Besides knowing how to use a can opener, there’s no need for any special talents when you make this easy three bean salad. And with a homemade dressing, this pantry salad is a classic potluck favorite that can be made in 15 minutes or less.
Classic Three Bean Salad Recipe
This straight-from-the-pantry/salad-bar-staple salad is just one reason why I majored in art instead of in math, because apparently I can’t count.
While this salad is most often called a three bean salad, I just couldn’t help but add in another bean to make it four, not just because it added a different shape and a little more color—because you know, food is art—but because how could I leave even one bean out of the mix?
And with a homemade bean salad dressing that adds a sweet pickled pucker, this salad shows why once again, real good real food is best…even when it starts with a can. Or four.
What’s in This Three Bean Salad?
This recipe for bean salad starts in the pantry with one basic vegetable in four different varieties, providing vitamins and protein you can’t find in just every veggie. And the best part, you get all the vitamins and nutrients from beans in a can.
The four beans I crave most in my three bean salad are:
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- Wax beans
- Garbanzo beans
Bean salad is one of my favorite additions to my lunch time salads, but I’m not as big a fan of the syrupy dressed version too often found in the the jarred and canned varieties. That’s why I like my homemade version best.
I use a combination of two vinegars for the dressing: white wine vinegar for a more mellow tang with a touch of apple cider vinegar to give the dressing a punch.
The dressing mellows the thinly sliced onion and pickles the whole batch for a sweet pucker you’ll never want to pass up.
See more: 20 Recipes You Can Make with a Can of Beans
How to Make Bean Salad
To make this cold bean salad recipe, simply drain and rinse the four kinds of beans before mixing them together with some thinly sliced onion and the pucker-inducing dressing.
You’ll want to let the three bean salad chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving it so the flavors have time to come together.
How Long Does Bean Salad Last?
This classic three bean salad will last up to a week in the fridge.
Can I Prep Bean Salad in Advance?
Definitely! In fact, this three bean salad tastes best the next day after the beans have had time to soak up the vinegar dressing.
See more: 30 Healthy Summer Potluck Salads to Make Now
Tips for Making Three Bean Salad
Because the beans are canned in water and salt, the beans release starches that create a murky liquid in the can that while not bad for you, just looks kind of grimy and gross. That’s why I always drain the beans in a strainer, then rinse them well in cool water before adding them to the mixing bowl.
My bean salad dressing calls for sugar to get that sweet pucker I crave, but the amount can be adjusted if you prefer less. Some recipes require the dressing to be cooked before adding to the salad, but I’ve found this step to be just what it is: an extra step, and one you do not need.
Lastly, you’re welcome to use different varieties of beans in your three bean salad. Three, four, five types of beans — use whatever you want!
More Recipes to Add a Pickled Pucker to Your Palate
- Spiralized Refrigerator Quick Dill Pickles
- Killer Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles
- Pickle Infused Vodka
- Dilly Bean Recipe and 10 Pickled Recipes to Love
- Zesty Bread and Butter Pickles
- Pickled Jalapeños with Carrots and Onion
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Classic Three Bean Salad
- 1 15- ounce can green beans
- 1 15- ounce can kidney beans
- 1 15- ounce can wax beans
- 1 15- ounce can garbanzo beans or chickpeas
- ½ small sweet yellow onion
- ⅔ cup white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Drain each can of beans in a strainer and rinse with cool water and shake gently to drain then add to a mixing bowl.
- Thinly slice the yellow onion and add to the bowl.
- Whisk the vinegars and sugar in a small bowl with the canola oil and kosher salt. Pour over the beans and onion and toss lightly.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight and serve chilled or at room temperature.
- I make this salad as part of my meal planning and eat it through the week. Stored in an airtight container or mason jar, the salad will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week if not more.
More Potluck Recipes to Make
- Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad
- Easy Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad
- Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad
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healthy and easy recipe! it looks delicious
Heidi, I am always looking for quick and easy lunch ideas and this looks perfect. It is so nice to have something that I can whip up in less than 15 minutes. I also love how colorful this salad looks. Thanks so much.
Love this recipe. Have been making for years. Learned from my Mom when I was young (10 or 11). Only difference in our recipes, hers has 1/4 cup sugar, a splash of lemon juice, and she heated all the dressing ingredients to boiling, then poured over the 3(4) beans and chilled overnight. I have been making it for over 40 years now. My Scout troop makes it on our big cooking camp out each fall (well, not THIS year!!), so it is an easy recipe for kids to start with.
I didn’t have wax beans so used cannelini instead. Had red wine vinegar but no white so I subbed. My 8 year old son did all of the measuring and mixing and this boy that HATES beans took a bite and said he would only eat beans with this dressing! If this is so then you have made me a happy happy mom! Thanks a hundred times over!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thanks Julie! I am so glad that this helped himn enjoy beans!
Nice easy recipe. Will make it is afternoon. I too use 4 beans, Wax, Green, Red, Garbonzo . Mix in some Red Onion and Cilantro and bingo it’s on!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
great thanks have had at different function – now going to do my own . thanks for sharing and look simple going to use my own wax and grown green bean.s Kim
Perfect , always afraid of too much sugar in bean salad recipes, went for it, I think the white wine vinegar makes it shine .
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thanks so much Mark. Glad it was a hit!
Could you please add how many servings this recipe makes, plus what a single serving size would be in your experience. I am making it for a casual church funeral reception.
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
This would serve 6-8. As a side dish I would say 1/2 cup is good!
I just made this side for a family gathering (today), and it was a complete hit! I did have 5 beans, adding in light kidney beans for some color variety, but followed the dressing recipe and even my kids liked it! I will be passing this recipe along for sure :-) I made the dish about 2hrs before the lunch, letting it sit in the fridge covered, and used a slotted spoon for serving. Can’t wait for an excuse to make this one again! Thank you!!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
YUM! That soudns great! Thanks for sharing
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Make the dressing: Whisk the earmarked brine, the residual dud juice and the mustard in a bowl, then beater in the olive oil until flat. Toss with the bean combination. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Stir in the cilantro and period with salt and sprinkle beforehand portion.
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Love 3 or 4 bean salad. I’ll be making your dressing.
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I love bean salad and this looks great. I will use no sodium beans