Make Cool Bean Salads - 3 Quick and Easy Summer Recipes

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black beans and corn, tomatoes and onions, a beautiful and refreshing salad. Photo by Sally's Trove.
Black beans and corn, tomatoes and onions, a beautiful and refreshing salad. Photo by Sally's Trove.

There is nothing easier than opening a few cans of ingredients, pouring them into a bowl, adding fresh vegetables for crunch, and tossing with a few splashes of dressing. And there is nothing that cools the summer heat as nicely as a refreshing, cool bean salad made the day before and taken right from the refrigerator to grace your summer table. Cool summer bean salads keep both you and the kitchen free of stress...and heat.

Black bean and corn salad, three bean salad, and kidney bean salad are low in fat, rich in fiber, and packed with nutrition. They are rather filling, too. A little goes a long way. You may want to think of them as side dishes to accompany main courses, rather than salads to serve before or after meals.

These three exceptionally tasty bean salads are among the best of quick and easy summer recipes because they need no cooking, require only a short prep time, and please nearly everyone.

Black Bean and Corn Salad - Tangy and Bright

I was inspired to create this recipe while enjoying a meal at Applebee’s restaurant. A few years ago, their menu included a selection of Tex-Mex dishes accompanied by a corn salad, like hamburgers and sandwiches are accompanied by french fries. Applebee’s corn salad side dish did not have a hot bite to it, as you might think. Instead, it was refreshing and cooling, letting the sweetness of the corn predominate.

The taste of this corn salad haunted me from the first time I ate it, and I didn’t quit trying to duplicate the taste until I came up with this recipe. Although the Applebee’s recipe did not include black beans, I added black beans later and thought the addition to be stellar. Try this super quick and easy, tangy and bright black bean and corn salad at your next summer BBQ.

Grape Tomato Quartered

Grape tomato quartered, with end cut off, ready for black bean and corn salad. Photo by Sally's Trove.
Grape tomato quartered, with end cut off, ready for black bean and corn salad. Photo by Sally's Trove.
  • 1 15.5-ounce Can black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 15-ounce Can “fiesta” style corn, drained (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 Cup sweet or red onion, diced
  • 1 Cup grape or cherry tomatoes, ends cut off and quartered (you will get about a cup from a pint of whole grape or cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/3 Cup Nakano flavored rice vinegar
  • 1/8 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and put in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. That’s it!

Nakano Seasoned Vinegars Online

You don’t have to use the fiesta style corn, which is a canned sweet corn with bits of red and green bell pepper added for flavor and color.

If you choose to use plain canned corn and diced fresh bell peppers instead, use about 1/3 cup of each diced pepper and then adjust the Nakano accordingly. I love fresh vegetables, but when it comes to keeping cool in the summer kitchen, I’ll just use the “fiesta” and avoid any chopping and dicing I can.

If you'd like to try this salad with a sweeter dressing, use Maddie Ruud's Vegetable Salad Marinade.

If you want a black bean and corn salad with some fire, add a finely diced jalapeno pepper to the salad bowl and then a few drops of hot sauce to the Nakano. But remember, the point of this salad is to keep everybody cool!

3 Bean Salad

Cousin Ann's three bean salad with chick peas and fresh onion and green bell pepper. Photo by Sally's Trove.
Cousin Ann's three bean salad with chick peas and fresh onion and green bell pepper. Photo by Sally's Trove.

Cousin Ann's Three Bean Salad - Crunchy and Sweet

Many of us know three bean salad as a sweet affair, with different varieties of beans pickled in a sweet and tangy sauce. The usual combination of beans includes green beans, wax beans, and kidney beans to which are added vinegar, sugar, and salt to make a superb sweet side dish. In the US, you can buy three-bean salad in a jar at your grocer’s. Its overwhelming aspect is sweet, while its texture is usually somewhat flat, flaccid, and dull.

Several years ago at a family reunion, my cousin Ann made her version of three bean salad. This bean salad was not just a sweet treat, rather it had the flavor of summer and a crunch that delighted the teeth. Gifting me with her secret, Ann said, “Sherri, you can serve this salad and people will think you spent all day making it, but it takes only minutes.” She was right. To impress your guests, whip up this crunchy three bean salad in no time at all. Of the three recipes featured here, this one is the quickest--five minutes prep time, tops!

3 Bean Salads Online To Use as the Base for this Recipe

  • 1 Quart Jar prepared three bean salad
  • 1 15-ounce Can chick peas (garbanzos) packed in water, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Large green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or over night.

You will be amazed at the crunchy and sweet aspect of this simple bean salad. When your guests voice their appreciation for the effort you put into making this cool and cooling summer salad, soak up the praise. My cousin Ann would say, “Well, bless your heart. I had to miss church on Sunday to make this dish for you, but it was worth it!”

Kidney Bean Salad

Kidney beans, celery, onion, sweet pickles, and a dab of mayonaise. Refreshing! Photo by Sally's Trove.
Kidney beans, celery, onion, sweet pickles, and a dab of mayonaise. Refreshing! Photo by Sally's Trove.

Kidney Bean Salad - Piquant Yet Mild

Kidney bean salad permeates my childhood, like Russian dressing. It’s something my mother made, and still makes, often. To this day, I recall from years ago the smell of my mother’s refrigerator when I opened the door just after she put this salad in the refrigerator to cool and marinate. The aromas of fresh celery and onions and kidney beans marinating in real mayonnaise are heaven’s scent.

Again, this recipe uses simple ingredients, requires no cooking, and thus you, your kitchen, guests, and family will stay cool. If this recipe isn’t a crowd pleaser and a soon to become family favorite, then I’ve been spilling some wrong beans.

Fresh Celery and Onion

The more finely minced, the better! Photo by Sally's Trove.
The more finely minced, the better! Photo by Sally's Trove.

Little Gherkins

Finely minced sweet pickles. Photo by Sally's Trove.
Finely minced sweet pickles. Photo by Sally's Trove.
  • 1 15-ounce Can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed. Let the kidney beans sit in a strainer or colander for a half hour or so, making sure all the water has drained.
  • 1/2 Cup celery, minced
  • 1/2 Cup sweet or red onion, minced
  • 4 Gherkin pickles, minced
  • 1/8 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper (a “pinch” or two)
  • 2 Level tablespoons of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise. It might look as though you should add more than that, but don’t. When this kidney bean salad is mixed and marinating in the refrigerator, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise are enough to bring out the flavor of the beans and enhance the tastes of the other ingredients.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or over night. The longer the kidney bean salad marinates, the better.

Serve with a slotted spoon if the salad is to be placed among other offerings on a single plate.

Plan Ahead for Your Next BBQ

The next time you plan a summer BBQ, put one of these refreshing bean salads on the menu. These are quick and easy summer recipes that can be done the day before and stashed over night in the refrigerator. They are sure to be instant crowd pleasers and new family favorites.

Recipes appearing in Sally’s Trove articles are original, having been created and tested in our family kitchens, unless otherwise noted.

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Comments 50 comments

sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

Yummy. Southeastern Pennsylvania, here I come. Thank you for this Hub ST. As we have such long summers in India, perhaps your next Hub should be 33 Quick Summer Recipes LOL.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Well done, great hub, enjoyed and it does sound refreshing in this hot weather. thumbs up


proudgrandpa profile image

proudgrandpa 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

We can always count on you to cause us to salavate. Just reading the ingredients and you make it sound so simple even I can do it. Thanks friend. NEIL


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great salads for the heat!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

This really sound and looks great. Thank you for your good tips.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Sabu, I'm glad these salads sound good to you. As for 33 quick summer recipes, maybe it's just a matter of making each of these salads 11 times? :)

Darlene, thanks for the good words. It's getting to be so stinking hot here in the northeast that I don't want to do any cooking at all. Guess I might be eating beans for quite a while.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Neil, I love making you salivate. You are the only one who leaves comments on my Hubs about salivating. Should I ever meet you, I'm bringing a droll bib!

Not only are these recipes so easy that YOU can do them, they are awesome opportunities for your grandkids to join you in the kitchen. You can open the cans and jars and chop the veggies, and they can pour ingredients from one bowl to another and stir the heck out of everything.

My Grandma Ellie was the master of making kids feel important in the kitchen. She taught me to make biscuits when I was a tyke, and taught my daughter, too. Her teaching let us slop around with a lot of flour and baking soda (while she did control the eventual outcome), and when the biscuits were done, she said that we were the ones who made them. Needless to say, both my daughter and I are accomplished bakers.

Maybe your grandkids will become accomplished salad chefs? And maybe that's another topic for your wonderful site on grandparenting.

Best to you always, Sherri.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Micky, with the biking you do, you'll get great benefit from the nutrition these salads offer...and maybe blow off a lot of gas/steam, too. :) Wouldn't that give you an advantage in a race?


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

HH, I am always glad to see your comments. I'm wondering if beans are as popular in the UK as they are here?

My only visit to the UK was in 1970, and I remember wonderful B&B breakfasts full of eggs, Canadian bacon, fresh tomatoes, and beans! What I wouldn't give for one of those breakfasts now.


FlyingPanther profile image

FlyingPanther 6 years ago from here today gone tomorrow!!

Sally, YUMMY u made me hungry now!!Remember i will be visiting you real soon,so maybe we can or I can get busy in the kitchen and maybe just maybe I can fix you my shepperd pie.Thank you for sharing this hub with us it is very refreshing my friend!

Love always.

FlyingPanther


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

FP, your shepherd's pie is oh so welcome. It has no beans! Looking forward to seeing you, my friend. My kitchen is your kitchen.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

You sure are lucky that you get everything in a can! Out here making these salads would involve a a lot more than opening a can and rinsing the beans! We'd have to slave over getting the beans in edible condition first! :D

The recipes sound great however...hope they add crunch to your summer, ST! :)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Hmmm, Feline. I think I see a business opportunity. How about you cook the beans and I can them? How quickly can we corner the market? :)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago

These sound delightful. Of course, I've been the blessed recipient of the kidney bean salad. I am not sure I've had your black bean and corn salad, and I know I didn't have your cousin's 3 bean salad.

What jumped off the page at me was this:

I love fresh vegetables, but when it comes to keeping cool in the summer kitchen, I’ll just use the “fiesta” and avoid any chopping and dicing I can.

Of course you avoid chopping and dicing, I'm living proof as your very own personal official chopper and dicer :)

I can't wait till my next visit!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

You are right Trish, I invite you here to be my kitchen slave. Let's not ever forget that. :) On the other hand, neither of us should sweat in the kitchen in the summer, so fiesta it is.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Very nice! Though we don't get canned beans here, it's easy enough soaking and cooking them - they all sound delightfully cool!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

I love salads! These look real yummy! Thanks for sharing.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Shalini, so I've been informed by Feline. Maybe I'll have to send you two a couple of cases of canned beans to keep you away from the stove!

Jill, you are so welcome. I love salads, too, of almost any kind. But these are extra-nice because of the nutritional value of the beans and that they are served very cold directly from the refrigerator.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

Sally: They look and sound so good. I don't eat canned beans or vegetables however unless they are "no salt added" so I make my own beans from dried. You can find corn and green beans without salt pretty easily though, and the rest can be made from fresh. A bit more work though. Still, it's recipes like yours that make me miss the convenience of canned. Thanks for the inspiration!


sunbrite profile image

sunbrite 6 years ago from USA

Great hub! Fantastic recipes....I love bean salad but never made one. I think now I will follow one of your recipes. Thank you!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Ah, Chris, perhaps you'd like to visit our friends in India where there are no canned beans, and therefore no added salt. But that won't keep you cool in the kitchen.

Whole Foods, Nature's Way, and other organic producers and retailers in the US offer canned beans with no salt added.

I agree homemade is best, but when it's about 94 degrees here at 6 in the evening, enough is enough!

Glad to see you.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I LOVE bean salads and make them all the time! Thanks for new ideas!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

You are so welcome, Habee.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Delicious sounding, delicious looking, delicious ease.....just looks delicious. Thanks for the great summer salad ideas.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Ooooohh, Sally, what beautiful pictures and great recipes. I'm eager to try out the black bean and corn one. We also grew up on the traditional Kidney Bean salad and it brings back fond memories of hot summer days. Nicely done.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Steve, you are so welcome. They are delicious and they are very, very easy. Hope you enjoy!

Peg, what a lovely comment! And now you have a special place in my thoughts related to kidney bean salad...you are the only person I know of outside my family who had this salad as a child. It makes me wonder if it might have been a recipe suggestion on a jar of mayo or can of kidney beans. I'll have to ask Mom about that. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful thoughts.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

These all look and sound good. A variation to your corn and bean salad...try using frozen instead of canned corn or even add some grilled corn for another variation of flavor. I like to add fresh chopped cilantro to my corn and black bean salad for extra flavor. Mmmmm...will have to make some more soon! Thanks!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Peggy, those are great ideas! Especially appealing is the grilled corn.

I don't happen to be a cilantro fan, but for those who are, cilantro would be a delicious addition.


voiceofpraise71 profile image

voiceofpraise71 6 years ago from Georgia

All the recipes look and sound great!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

And they are! You'll have to try them. Thanks for the good words.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

The Three Bean Salad sounds delish! I'll try it. Thank cousin Ann for me ;)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Om Paramapoonya, the three bean salad truly makes a big impression for such an easy and quick salad. Your thanks are on their way to cousin Ann!


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Pat has 2 garden parties coming up, so we've found this Hub at just the right time. These are our favourite sort of recipies: very easy.

We are beginning to see more 'salt-free' canned beans and vegetables here in the UK, so hopefully we can make a 'heatlhy option'.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

It's only been recently that salt-free canned vegetables are readily available here. I'm sure your pattern in the UK will be the same as here: after a while, as shoppers began to choose the salt-free over the salted, the salt-free selections became more numerous and varied.

Enjoy your garden parties, ladies. I know all the food will be absolutely delicious!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 5 years ago from USA

I'm drooling over these delicious recipes and the sweet memories each brought to your mind. Simplicity is taste bud pleasing with the freshness of veggies and they make my tongue cry...when my dental work is finished, I am stocking up on these in my fridge so I can "midnight binge!" to my heart's desire.

When you mentioned the smell of your mom's fridge with the bean salad, it brought back memories of my aunt's kitchen when she had just made devilved eggs or canned pickles. That scent spoke of the layers of labor, planting, harvesting, canning, preparing, and then, at last, eating!

Life at its hardest/best. Delightful, Sherri!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Marisue, there's such richness in the memory of smell. It takes us to places in the past and makes us want to tell the world.

My refrigerator memories and yours clearly have a symbiosis.

As your memories, mine speak of life at its hardest / best.

Thank you for your awesome comment.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I've always wanted to find a good three-bean salad recipe - and I just did! Thank you for writing this fabulous hub. Now, perhaps I can rival my in-laws' bean salad at parties and family events. Hehe.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

cclitgirl, I have no doubt that this three-bean salad will rival your in-laws' fare. Just make sure you let them know how much effort you put into it. LOL Thanks for the cool comment. :)


Julie DeNeen profile image

Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

**wiping drool off my keyboard** :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I am not usually a fan of kidney beans but I have made something like this but swapped kidney beans for haricot beans and it was gorgeous - looks yummy and will make a lovely side salad when I next feed my girlfriends :o), voted up n shared.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

These 3 recipes look so yummy. Thanks, have shared and voted too.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Yummy in the tummy! Delicious recipes and they look fun to prepare also! Cool beans :)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

@Julie DeNeen, drool is good! Ty so much for the comment, and now I have to investigate cleaning techniques for drool on keyboards.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Jools99, we yanks don't know haricot beans. When we hear "haricot", we think "haricot vert", young green beans right off the vine. Little by little I'm getting an education about what foods are called across cultures. So I'm guessing you've replaced what we yanks call kidney beans (in this recipe) with maybe something like black-eyed peas? HELP!


Angela Kane profile image

Angela Kane 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

I love bean salads, thanks for the recipes.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

We love three bean salad, and you variations on bean salad sound yummy. I wouldn't have thought to add corn, peppers, gherkins or tomatoes with the beans, but I love your unique ideas for adding different flavors, colors and crunch!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Jools99, looking back over your comment, I know from sad experience that the kidney bean salad ingredients don't play too well with garbanzos (chick peas) and black beans. I think there's something about the mayo that doesn't make for a very pleasing taste combination with those two kinds of beans. But I've never tried this salad with haricot beans (which I just discovered we call navy beans or white beans). I think I will!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

@Janine Huldie and Sunshine625, thanks so much for commenting and voting. :)

@Linda, "cool beans" indeed. I did love that idea as a theme of the day. :)

@Angela Kane, you are welcome!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania Author

Stephanie Henkel, I appreciate your words. You are a wonderful cook and recipe writer. Now I'm going to look forward to seeing one of these bean salads displayed on a little beach-side table, waiting to be enjoyed while you and yours are on one of your beautiful RV journeys. Just keep it away from great blue herons. ;)


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 20 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO

Thank you. I love creative ways to include more beans on the menu. I will be making these summer salads. Voted Up, I,U, tweet, pin.

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