Three sisters salad with squash, corn, and beans

The Three Sisters – Corn, Beans, & Squash – Make the PERFECT Salad!

Three Sisters Salad is an easy and quick salad that is a Native American staple. The Three Sisters – corn, beans, and squash – grow well together in the garden and then come together to make the PERFECT SALAD!

Why is it called The Three Sisters?

The name of this salad really goes back to way the ingredients have been grown for centuries by Mesoamerican society as well as Iroquoi legends.

The Three Sisters are a type of companion planting which is an agricultural technique where two or more crops are planted together in a one plot, usually very close together.  The Three Sisters involves three of the first domesticated crops in Mesoamerican Societies: maize (corn), beans, and squash.  

These crops complement each other in several ways before they even make it onto our plates!  

Beans are known to improve soil health because they draw nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil for use by other plants..  Corn grows tall and upright, which provides support for the beans to climb on. The large leaves of the squash provide shade for the soil, preventing weed growth while also preventing moisture from escaping from the soil through evaporation.  

Once these tasty and healthy “Three Sisters” are on our plate, they provide all of the most important elements that humans need. Corn is high in carbohydrates; beans are full of protein; and squash are rich in vitamins.  

The agriculture benefits of the “Three Sisters” are incredible:

  1. they promote healthy soil

2. they maintain high yields

3. suppresses weeds

4. attracts pollinators

5. requires low water input

And, I have to say, gardening is such a stress reducer!

Three sisters salad with white beans, kidney beans, squash, corn, tomatoes, and basil on a white plate.

Can I change the ingredients in this Three Sisters Salad?

One of the beautiful things about this recipe for Three Sisters Salad is how versitile it is!

Don’t have white beans? Don’t like kidney beans? Use whatever you have on hand! Don’t have red onions? Leave them out or replace them with another type of onion! The jalapeno is completely optional and tomatoes are a delicious addition but strictly required.

So have a little fun with this recipe by using your favorite varieties. Just make sure to use some type of bean, some type of squash and some corn if you want a true Three Sisters salad.

Squash, corn, tomatoes, and basil in a basket to make Three Sisters salad.

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Other recipes to try:

Navajo Taco on Indian Fry Bread:

Chicken Shawarma:

Three sisters salad with squash, corn, and beans

Three Sisters Salad

This easy and quick salad is a Native American staple. The Three Sisters – corn, beans, and squash – grow well together in the garden and then come together to make the perfect salad!
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 10
Calories 22 kcal


  • 1 -15 ounce can white beans drained and rinsed**
  • 1 -15 ounce can red kidney beans drained and rinsed**
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini washed and chopped
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 small red onion or 3 green onions finely chopped
  • tablespoon to 3 tablespoons lime juice from about one lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil OR cilantro or a mixture, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely chopped, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Open cans of beans and drain well in a colander. Rinse and pour into a medium bowl.
  • Add corn, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, basil and/or cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño (optional).
  • Stir well to combine. Serve right away or refrigerate to serve later. Add salt and pepper just before serving.


**You can use dried beans if you prefer. Just rinse, discard any bad beans and then put in a bowl and cover completely with water. Soak for at least 12 hours. Drain, cover with fresh water, and cook until softened.


Serving: 1gCalories: 22kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 58mgPotassium: 56mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 26IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. Pingback: The Native American Food Guide For Preppers – SurvivalClub Mag

  2. Mickey Kitterman

    The Three Sisters is one of my favorites-the combination of history and science

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