Cowboy Caviar

Y’all know I’m from Oklahoma, right? I grew up eating cowboy caviar, also called Texas caviar. It’s a classic bean salad recipe popular in the South. You can serve it as a side salad or as salsa. Either way, people go crazy for cowboy caviar at potlucks.

Cowboy caviar is made with black-eyed peas and black beans, chopped tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion and cilantro tossed in tangy Italian dressing. I typically think of cowboy caviar as a warm weather salad, but it’s made with ingredients that are readily available year-round.

Cowboy caviar is actually perfect for New Year’s if you’re craving something fresh yet hearty, and trying to hit your black-eyed pea quota!

I have one issue with most cowboy caviar recipes—they’re often swimming in store-bought Italian salad dressing. As such, they can be way too oily and contain some unnecessary preservatives. Instead, I whisked together a simple, homemade Italian dressing from scratch. It’s easy to do and tastes fantastic.

This recipe yields a big bowl of dip, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble polishing it off. I hope you enjoy this cheekily titled delight!

Cowboy Caviar Ingredients

You’ll find the full recipe below. The Italian dressing is made with pantry ingredients. Here’s what you need to know about the fresh ingredients:

Black-Eyed Peas and Black Beans

Beans form the backbone of this healthy salad. Canned beans are fine to use, or you can cook your own if you’d like. One can is equivalent to one and a half cups cooked beans.

Tip: Drain your beans and corn very well before adding them to the bowl. If they’re watery, they’ll dilute the flavor of the vinaigrette.


Depending on the season and availability, you might prefer to shuck fresh corn, or use frozen corn (simply soak it in cool water until fully defrosted), or open a can of corn.


Ripe red tomatoes are ideal. When tomatoes aren’t in season, I reach for Roma tomatoes (three to four of them) or cherry tomatoes (one pint would be perfect for this recipe). You could use canned tomatoes, but it will change the flavor and the vibe a bit. Fresh is best.

Bell Pepper and Jalapeño

Red, orange or yellow bell pepper will do. If you can tolerate a little heat, you’ll love the jalapeños. If you’re nervous about the jalapeño, you can reduce the spiciness by using just one of them, and being sure to remove the seeds and membranes before chopping.

Red Onion and Cilantro

I know these ingredients can be polarizing and I promise there’s not too much of either in them in this recipe. Don’t skip them!

Tip: Take care to chop your ingredients small to keep with the “caviar” textural theme. 

Optional Avocado

While untraditional, ripe avocado is a welcome addition to this bean salad. Wait to add avocado just before serving so it doesn’t brown, or serve individual portions with a few strips of avocado on top.

Watch How to Make Cowboy Caviar

How to Serve Texas Caviar

Serve your cowboy caviar as a bean salad or as a dip with sturdy tortilla chips. This recipe happens to be vegan and gluten free, so it will please everyone at a party. It’s also a great healthy snack to keep in the fridge and keeps well for several days.

Cowboy caviar is lovely for lunch with a sandwich or quesadilla, or even for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs and a warm tortilla.

You can also turn this dip into a green salad by serving it on lettuce. Add a squeeze of lime, some crumbled feta and a sprinkle of crushed corn chips or toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds).

More Fresh Bean Salads to Make

Love this cowboy caviar? You’ll also enjoy these vibrant bean salads.

Please let me know how your cowboy caviar turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.

One thought on “Cowboy Caviar

  1. “The road is traveled by the one who walks. I wish you never to stop and to be a creative person – forever!

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