Easy Three-Bean Salad Recipe

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This easy Three Bean Salad recipe uses canned beans marinated in my homemade Italian dressing for the perfect summer side dish.

Italian marinated three bean salad in a glass bowl.

I love make ahead meals and snack recipes, especially ones made only with pantry ingredients. While I enjoy making bean recipes from scratch, I appreciate a good shortcut too, so I always have some canned beans in the pantry.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy canned beans during the warmer months is in my classic three bean salad recipe. It’s easy to make and it has a really great flavor too.

It’s a wonderful salad to bring to potlucks – I always get asked for the recipe. And it’s perfect for busy weeknights too since you can prep it ahead of time to serve with dinner.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of small white beans
  • ½ cup of Italian dressing
  • Can opener
  • Strainer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon

By the Numbers: How to Make Three-Bean Salad

Follow these simple steps to learn how to make the best bean salad with canned beans and Italian dressing.

Step 1: Rinse Canned Beans.

The first thing you want to do is use a can opener to open 1 can of garbanzo beans, 1 can of red kidney beans and 1 can of small white beans.

Pour the beans into a strainer and rinse thoroughly in the sink under running water until the beans are clean and they stop foaming. Pour the rinsed bean mixture from the strainer into a large mixing bowl.

Three kinds of canned beans poured into a bowl.

Step 2: Marinate, Chill and Serve Bean Salad.

Pour ½ cup of your favorite Italian dressing over the beans in the mixing bowl. Give everything a good stir until it’s well combined, then refrigerate the simple salad for several hours or overnight to infuse the flavors. It’s best served chilled.

Overhead view of 3 bean salad in bowl, including garbanzo, kidney and white beans marinated in Italian dressing.

Tips for Making the Best Three-Bean Salad

Answers to all of your questions about making three-bean salad as a simple side dish, including tips and substitution ideas.

1. Other types of beans to use?

You can use pretty much any type of canned bean that your family enjoys. Some different varieties to try are green beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, navy beans, lima beans, black beans or yellow wax beans.

There are so many options and you can customize it with your favorites! No matter what type of beans you go with, everyone will love your homemade bean salad.

2. Other marinade options?

You can totally use store-bought, but if you want to whip up a quick homemade Italian dressing, you can make it with my Italian Seasoning recipe.

Just combine 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning with 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil and ⅔ cup of white wine vinegar. Then let your homemade dressing sit in the fridge overnight and you have a batch of homemade dressing to use for this recipe.

If you want to try switching it up with a different flavor, it’s important that it has some tang to it. So if you have another favorite tangy dressing besides Italian, you can experiment with that next time.

You can also try using my homemade Ranch Seasoning combined with olive oil and white vinegar. Experiment with different dressing ingredients by combining acidic flavors (like apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or lime juice) added to olive oil with your choice of spices.

I personally don’t enjoy creamy bean salads, so I wouldn’t recommend using a creamy dressing like my Ranch Dressing or Tahini Dressing.

3. Can this recipe be made with dried beans?

You can start with dried beans (or even fresh beans if you have a garden), but you’ll need to cook them and allow them to cool first. My favorite way to cook beans is in my Instant Pot.

If you have dried beans and want cook times for them, check out my post on Instant Pot Beans. It includes cook times for pretty much all types of dry beans along with recipes.

To cool them quickly after the pressure cooking process, try putting them in an ice bath, then straining. Once cool, they’re ready to use in this great recipe.

4. Other variations and add-in ideas?

You can put just about anything in a bean salad that you would in a pasta salad, such as:

  • Fresh veggies can give some color and texture. Try zucchini, bell peppers or onions (any color – red, white, yellow or green).
  • Fresh herbs give a nice pop of bright green color. Try adding some fresh parsley as a garnish or fresh dill if you use ranch seasoning instead of Italian.

5. How to serve bean salad?

Bean salad is primarily served as a side dish alongside grilled meat and other summer salads. Sometimes I like to put it over a green salad or in a wrap for extra flavor. As a snack, I like to eat it with some of my chilled Poached Beets.

6. How to keep it cool at a BBQ?

This recipe is great for events like family reunions and barbeques. To keep it cool like they do at salad bars, you can simply place your bowl of bean salad in another bowl of ice water.

It’ll keep your classic bean salad nice and chilled. I personally like it chilled, but don’t suggest serving any warmer than room temperature.

7. How to store leftovers?

This is a great dish to have leftovers from! I like to divide it up into portions by using several smaller airtight containers. Then I can just grab a container for lunch the next day. This bean salad should last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

8. More summer salad recipes?

If you’re on the hunt for more easy, classic salad recipes to serve this summer, check out these great options:

Close up of homemade three bean salad marinated in Italian dressing

Easy Three-Bean Salad Recipe

Learn how to make my delicious 3 Bean Salad with simple ingredients in this quick and easy original recipe.
4.46 from 11 votes
Print Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Recipe Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can small white beans
  • ½ cup Italian dressing

Equipment

  • Can opener
  • Strainer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon

Instructions

  • Place all three cans of beans into a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water until the beans are clean and no more foam remains, then transfer to a large bowl.
    Three kinds of canned beans poured into a bowl.
  • Pour the Italian dressing over the beans. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve your 3-bean salad chilled.
    Overhead view of 3 bean salad in bowl, including garbanzo, kidney and white beans marinated in Italian dressing.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 11IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 2mg

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