Side dish

Three-bean salad with dill dressing

Three-bean salad with dill dressing | Homesick Texan

Do you ever go through your pantry and ask yourself, “How the heck did this get here?” Fortunately, this doesn’t happen to me very often, as my kitchen is only five feet wide and pantry real estate is at a premium. But the other day when I was reaching for my cocoa powder, I found a can of kidney beans.

Now, this might not seem so strange since, after all, canned beans are a pantry staple. But the thing is, I don’t really like kidney beans. Give me a bowl of pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans, or black-eyed peas—and I’ll be asking for seconds in no time. Kidney beans, however, I’ve tended to avoid.

Three-bean salad with dill dressing | Homesick Texan

I’m not sure why I’m not fond of them, though perhaps it’s because they’re named after an organ. Or maybe one time I ate some thinking they would have the earthy depth of ranch-style beans, seeing how they’re a dark red and all, and instead bit into something mushy and flavorless. Who knows? It’s a mystery. (As is how these kidney beans ended up in my pantry!)

But no matter my aversion, I don’t like to waste food so these kidney beans had to be eaten. I asked a couple of friends what they thought I should do with them, and the best suggestion I heard was three-bean salad, an old summertime favorite in Texas and the south. This cold salad, so called because it’s made with three beans, a combination that usually includes kidney beans, green beans and garbanzo beans. But there are as many varieties of this salad as there are, well, varieties of beans.

Most three-bean salad recipes call for a sweet and sour mix of mustard and sugar, but I made mine creamy with mayonnaise instead. I also added dill for its tangy, grassy notes and some jalapeño and cayenne for heat. The results were refreshing, and I know that they’ll make a welcome addition to my next outdoor potluck gathering.

Three-bean salad with dill dressing | Homesick Texan

But the best thing—at least for me—was the discovery that kidney beans taste pretty good. And considering how healthy they are—they help lower bad cholesterol—I’m pleased to add them to my rotating cast of ingredients. Kidney beans—welcome to my pantry!

Before I share the recipe, some gratitude is in order. Last week, Homesick Texan won the Best Regional Food Blog category in Saveur’s Second Annual Blog Awards. Thank you so much for your support! And a Texas-sized congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

Three-bean salad with dill dressing | Homesick Texan
5 from 2 votes

Three-bean salad with dill dressing

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


  • 16 ounces green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or a 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans or a 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed or 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and cook the green beans until bright green, but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain the green beans into a colander and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.

  2. Place the cooked green beans in a large bowl and add the garbanzo beans, the kidney beans, the grape tomatoes, the garlic, the shallot and the jalapeño. Toss until combined. Stir in the vinegar, mayonnaise, dill, cumin and cayenne. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Chill covered for 4 hours. Serve cold.

  1. You read my mind! I was just thinking of looking for a recipe like this when I saw your post. Thanks!

  2. This is a great way to use kidney beans. Love the tang that dill adds, I am sure this will grace our table this summer.

    Big congrats to you and the wonderful award!

  3. mahlookma

    I love this with edamame as well.

  4. Conrats on your win – next step James Beard!

    We make a bean soup during the winter time that is the "time to clear out the pantry" meal of choice. Canned beans, tomatoes, corn, etc. Throw it in a crock pot and dinner is ready in a few hours. This summer variation you present may put Texas Caviar in the backseat for once!

  5. After reading some of the past entries linked to this one, I have to ask: Have you ever considered making refried beans with kidney beans?

  6. I've been eyeing the weather to make sure I have a batch of 3 bean salad on hand for the first hot day. Love your idea of using mayo instead of mustard, since there is a mustard haters in my house.

    Congrats on the win! I voted for you (but you probably already knew that) 🙂

  7. Sherry Griffith

    This looks tasty and fairly healthy..can't wait to try this one.

  8. Celeste

    This looks refreshing and tasty; I am used to 3-bean made with wax beans and brine. It's time for a change!

    But you know, if I bumped into a can of kidney beans, being a northern gal I'd say it's time for chili–and the secret to that is to mash up a few of them to thicken the dish.

    Congratulations on the award! I'm so glad you're getting some well-deserved recognition.

  9. I love three bean salad! Congratulations on your award win!

  10. I LOVE kidney beans. They absorb the flavor of anything else and are so meaty, they work well as a meat substitute. I like to bake coat them with a little olive oil, some cumin and cayenne, bake them for 10 minutes, and then use them in fajitas or in Mexican salads. Yum!

  11. Congrats on the award! Your blog is probably my favorite of all the blogs I follow. I really like the idea of the creamy dill dressing in this salad. Will have to try it.

  12. OK, I know I'm talking to a Texan, but I'm just going to say it.. I put beans in my chili soup and along with Pinto's like to add Kidneys because they're somewhat the same color as the soup, so I think they're visually pretty floating around in all that wonderful rich flavor. They obviously make a handsome salad. Love the flavors here…especially the jalapeno and the cumin. Another bookmarked.

  13. Caroline–You're very welcome. Enjoy!

    Michelle–I've been adding dill to almost everything lately–it might be my new favorite herb.

    Mahlookma–Oh! I'll have to try that!

    Jacob–Gracias! And that clear out the pantry bean soup sounds pretty wonderful, too!

    Janus–I haven't, but I've read about people that do and prefer them to refried beans made with pintos. Sounds like something I need to tr!

    DessertForTwo–Tis the season for summer salads!

    Sherry–I'd say it's pretty healthy!

    Celeste–Thank you! And yes, change is good! And if I put beans in my chili, I'd say that kidney beans would be pretty terrific!

    Farmer Jen–Thank you!

    Lauren–They're very meaty–I look forward to eating them more often.

  14. Shipwrekkt–Thank you! And it's hard to go wrong with creamy dill on a summer salad.

    Lea Ann–Lots of my non-Texan friends love beans in their chili. And I think that may be how I ended up with a can, as when I have people over for chili, I like to have beans on hand if people request them. And that deep, dark red is definitely the perfect color for chili.

  15. I don't like the skins on kidney beans. Other beans have tender-er skins that seem less obtrusive when you eat them.

    Even so, bean salad sounds like an awfully good idea.

  16. Love the idea of a savory three bean salad! (And of course any salad is better with a little mayo!)

  17. Little Black Car–Ah! I never thought about their skins being tougher!

    Kalyn–I'm with you–I adore mayonnaise!

  18. OsoVerde

    I'm so excited ~ everything is in my kitchen! And, being in Texas, the weather is perfect for this salad.

    I've enjoyed your blog for quite some time and share your site and recipes with others often. The Mexican Pralines were a big hit around Christmas. Congrats on the award ~ it is well deserved!

  19. OK, One of the memorial day grilling items is some Meyer's Elgin sausage I ordered which should be along today. And a brisket — not easy to find in New England since people here turn it into corned beef as soon as it gets cut off the cow.

    I was debating side dishes and this salad wins the prize!

    Thanks from another "homesick" Texan

  20. I can't wait to try this with the fresh tomatoes and jalapenos from our garden. I just wish there was a "print" button so that I could print out the recipe in 4×6 format for my recipe box. 🙁

  21. This looks very good, it's going on my short list for things to make very soon. I LOVE beans, I could eat them at every meal LOL!

  22. I'm with you… I love beans, but kidney beans are not my favorite. I really don't know why, but if I see them in a recipe, I usually swap in something else. This salad looks lovely though!

  23. I've never met a bean I didn't like, so a three bean salad is for me! The jalapeno and dill in this sound great. Congratulations on your Saveur award!

  24. OsoVerde–Thank you–those Mexican pralines are some of my favorites!

    John–It is hard to find brisket in the Northeast!

    Sherry–Unfortunately, the software I'm using doesn't have a way to do that. I need to change!

    Jennifer–I'm with you, I could eat beans at every meal!

  25. Katie–A lot of people don't like them, but they're not that bad, actually.

    Lisa is Cooking–I'm with you–I adore beans!

  26. I love a good bean salad. sounds great with the dill in there!

  27. Julie–I'm a big fan of dill in salads!

  28. Bad Mommy

    I'm a huge fan of Texas caviar – but I liven it up with a lot of flat-leaf parsley (so there's jalepeno, bell pepper, red onion, black-eyed peas, and parsley swimming in balsamic vinegarette that got heated to boiling in my version). You can sneak some other types of beans in there and it tastes good – kidneys and white beans are good additions.

    I also really love kidney beans in my ersatz version of the Austin baked beans from Goode Co. It's a five-bean bake, essentially, with lots of bacon and some hamburger meat. Mmmmm.

  29. Bad Mommy–Oh, I bet they're wonderful in baked beans, especially with the bacon and hamburger meat–I'll have to make that!

  30. I don't much like kidney beans either. It's funny but as I have matured, the notion of a three bean salad has taken on greater appeal. I used to hate it, but I made one the other day.

    Congratulations on a well deserved nod from Saveur.


  31. Kidney bean our least favorite. I love red beans and black beans the best. Your onion rings look REALLY good!!

  32. I always thought it was cheating when kidney beans showed up in my chili as a kid. Even in California (texan mom and grandma always put in pintos). Of course some people view beans in chili as bad. LOL So I view kidneys as "not a bean".

  33. Hello, love your blog!
    I have to say that this is fast becoming one of my favorite summer salads. I've made it twice in the last month, and feel like I could eat it again and again. The only adjustment I've made is using plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise 🙂

  34. Sept 2016
    Just made this recipe. Everyone loved it. Gotta make a double-batch next time! Jalapeño, cumin, and tomatoes really made it pop!

  35. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Although I grew up with 3 bean salad, I never saw a garbanzo until I was in my 30s. 3 bean salad was green beans, yellow or wax beans, and kidneys, dressed with vinegar, sugar, and a bit of oil, but never mayo. Because I grew up in a community with lots of Germans and Scandinavians, dill was usually included–since my mom always grew it in the garden, her version used it. I really like adding jalapenos, garlic, and cumin, and since wax beans have become nearly impossible to find, I’m totally happy to throw in garbanzos. Thanks for this updated version.

    • Lisa Fain

      Janet–Glad you like it! The only time I’ve ever seen wax beans were at the NYC farmers market. Perhaps they’ve fallen out of favor because of their name!

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