This Red Bean Salad is light, refreshing, and packed with plant-based protein. A can of red beans or kidney beans, veggies, herbs, oil, and vinegar is all you’ll need to make this tasty dish. I love having it on hand to add to grain bowls and wraps. It’s also a fantastic cold dish to bring to dinner parties and potlucks.
The best part? This red kidney bean salad is even better made in advance and served the next day. The beans essentially marinate and absorb more flavor the longer they’re chilled. At the very least, allow the salad to hang out in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
This salad is also super easy to make your own. Feel free to use any canned beans and as many herbs as you like! I love eating this salad with oven-roasted cauliflower, but it goes with almost anything!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Red beans are an excellent low-fat source of plant-based protein and fiber.
- It’s quick, easy, and tastes even better when you make it ahead of time which makes this recipe perfect for meal prep.
- You can use any canned bean you like.
- Red bean salad is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Canned Red Beans or Red Kidney Beans: Use low sodium canned beans and make sure to drain and rinse them before adding to the salad.
- Tomato: Vine-ripened tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and beefsteak tomatoes are great for dicing and tossing into salads. I love the bright flavor they add. Not to mention, tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants!
- Onion: I recommend using red or Vidalia onions here. They’re both sweet, crisp, and delicious served raw in salads.
- Fresh Cilantro & Fresh Basil: This combination of herbs adds fresh, vibrant flavor. You could also add chopped fresh parsley. What is most important is that your herbs are fresh.
- Balsamic Vinegar: This popular vinegar dresses the salad with a sweet and tangy flavor. If you prefer a more vinegary taste, add a few more tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil brings rich flavor to the salad, adds moisture, and a boost of healthy fats.
- Sea Salt: I like seasoning with sea salt as it’s less processed than table salt and retains trace minerals. You can also use kosher salt.
How To Make Red Bean Salad
- Combine the beans, veggies, and herbs: Add the red beans, diced tomato, sliced onion, and chopped herbs in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to combine.
- Toss with oil and vinegar: Pour the balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the salad, and then toss everything together well.
- Season to taste: Give it a quick taste and season with salt if needed.
- Chill before serving: Transfer your salad to the fridge to chill for at least an hour minutes before serving.
Be sure to rinse the beans well. The surface starches can create an off-putting texture if it isn’t rinsed off well.
Dice your tomato about the same size as the beans. The beany flavor and tart tomato balance each other perfectly, so you get a little bit of everything with each bite.
Fresh herbs are non-negotiable.
If you happen to have a lemon on hand, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top before serving.
You can also add a splash of apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lime juice to boost the acidic notes of the salad.
The beans will taste better as they sit and mingle with the other ingredients. Plan and assemble the dish the night before (or at least an hour in advance) for the best flavor.
This red bean salad recipe is great as is. You can also easily customize it.
Here are a few ideas:
- Use different types of beans: Cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and fava beans would work perfectly in this salad. For a variety of colors, use a little bit of each!
- Mix and match the vegetables: The sky is the limit for the crunchy veggies you can add. Diced cucumbers, radish, bell peppers, celery, scallions/green onions, and blanched green beans are a few of my favorites.
- Experiment with herbs and spices: I went with cilantro, basil, and salt – easy peasy. However, there’s no wrong way to flavor this salad. Fresh dill, parsley, or green onions are always good options. Add a pinch of cayenne, Hungarian paprika, or Aleppo pepper for some kick.
What to Serve with Red Bean Salad
This red bean salad is great as an appetizer or as a cold side dish. It pairs wonderfully with simple chicken and seafood dishes as well as plant-based entrees.
You can pair it with:
- Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs
- Pan Fried Rainbow Trout
- Baked Rainbow Trout
- Chicken Breast topped with Spinach & Goat Cheese
- Vegetarian Quinoa Bake
- Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes
Make-Ahead & Storing
- Make-Ahead: You cannot only make this in advance, but YOU SHOULD make it in advance, so the beans can marinate and absorb the flavor. Keep the assembled salad in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, stir, garnish with fresh herbs (if you like) and serve the next day.
- Storing: This salad keeps well and is great for packed lunches, meal prep, and potlucks. To store, transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are red beans the same as kidney beans?
They are both red and a fantastic source of protein and fiber, but they are entirely different beans. Red beans are smaller than kidney beans and have a more “beany” flavor. The two can be used interchangeably in salad recipes as they both absorb flavor and taste great served cold.
Do you have to cook canned beans for a salad?
No, which is why this salad comes together in a cinch! Canned beans are already soaked and cooked.
Can I use dried beans for red bean salad?
You can, but you will have to soak, cook and let them cool first. Keep in mind the process is time-consuming, and you must cook the beans to the perfect crisp-tender texture (which can be tricky). It’s so much easier to use canned beans.
Red Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs
This Red Bean Salad with Tomato and Fresh Herbs is protein-packed and super budget-friendly. It's very easy and quick to make and is delicious served for lunch or dinner. This salad makes a perfect addition to veggie and grain bowls.
- 1 can red beans (19 oz/540 ml), rinsed and drained
- 2 tomato, diced
- ¼ onion, thinly sliced
- 2 handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped
- 6-7 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and basil.
- Pour balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the salad and toss well to combine. Season with salt if needed. Chill before serving.
Add 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar if you like it more vinegary.
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated for 1 serving of the red beans salad prepared using regular (not low sodium) red beans.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 176Total Fat 6.1gSaturated Fat 0.9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5.2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 249.4mgCarbohydrates 23.5gFiber 5.8gSugar 6.5gProtein 7.8g
Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.