Bright, simple, and flavorful, this Vegan White Bean Salad is the perfect summer side or light meal. With fresh ingredients like avocados, cucumbers, dill, and lemon, this satisfying bean salad comes together in minutes and is a great dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ.
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Hey Internet, it’s been a long time since I published a salad recipe--I think the last one was my vegan taco salad in March of 2021! I just am not a huge salad person during the cold months… and boy, does Chicago have a lot of cold months!
And I tend to eat the same few salads all the time: Vegan Kale Caesar Salad , Creamy Vegan Avocado Salad, Vegan Italian Salad, and my maybe all-time favorite--Vegan Goat Cheese Salad with Strawberries and Pecans. Whew, just said vegan a lot (because when I don’t, people go “but I thought you were vegan!” Can’t win sometimes, right?
Anyway, it’s finally warm outside (well, for at least today… looking at you Illinois) and I’m starting to crave those salads.
Why This Recipe Works
This vegan white bean salad is a great one for folks who aren’t crazy about lettuce, but still packs a mighty nutritious punch especially with all the protein and fiber from the beans.
But forget about all the healthy stuff for a moment… This salad is actually delicious. The creamy avocado, the tender white beans, the cool and crunchy cucumber, the zingy onions and the tangy lemony dressing all make for a flavor explosion in your mouth!
The best type of beans to use is ANY KIND YOU LIKE! I love Great Northern beans so that’s what I used. If you’re looking for a firmer bean, I’d go with butter beans or chickpeas.
The salad holds up for a couple days, though I’ll say because cucumbers are kind of delicate, they’re best on the first day!
This salad does feature avocados, though, which are notorious for browning quickly once opened. That’s why I recommend only serving avocado on the salad separately after mixing, unless you’re sure the salad will be eaten up the same day.
Honestly, this salad was so good, my husband and I had it for lunch AND dinner, hah!
Ingredients and Notes
- White Beans: Any will work--I used Great Northern beans. Navy beans are very small and tend to fall apart easily. If you’re looking for firmer beans, try butter beans or chickpeas (garbanzo beans). If using canned beans (I did), make sure to rinse them.
- Cucumbers: I love Persian cucumbers (small, sort of pickle sized) for this because they’re tender and a little bit more flavorful with a delicate skin. Seedless (also called English) cucumbers are also great because they have a very thin skin that’s easy to eat. Regular cucumbers (with the large seeds) tend to have a thicker skin. If working with regular cucumbers I recommend peeling and seeding them.
- Red onions: I love the zing of finely diced red onions in this dish, but I’ve also tested this recipe with sweet onions and green onions and both are delicious! If you want a super subtle flavor, go with the green onions (also known as spring onions or scallions).
- Avocados: Sliced avocado adds a great creamy and rich quality to this white bean salad but it’s totally optional. If adding, I do recommend just adding sliced or diced avocado straight to your individual bowl or plate of the salad, unless you’re sure the whole batch will be eaten up that day (it makes a lot of salad! You could also halve the recipe).
- Dill: Fresh dill is very important for this recipe! The dried stuff just doesn’t taste the same in my opinion. If you hate dill you could do chives or parsley instead, but dill is a really great flavor with the cucumbers and lemon.
- Lemon juice: FRESH lemon juice is also very important for this recipe. I used to use bottled before I had a food blog. Then through my research (right before starting this website), I learned that cooks and chefs prefer fresh lemons because they have much better flavor. I tried it and WOW, I never went back to bottled lemon juice. Get yourself a handheld citrus press and you’ll be amazed at the difference. You can alternatively use lime juice in this recipe.
- Extra virgin olive oil: The sauce is basically a vinaigrette since it’s made by mixing oil and acid (the lemon). If you’re oil-free, vegetable broth or tahini would work great here. Here’s a quick recipe for an oil-free dressing: Combine 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable broth or tahini (different flavors and textures, depending on your preference), 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard,1-2 tablespoons agave (or substitute date or maple syrup), a few tablespoons of water, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also just use way less oil if you prefer.
- Agave: Any liquid sweetener will work. It balances the sourness of the lemon.
- Garlic: My husband and I like a fresh minced clove of garlic (okay, two…) because we both prefer the taste of fresh garlic. But granulated garlic will also work (start with half a teaspoon and add more if you’d like).
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper: Season to your tastes. I’d start with less, then whisk the dressing and taste it, adjusting as necessary.
How to Make Vegan White Bean Salad Step By Step
Note about oil: First off, this can be oil-free if you like. Use two or three tablespoons of vegetable broth or tahini (different flavors and textures, depending on your preference), 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard,1-2 tablespoons agave (or substitute date or maple syrup), a few tablespoons of water, and salt and pepper to taste. If you’d just like less oil, use 2-3 tablespoons oil and 2-3 tablespoons water. The oil helps keep the salad from drying out but also influences the flavor which is why the recipe is written this way.
Start by mixing together the dressing in a small bowl or measuring cup (I like the measuring cup because it has a spout). Vigorously whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, agave, salt, and pepper. You could also mix this in a jar with a lid and just shake it vigorously. It is fully mixed when it appears smooth and cohesive.Taste and adjust the ingredients as desired.
Now mix together the white beans, chopped cucumbers and chopped onions.
Add in the dressing and then add the chopped dill and mix thoroughly.
Serve with fresh sliced or diced avocados if desired and enjoy.
While this dish is best fresh, you may refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days in an airtight container. Also, it’s best to add any avocado directly to individual plates since cut avocado doesn’t age well.
Frequently Asked Questions
My favorite beans for this dish are Great Northern beans, but white navy beans, cannellini beans (sometimes these are a little mushy from the can), butter beans, chickpeas, lima beans, or even red kidney beans would be delicious in this recipe. If you’re looking for a firmer bean, go with butter beans or chickpeas.
I recommend serving this dish on it’s own as a light meal--it’s fantastic with toasted pita triangles or even naan (be careful as some grocery store naan can have dairy in the ingredients), or even as a dip with pita chips or tortilla chips, much like my vegan ceviche. You could also serve this white bean salad as a side to a hearty main dish like squash casserole, seitan chicken, BBQ tofu, tofu salmon, etc. It would also be great alongside a soup like my vegan chicken and dumplings.
This vegan white bean salad lasts about 2 days due to the nature of some of the ingredients. If you’d like it to last 4-5 days, substitute butter beans or chickpeas instead of the Great Northern beans, and instead of cucumbers, use diced red bell peppers or halved grape / cherry tomatoes. I’d also recommend substituting the dill for parsley or you can wait to add the dill (and cucumbers) till you’re ready to eat.
Yes! While canned beans are a great time saver and make this recipe take only a few minutes to throw together, dried beans are highly economical and you can control the amount of sodium they contain. There are plenty of guides for doing this online, but I’d recommend soaking 2 cups dried white beans in plenty of water overnight (in the fridge). Then drain and rinse the beans. Add to a pot with a very large pot (they expand a lot while cooking!) and cover with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer covered for about 1-2 hours until the beans are tender. You’ll want to stir occasionally. You can also cook dried white beans in a pressure cooker, but you’ll want to refer to the manual for your brand of pressure cooker for instructions. I generally do about 25 minutes (for most white beans) at high pressure and then do a natural release (beans tend to burst if you do a quick release), but I have 6 qt Instant Pot Duo so that’s only what I do for my individual pressure cooker.
- Rinse your beans very well and let them drain thoroughly so your salad isn’t soggy.
- Thinly sliced or you can dice your cucumber depending on preference. Since I used Persian cucumbers, I just sliced mine into thin rounds. You can use a mandoline slicer for super fast chopping, if you like.
- Finely dice your red onion so the flavor isn’t overwhelming. A food processor makes onion chopping very fast, though it is another dish to clean so that’s up to you. Feel free to substitute green onions (I’d use 6-8 for this recipe) or a small sweet onion if you prefer.
- Fresh citrus is best here. Use a citrus press to get more juice out of your citrus.
- Fresh garlic and freshly cracked black pepper are also best in my opinion!
- Don’t add the avocado right until ready to serve, and I recommend serving it directly onto everyone’s plates or bowls rather than mixing it into the salad. This is because if you have leftovers to store, the avocado browns and deteriorates rather quickly.
- This vegan white bean salad is delicious on its own, in a wrap, on toast, with toasted pita wedges or with pita chips or tortilla chips.
More Recipes Like This
- Vegan Waldorf Salad
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- Watermelon Salad with Vegan Feta
- Vegan Goat Cheese Salad with Strawberries and Pecans
- Vegan Kale Caesar Salad
- Air Fryer Squash with Kale Salad
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Vegan Italian Salad
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