Home » Recipes » Side Dishes » Black Bean Salad Recipe for Back to School

Black Bean Salad Recipe for Back to School


This Black Bean Salad Recipe is full of fresh ingredients and southwest flavors that make a delicious lunch or side dish idea!

Aside from a little bit of chopping, the recipe comes together quickly with a few canned items. If you’re looking for easy recipes that is perfect for your family, this one appeals to kids and parents alike! 

This conversation is sponsored by WhiteWave Foods. The opinions and text are all mine.

A bowl holding a Black Bean Salad over arugula on a table next to a fork.
This delicious Black Bean Salad Recipe is one of my favorite lunch recipes!

This post for cold Black Bean Salad was originally posted July 29, 2015. It has been updated to include more detailed directions to make it perfectly every time!

My kids are old enough to pack or put together their own lunches. But I still need to make sure they have a selection of natural options, otherwise, they pack what they like which is not going to do their little bodies any favors.

Black Bean Salad is a great lunch for kids

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that is perfect for back-to-school lunches. This recipe works well because my kids like lunch ideas that aren’t sandwiches.

What I like best about it is that it uses organic canned beans and corn, mixed with fresh veggies and can be served in a few different ways so that it pleases the kids.

This black bean salad is super flavorful, full of protein, and is just plain delicious. And although there is a bit of prep, it’s worth it! Once this simple black bean salad is made, you can grab it for a few days! That’s my favorite kind of recipe!

The colors and taste are vibrant and my kids love it. They are picky eaters, so I was pleasantly surprised when I made this for myself and they basically stole it from me.

Not only is this a great lunch, but it makes a fantastic side dish or party food!

These Simple Truth organics are super easy to find and you know you are using quality ingredients.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients to make a Black Bean Salad recipe on a cutting board.

Scroll down to find a printable recipe card with full measurements and detailed instructions.

This is one of those recipes that you can tailor-make based on the flavors that you and your kids like. While black beans taste amazing in this recipe, you can always use white beans or even garbanzo beans.

I grab red and orange bell peppers for this, but you can use yellow, you could use green, you could swap out for those sweet mini peppers, whatever you want!

My kids really enjoy the sweet crunch of bell peppers so I knew they would at least try this dish. I try to make sure I have their favorite fruits and veggies on hand to add to their lunches.

And I also have them try something new every few weeks. Kids really love to find new things they like.

Cilantro and raw onion are strong flavors that some kids might not love, but they really do add so much flavor. And when they are mixed in, they add to the overall flavor! Just leave them out if you don’t want them.

Corn adds such a nice sweetness to the black bean salad. Do not skip it!

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar create a simple dressing that ties everything together. Paired with minced garlic, YUM!

I like to add red pepper flakes to my serving, for a little heat, but my kids don’t! Totally up to you.

With all canned foods, I like to drain and rinse them before use. That helps to remove any extra salt that may have been used. This allows you to control the flavor a bit more. 

And again, if your kids don’t love a certain ingredient, just skip it! 

Where to Find the Products in Stores

A natural products section of an aisle at the grocery store.

Our local Ralphs store makes it super easy to shop for better lunch options. Whether it is convenience products like Horizon Organic snack crackers or organic fruit snacks to the other organic ingredients you need to create your own recipes, Ralphs makes it super simple.

My particular store doesn’t have a full department dedicated to natural products. Instead, they are spread throughout the store with designated signs that you can’t miss.

Whenever I can, I just make one easy recipe, like organic mac and cheese or this Southwestern Black Bean Salad and take care of lunch for both kids for a few days! 

How to make Black Bean Salad

The preparation for this easy Black Bean Salad is pretty quick. But the flavor gets even better if you have a little bit of time to let it sit for a bit (half an hour at least) before eating.

You can make this salad in just one bowl and if there weren’t being photos taken, I would have made it right in a plastic storage container.

Rinse and drain the Organic Simple Truth black beans and corn and add them into a large bowl.

Chopped orange bell pepper on a cutting board.

Chop the bell peppers and onions into a small-ish dice. This Salad with Black Beans is a little bit like an extra chunky salsa so a rough chop is fine. 

A bowl with ingredients for a Black Bean Salad with fresh onion and bell pepper.

Add the garlic.

If your kids would freak out about the onions, leave them out or try a shallot that has a little less bite. You can easily make this recipe your own to suit your own little taste buds.

A bowl of balsamic vinegar and cellar of sea salt on a cutting board next to a bowl with chopped veggies and cilantro.

Add the cilantro.

Toss everything together with just a little olive oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar and sea salt to taste.

A good quality vinegar tends to be a little bit sweeter and less vinegary or you can even try a flavored variety. I know there is a honey balsamic which might be a good choice as a starter vinegar for a picky kid.

I know there are certain flavors I don’t enjoy (sesame) so I never force my kids to eat the things I can tell they don’t like. I always let them know that we will revisit them later to see if we like it better.

But some things just aren’t going to appeal to them ever (mayo – I’m looking at you).

A bowl of chopped veggies with black beans and cilantro with empty cans in the background.

This is one of those dishes that gets a better flavor the longer it sits. The flavors meld together and take on the sweet tang of the vinegar.

You can make this the night before, even, and it will be perfect for lunch the next day.

How to Serve This Salad

Bowl with black ban salad on a cutting board next to a bag of tortilla chips.

My kids love to eat this with organic tortilla chips from Simple Truth. Who am I kidding, so do I. It works really well as a salsa and this would also be a great recipe for your summer entertaining.

And I don’t know about your kids, but if my kids think they are eating a dip instead of calling this a salad, they’re probably going to eat more of it.

Bowl of salad on a table for a lunch for mom.

A better way for me to eat this Black Bean Salad is over arugula. All the bold flavors work really well together. And you don’t need to add any other dressing since the black bean salad has oil and vinegar.

The beans give you protein so you’ll feel more full, longer. I’m worried that because I have the day to myself that I will run myself crazy and grab junk at lunchtime.

Prep this Black Bean Salad once you’ll have a healthy lunch and snack option for your whole family for several days.

How to Pack This Salad for Lunch

Plastic food storage container with black bean salad on a table next to a lunch pail.

When I pack this for lunch for the kids, I just add it to a small reusable container and use a plastic (or reusable) bag for tortilla chips.

There isn’t any dairy in the recipe so while I always put in a small ice block, I never worry about this salad being too warm.

With just this one prep session, I was able to take care of lunches for about a week. Boom.

Other Items I Pack for Lunch

A small box of chocolate milk next to a lunchpail on a table.

One of our recent discoveries is this Horizon Organic Chocolate milk. My oldest son has finally grown out of his milk allergy but hasn’t developed a taste for milk yet.

He LOVES these individual-sized chocolate milk cartons. He takes these to school, from time to time, which makes me really happy since he’s getting some real calcium. And I feel like this organic milk is a way better option than juice.

We keep these on a low shelf, where he can reach them. I always try to make it as easy as possible for the boys to get to the good stuff. The cookies and other treats are kept out-of-the-way so they don’t make their way into lunch pails.

Do you have your kids pack their own lunches? It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Besides them being able to bathe themselves.

Tips and Tricks

  • If your kids are open to it, you can add even more flavor to this salad. Cut up avocado and queso fresco would all be delicious additions to these southewestern flavors.
  • You can substitute a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette to save time or if you don’t have plain balsamic dressing at home.
  • If your family doesn’t like cilantro, try another fresh herb like basil or parsley.
  • To give it a little kick, add some diced jalapenos!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will black bean salad last?

Black Bean Salad will last for about 4 days in the refrigerator when stored in an air-tight container.

Are canned black beans healthy?

Canned black beans are a good source of fiber and protein and are low in fat. They have other nutrients that are essential for optimal health. But as with lots of canned items, they can be high in sodium. Rinsing the beans prior to using will help to remove some of the excess sodium.

Close up of a bowl of Black Bean Salad with red bell pepper and red onions.

Black Bean Salad

This Black Bean Salad is perfect for sending in school lunches or for eating at home during a busy day. I serve it with tortilla chips for the kids and guests and over arugula for me. With the fresh veggies and protein, your kids will love the southwestern flavors!
4.54 from 32 votes
Print Pin Save
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 305kcal



  • Drain and rinse the black beans and corn then add to a large bowl.
  • Chop the red and orange bell pepper, red onions and cilantro and add to the bowl.
  • Add minced garlic.
  • Mix well.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Store in a plastic or glass storage container and keep covered in the fridge.
  • Serve with chips. Or over arugula.


  • If your kids are open to it, you can add even more flavor to this salad. Cut up avocado and queso fresco would all be delicious additions to these southwestern flavors.
  • You can substitute store-bought balsamic vinaigrette to save time or if you don’t have plain balsamic dressing at home.
  • If your family doesn’t like cilantro, try another fresh herb like basil or parsley.
  • To give it a little kick, add some diced jalapenos!
It is very possible that my nutritional calculations are off thanks to not giving the tortilla chips a serving amount. Because no one should tell you how many tortilla chips you should have. Let your heart tell you. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 813mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2153IU | Vitamin C: 81mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CupcakesCutlery or tag #cupcakescutlery!

Make this yummy Black Bean Salad! It’s a great back-to-school lunch idea for everyone! 

Click to share!