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Once you learn how to make this classic three bean salad recipe, you’ll want to take it to every picnic, cookout, and potluck (right along with bowlfuls of creamy cucumber salad and avocado corn salad)! My 7-year-old daughter was so excited when I made this and asked for seconds. I’ll show you how to make a 3 bean salad that livens up unassuming canned beans and transforms them into a fast and flavorful side dish — no cooking needed!
What Is 3 Bean Salad?
Three bean salad recipes include three types of beans — traditionally canned kidney beans, wax beans, and green beans, but other types of beans can be used. It’s dressed in a seasoned vinaigrette that generally includes oil, vinegar, and sometimes sugar. This salad has been a favorite for decades because of its easy prep and ability to travel well and stay fresh when dining outdoors.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Three Bean Salad Recipe
- Herby, marinated taste
- Crisp and soft textures
- No boiling or cooking required
- Done in 20 minutes
- Healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and loaded with fiber
- Easy to make ahead and stores well for all kinds of occasions
Ingredients You’ll Need
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for bean salad recipes, what each one does in the recipe, and some substitution options. For more substitutions, see Variations below. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Beans – I used canned chickpeas (or you can use roasted chickpeas), cannellini beans, and red beans for this 3 beans salad recipe. Mine were in 19-ounce cans, which are just under 2 1/2 cups each, but you could also use 15-ounce cans. Those are about 1 1/2 cups each, so use about 1 1/2 15-ounce cans to replace each 19-ounce can. See more ideas for beans below!
- Bell Pepper – Use any color pepper you prefer and dice finely.
- Celery – Cut into slices.
- Shallots – Mince them finely so their flavor distributes evenly.
- Parsley – I highly recommend using fresh here, but if you need to use dried in a pinch, use one teaspoon dried to replace each tablespoon of fresh. (The recipe uses 1/4 cup parsley, which is 4 tablespoons, so you’d need 4 teaspoons dried.)
- Olive Oil – Use a good quality oil (I recommend extra-virgin olive oil) for a better tasting three bean salad dressing.
- Lime Juice – I highly recommend fresh squeezed juice for this 3 bean salad recipe, but bottled lime juice will work as well. You can also use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Dijon Mustard – If you prefer the flavor, you can also try yellow mustard or whole grain mustard.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Three Bean Salad
This section shows how to make old fashioned three bean salad, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Rinse. Drain and rinse beans under cold water. Pat dry.
- Combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, bell pepper, celery, shallots and parsley.
- Make dressing. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, and mustard together in a small bowl.
- Toss. Pour dressing over the three bean salad recipe and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, if possible, to let flavors develop. You can serve the salad in the same large bowl, or transfer to a serving bowl.
There are so many ways to make this recipe for 3 bean salad fresh and delicious. Try these variations!
- Add or change the beans – Consider lima beans, butter beans, black beans, pinto beans, wax beans, or broad beans. You can use canned and rinsed beans, cooked raw beans, or fresh beans (such as green beans) that are blanched first.
- Change the aromatics and seasonings – Add garlic, use a red onion instead of shallots, add a dash or Worcestershire sauce, or include your favorite spices.
- Mix up the herbs – I used fresh parsley, but you can use other fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, or mint.
- Use other veggies – Try trading bell pepper for hot peppers, tomatoes, sliced olives, or corn.
- Add nuts or seeds – For extra crunch, add chopped walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pistachios.
- Sweeten the dressing – Depending on your lifestyle and tastes, you can use anything from conventional sugar to regular or sugar-free maple syrup or honey substitute to sweeten.
- Store: Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
- Meal prep: This salad is easy to completely make ahead and stores well, but you can also chop veggies and make dressing separately and assemble the day you plan to serve it.
How Long Does Bean Salad Last In The Fridge?
Three bean salad will last for 5-7 days in the fridge.
Can You Freeze Bean Salad?
Yes, you can freeze this salad for up to 3 months, although the texture of the veggies will change a bit.
What To Serve With Three Bean Salad Recipes
This salad pairs perfectly with roasted, grilled, and pulled meats! Try it with these proteins.
- Beef – Serve this salad with grilled sirloin steak, juicy burgers, or surf and turf.
- Chicken – Make chicken kabobs, baked chicken drumsticks, or grilled bruschetta chicken with this salad.
- Fish & Seafood – Grilled shrimp skewers, Cajun grilled cod, and grilled lobster tail plate nicely with this salad.
- Pork – Pulled pork, pan seared pork chops, or stuffed pork chops are all great pairings for three bean salad.
More Healthy Make-Ahead Salad Recipes
Whether you need an easy cookout side or wow-worthy potluck dish, you’ll love these flavorful ideas:
Tools To Make 3 Bean Salad Recipes
- Whisk – My favorite for quick homemade salad dressings.
- Salad Bowl – Includes a lid for easy travel.
Three Bean Salad Recipe
Three Bean Salad Recipe (Quick & Easy!)
This easy 3 bean salad recipe tastes fresh, stores well, and needs no cooking — perfect for picnic and potlucks! Learn how to make a three bean salad in just 20 minutes.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Rinse the chickpeas, white beans, and red beans under cold water. Pat dry.
In a large bowl, combine all three types of beans, bell pepper, celery, shallots, and parsley.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and mustard.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If possible, refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. Serve cold.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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Super easy, and it was the perfect side dish to go with dinner last night. Thank you!!
The homemade dressing added so much flavor! Such an easy and yummy side dish!
This was absolutely packed with flavor, loved every bite.
This is my new favorite salad.