Three Bean Salad

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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
Close up of three bean salad in a serving bowl.

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 (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), 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
3 bean salad recipe ingredients in bowls.

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. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.

  1. Rinse. Drain and rinse beans under cold water. Pat dry.
  2. Combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, bell pepper, celery, shallots and parsley.
  3. Make dressing. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, and mustard together in a small bowl.
Three bean salad without dressing in a bowl.
Dressing ingredients in a bowl with whisk.
  1. 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.
Finished bean salad recipe.


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.

Storage Instructions

  • 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.

Bean salad recipe dished into a bowl.

What To Serve With Three Bean Salad Recipes

This salad pairs perfectly with roasted, grilled, and pulled meats! Try it with these proteins.

More Healthy Make-Ahead Salad Recipes

Whether you need an easy cookout side or wow-worthy potluck dish, you’ll love these flavorful ideas:

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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Rinse the chickpeas, white beans, and red beans under cold water. Pat dry.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all three types of beans, bell pepper, celery, shallots, and parsley.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and mustard.

  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. If possible, refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. Serve cold.

Recipe Notes

Serving size: 1 cup

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 384

Fat 12g

Protein 19g

Total Carbs 53.9g

Net Carbs 38.6g

Fiber 15.3g

Sugar 5g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂

Three bean salad recipe pin.

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