This classic Three Bean Salad recipe is a favorite side dish at parties. Use fresh beans if you can find them, but canned beans are easy to find and work just as well!
Three Bean Salad is one of those excellent salads that shows up at potlucks and backyard barbecues all year long.
Like 24 Hour Fruit Salad, the generations of Midwesterners before me used canned ingredients when they had to. After all, fresh beans could be hard to come by in those days, but that’s no reason to shy away from eating vegetables in the dead of winter.
And honestly, they are hard to find today, in summer, in California of all places! I can find fresh green beans but not fresh yellow wax beans, but that’s just fine.
If you get your hands on fresh beans, just give them a quick blanch (see the recipe notes for detailed instructions). If you use canned beans, just drain them well!
I use a classic combination of green beans, waxed beans, and kidney beans, but feel free to use any three beans you want, ever! Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are common in 3 Bean Salad, too.
For the dressing, I use sugar, olive oil, and red wine vinegar flavored with garlic, salt, and pepper.
The salad flavors have to blend at least 8 hours or overnight, so make this dish a day before you intend to eat it. Because the salad lasts all week in the refrigerator, you can make a large batch and have it for lunch over several days. It’s also great for parties, especially if you have guests with special dietary needs. Along with being vegan, Three Bean Salad is also gluten-free.
It’s all in a day’s work for the humble string bean.
Three Bean Salad Recipe
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can cut green beans drained, (see notes)
- 1 (15 ounce) can cut yellow wax beans drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beas drained and rinsed
- ½ cup red onion chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley minced
- In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 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.