This sweet, savory, and tangy Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad makes a great addition to any meal. It’s quick and easy to make but still full of flavor.

A close up of three bean salad on a spoon.

It costs approximately $8.47 to make this salad. The recipe makes eight servings and costs about $1.06 per serving. 

What You’ll Love About Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad:

  • Minimal cooking: This recipe requires minimal cooking, which makes it perfect for a busy weeknight or a hot summer day when you don’t feel like turning on the oven. 
  • Classic for a reason: This salad has been around for decades, and for good reason. It’s simple and tasty, and the green beans’ satisfying crunch makes it irresistible. 
  • Make-ahead potential: Prepare the salad in advance and store it in the fridge for several days, making it a great lunch option or potluck contribution.

Ingredients and Estimated Cost:

Per Serving Cost: $1.06

Recipe Cost: $8.47

  • ½ cup olive oil – $0.96
  • 1 garlic clove – $0.07
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar – $0.06
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar – $0.25
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard – $0.11
  • ½ teaspoon salt – $0.01
  • Pinch black pepper – $0.01
  • 1 ½ cups water – $0.00
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans – $3.74
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans – $1.25
  • 16 oz can red kidney beans – $1.59
  • ½ large yellow onion – $0.42

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The recipe cost is calculated by the amounts needed for the recipe. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have. I updated the pricing for this recipe in March 2024.

All ingredients needed to make this recipe that are labeled with text overlay.

How To Make Three Bean Salad:

  1. First, combine olive oil, garlic, sugar, cider vinegar, ground mustard, salt, and pepper to make your dressing. Whisk until well mixed.
  2. Then, steam the green beans for about 5-6 minutes. Then, add the beans to an ice bath to cool them quickly. 
  3. Drain the canned beans and the green beans, and add them to a large bowl. 
  4. Add the onion. 
  5. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss to coat. 
  6. Finally, cover the three bean salads and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve. 

A picture collage showing the steps of how to make three bean salad from making the dressing to tossing and chilling the salad overnight.

Recipe Variations:

  • Bean Variations: You can use almost any kind of canned beans. Substitute the kidney beans for pinto or black beans. It gives you different and delicious flavor combinations.
  • Add Herbs: Fresh herbs can elevate any dish. Try adding fresh chopped parsley or cilantro to the bean salad. 
  • More Veggies: Add additional vegetables for even more texture variations! My favorite add-ins are chopped bell peppers, celery, or corn. You can also add extra kinds of beans, like lima or cannellini beans.

Serving and Storage:

SERVE. Chill this salad for at least two hours. If you have the time, longer is better (like overnight).

STORE. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or cover the bowl with plastic wrap. It will stay fresh for up to five days.

FREEZE: Unfortunately, this salad does not freeze well. Once you defrost it, the beans will be limp and unappetizing.

The finished bean salad in white serving bowls.

Recipe FAQs:

Do the green beans have to be fresh?

The texture will be different if you decide to use frozen or canned green beans. When cooked, fresh green beans are slightly crunchy, while canned are very soft. It depends on your preference, but I suggest fresh beans if you can find them.

Do I need to rinse the canned beans?

Yes, canned beans are packed in a thick liquid that is difficult to drain. Pour them into a colander and rinse them before adding them to the salad.

Can I use store-bought dressing?

Yes, you can use a prepared dressing. I recommend an oil-based Italian dressing for a bean salad, but the dressing for three bean salad below is very easy to make.

What do you serve with bean salad?

3 Bean Salad is the perfect side dish for picnics, barbecues, or weeknight dinners. I especially love serving it with root beer pulled pork, grilled chicken, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, smoked ribs, and burgers. 

A close-up of bean salad in a white bowl.

Easy Salad Recipes:

A close up of three bean salad so you can see all of the textures of the salad.
5 from 7 votes

Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad

Recipe Cost $ $8.47
Serving Cost $ $1.06
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 31 minutes
8 people
This sweet, savory, and tangy Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad makes a great addition to any meal. It’s quick and easy to make but still full of flavor.


  • steam basket
  • Medium pot
  • cutting board
  • chef's knife
  • large bowl
  • small bowl
  • whisk
  • Serving spoon


Three Bean Salad Dressing:

Bean Salad:

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
  • 16 oz red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • ½ large sweet or red onion sliced thinly


Make the Dressing:

  • Add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Steam the Beans:

  • Add water to a medium pot.
  • Add a steam basket to the pot.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • When the water is boiling, add green beans to the steamer basket, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Steam for 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Make Ice Bath:

  • While the beans are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  • When the beans are done, drain them and place them into the bowl of ice water.

Make Salad:

  • Add garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and sliced onion in a large bowl.
  • Add green beans after draining them.
  • Whisk the dressing another time before pouring it over the salad.
  • Toss the salad to coat.
  • Cover the salad and refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight before serving.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. Claudia Lamascolo says:

    I could eat this every day its soooooo good!

  2. Jessica Formicola says:

    I made this salad with dinner last night and it was incredible! So simple and delicious- we all loved it!

  3. Kakhaber Khmelidze says:

    Should be healthy and yummy. Exactly for me. Thank you.

  4. Beth Sachs says:

    A delicious side salad and so healthy too. Love the dressing.

  5. Delicious and filling. Perfect sweet onion dressing too. Thanks for yet another winning recipe!!

  6. Jersey Girl Cooks says:

    Three Bean salad is good but this dressing elevates it to another level!

  7. This salad looks so good. I am definitely making it. A great way to enjoy veggies.

  8. Priya Lakshminarayan says:

    I am loving this idea of mixing 3 beans together! Will try this for sure