I Tried Dolly Parton’s 3-Bean Salad Recipe, and It’s the Only Salad I Want for Grilling Season

published Jun 11, 2024
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Dolly Parton 3 Bean Salad
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

I’m a big fan of cold salads in the summertime — especially pasta salad. I love prepping a big bowl with lots of fresh vegetables, and drizzling it with a sweet and tangy dressing. It’s refreshing, tasty, and incredibly easy during those simmering hot summer days. Especially when turning on my stove or oven is the last thing I want to do in the heat!

I’m always on the hunt for new summer recipes, so when I came across a salad from the country-singing queen Dolly Parton, I had to give it a try. I found the recipe via a video from the YouTube channel Journey with the Kellers, and after watching how easy this salad (made with three cans of beans!) is to throw together, I decided to whip it up myself to see if Dolly has another winning recipe on her hands. Here’s what I thought.

Get the recipe: Dolly Parton’s 3-Bean Salad

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make Dolly Parton’s 3-Bean Salad

Strain a can of kidney beans, a can of green beans, and a can of wax beans in a colander. Rinse the beans thoroughly. In a small bowl, whisk together Italian dressing, sugar, and minced garlic. In a large bowl, mix together the rinsed beans with chopped green onions and parsley. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, then mix until everything is combined. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and then enjoy!

My Honest Review

When I put this salad together before refrigerating it overnight, I couldn’t help but marvel at how easy it was to make. Sure, salads are relatively straightforward; chop and prepare your foods, toss them together in a bowl with dressing, and your meal is served. But after a mere 15 minutes of prep, this salad was already ready for the fridge, and who doesn’t love an easy-to-put-together recipe?

The next day, when I took this salad out of the fridge and popped open the lid, I was instantly satisfied by its aroma. It had that tangy bite from the dressing with hints of freshly minced garlic. As for the taste? I’m telling you right now, this salad did not disappoint. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it, especially how the dressing marinated into the beans and took away any of that sharp, pickled taste you might associate with canned green beans. As soon as I took a bite, I instantly scooped more into a big bowl and ate it for lunch. 

My only note about this salad is that I think it calls for too much dressing. I halved the amount that was used and found it to be perfect. 

Needless to say, I would happily make this salad again. I’d even make it for lunches all summer long!

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Tips for Making Dolly Parton’s Three Bean Salad

  • Use fresh beans: I understand the convenience of using canned beans for this salad, but if you have the capacity to buy fresh green beans and wax beans, I think it would be a great addition to add some fresh crunch in this salad. Canned beans have almost a pickled kind of taste after preserving, so I think using fresh would give this salad an even more elevated texture and taste.
  • Sub wax beans for navy beans or chickpeas: If you’re not the biggest fan of wax beans (or can’t find a can anywhere), why not play around with the beans you use in this salad? You could sub wax beans for navy beans or chickpeas to get that same bright color.
  • Add in cooked pasta: While this salad is delightful on its own, it could make for a really refreshing pasta salad by mixing in some cooked short pasta, like penne or bow-ties. If you do this, I recommend using the amount of dressing the recipe calls for, given that you’ll have more volume in your bowl.