This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy to learn more.
Three-bean salad is a classic comfort side dish. Inexpensive and easy to assemble, with common pantry staples. This salad makes a wonderful side dish for almost any meal. It’s a perfect make-ahead salad for picnics, potlucks, or BBQs. This bean salad recipe is so easy to make, if you can run a can opener you can make this salad. Simply drain and rinse your chosen three cans of beans. Mix them together with some thinly sliced onion and chopped celery (optional). Combine the vinaigrette dressing ingredients and pour over the top of the beans.
While this salad is most often called a three-bean salad, you can add more beans or sub different beans to suit your tastes. I used green beans, red kidney beans, and garbanzo beans. There are many beans that would be great in this salad including pinto beans, lima beans, black beans, wax, or cannellini beans. When I was younger I didn’t think I liked bean salad, only to realize that I don’t really care for lima beans. So, no matter what beans you choose make sure they are beans that you like.
You can use any type of onion in this salad that you like, I prefer sweet or white onions. The dressing helps mellow the onions, so yellow or purple onions are fine as well. Since beans are naturally soft, I like to add some crunchy celery to help balance the texture of the beans. Cucumber, water chestnuts, or bell peppers would also make great additions to add a little crunch.
The dressing consists of vinegar, sugar, oil, and a little seasoning. Some recipes require the dressing to be cooked before adding it to the salad, but I’ve found that it’s really not necessary. I like the tang you get from apple cider vinegar, but you could use red wine vinegar instead or even a mixture of white and apple cider vinegar if you like.
You can use regular granulated sugar or a sugar substitute in this recipe, agave or honey would also work. Add less sugar if you want, but don’t cut it out completely, or the dressing will be too acidic.
I’ve seen bean salads using olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil, so use whichever one you have on hand. Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be a healthier choice than most vegetable oils.
I just love garlic pepper seasoning and use it instead of salt in most recipes. You can certainly use salt and pepper to your taste in this recipe instead of garlic pepper seasoning.
Three-bean salad tastes better when the beans have had some time to marinate in the dressing, allow at least two hours of refrigeration time before serving. This salad tastes best when served within 3 days but will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week if not longer.
Three Bean Salad
- 1 15 oz can green beans
- 1 15 oz can red kidney beans
- 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
- ½ small onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped celery (optional)
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil
- ½ tsp garlic pepper seasoning (or salt and pepper to taste)
- Drain and rinse your three cans of beans. Combine beans, onion, and celery in a bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, sugar, oil, and seasoning.
- Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least 2 hours or overnight.