Salsa is usually considered neutral territory in a party spread, but homemade Black Bean and Corn Salsa is about to stage a coup. You’ll definitely need back up chips to take on this easy appetizer. Fresh tomatoes, black beans, sweet corn, red onion, jalapenos, and more are about to unleash a barrage of flavor. Your other party dip recipes are doomed.
We follow a simple creed here – if salsa’s gonna be chunky, it better be fresh. Cause if you think about it, salsa is more than just a snack – it’s a salad. And therefore it’s fair game as an entire meal. You’re welcome!
Yes, some salsas may taste amazing even if they look like pasta sauce (we’re lookin’ at you Blender Salsa!). But it’s not a recipe you’re going to eat on its own for dinner. (Unless you’re 22 and that dinner is salsa and margaritas, and in that case, perhaps you get a pass, because 22 is rough, y’all).
But just look at that array up there ⬆️. Tomato, onion, peppers, corn. It’s a dang bowl full of vegetables. Which is also known by it’s street name, “salad.”
While one typically eats salad with a utensil – perhaps a fork – a spoon is also a utensil. And you could totally eat homemade black bean and corn salsa with a spoon, which may also be referred to by its street name, “scoop.” And whether a scoop is made from plastic, metal, or Tostitos, it’s still a handheld tool for getting food in your mouth. Boom. Case closed.
For this recipe, you want your bowl full of veggies nice and crisp, and bursting with bright flavor. Then you’re gonna punch it up with a little “dressing,” with just enough fresh squeezed lime juice and garlic and cumin in it to elevate those bright, fresh flavors.
Look, you could walk into a Chipotle and essentially order a fast-casual version of this homemade salsa for dinner and no one would blink. On the other hand, you walk into a Chipotle, sit down, and eat a whole jar of Ortega around 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, and (according to the officer on the scene) people find it objectionable.
That’s clear proof that fresh chunky salsa > mushy chunky salsa.
Ingredients for Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- Red Onion: finely minced to roughly the size of the black beans.
- Lime Juice: fresh is best! You’ll need 2-3 limes.
- Garlic: psst – it’s okay to use the jarred stuff, as long as it’s minced, not chopped.
- Tomatoes: we like vine-ripened tomatoes, but any fresh, whole tomatoes will do; see them first, then finely chop.
- Black Beans: drain and rinse canned beans for best texture.
- Corn: we like frozen, not canned, to avoid unnecessary sodium. Use fresh if you can get it.
- Bell Pepper: we used an orange one to enhance the color variety (and nutritional profile! Different colors = different vitamins and nutrients). Again, finely chopped.
- Green Onion: sliced or chopped.
- Cilantro: fresh, minced cilantro, more or less depending on taste.
- Jalapeños: minced, with or without seeds depending on your preference for heat.
- Seasonings: kosher salt, ground pepper, and cumin
Our secret trick for GREAT salsa
Layered flavors!! Instead of throwing everything into a bowl and calling it good, try this instead:
- Macerate the onions and garlic to remove the bitter bite. You’ll let ’em sit with an acid (lime juice) and salt for 10 minutes or so. PS – this is also the trick to making really good guacamole and hummus.
- Salt the tomatoes – this will remove the water, and you’ll be rewarded with chunky salsa, not salsa soup.
We promise these extra steps will make your fresh chunky salsa with corn and black beans even better!
How to make Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Chop, chop! Black Bean and Corn Salsa is easy to make, but time is also an important “ingredient.” This recipe is perfect for party prepping in advance, as fresh squeezed lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and cumin need at least an hour to help marry the flavors of the tomatoes, corn, onions, and peppers.
- Optional, but recommended: seed and chop tomatoes, then sprinkle with salt and toss in a mesh strainer. Nest the strainer in a bowl for 30 minutes, then gently toss with a spatula to drain the released water.
- Combine the red onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a bowl. Toss until well combined, then macerate at room temp for 10 minutes.
- Add the drained tomatoes and remaining ingredients to the macerated onions. Mix until very well combined, then adjust the salt and lime juice to taste.
- Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Serve black bean salsa with your favorite chips.
- Make it spicy: keep some of the jalapeno seeds and/or double the amount of jalapenos in the recipe. You can also try serrano chiles for an even spicier salsa!
- Macerating the red onions is a must – it will remove some of the bite and make the salsa more flavorful.
- Diced avocado is a nice mix-in, but it doesn’t keep well – only add avocado if you know there won’t be leftovers (think party situations).
- Knife skills on the ready – you’ve been warned, this recipe requires a lot of chopping. Diced the tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeños to a uniform size of roughly ¼” dice – you’ll want the vegetables to be about the same size as the corn and black beans for evenly distributed flavor in every bite.
Canned or scratch beans?
Both have their place in our kitchens, but for recipes that use cold beans, we typically reach for canned beans. The more controlled cooking process means the beans are just the right texture and consistency for salsa.
You can, of course, use black beans made from scratch! You’ll want firmer beans that still have a nice little bite to them – mushy beans do not a great salsa make.
Can I make this salsa ahead of time?
No only CAN you, but we recommend that you SHOULD. Even just an hour or two of chilling will help meld the flavors and create a more flavorful salsa recipe.
Additions and substitutions
- Corn: while canned corn is simply too wet and soft for this recipe, we definitely love fresh corn in this chunky salsa when it’s in season. Want to really ramp it up? Roast the fresh corn first.
- Onion: feel free to swap white onion for red – it just ain’t as purdy. White onions are more mild than red, but we still recommend macerating.
- Tomatoes: swap vine-ripened tomatoes for plum, roma, or beefsteak tomatoes as needed. Just be sure they are at peak ripeness and still firm.
- Jalapenos: try serrano chiles if you want your black bean salsa hotter, Anaheim for less heat. You can even try a poblano pepper for a smokier finish.
- Bell Pepper: we try stick with orange peppers – not as sweet as red, not as bitter as green – plus they even out the rainbow. Swap for yellow if you’d like.
- Avocado: only add in if you’re planning on the whole batch being decimated in a few hours by a hungry mob of partygoers. Sprinkle with some lime juice before adding if you have concerns about browning.
More Tasty Party Dips!
Did you make our black bean and corn salsa?!? We want to hear all about it! Leave a comment below, or share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @thesnackblog and #thesnackblog.
15-Minute Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Chop, chop! Black Bean and Corn Salsa is easy to make, but time is also an important “ingredient.” This recipe is perfect for party prep in advance – fresh squeezed lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and cumin need at least an hour to help marry the flavors of the tomatoes, corn, onions, and peppers.
- 1 small red onion, diced to ¼”, about 1 cup
- 4 tablespoon lime juice, fresh squeezed from 2-3 limes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced to ½”
- 1 14.5-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well, about 1.5 cups
- 1.5 cups frozen corn, defrosted
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, diced to ½”
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ c loosely packed cilantro leaves, minced
- 1-2 jalapenos, diced to ¼”, with or without seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
Optional, but recommended: seed and chop the tomatoes, then transfer to a mesh strainer. Sprinkle with the second ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then gently toss. Nest the strainer into a bowl to collect the juices, then let sit for 30 minutes. Gently toss the tomatoes with a rubber spatula to drain the released water content.
Combine the red onion, lime juice, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss until well combined. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes to macerate. This will remove some of the bite of the red onion, and make the overall salsa more flavorful.
Add the tomatoes, black beans, corn, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, ground pepper, and remaining salt to the red onions. Mix until very well combined, then taste for seasoning. Adjust the salt and lime juice to taste until the flavor sings.
Place in the fridge to chill and let the flavors meld for 1 hour, or up to overnight. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or pita chips.
Serving: 0.5cup | Sodium: 230mg (10%) | Calcium: 8mg (1%) | Vitamin C: 58mg (70%) | Vitamin A: 12IU | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Fiber: 3g (13%) | Potassium: 119mg (3%) | Cholesterol: 0mg | Calories: 61kcal (3%) | Trans Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Fat: 0g | Protein: 3g (6%) | Carbohydrates: 13g (4%) | Iron: 4mg (22%)