Kitchn Love Letters

The Bean Salad Everyone Should Know by Heart (It’s My Favorite Make-Ahead Dish)

published Apr 27, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

When I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, she asked about the bean salad I love making as soon as warmer weather hits. “It’s like cowboy caviar, but not,” she described. This not-cowboy-caviar-but-similar salad is that salad that everyone should know and keep in their back pocket for … everything. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

This salad is a shape-shifter. It’s always appreciated on a picnic spread, as a side with dinner, as a snack with tortilla chips — and, let’s be real, eaten straight from the bowl as a WFH lunch. You can make it ahead (and you should!) because it gets better as it sits; the flavors mingle, the canned black beans and corn marinate. (One make-ahead note: I add the avocado just before serving because no one wants even slightly browned avo in their salad; it’s just not as good, and we know this.)

Get the recipe: Black Bean & Corn Salad

Why This Recipe Really Works

This recipe is brilliant for a few reasons. 

  1. It relies mainly on ingredients you already have around or are pretty easily accessible, notably canned black beans and corn, cumin, and fresh basics like limes, red onion, and tomato. (A lot of the ingredients you’d get for guacamole, you’re using here too.)
  2. The only steps are chopping and stirring. Yes, it requires some prep — dice tomato, avocado, onion — but then you’re just dumping all the ingredients in a big bowl and giving it a stir.
  3. You can memorize it. You need one of most of the main ingredients: 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, 1 tomato, 1 avocado, 1 jalapeño (if you want the heat), 1 garlic clove, and then 1/2 red onion and 1/2 cup cilantro. Once you make this salad a few times the ingredients become dialed into your memory. 

And then the biggest reason why it works? People love it! I only want to cook something I can guarantee will be devoured (it makes me feel good; what can I say?) and this is — every single time. 

Get the recipe: Black Bean & Corn Salad