Bean Salad

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This classic Bean Salad recipe is even more delicious with fresh string beans, but you can keep it exactly as it was meant to be and use canned.  Whatever you do, just make it. The longer it sits, the better it gets.

A platter of three bean salad.


 

I like to imagine my Midwest ancestors making easy Bean Salads in the middle of a frigid Wisconsin winter. They had no fresh produce available, but they had wisely canned different some of their beans after their summer harvest.

With the abundance of fresh produce now available year-round, you can definitely seek out fresh beans for this recipe for your next potluck or party. But don’t let any food snobs tell you that’s required! Canned beans were good enough then, and they are good enough now.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for three bean salad in various bowls.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Sugar: The recipe is traditionally very sweet. But, you can adjust it to use less sugar or a different sweetener. If you’re worried about the sweetness, start with 1 tablespoon and go from there.
  • Green and yellow wax beans: To substitute fresh beans, you’ll need 1 pound fresh beans total, and you need to blanch the beans (and separately, if using more than one kind). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add the beans and boil until bright green and tender crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  • Kidney beans: Substitute your favorite beans (chickpeas, Cannellinis, pinto beans, or black beans) or even use more than 3 kinds.  To substitute dried beans, you’ll need ½ cup to ¾ cup dried beans for every 15-ounce can listed.
  • Red onion: Or substitute yellow, white, or sweet onion.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl with a cover that is large enough to hold the salad.
Vinegar sauce in a pan for bean salad.
  1. Stir in green beans, wax beans, kidney beans, red onion, and parsley and toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to blend flavors. Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving and bring to room temperature.
A platter of three bean salad.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Bean Salad Recipe makes about 8 cups of salad, enough for 8 servings, 1 cup each.
  • Storage: Store leftover bean salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The flavors will continue to delvop, so the salad tastes better the longer it sits.
  • Make ahead: For the best results, the salad flavors have to blend at least 8 hours or overnight, so make this dish a day before you intend to eat it.
  • More veggies: Switch up your salad with some julienned carrots, fresh corn off the cob, diced celery, red bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, or olives.
  • Bean salad dressing: Customize your vinaigrette with lemon juice or lime juice, Dijon mustard, honey, or fresh herbs and spices like oregano, or cilantro.
  • Mason jar salad: Layer the ingredients in a clean mason jar and the dressing over. Store in the refrigerator for a delicious packable side dish for lunch.
  • Mediterranean bean salad: Make an easy bean salad recipe with cooked beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, parsley, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice.

Canning Bean Salad

I am not a canning expert, although I’ve done a bit of canning in my life. This information from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

  1. Bring salad ingredients to a boil, then simmer at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Pack the hot bean salad in a hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over vegetables, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  2. Remove air bubbles, clean jar rim, center lid on jar, and adjust the band to finger-tight. Place jar on rack elevated over simmering water (180 degrees) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  3. Lower the rack into simmering water. Water MUST cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and brining water to rolling boil. Process pint jars 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner. Do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bean salad gluten-free?

This three Bean Salad recipe is naturally gluten free.

How long is bean salad good for in the fridge?

Leftover bean salad is good when stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It may last even longer than that.

More deli salads

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Three bean salad on a white platter.

Bean Salad

This classic Bean Salad recipe is even more delicious with fresh string beans, but you can keep it exactly as it was meant to be and use canned.  Whatever you do, just make it. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chilling time 4 hours
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings (1 cup each)
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 204
4.91 from 10 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl with a cover that is large enough to hold the salad.
  • Stir in green beans, wax beans, kidney beans, red onion, and parsley and toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to blend flavors.
  • Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving and bring to room temperature.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Sugar: The recipe is traditionally very sweet. But, you can adjust it to use less sugar or a different sweetener. If you’re worried about the sweetness, start with 1 tablespoon and go from there.
  2. Green and yellow wax beans: To substitute fresh beans, you’ll need 1 pound fresh beans total, and you need to blanch the beans (and separately, if using more than one kind). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add the beans and boil until bright green and tender crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  3. Kidney beans: Substitute your favorite beans (garbanzo beans, Cannellini beans, pinto beans) or even use more than 3 kinds. To substitute dried beans, you’ll need ½ cup to ¾ cup dried beans for every 15-ounce can listed.
  4. Red onion: Or substitute yellow, white, or sweet onion.
  5. Yield: This Bean Salad Recipe makes about 8 cups of salad, enough for 8 servings, 1 cup each.
  6. Storage: Store leftover bean salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The flavors will continue to delvop, so the salad tastes better the longer it sits.
  •  

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cupCalories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 5mgPotassium: 37mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 158IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. Your picture looks delicious and doesn’t look like it has a lot of liquid. I’ve followed the recipe and it seems to have a lot of liquid. Do you strain when serving or use a slotted spoon?

  2. I make a version of this but replace the yellow beans with Chick Peas and add baby corn and a bell pepper.
    You can pretty much add anything you want on the vegetable side.5 stars

  3. can this recipe be canned? definitely would like to be able to can – have loads of fresh beans both green and yellow and have canned several pints, the beans are still producing though and would like to put some of this up also if possible. thanks.

    1. Hi Laura, I think so! I’m not a canning expert but I see a very similar recipe in my Ball Guide to Preserving.

      Here is how they do it:
      1. Bring salad ingredients to a boil, then simmer at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
      2. Pack the hot vegetables in a hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.
      3. Ladle hot pickling liquid over vegetables, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
      4. Remove air bubbles, clean jar rim, center lid on jar, and adjust the band to finger-tight.
      5. Place jar on rack elevated over simmering water (180 degrees) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
      6. Lower the rack into simmering water. Water MUST cover jars by 1 inch.
      7. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and brining water to rolling boil. Process pint jars 15 minutes.
      8. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes.
      9. Remove jars from canner. Do not retighten bands if loose.
      10. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.

    1. I really appreciate the feedback! It tastes the way I remember it, but not everyone grew up in my family. :D I’m going to make notes on the recipe about the sugar so people can start with half and add more to taste. Thanks Elizabeth!

  4. did you mean: 8 ounces EACH fresh green beans and fresh yellow wax beans may be substituted for the fresh beans. ?canned beans?