Rainbow Mexican Black Bean Salad


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(Note: this post was originally published on August 16, 2020. It has been updated several times since then with additional examples).

The Easiest Summer Black Bean Salad

Are you looking for the fastest, freshest, prettiest rainbow salad? This Mexican bean salad is hearty, healthy, and comes together quickly with no cooking needed.

A few summers ago, I posted this black bean salad on Instagram and you all went crazy over it. I wasn't even planning to post a full recipe on the blog because it just seemed too simple. But your love of this salad gave me a very clear message: you guys are on the hunt for easy, fresh summer dishes that will get you back to your outdoor activities faster.

So here it is- just about the easiest bean salad ever. This summery rainbow salad will allow you to play outside all day, throw everything together at the last minute, and still have a very flavorful and nutritious meal.

Rainbow black bean salad on a serving platter

Mexican and Hawaiian Flavors

The flavor profile of this black bean salad is very fresh and light, mostly Mexican-inspired with a kiss of Hawaii. The dressing is just lime juice, a bit of agave (or honey if you prefer), freshly grated ginger, and an optional dash of cayenne or hot sauce; keeping the dressing simple really allows the fresh veggies to shine.

For the veggies, I like to use multi-colored bell peppers, mango, purple cabbage, corn, and fresh cilantro for a rainbow effect. Aren't the colors great? But this Mexican bean salad will taste equally as wonderful with fewer colors represented, so use whatever you have on-hand.

Feel free to make whatever flavor swaps you like; this summery rainbow salad is so flexible! Use mint instead of cilantro, pineapple instead of mango, or orange juice instead of lime juice. The whole point is for this recipe to be EASY.

Squeezing lime juice onto a colorful Mexican bean salad

How to Serve Bean Salad

One of the things I love most about this Mexican bean salad is its flexibility; it can truly become anything. Especially for a summer party, this versatility is so important. This salad can be a side dish alongside some grilled fare or can function as a main course for herbivores. It's a delightful chip dip too. Because it can be different things for different people, it's a great dish for a crowd.

I also like that this rainbow salad can be as fancy or as humble as you like. It's quite beautiful when plated nicely, and can make for a great party dish. I've even served it in a papaya half (see the photo below). But it also works great out of a container on a picnic, especially since the ingredients are hearty and stand up well during transport.

Got leftovers? This black bean salad is great in a burrito bowl, on top of a salad, or stuffed into a taco the following day. Don't hesitate to make a double-batch and enjoy the leftovers later in the week.

Make-Ahead Tips

This pretty rainbow salad works great as a make-ahead meal, so it would be perfect for a summer potluck or even as an easy lunch throughout the week. If you want to make it ahead, the dressing, cabbage, beans, and peppers can happily co-exist in the fridge for a few days. I'd just add the mango, avocado, cilantro, and pepitas right before serving so that they stay fresh.

Rainbow Mexican Black Bean Salad stuffed into a papaya half

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Lime juice. Lime juice really brings this Mexican bean salad to life. Fresh-squeezed is a must! If you don't have limes on-hand, it also works nicely with orange juice.
  • Agave. This gives the salad a tiny bit of sweetness for that addicting sweet/heat balance. Use honey instead for a different flavor profile (and if you don't need this salad to be vegan).
  • Fresh ginger root. I don't suggest making this recipe with powdered ginger; it's not nearly as good. If you don't have fresh ginger root, you can omit it and just go for a acidic/sweet/spicy vibe.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper or hot sauce. Optional, but it's a fun add-in if you like heat.
  • Purple cabbage
  • Black beans
  • Corn. If you just thaw out frozen corn, you'll keep this recipe no-cook. But in season, fresh grilled corn on the cob is the tastiest option.
  • Colored peppers. This will work great with whatever peppers you have on-hand, but of course more colors will yield a prettier rainbow salad. You can use either full-sized or baby bell peppers.
  • Half a mango. Or use pineapple instead.
  • Big handful of cilantro. Or use mint, or a combination of the two.
  • Handful of pepitas
  • Avocado. An optional but awesome addition to this Mexican bean salad. Add it right before serving to avoid browning.

A rainbow salad with beans, cabbage, peppers, mango, and avocado

Closing Thoughts

As you can tell from all the ideas and different photos in this post, this black bean salad makes frequent appearances in our house and on our deck. It's easy, a crowd-pleaser, super colorful, versatile, and infinitely flexible. One time, I even made this into a heart shape as a chip dip for Valentine's Day; see the photo below!

My biggest tip though? Make a double batch! This salad always disappears quickly, and having leftovers for the next day or two is great.

Rainbow Mexican Black Bean Salad with avocado

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Blackberry Coconut Margarita

Tropical Guacamole

Grilled Corn, Strawberry, and Avocado Salad

Watermelon Nachos with Avocado Sauce

Tropical Pineapple Tostadas

Rainbow Mexican Black Bean Salad

A go-to for parties on our deck, this Mexican-inspired black bean salad is fresh, colorful, and infinitely customizable. Best of all, there's no cooking involved!



For the Dressing

  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp agave (or honey)
  • 2'' ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper or hot sauce, optional

For the Salad

  • Small wedge of purple cabbage
  • 2 15-oz cans of black beans
  • 2 c frozen corn
  • Red bell pepper
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Half a mango
  • Big handful of cilantro
  • Handful of pepitas
  • Avocado, optional


  1. To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Give it a taste and adjust as you see fit.
  2. Dice the cabbage and toss it in the dressing. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, or up to several hours to tenderize.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans and thaw the corn.
  4. Dice the bell peppers and mango so that all of the ingredients are roughly the same size.
  5. Chop the cilantro finely.
  6. To the dressing and cabbage, add the black beans, bell peppers, corn, mango, and cilantro. Toss it all together.
  7. Just before serving, transfer the salad to a platter and garnish with avocado and pepitas.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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July 6, 2023
Love that this is a chip dip that won’t leave people still hungry. I’m planning a big summer yard party and will def add this to the menu.
Danielle K
January 14, 2023
Love!! We’d put this in tacos AND use it as a dip.
June 16, 2021
Dear Anonymous Legume Lover: I think this would be ok with chick peas, although it would really change the vibe of this salad. The flavors are pretty Mexican-inspired, which always makes me think of black beans. The colors might not pop so much either, against a lighter backdrop. But you do you... if you prefer chick peas, the method will be the exact same, so go for it!
June 15, 2021
Do you think this would work with ok with garbanzos?