Three Bean Salad w/ Caramelized Onions

Three bean salad is a great dish to take to outdoor picnics and parties because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and it can be enjoyed by vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. I have always enjoyed three bean salad, but it can be a little on the bland side, so I created my own version and I’m excited to share it with you! I added some caramelized onions and fresh thyme and lemon zest. Fresh ingredients always make a huge difference in flavor. I always have fresh herbs in the fridge and some citrus on hand for dressings. I also have a cabinet full of dried seasonings, but nothing beats fresh.

Start by sautéing 1/4 cup of chopped onion in some olive oil and cook it until the edges begin to caramelize. Let the onions cool completely before proceeding with the remaining ingredients.

Caramelized Onions

The edges get nice and crispy and the onions become sweet and tender.

While the onions are cooling, mix the ingredients for the salad dressing and mix completely. Letting the dressing sit for a while helps the ingredients incorporate and the flavors combine. I don’t like canned grean beans, so I use frozen. Just take bag of frozen cut green beans and let them thaw and add them to a bowl with a can of kidney beans and a can of garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas.)

3 Bean Salad Undressed

Add the onions and dressing and fresh thyme, mix and serve. This dish keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. 

Three Bean Salad w/ Caramelized Onions

Three Bean Salad w/ Caramelized Onions


  • 1 tbl canola oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 12 ounce bag frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 1/2 tbl fresh thyme
  • For the dressing
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


  • In a small saute pan, heat the 1 tbl of canola oil on medium-high heat, add the onions and saute until the edges are brown and the onions have softened. Set the onions aside to cool.
  • Mix the ingredients for the salad dressing until thoroughly combined. Be sure to mix thoroughly right before adding to the bean mixture.
  • In a large bowl, combine the kidney beans, garbanzo beans and green beans. Add in the onions and dressing and fresh thyme and serve.
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