Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad

This three bean salad is the most delicious, simple salad to hit your plate. It’s a knock-out vegetarian and gluten-free side dish that’s oh so versatile.

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad Recipe | A Couple Cooks

Do you appreciate the seasons? Many of you have told us you adore winter–which I can appreciate–and really, I wish I could say the same. But here’s the thing: I love summer. Maybe it’s because I’m from Minnesota originally, and I grew up with regular sub-zero temperatures. Maybe it’s because I live in Indiana, where fall and winter are dismally gray. Whatever the case, I LOVE SUMMER for so many reasons: wearing no socks (they’re so oppressive, right?), sunshine for days, morning coffee on the porch, going to the splash park, and lazy meals our patio with a glass of rose. Summer is my spirit animal. And so is this summer three bean salad. Keep reading for the three bean salad recipe.

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad Recipe | A Couple Cooks

How to make three bean salad (and why)

Why three bean salad? Well, where I’m from it’s tradition. In Minnesota the summer potluck is all about three bean salad. It’s always welcome alongside a burger or salmon at a patio grill out. It’s got Father’s Day recipe written all over it. And three bean salad is perfect for sitting on a picnic table for hours on end.

Why make this three bean salad, when there are so many three bean salad recipes out there? This one is the most delicious, simplest one we’ve ever had. It’s based on a three bean salad that my mom makes, but I made it even simpler. Every time we set out to make a simple recipe, the trade-off is flavor. So as always, in this three bean salad we’ve optimized to get the best flavors with the least amount of time and fuss.

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad Recipe | A Couple Cooks

The simplest three bean salad you’ll have

My mom’s recipe calls for blanching green beans, but since that adds time and complexity we’ve gone with all canned beans in this three bean salad recipe. The secret to flavoring this three bean salad is the dressing: it’s made with a bit of tomato paste and ketchup, so it has an unexpected earthy undertone. And adding feta cheese brings in a savory flair! If you’re planning to leave this bean salad in the sun at a barbecue, you could omit the feta, but we love the burst of flavor the salty cheese brings. Finally, the combination of green onions and chives adds just the right amount of complexity. If you’re in a pinch and can’t find chives you can omit them, but we recommend using them for the best flavor.

Quick tip on tomato paste: We like buying our tomato paste in a tube! This way, you can keep it in the refrigerator and squeeze out the amount you need. If we buy it in a can, we always end up with a half used can that sits in our refrigerator for months on end and then ends up going bad!

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad Recipe | A Couple Cooks

How to serve three bean salad

There’s something about three bean salad that just says SUMMER, right? It would also be a perfect Father’s Day recipe! This year, we’ve already made it for countless cookouts, so we knew we needed to share it with you. However, this three bean salad is supremely versatile and works as a side dish any time of the year. Since the ingredients are mostly canned and not fresh, you could easily serve it as a side dish in a vegetarian meal to pile on the protein and nutrients.

Let us know if you try it out: as always, we’re over on Instagram and would love to see your creations!

Looking for more healthy side dish recipes?

This seriously simple three bean salad is a fantastic healthy side dish recipe; here are a few more side dish recipes on A Couple Cooks:

This recipe is…

This three bean salad is gluten-free and vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based and dairy-free, omit the feta.

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad | A Couple Cooks

Seriously Simple Three Bean Salad

1 Star (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 as a side
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: American


This three bean salad is the most delicious, simple salad to hit your plate. It’s a knock-out vegetarian and gluten-free side dish that’s oh so versatile.


For the salad

  • 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (or 1 1/2 cups chickpeas cooked in a pressure cooker)
  • 15-ounce can cannellini beans
  • 15-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese crumbles, plus additional for garnish
  • Black pepper

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Drain and rinse the beans.
  2. Thinly slice the celery and scallions. Finely chop the chives.
  3. Whisk together the cider vinegar, lemon juice, ketchup, tomato paste, and salt. Then gradually whisk in the olive oil about 1 tablespoon at a time, until emulsified and creamy.
  4. In a large serving dish, mix together the beans, celery, scallions, chives, dressing, feta crumbles, and fresh ground black pepper. If desired, top with additional feta crumbles and chopped chives as a garnish. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. It tastes even better 1 to 2 days later, so it’s great for making in advance!

Keywords: Bean Salad, Three Bean Salad, Side Dish, Healthy Side Dish, Beans, Bean Recipes, Vegetarian, Gluten Free

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Brooke Sauer
    June 4, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    This looks so fresh! I have this on deck for Wednesday night dinner! Will let you know how it is!

    • Reply
      June 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Ooo yay! Yes please keep us posted!!!

  • Reply
    Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite
    June 4, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    I feel you on the Indiana winters!! ;) I can’t wait to make this recipe for easy lunches…it looks like it should keep pretty well for meal prep!

    • Reply
      June 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      YES, it actually does save really well too! It tastes even better the next day! I’ll add that to the recipe :)

  • Reply
    Katie | Whole Nourishment
    June 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I couldn’t wait for you to post this recipe! Would have never thought to add ketchup to the dressing. It feels like the perfect summer side. I’m a summer girl at heart too, and I can’t wait for it to come in full swing!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    This salad was SO good! The dressing is the dressing I have been searching for my entire cooking life. I’m going to use it again not only on this bean salad but on other veggie/pasta salads this summer. Yum! Thank you.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.