This 3 bean salad recipe is a fresh, fun twist on the American classic! I toss fresh green beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas in a bold, tangy dressing.
Like macaroni salad and potato salad, three bean salad takes me right back to my childhood. It was something I ate at potlucks, picnics, and even the occasional school lunch. I remember liking the sweet and tangy dressing, but the mushy canned green beans? Not so much.
So, to kick off picnic salad season this year, I’ve got a new three bean salad recipe to share with you. In many ways, it’s just like the one I ate as a kid. It features dark red kidney beans and hearty garbanzos, and it’s tossed in a punchy (though considerably less sweet) dressing. But those canned green beans? You won’t find them here. Instead, I add blanched fresh ones, along with thinly sliced celery and red onion for crunch. It’s bold and refreshing, and like any good picnic salad, it only tastes better if you make it ahead. I think you’re going to love it!
Three Bean Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy three bean salad recipe:
- Three beans, of course! I use fresh green beans, kidney beans, and garbanzos, though you could certainly experiment with using other types of beans if you’d like. Pinto beans and cannellini beans would both be good substitutes for the kidney beans and chickpeas. And if you have fresh wax beans on hand in addition to green ones, by all means, toss them in!
- Extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, and honey – You’ll whisk together these ingredients to make the dressing. In a traditional three bean salad recipe, it would be much sweeter, with almost equal parts vinegar and sugar. I prefer the flavor of a natural sweetener like honey (or maple syrup, if you’re vegan), and I scale it wayyyy back to give the salad a tangy, pickle-y pop.
- Red onion and celery – They add savory flavor, color, and crunch.
- Parsley – It gives the salad a nice fresh finish.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Three Bean Salad
This three bean salad recipe is super simple to put together! Here’s how it goes:
First, blanch the green beans. This speedy cooking technique makes the fresh beans more tender and highlights their natural sweetness. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the beans into the boiling water, and cook for 2 minutes, or until they’re crisp-tender and bright green. Transfer them to the ice water, then drain and transfer to a kitchen towel to dry.
Next, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, mustard, honey, and salt.
Then, toss the salad together. Add the onion, kidney beans, chickpeas, blanched green beans, celery, and parsley to the bowl with the dressing, and toss to coat.
Once you toss the salad together, pop it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour. You might be tempted to skip this step, but trust me, the salad will be so much better if you don’t! As it chills, the beans soak up the flavors in the dressing, which makes the whole dish punchier and more exciting to eat.
After an hour (or up to 3 days), go ahead and dig in!
Three Bean Salad Serving Suggestions
This three bean salad would be a delicious addition to any summer picnic or cookout. Try pairing it with whatever you’re grilling – maybe veggie burgers or black bean burgers – and a few fun sides like fruit salad or corn on the cob.
This three bean salad is also a great recipe to make ahead for lunch. I often enjoy it on its own (the protein-rich beans make it plenty satisfying), but it’s a great side dish for a sandwich too. We love it with Caprese, egg salad, and chickpea salad sandwiches and these healthy lunch wraps.
More Favorite Picnic Salads
If you love this three bean salad recipe, try one of these fresh picnic salads next:
Three Bean Salad
Serves 4 to 6
This 3 bean salad recipe is an easy, delicious summer side dish! Be sure to chill it for at least an hour (or up to 3 days) before serving so that the beans can soak up the flavors in the dressing.
- 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup very thinly sliced red onion
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1½ cups cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- ½ cup finely chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the green beans into the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove the beans and immediately immerse in the ice water long enough to cool completely, about 15 seconds. Drain and place on paper towels or a kitchen towel to dry.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, honey, and salt. Add the onion, chickpeas, kidney beans, celery, green beans, and parsley, and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour, then serve.