Three Bean Salad

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, soaked in water to take the edge off the onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup 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.

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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3 Bean Salad

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Showing 4 of 55 Comments

  • Larry

    This is similar to what my family has always made. Maybe it’s an italian thing, I never had it with green beans. It was always chick peas, kidney beans and canellini beans. This variation looks great.

  • Larry

    Sounds de-lish. You can try making it without sugar, using some sweet carrots, finely chopped, and a little lemon juice. Then serve it with hummus and pitas. mmmm.

  • Roseann

    I love all the classic recipes you often reprise – thank you! This recipe brought back many wonderful memories of summer meals on my family’s screened-in back porch (where my dad made a table from a tree stump and half a huge wooden cable-spool – the kind telephone wire was wrapped on – big enough for five kids plus as many friends). And you’re absolutely right: the sugar is the key.

  • Michelle

    Can’t wait to try that – yum!

    I’m not a fan of canned green beans, either, but I have a tip (from an elderly Italian friend) to make an very nice cold ‘salad’ of them: Simply pour some Ken’s or Wishbone Italian salad dressing over those green beans, and sit them in the ‘fridge for an hour or two – voila: edible canned beans. Serve as a side dish alone, or over some lettuce. (PS: the brand of bean makes a HUGE differance, too. DelMonte seems to be the favorite in my family).

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