Classic Three Bean Salad

$2.79 recipe / $0.56 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.70 from 13 votes
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A salad this simple has no business being so delicious, but it just is. This Classic Three Bean Salad has minimal ingredients, the most basic of basic dressings, and yet I can’t seem to get enough of it. The creamy beans are the perfect contrast to the tangy-sweet dressing, and there’s just enough savory crunch from the red onion to keep the flavors grounded. It’s the perfect summer side dish for all of your BBQs and potlucks, or on those busy weeknights when you don’t want to spend a lot of time fixing dinner.

Overhead view of a bowl full of three bean salad

What Beans Go In Three Bean Salad

My three bean salad has dark kidney beans, cannellini beans, and green beans. You can also try other beans like chickpeas, wax beans, purple hull peas, or black eyed peas.

Three bean salad is really flexible, so you can swap out the beans, and you can even add more than three beans if you’d like. The most important thing to remember when choosing your beans is that you want to have a variety of colors, textures, and shapes. Make sure to have at least one creamy bean, too.

What is the Dressing Like?

The dressing for this classic three bean salad is a very basic, slightly sweet vinaigrette with just enough Dijon to give it a little zing. If you don’t want to make your own dressing, you could potentially swap it out for something like a bottled Italian dressing, although that will have a different flavor.

What to Serve with Three Bean Salad

The sweet-tart flavor of this three bean salad makes it go perfectly with other sweet-savory flavors, like BBQ sauce. This week I served it with my BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken and potato salad. It would also be a great side to something like Glazed Ham Steaks, Honey Mustard Wings, Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Baked Chicken Drumsticks, or BBQ Tofu Sliders.

How Long Does it Last?

Three bean salad is one of those recipes that actually gets better with time in the fridge. As it refrigerates the beans begin to absorb the flavors in the dressing and everything get SUPER tasty. This salad will probably stay good in the fridge for about four days (if you don’t eat it all by then).

Classic three bean salad on a plate with chicken and potato salad
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Classic Three Bean Salad

4.70 from 13 votes
Simple ingredients come together in this Classic Three Bean Salad to make a simple summer side dish, perfect for BBQs and potlucks!
Overhead view of a bowl of three bean salad
Servings 5 1 cup each
Prep 15 minutes
Marinate 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes


  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans ($0.50)
  • 1 15oz. can cannellini beans ($0.55)
  • 1.5 cups frozen green beans (thawed) ($0.44)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley ($0.17)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion ($0.05)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar ($0.24)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar ($0.12)
  • 1 tsp salt ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.03)
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  • Rinse and drain the kidney beans and cannellini beans. Place the kidney beans, cannelini beand, and thawed green beans in a bowl.
  • Slice the red onion, then soak the onion in a bowl of ice water for about five minutes before draining and finely dicing. Chop the parsley. Add the onion and parsley to the bowl with the beans.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and Dijon.
  • Pour the dressing over the beans, onion, and parsley, then stir to combine.
  • Transfer the bean salad to the refrigerator and let the beans marinate in the dressing for about 30 minutes before serving. Give the salad a good stir just before serving to redistribute the dressing.

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Serving: 1cupCalories: 301kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 13gFat: 11gSodium: 666mgFiber: 12g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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close up of three bean salad in the bowl

How to Make Three Bean Salad – Step by Step Photos

Three types of beans in a bowl

Rinse and drain one 15 oz. can of kidney beans and one 15 oz. can of cannellini beans. Add them to a bowl with 1.5 cups of thawed frozen green beans.

red onion slices soaking in a bowl of water

Slice some red onion and soak them for about 5 minutes in a bowl of ice water (this takes the sharp edge off their flavor). Finely dice about ¼ cup of the red onion. Chop about ¼ cup fresh parsley.

dressing for three bean salad in a bowl

Whisk together ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 1 tsp Dijon mustard.

dressing being poured over salad ingredients in the bowl

Add the onion and parsley to the bowl with the beans, then pour the dressing over top. Stir everything to combine.

Finished three bean salad in the bowl with a spoon

Refrigerate the three bean salad for about 30 minutes to let the beans marinate. Give it a good stir, and then serve!

close up of three bean salad on a plate with bbq chicken and potato salad
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  1. I made this recipe in the past and loved it, but I’ve recently been cutting way back on fats and oils. So this time around it followed the recipe to the letter but I just didn’t add the oil. I was a little worried about how it would be but it turned out great! I think I might even like it better. The sugar, vinegar, and pepper really pop and the flavors are intense. I feel confident saying that you can leave out the oil if you want or need.

  2. With it being summer and fresh green beans being in season, would you just blanch them for 1-2 minutes then ice bath them? I have an abundance of fresh and would rather use them while the getting is good!

    1. You can, but in my experience canned green beans have a sub-par texture and their flavor is kind of muted/salty from the canning liquid.

  3. Made this two days ago & it was great!! Question: would lima beans count as a type of creamy bean?

    1. Nope! They’re blanched before freezing, so they have a nice tender-crisp texture once thawed.

  4. This salad was a weekly staple last summer (2022) during my pregnancy- quick and easy, delicious, healthy and stored well. I’ll be making it a lot again this summer too!

  5. Great recipe.
    And it was happily received at the St. Vincent de Paul dinner gathering!!

  6. Great directions. And the salad looks wonderful. I’ll comment on taste this afternoon, after the party!