Marinated Three Bean Salad

This sweet and tangy Marinated Three Bean Salad has the perfect balance of soft beans and crunchy mix-ins for unforgettable retro flavor!

three bean salad in a shallow beige bowl.

This classic Marinated Three Bean Salad (a.k.a. Wax Bean Salad) is perfect for summer gatherings like BBQs and potlucks.

It makes a BIG salad and is an ideal make-ahead dish because it needs to marinate for at least eight hours (or overnight!) to taste its best.

I found this salad in a variety of cookbooks from the 1960s and 1970s. After comparing them, I found that most recipes were very similar, except for a few fun variations (see variation section below).

My absolute favorite thing about this salad is the refreshing mix of sweet and tangy flavors. It’s so summery and satisfying!

Can’t get enough beans? Don’t miss my Easy Baked Calico Beans, Italian Green Beans, and Easy Green Bean Casserole.

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Ingredients

ingredients needed to make marinated three bean salad with text labels.

Be sure to check the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and instructions!

My Top Tip for Making Three Bean Salad

You can usually find canned wax beans next to the green beans at the grocery store. If you can’t find them, substitute more green beans or lima beans.

How to Make Marinated Three Bean Salad

  • Prepare your salad ingredients by opening and draining the three cans of beans. Then chop the celery, green pepper, and yellow onion into small pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine the drained beans and chopped celery, green pepper, and onion.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the bean mixture. Then, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.
  • Can be served cold or at room temperature.
dry ingredients and canned beans mixed together in a glass mixing bowl.

Storage Information

Refrigerate. The bean salad will keep in the fridge for up to one week. It’ll get even more flavor as it sits! 

Please note that there will be a fair amount of marinating liquid that doesn’t get absorbed into the beans. That’s ok! Just drain some off before serving.

Do not freeze this dish. The texture of the beans will be altered after freezing/thawing.

three bean salad in a bowl.

Variations

Because this recipe has been around for a long time, it has naturally evolved over the years. Here are some of the most common variations to make it all your own.

  • Add 1 cup of chopped cooked carrots
  • Add 3–4 sliced green onions
  • Add a jar of chopped pimentos (drained) 
  • Substitute canned asparagus for one of the beans
  • Substitute canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for one of the beans
  • Add ½ teaspoon of paprika to the dressing

More Summery Side Dishes

Three Bean Salad is great for a potluck or cookout. Here are a few more sides to round out your meal!

📖 Recipe

marinated three bean salad in a bowl.

Marinated Three Bean Salad

Published by Kate
This classic bean salad is the sweet and tangy side dish that you remember!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Marinating Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 154 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (15½ oz) can cut green beans, drained
  • 1 (15½ oz) can cut wax beans, drained
  • 1 (15½ oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
  • cup granulated sugar
  • cup white vinegar
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Instructions
 

  • Prepare to make the salad by opening and draining the three cans of beans. Then chop celery, green pepper, and yellow onion.
  • In a large bowl, combine the drained beans and chopped celery, green pepper, and onion.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the bean mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Serve cold or at room temperature.

Video

Notes

Wax Beans. You can usually find canned wax beans at the grocery store, next to canned green beans. If you can’t find them, substitute more green beans or lima beans.
Variations. Add some chopped cooked carrots, a jar of drained pimentos, or some sliced green onions, if you’d like. You can also substitute canned chickpeas or canned asparagus if you can’t find wax beans.
    Storage Information. Salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Store well covered and drain off excess liquid as needed before serving. 
    Nutrition facts. The nutrition info listed here includes all of the marinade, which doesn’t get completely absorbed into the beans. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 154kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 0.2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.1gSodium: 297mgPotassium: 43mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 64IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.1mg
    Keyword marinated three bean salad, three bean salad, wax bean salad
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