Three-Bean Salad

published May 31, 2024
summer
Three-Bean Salad Recipe

This classic summer side is made with a trio of beans and crunchy celery tossed in a tangy dressing.

Serves4 to 6

Makes5 cups

Prep30 minutes

Cook2 minutes to 3 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of a 3 bean salad in a white bowl, with a wooden spoon in the bowl
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Roasted turkey is a Thanksgiving staple. Valentine’s Day is celebrated with chocolate desserts. And between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it’s the time for potlucks and picnics so there’s lots of seasonal sides to choose from, like potato salad, pasta salad, and classic three-bean salad.

Too often three-bean salads come from a can, and that’s too bad because this fresh-flavored dish is one of the best make-ahead sides summer has to offer. In this recipe, I toss tender chickpeas, kidney beans, snappy green beans, and crunchy celery in a tangy honey-apple cider vinegar dressing. Here’s how to make a three-bean salad that is sure to be the hit of your summer parties.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Homemade three-bean salad tastes so much better fresh than it does from the can. The green beans are crisp-tender, the chickpeas and kidney beans are intact, and the dressing is bright and tangy.
  • It’s easy to make in advance. You can throw together this classic picnic and potluck side dish in just 30 minutes, and it’ll last for up to 5 days in the fridge. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Key Ingredients in Three-Bean Salad

  • Green beans: Blanch and shock fresh green beans or choose frozen green beans for a shortcut. If using frozen, thaw them before adding them with the remaining ingredients.
  • Chickpeas: Drain and rinse canned chickpeas or cook them from dried until tender and buttery.
  • Kidney beans: These beans have a sturdy red skin that helps them maintain their shape. 
  • Celery: Add sliced celery to the salad for fresh flavor and crunch.

How to Make Three-Bean Salad

  1. Cook fresh green beans. Cook fresh, cut green beans in salted, boiling water until bright green and crisp-tender, then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. 
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk a tangy vinaigrette together in the bottom of a large bowl before adding the beans on top.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Toss red onion, celery, chickpeas, kidney beans, and green beans to the dressing and toss to combine.
  4. Chill. Refrigerate for at least an hour (and up to a few days) before serving. If making ahead, wait to add the herbs and celery leaves until ready to serve. 

Helpful Swaps

  • Green beans: Substitute thawed frozen cut green beans for the fresh green beans. 
  • Kidney beans: Light or dark red kidney beans can be used in this recipe. 
  • Chickpeas: Swap other white beans, like cannellini or Great Northern, for the chickpeas. 
  • Apple cider vinegar: Substitute sherry, white, or red wine vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

This bean salad only gets better as it marinates in the dressing, so it is an ideal make-ahead option. Make the three-bean salad a few days in advance, but wait to add the celery leaves and parsley until ready to serve. 

What to Serve with Three-Bean Salad

Three-Bean Salad Recipe

This classic summer side is made with a trio of beans and crunchy celery tossed in a tangy dressing.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 2 minutes to 3 minutes

Makes 5 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons

    apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 medium stalks

    celery

  • 1/2

    medium red onion or 1 medium shallot

  • 1/2 medium bunch

    fresh parsley

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    chickpeas

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    kidney beans

  • 8 ounces

    green beans

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and cold water. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels or a kitchen towel.

  2. Place 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

  3. Pick the leaves from 2 medium celery stalks (if there are leaves) and set aside. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl with the dressing as you complete it: Halve the celery stalks lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise (about 1 cup); finely dice 1 medium red onion or 1 medium shallot until you have 1/2 cup; pick the leaves from 1/2 medium bunch fresh parsley and coarsely chop with the reserved celery leaves until you have 1/2 cup; drain and rinse 1 (about 15-ounce) can chickpeas and 1 (about 15-ounce) can kidney beans; toss gently to combine.

  4. Trim the stem end from 8 ounces green beans, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to the ice water to stop the cooking. Let sit until cooled, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Drain and remove any remaining ice cubes. Transfer to the baking sheet in a single layer to dry. Add to the salad and toss gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours to allow flavors to meld. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then toss, taste, and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead without the celery leaves and parsley. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Chop and add the celery leaves and parsley right before serving.

Ingredient substitution: Substitute 8 ounces thawed frozen cut green beans for the fresh green beans. Skip the blanching step and add to the salad with the chickpeas and kidney beans.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.