Home > Salads > The BEST Cowboy Caviar The BEST Cowboy Caviar March 28, 2020 | 17 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Cowboy Caviar (AKA Texas Caviar) is a tasty side dish or dip made with black beans, black-eyed peas, lots of veggies, and a chili-lime vinaigrette-style dressing. This dip makes a great side salad, appetizer, or potluck addition! Try some of our other bean salads next — this garbanzo bean salad, quinoa black bean salad, or chickpea salad. Cowboy Caviar Cowboy Caviar, also known as Texas Caviar or Mexican Caviar is a mash-up between a salad and a dip and is made with a variety of fresh veggies, black-eyed peas, black beans, and then tossed in a light and tangy vinaigrette. It’s one of my all-time favorite snacks and today I’m sharing a twist on that original cowboy caviar with a few unconventional (but delicious) additions and a punched-up dressing! Why is it called Cowboy Caviar? This salad was created in the US around 1940 by Helen Corbitt. She served the dish at a Hotel in Austin Texas and it was given the name “Texas Caviar” as a funny comparison to true caviar (which is an expensive salt-cured fish roe). It’s since also earned the name “Cowboy Caviar.” Texans (and cowboys) are known for eating a lot of beans, and the black-eyed peas resemble caviar a little (just a little, though!). And if you’re in a pinch and unable to make it from scratch, many stores even sell pre-made cowboy caviar. It’s not the same as this fresh dip–it’s more like a bean and corn salad or salsa. How to make Cowboy Caviar There’s nothing tricky about making this dip or salad, but it does take a good amount of prep time. There are quite a few veggies to chop and a dressing to assemble. Start by prepping the veggies and draining the beans. Add everything into a large serving bowl. Next prepare the dressing by adding the ingredients to a Mason jar and shaking to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Serve it as is or (how we like it best) with some good corn tortilla chips! Cowboy Caviar tips One of the “secrets” to really good Cowboy Caviar is making sure all of the ingredients are roughly the same size. Cut the veggies small so they integrate better with the beans–and so they fit better on a dipping chip! The longer the red onions sit with the salad, the stronger they become. If you’re sensitive to the flavor, stir them in the dip right before serving, or only add them to a portion of the dip if you plan to have leftovers. I recommend dicing the avocado last (and right before enjoying) to keep it as fresh as possible. Since avocados brown quickly, you don’t want to chop them too far in advance. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t dress or add avocado to any of the cowboy caviar that you plan to save for leftovers. Control the heat: Leave in some of the seeds and/or ribs in the jalapeño for extra spice. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the dressing for more heat. For less heat, use McCormick® chili powder in the dressing (it’s very mild) and be sure to thoroughly remove the ribs and seeds before dicing the jalapeño. How long can you keep Cowboy Caviar? Without the avocado and dressing added, this dip sits fairly well and will last 2-3 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Add dressing only to the portions that will be enjoyed immediately; for leftovers, store dip, avocado, and dressing separately. Or simply omit the avocado. What’s in Cowboy Caviar? Here are the main ingredients, as well as some tips and substitution ideas. The veggies: Corn. We love fresh corn cut off the cob. (No need to cook it first; the raw kernels add a nice crunch!) Frozen corn that has been thawed or drained canned corn also works great. Cherry tomatoes. We love the sweetness of cherry tomatoes in this dip, but any tomatoes diced into small pieces will work. See the “quick tip” below for a fast way to chop cherry tomatoes! Bell peppers. We love the combination of sweet red pepper and green pepper. If you’d rather just use one, instead of both, just use one red bell pepper. Red onion. If you’re concerned about the “bite” of the red onion, soak the diced onions in salted ice water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before using in this Cowboy Caviar. Jalapeño peppers. Here’s where you can play around with the heat of this dip. Add less for a milder dip and more for a spicier dip. As written, with only 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño, I’d say it’s very mild (as long as the ribs and seeds of the jalapeño are removed before chopping). Cilantro. The cilantro adds loads of flavor and freshness, but if you aren’t a fan, try flat-leaf Italian parsley or green onions instead. The stars: Black beans. To keep things quick, we use canned beans– just be sure to thoroughly rinse and drain them. Black-eyed peas. If you aren’t familiar with black-eyed peas, you’re in for a treat! They can be found with other canned beans in the grocery store. Like most beans, they have a familiar starchy bean flavor. They’re savory, earthy, even a bit nutty– they’re delightful in this dish. Although they’re called peas, they are actually a bean and not sweet like peas. (Go figure!) Avocados. These are typically not in Cowboy Caviar (since cowboys don’t usually have access to fresh avocados). This addition is optional, but we can’t make this dip without them! Good, ripe avocados add an immense creaminess to the dip and great texture when paired with all the raw crunchy veggies. Lastly, this dressing is light and simple, but packs a punch! We’ve kicked it up a notch with some delicious seasonings — chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Not only do these seasonings accent the beans and veggies, but they heighten all the ingredients in this Cowboy Caviar. QUICK TIP Cut all the tomatoes at once: Place a plate with a lip upside down on a solid surface. Place all the cherry tomatoes inside that lip and then secure them down with the bottom lip of another plate. Place your hand on top of that plate securely and using a sharp serrated knife, slice through all of the cherry tomatoes at one time! Serving Suggestions As a side salad or appetizer With tortilla chips as a dip As a salad, spooned over romaine lettuce Serve Cowboy Caviar into lettuce wraps Layer over cilantro–lime rice for a vegetarian entree, sprinkled with some crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese Add in 1 to 1-1/2 cups cooked diced chicken or rock shrimp for additional protein. More Easy Recipes Mango Salsa with avocado and red onion Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with a lemon vinaigrette Cucumber Salad with a balsamic vinaigrette Chicken Salad creamy chicken salad with pecans and dried cranberries Costco Kale Salad with a creamy poppy seed dressing FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Cowboy Caviar 5 from 4 votes - Review this recipe Cowboy Caviar (AKA Texas Caviar) is a tasty side dish or dip made with black beans, black-eyed peas, lots of veggies, and a chili-lime vinaigrette-style dressing. This dip makes a great side salad, appetizer, or potluck addition! SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Cowboy Caviar 5 from 4 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Cowboy Caviar (AKA Texas Caviar) is a tasty side dish or dip made with black beans, black-eyed peas, lots of veggies, and a chili-lime vinaigrette-style dressing. This dip makes a great side salad, appetizer, or potluck addition! Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian Cuisine American, Vegan, Vegetarian Keyword cowboy caviar Prep Time 25 minutes Total Time 25 minutes Servings 8 -10 servings as an appetizer Calories 165kcal Author Chelsea Cost $5.62 IngredientsSalad/Dip1 and 3/4 cups (248g) sweet corn (use frozen that has been thawed, drained canned corn, or cut off the cob (2 ears))1 and 3/4 cups (285g) cherry tomatoes, quartered (1-10 oz container)1/2 cup (75g) red bell pepper, diced1/2 cup (75g) green bell pepper, diced1/3 cup (38g) red onion, diced Note 12 tablespoons (20g) diced jalapeño Note 21/3 cup finely chopped cilantro (measured after chopping; ~3/4 of 1 bunch)1 can (15.25 oz.; 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed1 can (15.5 oz.; 439g) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed2 small/medium ripe avocados, diced (heaping 1 cup; 160g), optionalDressing2 tablespoons (25g) red wine vinegar2 tablespoons (30g) freshly squeezed lime juice1 teaspoon white granulated sugar1 teaspoon chili powder (I use McCormick, which is very mild)1/2 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, paprika, dijon mustard1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1/3 cup (68g) extra virgin olive oilFine sea salt and freshly cracked pepperTortilla chips, for servingAdditional cilantro and lime wedges, for serving, optional InstructionsVEGGIE PREP: (As you prep these veggies remember the results are best when all of the ingredients are roughly the same size, so aim to dice the veggies around the size of the beans.) Cut the corn off the cob. Quarter the cherry tomatoes, dice the red pepper, dice the green pepper, finely dice the jalapeño and cilantro. COMBINE: Add all the prepped veggies to a large bowl with the drained and rinsed black beans and black-eyed peas.DRESSING: Add all the dressing ingredients to a Mason jar. Seal the jar and shake until combined. Season to taste-- I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and pepper.AVOCADO AND DRESSING: Right before serving, dice the optional avocados and gently stir into the caviar. Drizzle dressing. (There is a lot, but we like it all; feel free to add less if desired.) Taste and season to taste; I usually add another 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (up to 1/2 teaspoon); depending on how ripe the veggies are you may need more or less. Taste a few times and add slowly.STORAGE: If not serving immediately, store the dressing separately from the caviar and add the avocados right before eating. If you plan to have leftovers, only add dressing and avocado to what you will be serving and store the three components separately. Video Recipe NotesNote 1: If you're concerned about the "bite" of the red onion, soak the diced onions in salted ice water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before adding Note 2: To control the heat, completely remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño pepper. For more heat, leave some in. Nutritional information does not include tortilla chips but does include avocado. Nutrition FactsCalories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1061IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.