple cider vinegar, honey and lime ties everything together. To make this salad vegan, try agave syrup in place of honey.
Step by step instructions
Making black bean and corn salad requires just a few simple steps:
- Prep the veggies: I roughly chop the bell pepper and finely minced the jalapeno. One of my favorite parts about this salad is that the veggies don't need to be perfectly diced.
- Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the Southwest vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.
- Combine: In a large bowl or serving dish, toss together the black beans and corn, veggies, and Southwest vinaigrette to make the salad.
Pro tip: Cover and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can skip this step if you are short on time.
How to make red onion flavor less strong
Red onions often have a strong "bite" to them because they contain sulfur compounds. You can remove this bite by soaking diced onions in a bowl of cold water for at least ten minutes.
The cold water pulls out most of the astringent taste, leaving you with the same old red onion flavor, without the bite.
Lightly pat the red onions dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towel to avoid a soggy salad.
Recipe tips and FAQ
- Dice size: I recommend chopping the pepper into ½" pieces so that they aren't too big but still provide texture to the salad.
- Spice level: This salad features one small jalapeno, which makes it lightly spicy. Feel free to omit the jalapeno or double the amount.
- Fresh, frozen, or canned: I like to use thawed frozen corn because it is the most budget-friendly option, but fresh or canned work as well. Frozen thawed bell pepper also works. Canned black beans or beans cooked from dry can be used. Choose "no salt added" cans for the healthiest option.
Storage and make-ahead tips
Make in advance: You make the black bean and corn salad a day in advance. Assemble according to the recipe then refrigerate until ready to serve. I recommend adding avocado just before serving so that it doesn't brown.
Storage: Enjoy within 2-3 days for best quality. The salad will keep for up to 4 days but the quality will diminish because the vinaigrette will soften the veggies.
One of the reasons you'll love this salad is because it is so versatile. It tastes great on its own (hot or cold!) but it can be enjoyed in more than one way:
- Tacos/burritos: Add a dollop of Greek yogurt and shredded cheese, wrap in a tortilla and enjoy as a taco or vegetarian burrito.
- Grains: To stretch the recipe further, add 2 cups cooked quinoa, brown rice or another favorite grain.
- Greens: Add to mixed greens for a filling salad, or make lettuce wraps by adding one serving to a large leaf of romaine lettuce. Drizzle with chipotle ranch for extra flavor.
- Nachos: Make loaded vegetarian nachos or sweet potato nachos by tossing with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.
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Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad
- 2 15 ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed
- 8 ounce carton grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 medium red bell pepper diced
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper diced
- ½ medium red onion diced, see note #1
- 1 small jalapeno minced (optional)
- ½ cup frozen sweet yellow corn thawed, see note #2
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro more for serving
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice from one large lime)
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 medium avocados, cubed
- In a large bowl, combine black beans, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, jalapeno, thawed corn and cilantro.
- To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, agave syrup, cumin, chili powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir the vinaigrette into the salad.
- Right before serving, add the chopped avocado. Top with additional cilantro and lime juice if desired. Serve cold.
- Red onion can be replaced with white, yellow or green onion. You can soak red onion in cold water for 10 minutes to make less astringent. Pat to dry before adding to the salad.
- Corn: Fresh, frozen or canned works.
- Can I make this in advance? Yes! You make the salad a day in advance. Assemble according to the recipe then and refrigerate until ready to serve. I recommend adding avocado just before serving so that it doesn't brown.
- Storage: Enjoy within 2-3 days for best quality. You can eat it for up to 4 days but the quality will diminish because the vinaigrette will soften the veggies.
Author note: This recipe was originally shared June 4th, 2018. It was updated on March 12th, 2021 with new photos, a video and new tips. The recipe remains the same.