5 from 2 votes

3 Bean Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our read the Privacy Policy

Dive into the world of refreshing sides with a classic three bean salad that’s anything but ordinary.

This easy dish combines crisp green beans, hearty kidney beans, and buttery lima beans, creating a vibrant addition to any holiday gathering or summer picnic.

Lima beans, green beans and kidney beans tossed with onions in a bowl

Easy 3 Bean Salad Recipe

This cold salad recipe is a breeze to whip up, ensuring you spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of friends and family.

Ingredients:

  • Green Beans: You can use either a 15-ounce can of cut green beans (make sure to drain them) or a 12- to 15-ounce bag of frozen green beans (thaw and drain these).
  • Lima Beans: Grab a 12-ounce pack of frozen lima beans, thawed and well-drained.
  • Kidney Beans: A 15-ounce can is perfect, and there’s no need to drain these.
  • Onion: Slice up 1 cup of white onion.
  • Sweetness: You’ll need 1/2 cup of white sugar.
  • Oil: Have two tablespoons of either vegetable or canola oil on hand.
  • Acidity: 1/3 cup of white vinegar will add the right tang.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper can be added according to your taste preferences.
3 bean salad with green beans, kidney beans, lima beans.

How to make Cold Three Bean Salad

Prepare the beans: Use canned green beans to drain them well.

Combine the Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix the 15 oz of green beans (either canned or thawed from frozen), 12 oz of thawed and drained Lima beans, and the 15 oz can of kidney beans (with their liquid). Add the 1 cup of sliced white onion.

green beans and kidney beans mixed together in a bowl

Dress the Salad: Drizzle two tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil over the beans and onion mixture. Stir well until everything is lightly coated.

Create the vinegar mixture: Whisk together 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/3 cup of white vinegar in a separate small bowl. Work to dissolve the sugar as much as possible.

Mix It All: Pour the vinegar mixture over the beans and onions. Stir thoroughly to ensure the salad is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste preferences.

Chill Before Serving: For the best flavor, refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld beautifully.

3 bean salad with onions mixed in a bowl with vinegar and sugar

Choosing Your Beans: Canned, Frozen, or Fresh?

Beans are wonderfully versatile and available in various forms, making them perfect for our salad. Let’s break down the best choices for each type:

Frozen Beans:

  • Lima Beans & Cut Green Beans: Opt for frozen lima beans for their vibrant color and firm texture, avoiding the sogginess often associated with them. Thaw in the fridge or use the microwave’s DEFROST setting—no cooking is needed. Frozen green beans also offer a bright green hue and crisp texture. Allow them to defrost before adding them to the salad.

Canned Beans:

  • Green Beans: Canned green beans work great if frozen isn’t an option. Choose whole or cut beans, but avoid French cuts for this recipe. Drain well before use.
  • Kidney Beans: Canned kidney beans are ready to go—no need to drain or rinse. They bring a rich, savory element to the salad.

Fresh Beans:

  • Green Beans Only: Fresh green beans are always a fantastic choice for their crispness and flavor. If using fresh, quick-cook them until tender-crisp, which takes about 7 minutes in boiling water, or use an instant pot for convenience.

Tips for customizing your three-bean salad

While the classic three bean salad is delicious, you can also get creative and customize it to suit your taste preferences. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Add some crunch: Consider tossing in some chopped celery or diced bell peppers for a satisfying crunch.

Spice it up: If you like a bit of heat, add some sliced jalapenos or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to kick your salad.

Mix up the beans: While the traditional three bean salad uses kidney beans, chickpeas, and green beans, mix and match with beans like black beans, cannellini beans, or edamame.

Lima bean salad with onions and kidney beans balanced on a serving spoon

Variations of three bean salad recipes

The beauty of the three bean salad is that it’s incredibly versatile, and there are countless variations you can try. Here are a few popular ones:

Mediterranean-inspired three bean salad: Swap the sweet oil and vinegar dressing for a lemon and olive oil dressing. Add chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and cherry tomatoes for a Mediterranean twist.

Mexican-inspired three bean salad: Replace oil and vinegar with a spicy lime and cilantro dressing. Add some diced avocado, corn kernels, and chopped red bell pepper for a burst of Mexican flavor.

Italian-inspired three bean salad: Use a store bought balsamic vinaigrette as the dressing and add in some diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and chopped basil for an Italian flair.

Serving and storing your three bean salad

The three bean salad is best served chilled, making it the perfect dish to prepare ahead of time for picnics, barbecues, or potlucks. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with fresh parsley for an extra touch of color.

If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The salad will keep well for up to 3–4 days, allowing you to enjoy it throughout the week.

Give it a good toss before serving again to redistribute the dressing.

Pairing three bean salad with other summer dishes

The three bean salad pairs well with various summer dishes, making it a versatile and crowd-pleasing side dish.

Here are a few ideas for complementary dishes:

  • Grilled chicken or steak: The protein-packed beans in the salad complement grilled meats beautifully. Serve the salad alongside some juicy chicken breasts or a flavorful steak for a satisfying meal.
  • Fresh seafood: The light and refreshing flavors of the three bean salad make it an excellent accompaniment to grilled shrimp, seared scallops, or even a simple salmon fillet.
  • Burgers and hot dogs: Elevate your classic burger or corn dogs with three bean salads. The salad adds a refreshing and wholesome element to the meal.

Enjoying the perfect summer side

Creating a refreshing and satisfying three bean salad is easier than you think. Whether you’re hosting a summer cookout, planning a picnic, or simply looking for a refreshing dish to enjoy on a hot day, the three bean salad is the perfect choice. Its versatility, nutritional benefits, and delicious taste make it a winner for any occasion.

Need more bean side dishes?

5 from 2 votes

Three Bean Salad Side Dish


Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Blended bean salad is a cold salad side dish that combines green beans, kidney beans and tons of delicious Lima beans for a perfectly fresh and homemade salad done in minutes. Fantastic side salad to serve at a holiday meal or potluck and feeds 10-12 as a side.

Ingredients
 

  • 15 oz frozen green beans thawed/drained or can of cut green beans drained
  • 12 oz pack of frozen Lima beans thawed and drained
  • 15 oz kidney beans not drained
  • 1 cup white onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  • If using canned green beans, ensure they’re drained well. For frozen green beans and Lima beans, thaw them in the fridge or on the counter, then drain any excess water. Remember, keep the kidney beans in their liquid.
  • Combine the Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix the 15 oz of green beans (either canned or thawed from frozen), 12 oz of thawed and drained Lima beans, and the 15 oz can of kidney beans (with their liquid). Add the 1 cup of sliced white onion.
  • Dress the Salad: Drizzle 2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil over the beans and onion mixture. Stir well until everything is lightly coated.
  • Create the Vinegar Mixture: In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Work to dissolve the sugar as much as possible.
  • Mix It All Together: Pour the vinegar mixture over the bean and onion combination. Stir thoroughly to ensure the salad is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste preferences.
  • Chill Before Serving: For the best flavor, refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld beautifully.

Notes

Mix up the beans: While the traditional three bean salad uses kidney beans, chickpeas, and green beans, you can alter it like we did. Feel free to mix and match with other beans like black beans, cannellini beans, or edamame.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 125kcal | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 32g

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Make sure to follow Salty Side Dish on Pinterest and rate the recipe here and make sure to leave a comment below!

5 from 2 votes

Leave A Comment

Have a question or want to provide feedback? Share your recipe reviews or questions here and I will do my best to help!

Recipe Rating




Where To Next?