My three bean salad recipe is a colorful combo of beans in a tangy and sweet marinade that makes it one of the most awesome barbecue side dishes!
Tired of boring salad recipes? Lettuce, veggies, etc — it’s time for something new and exciting, and mayo-free bean salad recipes are where it’s at! My classic three bean salad has twists that make it even more flavorful than the original. It’s a cool contrast to rich main dishes.
I love when you get a side that perfectly balances the flavors and textures of the main dish — and this three bean salad recipe does that! Savory and tart where main meats would be rich and hearty, this salad is the dish you’ve been looking for.
- SO easy to make!
- Savory and sweet
- Goes with any main dish!
- Party favorite
How To Make Three Bean Salad Recipe
I promise — this is one of the easiest recipes you’ve ever made!
Mix all your beans and the red onion in a medium bowl. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the sugar dissolves.
Pour the dressing over the bean mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
First time making a bean salad? Veteran looking for new tips? I’ve got you covered!
The ingredients are just as simple as the steps, I promise!
- Marinade: Marinades are magic makers. They can turn a tough-as-leather steak into a tender, flavorful feast. Guess what else they’re good for? Salads! No, not a big green monster of a salad, but a tangy bowl of beany goodness that’s leveled up overnight and absorbed tons of flavor.
- Fresh is best: The recipe calls for canned veggies, but you can make a delicious summer alternative with fresh! You’ll need about a ½ pound of fresh beans snapped into bite-size pieces. Just blanch them by dropping them into boiling water, lightly salted water for 2-3 minutes, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process and drain them. I only recommend this for the green and wax beans — red kidney beans take a lot longer to make fresh!
- Wax Beans: If you can’t find wax beans (they aren’t always available!), you can swap them for lima or garbanzo beans.
Tools to Make
The tools to make this are so basic, I guarantee you already have them!
- Bowls for mixing
- Plastic wrap
- A spoon for stirring
- A can opener
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
This three bean salad recipe LOVES the fridge! The more chilled, the better. Since it doesn’t use mayo, there’s no need to worry about it quite as much as you’d worry about potato salad at picnics, but still try to chill it when you can.
You’ll get up to a week out of this recipe in the fridge!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! I’m not a huge fan of freezing this dish (I think it tastes better fresh or after only a few days in the fridge), but beans are freezer friendly. Pop it in an airtight container, and you’ll get up to two months out of it.
Make Ahead Tips
This dish NEEDS to be made ahead! You want time for the marinade to soak into the beans and get all yummy, so definitely make it up to a full day ahead of time!
The best main dishes to go with three bean salad are rich, hearty main courses that balance the sweet, tart flavors of the side. Go for something like my shish kabobs or grilled flank steak — both work great on the grill, so prep barbecue fixings and have fun!
Let’s shake things up in ingredient town!
- Green bean season? Go for all of one kind of bean to get green bean salad!
- Want a sweeter punch? Add your favorite yellow fruit and you have mango black bean salad.
- Want to use an entirely different kind of bean? Black bean salad is a savory treat!
- On that note, swap all your beans into kidney bean salad for a chewier side.
Three Bean Salad
- 1 (15-ounce) can cut green beans drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can yellow wax beans drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cups red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix together all beans and red onion in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Pour dressing over beans, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Toss the salad again before serving and drain excess marinade and serve with a slotted spoon.
Want even more salad recipes that will take your barbecue from dull to WOW? Here ya go!
- Mexican Bean Salad – A Taco Tuesday must have!
- Garbanzo Bean Salad – Packed with protein and yumminess
- Cowboy Caviar – A dip? A side dish? You decide!
- Black Bean Corn Salad – Savory beans meet sweet corn
- Green Pea Salad – Shuck those peas and have some fun!
Now that it’s barbecue season, we’re all looking for that perfect side dish — this three bean salad recipe is it! Tart, savory, tangy, it’s all the things you want in a supporting star.
What did your guests think of this salad? Let me know in the comments!