This homemade Three Bean Salad recipe is a family favorite that’s easy to prepare and tastes delicious!
This easy side salad has three types of beans (we use canned beans to make it extra fast to prep) marinated in a sweet and tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Why You’ll Love This Bean Salad
This recipe comes from my mother-in-law and it’s a favorite!!
- This old-fashioned three bean salad is both fast and easy to prep!
- The dressing is sweet, tangy, and honestly so delicious.
- This recipe uses canned beans making it easy and no soaking or boiling is required.
- This is best made ahead of time so it’s perfect for any gathering or BBQ!
What’s in Bean Salad?
BEANS: This salad uses a mixture of 3 types of canned beans. I usually use green and yellow beans along with red kidney beans but use any kind you’d like.
Change them up based on what you have on hand (or whatever your preference for beans in salad is). Great options include lima beans, navy beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, cannellini, among others.
VEGGIES: Celery, green peppers, & onions are added to the beans in this salad for a texture and bright color.
When purchasing the onion for this recipe, choose white onions with white papery skin (not yellow skin) as they’re milder and add great flavor to this recipe!
How to Make Bean Salad
- Make dressing: Simmer the dressing per recipe below.
- Combine all ingredients: Drain the beans and place in a bowl with bell pepper, celery, and onion. Toss with the bean mixture.
- Marinate: Let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
To ensure everything marinates evenly, we place this in a freezer bag or container with a lid and shake or turn it a few times as it marinates.
Using Fresh or Dried Beans
This recipe can be made with dried beans or fresh green or yellow beans. Either will need to be cooked first.
- Trim green/yellow beans and cook in boiling water with a pinch of baking soda until tender crisp.
- If using dried beans, they should be cooked and cooled according to package directions. You can also find more cook times for dried beans here.
What Goes With Bean Salad?
Storing Bean Salad
Bean salad can be stored in an air-tight container or ziptop bag in the refrigerator for 5 days.
It can also be frozen for up to 3 months, the vegetables will soften a little bit. To make ahead for lunches, separate the salad into single portions and freeze.
More Classic Salads
- Famous Dill Pickle Pasta Salad – a reader favorite
- Creamy Cucumber Salad – summer classic
- The Best Potato Salad Recipe – easy make-ahead recipe
- Italian Pasta Salad – potluck perfect and full of flavor
- Cucumber Onion Salad– cool, creamy, and refreshing
A Sweet Return
I truly have the most amazing Mother-In-Law, I don’t think I could’ve hand-picked a better one myself. Sometimes when my mother-in-law comes for a big turkey dinner, I send her home with leftovers in containers. Last week I was so excited to see that she had brought back my containers because when she returned them they sometimes come back full of food too! Bran muffins (and my kids totally love them too), sometimes her amazing baked beans, and one day, this amazing bean salad.
I’d been sneaking spoonfuls out of the fridge all day long when I finally phoned her and asked for the recipe! She originally found this recipe in an old cookbook called “Women in Uniform” and it’s a great version of a classic bean salad.
Did you make this Bean Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad
- 14 ounces green beans
- 14 ounces yellow beans
- 14 ounces red kidney beans
- 14 ounces lima beans optional
- ½ cup green pepper thinly sliced
- ¾ cup white onion thinly sliced
- ¾ cup celery chopped
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Drain all of the beans well. Combine beans, green pepper, celery and onion in a bowl.
- Heat all dressing ingredients in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.
- Pour the hot dressing mixture over the beans and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight turning or stirring occasionally.
- lima beans
- navy beans
- chickpeas/garbanzo beans
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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