Not Your Grandma’s Three Bean Salad

Three. Bean. Salad.

These three words can evoke childhood memories of a sweet and sour side salad often served at family cookouts.

It seems as though you were either a big fan or completely disgusted by it. (Note: we were both the latter, but today’s recipes has changed everything!)

Bean salad ins side a ceramic black bowl with a wooden spoon

Today we’ve taken a traditional recipe and turn it on its head, modernizing it with fresh flavors that will have you scratching your head saying, “I can’t believe this is a Three Bean Salad!”

Welcome to the new millennium Three Bean Salad!

Although we may not describe ourselves as regular bean eaters, they no doubt are a staple in many vegetarian and vegan diets. Filled with protein, fiber, and B vitamins, beans can be an important part of a healthy diet.

Not Your Grandma’s Three Bean Salad makes a colorful, tasty, and healthy choice to bring to your next BBQ, summer potluck, or even camping! Plus, this recipe will take you less than 30 minutes to toss together. Bonus!

Looking for some other healthy BBQ-worthy favorites? Check out the recipes below.

Mediterranean Summer Salad with Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Feta
Summer Coleslaw
Consciously Creamy “Potato” Salad
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Decadent Raw Brownies

Now we want to hear from you! Please tell us what you think of this delicious twist on an American classic in the comments below.

With healthy picnics and smiles,

Not Your Grandma’s Three Bean Salad

Yield: 6 servings


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice
  • 1 TB. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

In a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Next add cumin and smoked paprika, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Pour into a large heatproof bowl. Add beans, onion, celery, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper to the cumin and smoked paprika oil. Toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Heather Margolis

    If I’m not a fan of garbanzo beans do you have a sub suggestion? Kidney?

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Heather, Good question! You can certainly change out any of the beans with another bean you enjoy like kidney beans. When you try it out, let us know what you think.

  • Caryn

    This was fantastic! I also thought I wasn’t a garbanzo bean fan, but like to try recipes the way they are written the first time. Turns out, I do like garbanzo beans. Next time, I’ll cut back the onion and increase the cilantro by a bit. Big hit at our house and it made enough for a couple rounds of leftovers. Thanks!

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Caryn, YAY! So glad that you and your family loved it and that you gave the garbanzo beans a try. Like we said, we are normally not bean salad gals but this recipe definitely made us converts. XO, Jo & Jules

  • Sim Ess

    Hi, what would you use as a sub for the celery?

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Sim, Great question! You can leave the celery out and it’ll still be yummy, but fennel would be a great replacement as well. Let us know if you give it a try. XO, J&J

  • Dana Kennedy

    Do you have the nutritional value of recipe

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Dana, Thank you for reaching out! We do not have the nutritional breakdown for this recipe. There are a lot of good websites that do calculate the nutritional breakdown if you enter in the recipe ingredients. If you try the recipe, let us know what you think. XO, J&J

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