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Best Three Bean Salad Recipe

This Three Bean Salad recipe is not just a tasty picnic favorite, it’s also packed with protein and comes together in no time. You just add some onion, celery, and cilantro for a bit of kick, mix in a refreshing citrusy dressing, and boom—you’ve got a refreshing side dish that’s perfect for any get-together. 

classic three bean salad recipe

Canned three bean salad has roots that go way back, emerging as a popular dish in American kitchens during the late 19th century. It was a practical recipe that made great use of the canned beans that were readily available and affordable during that time. 

Over the years, it has remained beloved for its simplicity, versatility, and the way it perfectly accompanies almost any meal, especially during outdoor gatherings and summer barbecues. 

So, what’s more? this salad is a fantastic make-ahead option. You can mix it up the night before, let it chill in the fridge, and the flavors will meld beautifully by the time your event rolls around. It’s a reliable, budget-friendly, and go-to recipe that saves the day when you’re short on time but want to serve something that everyone will enjoy.

And let’s not forget the nutrition! Packed with protein and fiber, it’s not just filling but also good for you. So, if you’re looking for a side that’s both delicious and healthy, this is it!

best three bean salad recipe
  • Full of fiber and protein, it’s a healthy option that keeps you full and energized.
  • No animal products here, just fresh, wholesome ingredients that everyone can enjoy.
  • With minimal prep and no cooking required, this salad comes together quickly and effortlessly.
  • Easy to pack and even better when it’s made ahead—this salad is your go-to for any outdoor gathering.
  • This salad mixes black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas, providing a great mix of textures and flavors.

For 3-4 people | prepare time: 10 mins.

canned three bean salad
  • 1/2 pc red onion (finely diced, approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 1 can/15oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can/15oz Kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can/15oz Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the salad dressing:

  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp zest of lime
  • 2 tsp salt

three bean salad recipe
  1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, maple syrup, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, zest of lime, and salt. Whisk together until well combined.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the 3 different types of cooked beans (rinsed and drained), finely diced red onion and celery, chopped cilantro.
  3. Pour the salad dressing over the bean mixture, toss to coat.
  4. Store the salad in a fridge for several hours to allow the beans to absorb the flavor before serving.
3 bean salad recipe

🌱 Garbanzo beans, pinto beans, or white beans – While traditional recipes call for chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans, feel free to swap in garbanzo beans, pinto beans, or white beans for a different mix of textures and flavors. 

🌱 Parsley or basil – Cilantro is a classic choice, but parsley or even basil can offer a fresh twist to the flavor profile. Each herb lends a distinct taste that can totally transform the salad.

🌱 Diced mango – For a hint of sweetness, mix in some diced mango for a tropical twist. The sweetness of the fruit pairs well with the savory elements of the salad.

🌱 Red pepper flakes or chopped jalapeños – If you enjoy a bit of heat, sprinkle some red pepper flakes or add finely chopped jalapeños to the salad. Adjust the amount according to your heat preference.

🌱 Toasted almonds or sunflower seeds – Sprinkle some toasted almonds or sunflower seeds on top for an extra layer of crunch and a boost of healthy fats. 

🌱 Quinoa or bulgur – To turn this side dish into a hearty main, add protein-rich quinoa or bulgur. These grains not only bulk up the salad but also soak up the dressing. It makes every bite deliciously flavorful.

  • Veggie Burgers: This salad is awesome alongside a juicy veggie burger. Whether you’re into black bean, chickpea, or any other kind of plant-based patties, the salad’s vibrant flavors are a perfect match.
  • Skewer Recipes: Skewer recipes like tofu satay can really shine with this fresh, tangy salad on the side. It cuts through the richness and adds a nice crunch.
  • Stuffed Recipes: Serve vegan stuffed mushrooms or lentil stuffed sweet potatoes up with your bean salad for a filling and nutritious meal.
  • Wraps and Sandwiches: Spoon some of this salad into a wrap or pile it onto a sandwich with some crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes. It’s super refreshing and makes for an easy lunch.
  • Fresh Bread: Sometimes, all you need is a slice of crusty, fresh bread to go with this salad. It’s perfect for scooping up all the tasty bits, and who doesn’t love a bit of bread with their meal?
3 b3an salad

Keep the Dressing Separate: If you haven’t dressed the salad yet, keep your salad dressing separate until you’re ready to serve. This helps the beans maintain their texture and prevents them from soaking up too much dressing and becoming soft.

Airtight Containers: To really lock in freshness, store the salad in an airtight container. This keeps all the flavors in and prevents the beans from getting mushy.

Refrigerate: First off, this salad loves the cold. Pop it in the refrigerator. It’ll stay fresh and crisp for about 3 to 5 days.

Avoid Freezing: Freezing this salad isn’t recommended. The texture of the canned green beans and other veggies might change, becoming too soft when thawed.

Serving Suggestions: When you’re ready to serve, give the salad a good stir to redistribute the dressing and seasonings. If the beans have absorbed a lot of the dressing, you might want to drizzle a little vinegar or squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top to brighten it up.

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3 bean salad healthy

MORE SALAD RECIPES TO TRY

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CAN I SUBSTITUTE ANY OF THE BEANS IN THIS RECIPE?

Yes, you can! While the classic three bean salad typically includes kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas, feel free to use canned cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, or even pinto beans for a different mix. This swap allows you to enjoy various textures and flavors.

CAN I MAKE THIS SALAD FOR A LARGE OUTDOOR PICNIC?

Three bean salad is ideal for outdoor gatherings and summer picnics because it’s easy to transfer, can be made in a large bowl, and doesn’t require reheating. It’s a quintessential American picnic salad that’s not only delicious but also holds up well outdoors.

HOW CAN I MAKE THIS SALAD MORE PROTEIN-RICH FOR MY DIET?

To amp up the protein content, consider adding quinoa, lentils, or even chunks of tofu or tempeh. These are all great vegan protein sources that blend well with the flavors of the three bean salad and make it even more satisfying as a meal.

HOW CAN I AVOID MUSHY BEANS IN MY SALAD?

To prevent your beans from becoming mushy, especially if using canned beans, be sure to rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove excess starch and then drain them well before adding to the salad. This will help maintain their texture.

CAN THIS SALAD BE FROZEN FOR LONGER STORAGE?

It’s best not to freeze this salad as the texture of the beans and vegetables can become very soft and watery upon thawing. For best results, store the salad in the refrigerator and enjoy it within five days.

classic three bean salad recipe

Best 3 Bean Salad Recipe

This salad is a great make-ahead option that lets the flavors meld beautifully overnight. With kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas all tossed up in a tangy dressing, it's a refreshing side that’s perfect for any gathering!
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 323kcal
Author: SHU-CHUN

Ingredients

  • ½ cup red onion finely diced
  • 1 can black beans 15oz, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans 15oz, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chickpeas 15oz, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup celery finely diced
  • ½ cup cilantro roughly chopped

For the salad dressing:

Instructions

  • 1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, maple syrup, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, zest of lime, and salt. Whisk together until well combined.
  • 2. In a large mixing bowl, add the 3 different types of cooked beans (rinsed and drained), finely diced red onion and celery, chopped cilantro.
  • 3. Pour the salad dressing over the bean mixture, toss to coat.
  • 4. Store the salad in a fridge for several hours to allow the beans to absorb the flavor before serving.

Notes

*This salad will taste even better overnight.

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 1178mg | Potassium: 586mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 202IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg | Net Carbohydrates: 29g

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