Three Bean Salad with Fresh Cilantro

This simple, wholesome Three Bean Salad features a fresh cilantro dressing. It’s a classic recipe that is ideal for BBQs, potlucks, and meal prepping.

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Cilantro bean salad in a bowl.

The star ingredient of this recipe is, of course, fresh cilantro. Can’t get enough of this clean-tasting herb? Try this avocado cilantro dressing or this cilantro lime brown rice.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • This kidney bean, chickpea, and black bean salad has taste, tang, and texture. The flavors in the dressing blend perfectly with the tenderness of the beans.
  • There is nothing better feeling than a refreshing, cold salad out of the fridge – prepped and ready to go.
  • Beans are loaded with dietary fiber, an excellent source of plant-based protein, and are rich in several essential nutrients.
  • This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegan. Bonus!
Cilantro bean salad in a bowl.


Find the complete ingredient list, with measurements, in the recipe card below.

  • Canned Beans – For this recipe, we use red kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas.
  • Bell Peppers – Use a rainbow of yellow, orange, and red bell peppers.
  • Red Onion – These are milder and sweeter, which is perfect for using raw in salads.
  • Salsa – Use a chunky, natural Mexican-style salsa such as Herdez.
  • Garlic – This adds a rich and aromatic flavor.
  • Cilantro – A fresh, bright, and versatile herb. Learn more with this cilantro guide.
  • Vinegar – We use both white and apple cider vinegar.
  • Sea Salt – A pinch of fine sea salt brings out the best in all of your ingredients.
A big bunch of fresh cilantro leaves.


  • Sharp Knife and Cutting Board – This is for chopping veggies and prepping cilantro.
  • Large Mixing Bowl – For mixing and storing the salad. Use a set that includes an airtight lid.
Our Pick
Glass Mixing Bowls with Lids
  • Each mixing bowl is equipped with an airtight lid, keeping food fresh.
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See it on Amazon


Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for the FULL recipe details.

Step 1

First, start by draining and rinsing the canned beans and transferring them to a large bowl.

Expert Tip!

Canned beans must be thoroughly rinsed with cold water to remove excess sodium and starches before being used in the salad. Using cold water results in cleaner beans and a better texture in the salad.

Beans in a colander.

Step 2

Next, prep the vegetables by thinly slicing the bell peppers and red onions.

Add them to the mixing bowl with the beans.

Ingredients in a bowl.

Step 3

Then, add the dressing ingredients to a small mason jar (or use the salsa bottle!) and shake everything really well to combine.

This becomes our salsa vinaigrette dressing.

A jar of salsa.

Step 4

Next, pour the dressing over the beans and veggies in the bowl.

Toss well to coat everything with the dressing.

Dressing being poured over ingredients.

Step 5

Finally, pop the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour for the flavors to develop and the beans to marinate in the dressing.

Cilantro bean salad in a bowl.


  • Substitute half of the bell peppers for a handful of corn kernels and chopped cherry tomatoes.
  • Use fresh lime juice or lemon juice instead of white vinegar in the dressing.

Recipe Variations

  • For a creamy component, incorporate fresh avocados by folding some chunks into the mixture before serving.
  • Sprinkle in some chili powder and cumin to give this recipe a southwestern vibe.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this as a side dish alongside your favorite protein, such as chicken, burgers, and grilled or air-fried strip steaks.
  • It is perfect for potlucks or BBQs served up with other cookout classics like pasta salad and deviled eggs.
  • Make it for meal prep. The salad tastes even better the next day and is a great option for a packed lunch. To add even more bulk, toss in some cooked gluten-free grains like quinoa or brown rice.
  • Serve this recipe as an appetizer with a bowl of tortilla chips or oven-baked pita chips, enjoying it as a chunky dip.


Is bean salad suitable for vegetarians and vegans?

Yes, this recipe is an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans as it is plant-based and does not contain any animal products.

Can I make bean salad ahead of time?

Yes, this salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. In fact, allowing the flavors to meld together for a few hours or even overnight can really enhance the taste.

Storage Tips

To Store: Keep this fridge in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. After a day, you may want to use a slotted spoon to serve to drain the excess liquid from the bottom of the bowl.

Cilantro bean salad in a bowl.

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**This recipe was originally posted on July 4, 2014. Updated April 24, 2019, and updated again on April 11, 2024, with recipe notes, writing, and photos.**

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Cilantro bean salad in a bowl.

Three Bean Salad with Fresh Cilantro

Sharon Rhodes
This simple, wholesome Three Bean Salad features a fresh cilantro dressing. It's a classic recipe that is ideal for BBQs, potlucks, and meal prepping.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chill 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 235 kcal


For the salad

  • 3 15.5 oz cans beans *we use kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas.
  • 2 cups thinly sliced bell peppers *approximately 2 peppers
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

For the dressing

  • 1 cup salsa
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt


  • Drain the beans and rinse them well with cold water. Add them to a large mixing bowl
  • Thinly slice the bell peppers and red onion and add the slices to the bowl with the beans.
  • Combine the dressing ingredients in a small mason jar (or use the salsa bottle) and shake it well to mix.
  • Pour dressing over the bean mixture and toss until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight. Serve.



  • To Store: Keep this fridge in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. After a day, you may want to use a slotted spoon to serve to drain the excess liquid from the bottom of the bowl.


Calories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 15gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 290mgPotassium: 744mgFiber: 15gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1366IUVitamin C: 49mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 4mg
Keyword cilantro bean salad, three bean salad
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This salad sounds delicious. I’m going to try it Sat.. I like the way you give he calorie count. How much is the serving size. A cup or 1/2 cup?

    Thanks, Rita

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great tasting salad for anytime of the year especially if you want to eat more plant based meals. This was really hearty and full of flavor! Thanks for sharing.

  3. 5 stars
    I love this salad! I’ve always been a fan of bean salads, but the salsa really takes it to a new level. Delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Great idea using up the end of the salsa in a vinaigrette. The flavours would compliment the bean perfectly. I love a salad that gets more flavourful the longer it sits too. Perfect for a picnic or backyard bbq.

  5. This would be such a popular dish at BBQ’s and picnics this summer. Looks delicious, Sharon!

  6. hell yeah! What a perfect salad for the summer, and I love the cilantro addition! Pinning this to make!

  7. We like to take bean salad with us when we travel with our trailer. I love the simplicity of this one!

  8. Finally a bean salad recipe that does NOT contain oil! Thank you for sharing, we will be making this ASAP because we are in the middle of our own version of a juice/raw diet cleanse and I really need to eat something substantial with protein and fibre.

  9. Having read this I believed it was really informative.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this
    information together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time
    both reading and leaving comments. But so what,
    it was still worthwhile!

  10. I’ve never had bean salad but I love beans so I should give this a try! And it’s funny, I always think of beans as “eating clean” but people are being told to avoid them now and I don’t get it! Mostly Paleo diets…it just doesn’t make sense to me!

    1. Avoid beans! Gasp! I can only think of one good reason to avoid beans, but it’s not because they’re unhealthy;)

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