Quick and Easy White Bean Salad

My mother is a genius. She throws together the most simple of ingredients, and they are so good that I have to get up in the middle of a meal to write everything down, for in her words, “if you like it, ask me now what I did because in an hour I won’t remember.” What I love about this white bean salad creation of hers is that it is so dead easy, and it’s good protein too. It would make an excellent picnic salad because you can make it a day ahead; the extra time just gives the flavors more time to sink into the beans. It can also be put together at the last minute with basic pantry items. If you have fresh herbs available, you can use those, if not, dry herbs de provence work well too.

Quick and Easy White Bean Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

You can easily double or quadruple the recipe to serve a larger group.



  • 1 14.5-ounce can white beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red onion
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons wine vinegar (red or white)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry herbs de provence (crumbled) OR 1 teaspoon of some combination of finely chopped rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and lavender
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 After you chop up the onion, squeeze a little lemon juice over it and let it sit while prepping the other ingredients. According to my mother, this will take the edge off the onion.

2 Combine all ingredients into a serving dish. You can serve right away if you want, but if you chill for a few hours, the flavors will come together better.

Lasts a couple of days in the refrigerator.

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  1. Hannah

    Thank you for the wonderful recipes on this site. I’ve made many of them and haven’t found a bad one yet!

    One question on this recipe: red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar?

    Either. We used red wine vinegar, but you could use white. ~Elise

  2. Samir

    My mom makes a really interesting variant of this. Throw in some diced tomatoes for a nice flavor. Also, if you have it, throw in a bit of garam masala…. YUM.

    Some diced tomatoes would be a great addition. The white bean and cherry tomato salad we have on the site also adds Parmesan and some chopped anchovy fillets – incredibly good. ~Elise

  3. Linda

    I make this same salad but I add chopped roasted red pepper to it for color. It’s one of my favorite salads for summer.

  4. Phoo-D

    We make several variations of this (it’s great with Rancho Gordo’s Mayacama beans) and love it during the summer. Beautiful photo!

  5. Marylandline

    This is great with tuna packed in oil and chopped ripe black olives either oil cured or brined. A stalk of celery chopped fine is also a welcome addition. I drain the beans and rinse them so the oil and herbs blend. It is also good prepared warm with shrimp. It is based on a Tuscan dish I believe. It is a very versatile concoction.

    Oh, I love the idea of adding tuna or shrimp. We always have canned tuna (packed in oil) in the pantry so will have to try that next time. BTW, I asked my mother about rinsing the beans. She said that the water in which the beans are packed has a lot of the bean flavor, so she only drains away the excess, and doesn’t rinse. ~Elise

  6. Kristi

    YUM! White beans + herbes de provence = magic on a plate.

    I make something very similar – I omit the red onion/lemon juice/vinegar, add a bit of garlic powder, warm it in the microwave and serve on top of green salad. It’s one of my ways of coaxing myself to eat salad on frosty winter days.

  7. Denise

    Love the tip regarding the onion and the lemon. I’ve always wondered why “restaurant” onion is so much milder than “at home” onion. I think I’ve found the answer!

  8. Bill

    Definitely add the tuna. I make this with cannellini beans, mashed garlic, oil-packed Italian tuna, chopped tomatoes and either capers, or chopped arugula and chives. Make sure the beans and tuna are well-drained, and squeeze and remove the tomato juice if you are adding tomatoes. I usually make a lemon vinaigrette (complete with mustard, shallot, and herbs), and just dress the ingredients with that.

  9. My Two Seasons

    Thank you for the recipe! I’ve been trying to find a simple bean dish. This looks perfect! I have a ton of black beans in my pantry, I think they might be really good in this. (I don’t have white beans at the moment!)

  10. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    Great recipe! I make something very similar and it is perfect for those nights when you’re crunched for time. You can adapt it a million ways. I sometimes add chopped tomatoes/tuna/chicken and throw it over pasta. I have also added some chicken broth and pureed it into a quick and tasty bean soup.

  11. Dominique (de vous à moi...)

    Nice idea! we’ll have soon, here in France, delicious fresh white beans called “cocos de Paimpol”… I’ll try your recipe with them.

  12. GG Mora

    Quick bean salads have become my go-to lunch. I keep a variety of canned beans in the pantry, and I’ll mix them with whatever I have on hand. Leftover smoked chicken or roasted pork, any diced vegetable (tomato, carrot, onion, cucumber, roasted beet, grilled asparagus or sweet potato, red pepper) a little chopped herb (usually cilantro or basil). I like to use hazelnut oil and a blend of sherry and balsamic vinegars. And always LOADS of freshly ground pepper!

  13. sudu

    I really like your mom’s idea -if you do not like the crunch of raw onions yet like the flavor it lends, this is the technique to follow. My mom also does something similar- she sprinkles some salt over finely diced red onions and leaves it for sometime- and mixes it in with black pepper,yogurt and cucumber (garnish with mint/cilantro)….yummy! Its a refreshing salad for those hot summer days.

  14. Keri

    I love white bean salads. I make a similar one with roasted red peppers. It’s delicious!

  15. HMatthews

    I love bean salad – I use green onions and a touch of sugar it is yummy

  16. Brad

    Add some diced tomato, possibly some roasted corn, some diced jalapeno, replace the herbs with cilantro and you have what we call cowboy caviar. Might also want to swap the lemon juice for lime. Great with chips. Made a bean salad last week, and you have me hankering for another one this week. Thanks!

  17. Aaron

    This is very similar to a Turkish dish my mom makes, Piyaz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piyaz).

    Must be one of those great recipes that has endless variations from around the world :)


  18. KelleyK

    Made this tonight for dinner to serve with grilled chicken – so simple, healthy, and tasty. Will add to my “go to” list of recipes! Thanks so much to you and your mother!

  19. shubha

    Dear Elise

    I have included a refreshing salad which is most commonly used in South India. You can add finely chopped onion to it. But during festivals and on certain days we dont use onions or garlic. This is a refreshing salad and a good protein source for us vegetarians

    1 can of any cooked beans or (homemade beans)
    1 -2 tsp of oil (olive oil/ canola oil/ sunflower)
    1 tsp of mustard seeds
    1-2 thai green chilies finely chopped( use according to taste or can skip it)
    1 tbsp of grated fresh coconut
    salt to taste
    Lemon juice
    4-5 curry leaves
    1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander leaves

    In a hot pan heat the oil. Add the mustard, let it splutter. Add the chilies and curry leaves. leave it for 20-30 sec. Add the drained beans, salt and mix well. Let it heat up for 3- 4 min. Remove from heat. Add fresh coconut, lemon juice, cilantro leaves and mix well.

    This sounds lovely, thank you for sharing! ~Elise

  20. Linda

    This will be perfect to make tomorrow. It sounds and looks delicious. Did you use a white or red wine vinegar? Thanks!

    Either one will do. ~Elise

  21. Lori @ The RecipeGirl

    I’ve done something similar before, but I like to throw garbanzos in there too. And how cute is that flowery bowl??

    My mother is the same… she throws things together, never writes a thing down. If I’m not observing, I’ll never get the recipe down pat :)

  22. Rudio

    I like to add canned tuna to a White Bean Salad!
    Great photo!

  23. titus

    My tweaks are:

    Shallots instead of onions: either raw or roasted & pureed.

    Olives: Kalamata or Nicoise

    Sundried tomatoes

    What a coincidence, I attended a potluck last night where one of the salads was a white bean salad with olives and sundried tomatoes. Very nice. ~Elise

  24. mumsie

    I make a similiar salad with chick peas and add sliced black olives, tomatoes and a little feta cheese. I believe this would work with white beans also. Thanks for a new idea.

  25. Evelyn

    Just a warning that the juice from the can may contain bean flavor but it’s actually what contains all the bean gas too! We eat beans all the time and the only times I’ve ever had problems with gas (especially the painful kind)is if it was at someone elses house and they didn’t drain and rinse the beans…

  26. LilSis

    What a great, easy recipe! It sounds like your mom cooks a lot like I do. When I come up with something that everyone just raves over and I try to duplicate it, I never can. So, if something turns out good, now I write it down immediately before I forget what I did. I finally wrote down my chili recipe once I knew I had perfected it.

    I’m glad I found your site. I love all your recipes and the family stories, too. I’ll be adding your site to my Favorite Links on our site.

  27. April

    I made this for dinner last night with a few additions: roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, spinach and feta. So light and delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  28. DK

    I am not a leafy salad eater. I dunno why it just wont sit well with me to put some spinach/lettuce together and have as a salad. Bean salad has always been my fav. I love this one. I have used white bean along with 2 other types.

    My latest fav is corn and bean salad where I have also used Mayacoba bean. Was yum.Will try this one for sure.

  29. Chris

    Great recipe with lots of variation possibilities. I see a tex-mex variation with black beans and a red pepper seasoned rice wine vinegar and lime for the lemon. Yum! Quick and simple.

  30. Chowbelly

    Love this dish! For 15 years I was married to a Sicilian woman who was a complete artist in the kitchen. This was one of her best dishes, but if I recall correctly she also added some finely diced mint to help round out the flavors and add a brightness that rocked!

    One of her other best recipes was a condiment called Amogio Sauce. We used this with meat, fish, poultry, bread and pasta. I have tried to recreate this dish many times and have always seemed to miss the essence of the dish. Mint seems to be the missing ingredient. Chowbelly’s Amogio

  31. malarkey

    There’s a very similar recipe in the Joy of Cooking. It uses tarragon and spanish olives and suggests adding tuna to make it a full meal. It’s one of my favorite bean salads. Healthy too!

  32. somia

    Fantastic! I have made this three times already with different variations – all good. All herbs work well and the addition of the Indian garam masala is particularly good! It is a great workday lunch – easy enough to fix up in the morning and the flavors meld together in the fridge come lunch time. Thanks for the recipe!

  33. Debbie

    I wanted to come back and tell you that I made this bean recipe. I loved it and so did my hubby. He asked me to keep this one on hand because it’s that good. Thank you so much for sharing.

  34. Amelia

    I have been looking for a simple recipe like this for a while, and oh it’s so good.

    I’ve already had to make a second batch. It’s delicious!

  35. Angela

    This was very, very tasty!
    I served it with bbq grilled chicken and the whole meal was so easy to make. After throwing the ingredients together, I thought, “this may not be so great” because it was *so simple* but then I tasted it and loved it. I even slightly screwed up the proportions (added too much vinegar) but it still turned out great. I used white wine vinegar to avoid a pink or red result and it was great.
    I will definitely make this often.

  36. Julie

    Thank you for a nice easy recipe that is very flavorful. I made this the other night, and my 7-year-old foodie gave it two big thumbs up!

  37. Kat

    My mother shared with me a recipe that was practically identical, except she adds a half cup chopped red pepper and a half cup of chopped tomato to the mix as well. SO GOOD.

  38. vcave

    I have made this a couple of times now. Once with garbanzo beans, peas and corn. The next time with garbanzo, black beans and corn. Both times I added onion and garlic and used seasoned rice wine vinegar. I used fresh dill and fresh basil too. Whatever I had fresh on hand. It was absolutely fabulous! There are never any leftovers. It has endless combination possibilities. Thanks!

  39. Tina W

    I just made this for lunch – excellent even without letting it sit.

  40. Linda Cramer

    This bean salad looks delicious. Could you heat this version up for a warm salad? There is nothing like comfort in a warm lunch. I’d love to take this to work.

    Yes, just heat it gently. ~Elise

  41. ptoone

    I will make it again, so nice, so easy.

  42. Faiza

    Yes, the squeeze of lemon does take the edge off the onions. We do this all the time. Or alternately you could sprinkle salt, scrub it and leave it. Then wash under the tap scrubbing it again. We normally do diced onions, tomatoes, cucumbers together for salad.

  43. Laura Carpenter

    Love this! Add capers and chopped sundried tomatoes … bliss!

  44. Tina

    This is so delicious and so EASY! I save it in the fridge and eat it several times a week for a very healthy lunch (actually – I just lost a ton of weight – and attribute part of that to this wonderful salad, which fills me up, tastes great, but is so very healthy as well!). Also good side dish for any type of grilled meat…

  45. Yvette Paige

    This is a simple recipe no doubt, but aren’t they often the best. I’ve just started living with an ex chef and it’s amazing what he can cook up with any ingredients in the cupboard. Sounds like your mother is cut from the same cloth. I think it’s an ability that comes from years of practise. You just get to know what you can get away with.

  46. Gaelle Kennedy

    Loved this recipe. Delicious. So quick, too. Next time, I may experiment with a touch of garlic and parsley. Thanks.

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