Three Bean Salad

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

3-bean salad is one of those quintessential American summer picnic foods. It’s comforting, protein-rich, and easy to put together quickly with pantry ingredients.

3-bean salad is usually made with canned green beans instead of the cannellini white beans I’m using here. But I’ve yet to meet a canned green bean I like, so cannellini it is.

This bean salad is traditionally dressed with a sweet and sour dressing made with vinegar, oil, and sugar. You can cut back the sugar if you want, but I wouldn’t cut it out completely, or the dressing will be too acidic.

Three Bean Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 8

We are using cannellini beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans in this salad. You can easily swap out any of them for cooked green beans, wax beans, or black beans.

Prep the onion first and soak the chopped onion in a  small bowl of water to take the edge off the onion while you prep the other ingredients.


  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup), soaked in water to take the edge off the onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup loosely packed, fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1 In a large bowl, mix the 3 different types of beans, the celery, onion (drained of soaking water), parsley, and rosemary.

three-bean-salad-method-1 three-bean-salad-method-2

2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.

3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

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Three Bean Salad

Showing 4 of 56 Comments

  • Becky

    I’m confused about the parsley. Is it 1 cup loosely packed leaves that are then chopped finely OR is it 1 cup of finely chopped parsley.

  • Chuck

    I tried several recipes and for a real quick 3 bean salad I just put in some Italian dressing that I liked and let it set , starting with a small amount so I didn’t over do it and using the rosemary along with a small amount of red pepper for coloring .

  • janet sweeney

    if i do boil the beans do i have to rinse n drain

  • Barbara

    This is a great recipe! I never really cared for bean salad before trying this recipe…but I like this one so much, I’ve now made it several times. The parsley and rosemary are just right, and I love that it isn’t heavy on the oil. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly, and everyone loved it. Since then, when I make it for just myself, I add an extra 1/4 cup of white vinegar in addition to the cider vinegar, and for my tastebuds, the little extra sharpness is just right. Thank you!

  • Geraldine

    This is the first time I have attempted bean salad, not having liked them in the past. I substituted honey for the sugar in the dressing and also added some chopped greek basil. It was delicious and I shall always use the recipe in future. Thank you so much.

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