Everyone's Favorite 5 Bean Salad

This tangy-sweet 5 bean salad is the perfect side dish for a barbecue, cookout, potluck, or weeknight dinner. It’s high in protein and fiber from five types of canned beans and has delicious flavors from a sweet vinaigrette dressing. 

It’s an easy, inexpensive salad that everyone loves.

Why This Recipe Works

  • 5 bean salad is ridiculously easy to make because nearly everything comes from a can. Just drain, rinse, and toss.
  • This make-ahead recipe tastes best the next day, so it’s perfect for when you want to prep ahead. If you're making it for a cookout, with my crock pot baked beans the day before too.
  • It’s a healthy recipe packed with 8 g of protein and 8 g of fiber in every serving. And although the vinaigrette is sweet, it only has a bit of sugar. 
  • It’s a salad or side dish that everyone loves. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, so it’s a great option for those with dietary restrictions.
  • It’s inexpensive, doubles easily, and feeds a crowd as a side salad.

Recipe Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make marinated bean salad. I’ve listed a few substitutions and variations in the section below.

Be sure to check out the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients with measurements.

Ingredients needed to make 5 bean salad.

Canned beans. I use canned, unsalted:

  • Dark red kidney beans (they’re more firm than light kidney beans)
  • Black beans 
  • Navy beans (also called small white beans)
  • Cut green beans
  • Cut wax beans

I like the combination of kidney, black, and navy beans because they all have a similar, firm texture. I don’t recommend cannellini beans because they’re too soft. They work better in a white bean dip or creamy soups like fennel and white bean soup.

Onion. I recommend a sweet onion like Vidalia, Walla Walla, Maui Sweet, or Bermuda. They're all similar and labeled “sweet onion” at the grocery store. Sweet onions have less sulfur, giving them a milder, sweeter flavor than yellow, white, or red onions.  

Olive oil. Olive oil is my go-to oil for cooking or salad dressings. It’s the healthiest oil available, backed up by lots of research. It’s also one of the primary reasons the Mediterranean diet provides so many health benefits.

Vinegar. I’ve experimented with various types of vinegar, but my favorite for this recipe is plain old white vinegar. I prefer the clean flavor and the acidity it offers.

Sugar. Traditionally, this salad is very sweet, but I’ve cut the sugar back significantly. It’s still sweet but less so than other marinated bean salad recipes or prepared ones that come in a jar. Feel free to play around with the amount of sugar to suit your taste.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Other beans you can use instead of kidney, black, or navy beans include garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, or pinto beans. 
  • Swap canned French-cut green beans for cut green beans. 
  • Add some Dijon mustard to the dressing.
  • Swap a monkfruit sweetener for the sugar, or use a half-and-half blend of sugar and zero-calorie sweetener.
  • Other add-ins include chopped green pepper, grilled corn, and celery.
  • Give it a spicy southwest flavor with minced jalapeno and a handful of chopped cilantro.
  • Give it a Mediterranean flavor with chopped roasted red pepper, chopped Greek olives, oregano, and feta cheese.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Make the dressing. Combine the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a jar or measuring cup. Whisk it to combine and set it aside.

Steps 1-2 to make 5 bean salad

2. Slice the onion. Cut it in half crosswise. Lay the flat side on a cutting board and cut thin, half-circle slices. 

3. Combine the beans and onion in a bowl. Drain and rinse the beans well. Add them to a large mixing bowl with the sliced onions. Pour the dressing over.

Steps 3-4 to make 5 bean salad.

4. Mix well and refrigerate to marinate. This salad should marinate for at least six hours, but it tastes best after 24 hours.

Expert Tips

  • Don’t oversalt the dressing, especially if your canned beans have salt. You can add extra salt if needed before serving it. The flavors will develop over 24 hours, so wait until the beans are well-marinated before tasting and adjusting the salt. 
  • Mix the beans a few times while they marinate so the dressing covers everything well.
  • This marinated salad tastes best if you remove it from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving. Olive oil will solidify when refrigerated, so let it warm up a bit and stir the salad before serving.

What to Eat With 5 Bean Salad

This tasty marinated bean salad can hold its own for lunch. It has enough protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat to count as a meal. It’s also a delicious side dish with:

A white bowl of 5 bean salad. A serving spoon is lifting some of the salad out of the bowl.

Recipe FAQs 

Do you have to cook the beans?

No. Canned beans are already cooked.

How long can you store leftover marinated bean salad?

Store leftovers in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Or freeze them for up to three months. 

Which beans are healthiest?

All beans are nutritious and have benefits for heart health, weight management, gut health, and blood sugar. Some beans have slightly different nutrients than others, but as a whole, they are all known for being high in fiber, healthy, complex carbohydrates, protein, folate, calcium, and iron.

Other Shareable Salad Recipes

These recipes are also perfect to share at a potluck or cookout. Try all of them!

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating on the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.


A white serving bowl with 5 bean salad and a serving spoon. A colorful striped napkin with a fork and a small bowl of the salad are in the background.

Everyone's Favorite 5 Bean Salad

An easy, make-ahead marinated bean salad that everyone loves
4.60 from 5 votes
Print Pin
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Diet: Lower Carb, Heart Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
marinate time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 206kcal


  • cup of olive oil
  • ¾ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 15 ounce can of dark red kidney beans unsalted
  • 15 ounce can of black beans unsalted
  • 15 ounce can of navy beans unsalted
  • 15 ounce can of cut green beans unsalted
  • 15 ounce can of wax beans unsalted


  • In a large measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar until combined. Set the dressing aside.
  • Cut the onion in half crosswise. Lay the flat side on the cutting board and slice each half into thin semi-circle rings.
  • Drain and rinse all of the canned beans and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced onions.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, and stir gently to combine.
  • Cover, and let marinade for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Stir the salad a few times while it's marinating so everything is covered with the dressing.


This salad is best made one day in advance.
Don't oversalt the salad. Wait until it's marinated before adding extra salt, as the flavors need time to blend.
Store leftovers for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.
Olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator. Remove the salad from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving and stir it. 


Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 486mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @CravingSomethingHealthy!


  1. I still use the exact same grater for grating cheese and other stuff, unless I have to grate huge amounts... The salad sounds delicious, I love a good bean salad.

    1. Ha! I think I refused to buy one of those graters when I finally got my own kitchen because of all the mozzarella cheese I grated over the years!

4.60 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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