Life is too short to eat boring salads. This Pinto Bean Salad is loaded with spiced crispy pinto beans, creamy avocado pieces, perfect bites of queso fresco, veggies, and the most delicious creamy avocado dressing. Ready in about 15 minutes!
This salad is naturally gluten-free and so hearty and good!
This Spiced Pinto Bean Salad with Homemade Creamy Avocado Dressing was created in partnership with Randall Beans. I am excited to create recipes for them and share the recipes here with you.
Pinto bean salad
All the flavors and textures of this pinto bean salad make each bite taste so good!
The pinto beans are really the star of the salad though: they add fiber, plant protein, and a great flavor because I sear them in a skillet with just a little bit of Cajun seasoning. This makes them flavorful, crispy, and so good! The perfect addition to a salad.
So next time you're looking for a nutritious side salad or a filling lunch salad, I hope you get to make this pinto bean salad!
More Cajun-spiced salads to try: Cajun Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
Creamy avocado salad dressing
I made an easy creamy avocado dressing because it goes so well with the spiced crisp pinto beans in this salad!
This salad uses 1 whole Hass avocado—half the avocado is chopped into the salad (hellooo soft and creamy avocado bites!), and the other half is used to make the creamy avocado dressing. Just blend the avocado with some plain yogurt, garlic, lime or lemon juice, a scallion, and a little salt and pepper. Soo creamy, so tasty, so rich.
Try this other avocado recipe: Avocado Tempura
This salad makes about 4 side dish servings or 2 large main dish servings. Keep reading below for tips for how to prep this salad if you want to eat it leftover the next day.
For the pinto bean salad:
- 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ teaspoon Cajun spice, adjust amount to taste (taco seasoning will work great too!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 large handfuls baby spinach or salad greens
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ Hass avocado, diced (save the other avocado half for the dressing!)
- 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 oz queso fresco (or feta), chopped or crumbled
For the creamy avocado dressing:
- ½ Hass avocado
- 2 tablespoons plain low fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt for a thicker sauce)
- 2-4 tablespoons water
- 2-3 teaspoons lime juice (or lemon juice)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 scallion, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste (about ¼ teaspoon each)
Related recipe: Chicken Salad with Chickpeas
In addition to a cutting board, knife, and measuring spoons, you'll need:
- Medium or large skillet
- Citrus squeezer
- Small food processor or a personal blender, such as a magic bullet
Step 1: In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the pinto beans and Cajun spice and cook for 3-4 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly. The beans will crisp up and start popping. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Step 2: Prepare the dressing in a small food processor or magic bullet: Add all the ingredients (start with 2 tablespoons water) and process until smooth, adding more water, lime juice, or salt & pepper as needed, to taste.
Step 3: Arrange the salad to serve: On a large platter (or 2 large dinner plates), arrange the spinach, topped with rows of spiced pinto beans, halved grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, sliced onion, cubes of queso fresco, and chopped avocado. Top with Avocado dressing.
More salad add-ins
You can add whatever you like to this salad! Here are some ideas for how to switch things up:
- Use a few cilantro leaves in the dressing instead of scallions
- Try it with roasted chickpeas instead of pinto beans
- Add sliced radishes for more crunch and color
- Add toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for more crunch
- Add some cooked chopped chicken, or canned tuna or salmon for more protein
More pinto bean recipes to try: Baked Beans with Ground Beef
All the ingredients for this salad can be made ahead and kept well in the fridge for a day before serving. Keep the dressing in a separate container so the spinach and veggies don't wilt. Toss the diced avocado in lime juice to keep it from browning too much, or you can toss the avocado in the avocado dressing—as long as it's protected from air it should be fine for 1 day in the fridge.
You can do the same thing with keeping the salad ingredients separate from the dressing if you want to eat half the salad now and enjoy the rest tomorrow. Simply add the dressing on top when ready to serve!
More beautifully arranged salad recipes to try: Vegetarian Beet Carpaccio
More spiced and flavorful salad recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!/
Spiced Pinto Bean Salad with Avocado Dressing
- 1 14 can pinto beans - drained and rinsed
- ½ teaspoon Cajun spice - or to taste, (taco seasoning will work great too!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 large handfuls baby spinach - or salad greens
- 1 cup grape tomatoes - halved
- ½ Hass avocado - diced (use the other half for the dressing)
- 1 medium cucumber - thinly sliced
- ½ small red onion - thinly sliced
- 4 oz queso fresco - (or feta), chopped or crumbled
- ½ Hass avocado
- 2 tablespoons plain low fat yogurt
- 2-4 cup water - to taste
- 2-3 teaspoons lime juice - or lemon juice, to taste
- 1 small garlic clove - minced
- 1 scallion - roughly chopped (or try cilantro)
- salt & pepper - to taste (about ¼ teaspoon each)
- Medium / large pan
- Make spiced crispy pinto beans: In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the pinto beans and Cajun spice and cook for 3-4 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly. The beans will crisp up and start popping. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Prepare all the veggies: slice the red onion, chop the avocado, slice the cucumbers, and dice the tomatoes.
- Prepare the dressing in a small food processor or personal blender, such as a magic bullet: Add all the ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust with more water, lime juice, salt and pepper, if needed.
- Plate the salad: On a large platter (or 2 large dinner plates), arrange the spinach, topped with rows of Spiced Pinto Beans, halved grape tomato, cucumber slices, onion slices, cubes of queso fresco, and chopped avocado. Top with Avocado dressing.
The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.