Salad Bowl Recipes

Easy No-Cook Three Bean Salad


Who doesn’t love a traditional Three Bean Salad? Honestly, I didn’t. My past as a picky eater had me steering clear of beans, especially when served cold at parties and potlucks. But a spark of culinary curiosity and a little creativity led me to reinvent this classic, transforming it into something I not only loved but was also eager to share. By adding an array of colorful veggies, I unlocked a new way to enjoy cold beans, creating a bowl that’s as nutritious as it is visually appealing.

After sharing a teaser on my social media platforms, the response was a flood of recipe requests. If you’ve been among those eagerly awaiting, here’s my special take on the Three Bean Salad, built to win over even the most bean-averse folks. This bowl is a real celebration of plant-based goodness, perfect for vegan and gluten-free diets, quick lunches, cookouts or as a vibrant addition to your weekly meal prep lineup. I’m almost certain you’ve never tried anything like it.


The charm of this Three Bean Salad lies in its simplicity and versatility, made possible by the use of canned beans. Aside from the sodium used in canning, there’s little nutritional difference between canned beans and their dried counterparts. The key to using canned beans effectively is to rinse and drain them in advance. Opting for canned varieties that are low in sodium or free of added sodium is also a great choice.

Now that the beans are out of the can, let’s talk more about them, and all the other flavorful layers in the bowl.

Bean Beginnings: A Hearty Foundation

My version calls for a mix of kidney, garbanzo and cannellini beans. Loaded with gut-friendly fibers, plant-based protein and a slew of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this trio forms a hearty base, enriching the salad with diverse flavors and textures:

  • Kidney Beans: A staple in traditional Three Bean Salad recipes, kidney beans bring firm, satisfying chew and good hearty crunch to the bowl.
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas): Another classic ingredient, garbanzo beans deliver creamy texture and nutty flavor, adding a layer of complexity to the salad.
  • Cannellini Beans: Swapped out for the green and wax beans typically found in classic versions, cannellini beans offer a soft and creamy consistency that blends smoothly into the salad, balancing the flavors and textures nicely.

Veggie Bliss: Fresh and Flavorful Layers

If you follow That Salad Lady, you already know I’m all about building my bowls with lots of colors and textures. This Three Bean Salad is no exception. The vibrancy comes from all the fresh vegetables in the bowl, each adding its own splash of color, crunch and a host of health benefits. Together, these layers pack a punch of refreshing hydration, vitamins, minerals and health-promoting antioxidants, transforming the bowl into a nutritional powerhouse:

  • Bell Peppers (Red, Orange and Yellow): Adding sweet, slightly tangy crunch, a trio of vibrant bell peppers infuses the salad with a confetti-like burst of color.
  • Tomatoes: Technically fruits, tomatoes offer a sweet, juicy element that brings a taste of summer with every bite. I typically use Roma tomatoes in this bowl, but feel free to go with whatever you have on hand.
  • Cucumber: With its crisp, hydrating crunch, cucumber introduces an extra layer of freshness and perfectly balances the denser textures of the beans.
  • Red Onion: Known for their sharp, spicy kick, red onions wake up the palate, delivering a bold flavor contrast that energizes the bowl.
  • Italian Parsley: Added in sprinkles, freshly chopped parsley ties the salad together with a hint of peppery brightness and fresh herbal notes.

Dress to Impress: The Tangy Sweet Twist

Bringing this vibrant bowl together is a homemade balsamic vinaigrette that does more than just dress the salad; it enhances nutrient absorption with its full-fat content and adds layers of tangy sweet flavor. I chose each dressing ingredient for its unique taste profile and health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which complement the nutrient-dense profile of the other layers in the bowl:

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: A heart-healthy base, this oil adds a smooth, rich texture and a slight peppery note, enriching the salad’s overall flavor.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: With its tangy sweetness, this vinegar balances the hearty elements of the beans and the freshness of the vegetables, contributing a smooth, syrupy texture.
  • Dijon Mustard: One of my favorites for its creamy consistency and sharp, tangy depth, Dijon mustard really brightens the dressing, making all the salad flavors pop.
  • Pure Maple Syrup or Honey: Not to be mistaken for pancake syrup, pure maple syrup delivers natural sweetness with a smooth, velvety texture. For those not following a vegan diet, pure honey offers a similar depth but remember, it’s not vegan, so stick with maple syrup for a 100% plant-based bowl.
  • Fresh Garlic: Adding a pungent kick and a bit of texture to the dressing, fresh garlic enhances the aromatic qualities. Go for fresh over jarred varieties to avoid off-flavors that can affect the dressing.
  • Dried Herbs (Basil, Oregano or Parsley): Providing fragrant herbal notes and a fine, granular texture, dried herbs subtly complement the dressing without overpowering the fresh layers.


My version of the Three Bean Salad is prepared much like a classic chopped salad. You’ll just need a cutting board or another stable cutting surface, and a good quality chopping knife like a chef’s knife. The goal is to dice the fresh ingredients into bite-sized pieces, unlocking their vibrant flavors and textures. The only exception is the fresh parsley, which is best when finely chopped.

Once you have your vegetable base ready, it’s all about the beans. As I mentioned before, thoroughly rinsing and draining canned beans is a must. This step not only reduces unwanted sodium but also preserves the beans’ natural flavors, ensuring they shine in the bowl.

The dressing is the final step, and here, you have a variety of tools at your disposal: a blender, a food processor, a medium mixing bowl with a good whisk, a dressing shaker or a mason jar. Once you’ve gathered your dressing ingredients, simply blend, mix, whisk or shake them together until you achieve your preferred consistency.

For blenders and food processors with variable speed settings, start at a low speed and gradually increase it until you have a perfectly smooth mixture.

Now, if you’re mixing the dressing by hand, you’ll need to mince the garlic first with a good quality chef’s knife or a garlic press. Once the garlic is prepped, just add all the ingredients to your bowl, shaker or jar, and either whisk or shake them together until the blend reaches your desired consistency.

That Salad Lady’s Time-Saving Hacks

Since I usually keep my fridge stocked with pre-chopped veggies, getting my Three Bean Salad ready is mostly about prepping the beans. It’s a time-saving hack I can’t recommend enough. You’re basically treating your fridge like your own personal salad bar, loaded with a variety of ready-to-use layers. With this approach you can easily build a nutritious salad bowl in minutes.

You can also prepare your dressing ahead of time. The homemade balsamic vinaigrette for this bowl, stays fresh in the fridge for up to 10 days when stored properly in a mason jar or another airtight container. This strategy not only saves time, but also guarantees that you always have a tasty, nutritious dressing ready for your bowl, making healthy eating more convenient.


Now comes the fun part – bringing the Three Bean Salad to life! Start by simply combining the rinsed beans with a drizzle of dressing, ensuring each bean is evenly coated. From there, layer in the prepped vegetables, distributing them evenly for a nice mosaic of colors and textures. This method not only ensures every forkful is packed with a variety of flavors but also makes the salad a feast for the eyes. After all, we eat with our eyes first.

You’ll want to gently toss the beans and veggies to integrate them fully, and then drizzle a bit more dressing over the salad. The final step is to give the blend a good toss to ensure every layer is evenly dressed. Now, if you have the time, I suggest letting the finished salad sit in the refrigerator for up to three hours. As the salad rests, the layers will marinate in the dressing, absorbing all the delicious flavors and becoming even more flavorful. 

Serving and Storage

This Three Bean Salad serves beautifully as a standalone meal, a vibrant side dish or even as a dip, ready to impress at any table. The recipe yields enough for 4-6 generous servings. If there are leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep well for 2-3 days, making this bowl a great choice for advanced meal prep or enjoying the next day when the flavors have melded together even more. Trust me when I say this salad gets even better with time.

Finishing Touches

If you’re looking to add an extra layer of flavor or texture, definitely consider some finishing touches. A sprinkle of crumbled feta or goat cheese can introduce a creamy saltiness, while a handful of toasted nuts or seeds adds crunch and nuttiness. Diced avocado offers creaminess and richness, and a few extra herbs can brighten the salad even more.

I should also mention that while the Three Bean Salad is naturally rich in plant-based protein thanks to the beans, they don’t provide a complete protein on their own. This is why I typically pair my Three Bean Salad with nuts or seeds, a slice of sourdough or some pita bread to round out the meal. This combination provides all the essential amino acids for a complete protein source.

For more insights on proteins and additional ideas and inspiration on how to enhance the salad, be sure to check out my Nutrition Glossary. Adding your own personal touches not only boosts the flavor but also tailors the salad to your specific taste preferences and dietary needs. Each serving is an opportunity to explore new combinations, ensuring the bowl never gets old.


That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl. If you enjoy this Three Bean Salad, which I’m quite sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram (@that.salad.lady) and TikTok (@thatsaladlady). Add the hashtags #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl too. If you really love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook using #thatsaladlady.

Easy No-Cook Three Bean Salad

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Recipe by That Salad Lady Course: Main, SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


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A simple, vibrant, no-cook bowl, this veggie-packed Three Bean Salad, is 100% vegan, gluten-free and unbelievably quick and easy to prepare.


  • Base Salad Blend
  • 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

  • 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 3 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow), cored and diced

  • 3 Roma tomatoes (vine or grape tomatoes also work), seeded and diced

  • 1 English cucumber (with skin), diced

  • 1/2 red onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or whole

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, oregano or parsley

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • Prepare the Ingredients
  • Dice the bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and red onion into bite-sized pieces. Then, finely chop the fresh parsley.
  • Rinse and drain the kidney, garbanzo and cannellini beans to lower their sodium content and preserve their natural flavors.
  • Make the Dressing
  • In your choice of a blender, food processor, bowl with a whisk, dressing shaker or mason jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup or honey, Dijon mustard, minced garlic and dried herbs.
  • Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  • Blend, mix, whisk or shake until the dressing is well combined and perfectly smooth.
  • Build the Salad
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the rinsed beans.
  • Add the diced vegetables and chopped parsley, spreading them out evenly.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently, making sure everything is well-coated.
  • Though ready to serve immediately as a main dish, a colorful side or a nutritious dip, letting the salad marinate in the fridge for up to three hours can enhance its flavors.


  • Time-Saving Hacks: Keep a stock of pre-chopped vegetables in your fridge for quick and easy meal prep. To shave off even more prep time, you can also whip up the dressing in advance and store it refrigerated in an airtight container – it’ll keep for up to 10 days.
  • Finishing Touches: Amp up your salad by adding crumbled feta or goat cheese, a sprinkle of toasted nuts or seeds, some diced avocado or a handful of extra herbs. These touches not only add depth of flavor but also introduce a variety of textures.
  • Nutritional Boost: The beans in this salad pack a plant-based protein punch, but on their own, they don’t make up a complete protein. For a well-rounded meal, pair the salad with nuts or seeds and maybe a slice of sourdough or some pita bread. This combo ensures you’re getting all the essential amino acids your body needs.
  • Make It Your Own: Don’t hesitate to play around with the layers however you like. Adjust the dressing to suit your taste or experiment with different veggies to tailor the salad to your dietary needs. It’s all about creating a salad that feels personal and perfect for you.
  • Oil-Free Dressing Option: If you prefer an oil-free dressing, mix balsamic vinegar with a bit of water to achieve the desired consistency, then add maple syrup or honey, Dijon mustard, minced garlic and dried herbs from the original recipe. To ensure nutrient absorption, especially for fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, consider adding a source of healthy fats to your salad, such as diced avocado or a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. This way, you maintain the salad’s healthfulness while enhancing flavor and texture.
  • Serving and Storage: This salad is perfect for feeding a crowd, with enough for 4-6 generous portions. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and they’ll keep well for 2-3 days. You might find the salad even more flavorful the next day as the ingredients have had time to blend together.

This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.

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