Classic 3-Bean Salad

Green and yellow wax beans along with kidney beans make up this classic marinated 3-Bean Salad.

Funny how tastes change over the years. I once hated canned green or yellow beans but now I don't mind them and will happily have a serving with my meal if they are on the menu. I do like the fresh or frozen ones much better, though. 

As a child I detested them with the fervor of a soldier going to battle against the evil forces of the universe. But as we had to eat everything on our plate the hated beans were consumed (but not without complaint!). Fortunately for me, mom didn't serve them often so we were both spared that war zone most of the time. As I grew older I tolerated them to be polite if they were served in someone else's house but I can't say I ever grew to appreciate them until much later on in life (about 50 years later, lol). But there was one or two exceptions to that and one of them was 3-Bean Salad. From the first time I tasted it I liked it even though the loathed green and yellow beans made up the majority of beans in the salad. It was the dressing or marinade that made them taste so good. 

3-Bean Salad from my old recipe box.
I was probably nineteen or twenty the first time I tasted 3-Bean Salad and I liked it from the first mouthful. I didn't like any of the beans in the salad, including kidney beans but the combination with the dressing was delicious. Of course, I had to ask for the recipe and was kindly given the one you see in the photo on the right. And this is basically the same one I've been making for years, although I have changed it a little over time by adding the red pepper and celery seed. Sometimes I use vinegar instead of lemon juice or a combination of both. The biggest change is the amount of sugar in the dressing. I don't use much more than a quarter cup of sugar and find that quite sweet enough. 

You can also use cooked fresh or frozen beans in place of the canned green and yellow beans. And I know lots of recipes use chick peas in place of or along with the kidney beans. I prefer just the kidney beans. 

The salad keeps well refrigerated for at least a week.
Printable recipe at end of post.
Classic 3-Bean Salad
  • ¼-½  cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup diced sweet red pepper (Or whatever colour you have on hand.)
  • 1 can green beans, 398 ml/14 oz*
  • 1 can yellow wax beans, 398 ml/14 oz*
  • 1 can red kidney beans, 398 ml/14 oz or you can use the larger 540 ml/19 oz can if the smaller one is not available 
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½-¾ cup lemon juice or white vinegar or mix of both
  • ¼ cup sugar (may use more or less to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed, optional
How to make it:
Rinse and drain all beans. Gently mix with the onion and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and marinate at least 4 hours to overnight in the refrigerator. 

Dressing: Mix all ingredients until the sugar has dissolved.

Makes 8-10 servings.

*An equal amount of cooked fresh or frozen green and yellow beans may be substituted for the canned beans.

The stars of the salad--beans, beans and more beans!

Rinse and drain all the beans including the kidney beans. 

Chop the onion and red pepper. A little more or less won't matter. I have been generous with my veggies.

Gently toss the beans and vegetables together taking care not to mash the tender beans.

Mix the dressing ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved. Have a taste to make sure it's sweet enough. 

Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and mix through.

Refrigerate the salad and let marinate at least 4 hours. Overnight is best if you can.

Delicious sweet and sour 3-Bean Salad. Remember to serve it with a slotted spoon!

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          


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