This healthy bean salad is a great classic for summer picnics or BBQ potlucks, but also perfect as a wrap-filler or protein rich meal for the cold winters. It is an oil free recipe that comes together quickly and uses only simple and wholesome ingredients to not only make this dish full of bright flavors, but also very nourishing.
This healthy bean salad is my go-to dish that I make when entertaining at home. It's fresh and beautifully colorful and it seems like everyone loves having healthy bites even during a big feast. The zesty and tangy oil free dressing is perfect when combined with hearty beans and the crunchy fresh veggies make this salad so refreshing.
On top of being so easy to make, this bean salad is also very versatile. It goes well when paired with burgers, grilled veggies, roasted tofu or as a fresh side dish to Mexican meals.
What makes this bean salad so delicious?
The secret for a successful bean salad is simple: fresh and good quality produce. The delicious taste comes from the combination of the bright red tangy tomatoes, juicy and sweet corn, strong and pungent yet sweet red onion and the so flavorful cilantro. Using good fresh ingredients to make the base will make a big difference.
Then comes the yummy no-oil dressing: citrusy and sweet lime meets chili spice for a perfect Mexican twist. The sauce brightens up the ingredients and brings all the flavors together.
What type of corn to use when making this dish
- If it is the end of the summer, then choose fresh corn.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then add the cobs and set the timer for 10 minutes when the water comes back to a boil. Then drain and let cool for 5-10 minutes or until the cobs are cool enough for handling.
- On a cutting board, hold the cobs on a vertical orientation. With a knife, detach the kernels from the cobs by cutting from up to down along the cob core. Go around all the cob until all the kernels have been removed.
- The alternative to fresh corn is frozen corn (better than canned corn).
Just thaw the kernels in a medium bowl in the microwave before mixing them to the salad. About 1 cup of frozen kernels is equivalent to the kernels of 2 cobs.
How to serve this healthy bean salad:
When just prepared, this salad is delicious eaten straight from the bowl! But since this recipe makes for a fair amount, you might end up with some leftovers. Here are some ideas to serve this salads in different ways:
- Over brown rice or other whole grains: Combine this bean salad with rice and you won't feel hungry for ages!
- Topping a simple green salad: Boost a leafy green salad by pouring this bean mix over: its saucy character will be a perfect dressing replacement. You will also improve the protein and fiber content to make a sad salad much more filling.
- In a wrap: Burrito style would be such a fun way to eat it up and perfect for an energizing lunch. Just keep the wrapping for the last minute.
- Scooped with tortilla chips: If sharing this salad with friends, then serve it in a nice bowl and let everyone grab the bean mix with large tortilla chip. It makes for a great twist on a classic salsa.
- As a filling for taco night: Tired of eating the same old taco filling? Try this one as a base for your next taco night for a fun change that everyone will enjoy.
Customize this healthy bean salad
There are many ways to modify this salad recipe with what you have on hand, but here are a few ideas:
- Swap the black and red kidney beans for any beans! Chickpeas, navy or pinto beans would also work very well. I love using canned beans for convenience, but cook your own if you prefer. Each 15.5 oz canned beans contains about 1.5 cup of cooked beans.
- This salad tastes delicious with red onions, but you could use regular white onions if you don't mind their stronger taste or also try with green onions.
- Adding pepper to this dish brings a good crunch that works so well. You could also use any crispy type of raw veggies, like celery or cucumber.
- Adding diced avocado would bring extra healthy fat to this dish and a fun creamy texture. If you want to use them, add only when serving.
- I love how the chili spice pairs perfectly with the fresh lime juice, but cumin powder would also work well. Or do a combination or chili and cumin if you want.
If you love bean salad, then you might also like this Creamy dill chickpea salad.
I hope you will love this Mexican bean salad as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it was.
Healthy bean salad with chili-lime dressing
- 4 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp garlic - crushed
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ½ to ¾ tsp salt - or to taste
- ½ cup cilantro - chopped, plus more for topping
- black pepper - to taste
- 15 oz canned black bean - rinsed and drained
- 15 oz canned red kidney bean - rinsed and drained
- 2 cooked cobs of corn - kernel removed - see note in the blog- (or about 1 cup of thawed frozen corn)
- ¾ cup fresh tomatoes - diced
- 1 red or yellow pepper - diced
- ¼ cup red onion - diced
Make the dressing:
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Make the salad:
- In a large bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together and combine with the dressing.
- Top with more fresh cilantro if desired. Enjoy!