Three-bean salad is a potluck or holiday table staple. It’s easy, affordable, and explodes with fresh flavors.
Plus, the collection of beans is so pretty on the dinner table.
The beans deliver protein-rich savory flavors accented by a homemade vinaigrette and punchy red onions.
It makes the perfect summer BBQ meal because you can safely leave it out in the sun. You can’t do that with creamy potato salad!
Gather your beans, and watch how fast this three-bean salad comes together.
Three Bean Salad
Three-bean salad is a classic American side dish that’s been around since the 1950s.
It’s a protein-rich, savory salad with a tangy kick from a homemade vinaigrette.
There’s no need to fire up the oven, turn on the stove, or even bust out any kitchen gadgets. (Well, except for a can opener.)
All you need are a few cans of beans and some pantry staples for the vinaigrette, and voila! You have a popular side dish that only costs a few bucks.
If you have the beans, you likely have everything you need to whip up this tasty salad. While it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, the fusion of flavors is out of this world.
- Kidney beans – Kidney beans add a rich, meat-like texture to this salad with just a kiss of sweetness.
- Green beans – In contrast, green beans are earthy and a little bitter. Plus, they add a good deal of fiber to this protein-rich dish.
- Garbanzo beans – And for the hat trick, garbanzo beans add a hint of nuttiness. The flavor pairs perfectly with sweet kidney beans and earthy green beans.
- Red onion – Beans are soft and mild. Adding chopped red onion adds a wonderful contrasting crunch and sharp flavor.
- Parsley – Fresh parsley adds freshness to this salad. It elevates the meaty flavor of the beans.
- Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar helps lift those savory and meaty flavors with a little fruitiness.
- Granulated sugar – Adding sugar to the vinaigrette helps tame the mouth-puckering sourness. The gentle sweetness helps draw out the natural flavor of the beans.
- Extra virgin olive oil – EVOO helps evenly coat the beans while adding a hint of nuttiness. Vegetable oil works, too, but EVOO is more delicious and flavorful.
- Salt and pepper – A simple seasoning of salt and pepper is all the spices you need to finish this tasty salad.
How to Make Three-Bean Salad
You won’t believe how fast this recipe is. It’s ready in minutes!
1. Combine the beans. Dump the drained kidney beans, green beans, garbanzo beans, onion, and chopped parsley into a bowl. Then, gently toss the ingredients.
2. Add the vinaigrette. Whisk the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper using a separate bowl. When it combines, pour it over the bean mixture and toss it to coat it evenly.
3. Marinate. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap or foil, and marinate it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!
Tips and Variations
Check out some helpful tips and tasty variations below.
- Always rinse those beans. Canned beans are high in sodium. Before adding to your salad, be sure to drain and rinse them. It allows you to control the sodium content so they aren’t too salty.
- Make it a main course. Beans are high in protein but not meaty enough for a full meal. Adding meat like cubed chicken, steak, or ham promotes this classic side to the main attraction.
- Add more veggies. The red onion offers a delightful crunch, but you can add whatever veggies you crave! Try adding crunchy additions like cucumbers, celery, or bell peppers.
- Experiment with fresh herbs. Parsley adds freshness to this salad, but feel free to experiment with other herbs! Add whatever is in your herb garden, like mint, cilantro, chives, or fresh dill.
How to Store
Three-bean salad only gets better with time. The flavors get more intense the longer it chills in the fridge. But it doesn’t last forever! Here’s a quick guide on how to store any leftovers.
To Store: Three-bean salad will stay fresh between 3 to 5 days when stored in an air-tight container. If the beans seem slimy, it’s time to toss the dish.
To Freeze: Yes, you can freeze three-bean salad! Place it in a freezer bag to stay fresh for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
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