Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad — An EASY corn salad with black beans, zucchini, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and more!! So much Mexican-inspired FLAVOR in every bite of this family favorite recipe that’s sure to be a hit!!
Easy Corn and Black Bean Salad Recipe
This healthy black bean and corn salad is perfection for us. It’s got so many awesome flavors and textures that whenever I make a corn salad like this, it disappears so quickly!
It’s a spinoff of this Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad, but with grilled zucchini and red onions along with the grilled sweet corn.
I added plenty of butter after shaving the corn off the cobs along with black beans, fire-roasted green chiles, lime juice, cilantro, and red chili flakes for a little kick, although you can omit them if you’re not into the kick part.
We’re trying to milk every last drop of summer and this grilled corn salad is perfect for Labor Day weekend or end-of-summer (family) backyard barbecues.
It’s been an interesting summer, that’s for sure, but grilled corn for my daughter and I is always a summertime treat.
The Mexican corn and black bean salad is naturally gluten-free, vegetarian, and it’s vegan if you use a vegan buttery spread rather than real butter.
What’s in Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad?
To make this easy corn and black bean salad, you’ll need:
- Fresh sweet corn
- Red onion
- Olive oil
- Unsalted butter
- Black beans
- Fire-roasted green chiles
- Lime juice
- Fresh cilantro
- Kosher salt
- Red chile flakes, optional
Grilled Corn Salad Variations
This corn salad recipe is ripe for experimentation and mixing and matching based on what you enjoy. Some recipe tweaks include:
- Add bell peppers to the grill basket with the zucchini and red onion
- Add avocado (I would have but mine were all rock hard)
- Roma, heirloom, grape, or cherry tomatoes are juicy perfection here
- Incorporate grilled chicken for extra protein
- Add cayenne pepper or jalapeños with the seeds if you’re looking for more kick or up the red chile flakes
- Toss in diced cucumbers at the end to amp the veggie level
- Cotija cheese or queso fresco would be lovely
The sky is the limit with where you want to take this grilled corn salad with Mexican-inspired flavors.
How to Make Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad
I recommend using fresh, in-season, sweet corn. I clean the corn by removing all the husks and silks, drizzle the corn with a bit of olive oil and rub it in, and add the corn directly to the grill.
Alongside it in a grill basket, I have chunky-diced zucchini and red onion, also drizzled with olive oil.
Grilling the corn for about 7 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat, while rotating the ears a quarter-turn every couple minutes, works well for me but it all depends on the heat and potency of your grill.
If your corn is blackening very quickly, your grill is likely a bit too hot. A little bit of blackening is fine, but too much blackening of the corn can adversely affect the flavor of the salad making it taste too charcoaly.
The zucchini and red onions may likely take a few minutes longer than the corn, probably 10 to 12 minutes. Keep tossing them in the grill basket as they cook with tongs.
Cut the kernels off the corn cob and add all the grilled corn and bean salad ingredients to a large bowl, stir, and serve.
How to Serve Corn and Bean Salad
You can also serve it over a bed of rice or tortilla chips, or use it to fill burritos or tacos!
Tips for Making Grilled Corn Salad
If you’re good at controlling the heat output on different sides of your grill, I suggest cooking the zucchini and red onions at a slightly higher temperature than the side with the corn on it.
Don’t be afraid to add salt to this. I used about a tablespoon of kosher salt. I realize that sounds like a lot but there are six ears of corn, one jumbo or two medium zucchini, a can of no-salt added black beans, and more! It’s a lot of food to season and it’s really important to add enough salt, and also pepper, to bring this dish to life.
The fire-roasted diced green chiles don’t make the salad spicy but simply add another subtle layer of flavor.
I added about one tablespoon of red chile flakes. Now they do give the salad some kick, although still not spicy. If you don’t like heat, or are making this for a group of people who are sensitive to spicy foods, then add less or omit them all together.
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- 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husks and silks removed
- 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 jumbo or 2 medium/large zucchini, cut into chunky bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red onion, cut into chunky bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced into medium cubes
- one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- one 4-ounce can fire-roasted green chiles, do not drain
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste (See Notes)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 to 3 teaspoons red chile flakes, optional and to taste
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Tip - I recommend keeping the side with the corn slightly cooler than the side with the zucchini and red onion.
- Add the corn to a large plate and evenly drizzle the corn with about 4 tablespoons olive oil, and rub it in evenly over the corn.
- To a grill basket, add the zucchini, red onions, evenly drizzle with about 4 tablespoons olive oil, and toss with your hands to coat evenly.
- Place the corn on the grill on the cooler side and grill for about 7 to 8 minutes, turning the ears every minute or two by one-quarter turn, or as needed so that corn is cooking evenly and isn't burning.
- Place the grill basket next to the corn on the warmer side, and toss the zucchini and red onion in the basket every few minutes to ensure even cooking. I find that they will take a few minutes longer to cook than the corn but grills vary widely so cook until all components are done to your liking.
- After the corn is cooked, cut the corn off the ears with a sharp knife and place into a large bowl. Tip - If you have rubber kitchen gloves, use them as heat protection for your hands or hold the tip of the corn with a pot holder. You want to start shaving the ears when the corn is still fairly warm so the butter will melt.
- Add the butter cubes to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the zucchini, red onions, black beans, green chiles, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, optional chile flakes, and stir to combine.
- Taste and decide what tweaks you need to make, i.e. more salt, pepper, lime juice, cilantro, pinch of cayenne, etc.
- Salad can be served warm, at room temp, or chilled from the fridge.
Salt: I do mean 1 tablespoon and not teaspoon, but add salt slowly, and to taste of course. However, don’t be afraid to add sufficient salt to this salad. I realize that 1 tablespoon sounds like a lot but there are six ears of corn, one jumbo or two medium zucchini, a can of no-salt added black beans, and more! It’s a lot of food to season and it’s really important to add enough salt, and also pepper, to bring this dish to life.
If you use black beans with salt (mine were no salt) or salted butter, you won't need to add nearly as much salt.
Vegan: To keep this dish vegan, use a vegan buttery spread rather than butter. The dish is naturally gluten-free.
Storage: Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months, noting the texture of the zucchini will change upon thawing.
Adapted from Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 977mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g
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