Mexican Bean Salad
This Mexican Bean Salad is quick, easy, and the perfect make-ahead side to serve at dinner parties and potlucks. We also love it for breezy lunches! A fresh cilantro lime vinaigrette makes this protein-rich bean salad a perennial hit.
The Best Mexican Bean Salad
We’re all about the simple dishes here with big flavor. Bonus points if they’re easy to make and relatively nutritious, all the better to nourish us, body and soul. This Tex-Mex-inspired bean salad delivers on it all. It’s a vibrant medley of healthy veggies, hearty beans, and the most delicious homemade cilantro lime vinaigrette.
This Mexican three bean salad has a lot to offer:
- Taste and texture. You get crunchy veggies, creamy beans, and zippy dressing in every bite.
- It’s strictly a chop, blend, toss situation. No cooking required.
- With a ton of plant-based protein and fiber, it leaves you satisfied and feeling good.
Serve this one night as a side dish to taco stuffed peppers or shredded chicken tacos, then enjoy the leftovers with tortilla chips the next day for lunch. So good!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. Full amounts are noted in the print-friendly recipe card below.
- Corn kernels: You can use fresh, frozen, or canned corn. My favorite is to use fire-roasted frozen corn kernels, and simply let them defrost on the counter before adding to the salad. So easy.
- Black beans, red kidney beans (light or dark), and pinto beans. I like to use three cans total. You can substitute any other kind of beans that you like: chickpeas, cannellini beans, great northern beans, etc., or use two cans of one kind.
- Bell pepper: Any color is fine, or use a couple for maximum color variety.
- Red onion: Onion is tangy and pungent, so a little goes a long way in a salad like this.
- Jalapeno: Optional but nice for a little extra kick!
- For the dressing: fresh cilantro leaves, olive or avocado oil, red wine vinegar or lime juice, more jalapeno (again, optional), one clove of garlic, ground cumin, and kosher salt. This dressing does not need sugar — or honey, or maple syrup — to be delicious!
You may be tempted to skip the homemade vinaigrette, as I admit it is an extra thing, but I promise it’s so worth it. It’s really the fresh, flavorful dressing here that puts an otherwise humble mix of veggies and beans over the top. The taste is 100% worth dragging out your blender or food processor.
If you have a mini food processor, go with that! I actually use a chopping bowl and attachment that came with my immersion blender, and it’s ideal for small jobs such as this — no fuss, perfect size, easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Are canned beans as healthy as fresh beans?
Yes! Canned beans pack the same nutritional benefits as fresh beans you cook yourself. Even more importantly, if you don’t have the time to simmer or soak beans overnight on a regular basis, they’re sure a lot more healthy than eating no beans at all!
The only thing to watch is that canned beans can have added sodium. If this is of nutritional concern, take care to purchase cans that are specifically labeled low salt or no salt added.
What ingredients can I add to a bean salad?
The beauty of all salad recipes is their inherent flexibility; you can add whatever you like and have on hand. A few specific variations and mix-ins that suit this Mexican bean salad well:
- Chopped avocado: be sure to add this just prior to serving, to avoid browning.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes: also add these just prior to serving, if possible, because their juices will leak out over time in the refrigerator. You can also toss in 1-2 diced Roma tomatoes for the same pop of color and taste.
- Fresh cilantro: can’t get enough? Add a sprinkle of cilantro leaves in addition to the cilantro vinaigrette.
- Tortilla strips: need crunch? I relate! Toss in some tortilla strips right before you dig in for a crouton-like effect that is completely on brand with these Tex-Mex flavors. You could also just crush some tortilla chips in your hands, or serve them on the side.
- Shredded chicken: craving even more protein? Add shredded Mexican chicken or chicken Tinga straight to this salad for a mega-filling meal prep.
- Quinoa or couscous: you can also round out this salad to meal status by adding in a simple grain, like cooked quinoa, couscous, or even rice.
How To Make This Bean Salad
Whipping up this Mexican bean salad is crazy easy and has just a couple of steps.
Here is a quick visual overview. You will find full instructions with exact ingredients in the print-friendly recipe card below.
Step One: Combine corn, beans, pepper, onion, and jalapeno, if using.
Step Two: Make the dressing in either a blender or food processor.
Step Three: Toss it all together.
Remember to taste as you go and don’t be afraid to re-balance the flavors to suit your likes. Adjust the seasonings in the dressing, add more vegetables, or more salt or spices as needed.
How To Store Bean Salad
Another benefit of bean salads? They have staying power! This one keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, even with the dressing already on it. In fact, the flavors only get richer as the dressing infuses more into the beans and corn. Store in any tightly-covered container in the fridge.
Pro Tip: If you’re including avocado or tomatoes, add those on just prior to serving or keep separately from any leftovers. They do not maintain texture as well in the fridge.
Leftovers of this bean salad are also excellent added to quesadillas or burritos for some extra flavor and nutrition. Or just toss them with some lettuce for the easiest Tex-Mex-inspired salad ever.
What To Serve With Bean Salad
Try pairing this bean salad with your favorite tacos, shrimp or chicken fajitas, or an easy enchilada casserole for a fun Mexican themed dinner. It also makes a phenomenal appetizer paired with your favorite chips!
This also makes a terrific contribution for potlucks or summer BBQs, because it can be made ahead and keeps so well. It’s also tasty and safe to eat chilled or at room temperature.
More Easy Mexican Recipes
If you love this recipe, be sure to check out my favorite vegetarian taco salad, simple black bean tacos, black bean and corn enchiladas, and chickpea tacos with sunset slaw. You’ll satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings and never miss the meat!
A few other Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes we love:
- Easy Homemade Flour Tortillas – so easy and SO good!
- 5 Minute Blender Salsa
- Perfect Guacamole
- Homemade Pico de Gallo – irresistibly fresh!
- Chipotle Street Corn Dip – always a huge hit at parties
- Mexican Chocolate Cake – the perfect dessert!
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Mexican Bean Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 and 1/2 cups corn kernels fresh, frozen, or canned
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 bell pepper any color, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 jalapeno seeded and diced, optional
For the Dressing:
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup olive or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 or 2 small ribs jalapeno seeded, optional
- 1 clove garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Prep the corn, either by draining from a can, defrosting from frozen, or cooking the cobs. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine corn, all three beans, bell pepper, red onion, and jalapeno. Toss gently to mix.
- To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a small food processor or blender. Blitz on high speed until the oil and vinegar or lime juice are emulsified into a smooth mixture. Check to be sure that the cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno are finely diced.
- Pour as much dressing as you like over the bean mixture and toss again to combine. (If you have extra dressing, store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. It’s perfect with other taco salads, bowls, or green salads.) Enjoy!
2 Comments on “Mexican Bean Salad”
This was delicious!!! I ate it for lunch with tortilla chips!
So very happy that you liked it! 🙂