No-Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad


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

The Fastest Summer Salad

Are you looking for the fastest, freshest salad ever? Meet the No-Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad! It has become one of my go-to dishes for summer get-togethers and I hope it will for you to.

A few summers ago, I posted this 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. There's absolutely zero cooking involved. This rainbow creation will allow you to play outside all day, throw everything together at the last minute, and still have a very flavorful and nutritious meal.

No Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad on a serving platter

Mexican and Hawaiian Flavors

The flavor profile of this salad is very fresh and light, largely Mexican-inspired with a kiss of Hawaii. The dressing is just lime juice, a bit of honey (or agave for a fully vegan version), freshly grated ginger, and perhaps a dash of cayenne or hot sauce; keeping the dressing simple really allows the fresh veggies to shine.

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 it will taste equally as wonderful with fewer colors represented, so use what you have.

Feel free to make whatever flavor swaps you like- this salad is so flexible! Use mint instead of cilantro, pineapple instead of mango, or orange juice instead of lime juice. The whole point here is for this to be EASY, so this is definitely not a place to make a whole separate trip to the store because you don't have any cilantro in the fridge.

Squeezing lime juice onto the No Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad

Infinitely Flexible

One of the things I love most about this salad is its flexibility. It can truly become anything! Especially for a summer get-together, this sort of versatility is so important. This salad can easily 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 based on diet, it's a great dish for a crowd.

I also like that this 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 if you cut some pretty mango slices. I've even plated it in a papaya half- see the photo below! But it also works great out of a container on a picnic.

Got leftovers? This salad is great in a burrito bowl, on top of a salad, or stuffed into a taco the following day!

Make-Ahead Tips

This salad also works great as a make-ahead meal, so it would be perfect for a 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.

No Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad stuffed in a papaya

Let's Talk Ingredients

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. I think lime juice really brings this salad to life. Fresh-squeezed is a must! If you don't have limes on-hand, it also works fine with orange juice. Toss in the zest if you're a citrus lover.
  • Honey. This gives the salad a tiny bit of sweetness for that addicting sweet/heat balance. Use agave instead for a fully vegan version.
  • Fresh ginger root. I don't suggest making this salad with powdered ginger; it's not nearly as good. If you don't have fresh ginger root on-hand, you can omit it and just go for a acidic/sweet/spicy vibe.
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper or hot sauce. Optional, but it's a fun add-in if you like heat.
  • Purple cabbage. I love the color and crunch this adds, but feel free to omit it if you don't have any on-hand.
  • 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 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 thereof, for a different flavor profile.
  • Handful of pepitas
  • Avocado. Optional but awesome! If you go this route, add it right before serving to avoid browning. I generally add avocado to this salad only if I know it won't be sitting out for long.

No Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad with lime halves

Closing Thoughts

As you can tell from all the ideas and different photos in this post, this salad makes frequent appearances in our house and on our deck. Everything about this salad is just so friendly... it's easy, a crowd-pleaser, super colorful, and versatile. You can do pretty much anything you want to it, swapping ingredients left and right, and it will still be great. One time, I even made this into a heart shape as a chip dip for Valentine's Day date night... see below!.

My biggest tip though? Make a double batch! It always goes quickly, and having leftovers the next day is a major win.

No Cook Rainbow 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

No-Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad

A go-to for get-togethers on our deck, this 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 honey or agave
  • 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 (the same bowl you'll make the salad in) and stir together. Give it a taste and adjust as you see fit.
  2. Before doing anything else, cut the cabbage into fine ribbons and toss it in the dressing. The longer it can sit in the dressing and soften, the better! This will give it a very light pickling. You could even let the cabbage sit in the dressing in the fridge overnight to mellow its texture and flavor.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans and thaw the corn.
  4. Dice up 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. Garnish it with avocado (only if the salad won't be sitting out, since otherwise the avocado will brown) 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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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?