This cowboy caviar is a colorful and hearty dip that’s loaded with beans, black eyed peas, avocado and veggies, all tossed in a zesty homemade dressing. It’s the perfect make-ahead dish for a potluck!

Cowboy caviar is a fresh and flavorful dip that is great with tortilla chips. If you have a big crowd to feed, add some other appetizers to the menu such as a relish tray, garlic knots or beer brat bites.

A serving bowl of cowboy caviar made with beans and veggies, and garnished with cilantro.

I love a hearty dip, and this colorful cowboy caviar never disappoints. It’s loaded with different types of beans and veggies in the most delicious dressing. I make this Texas caviar as an appetizer or side dish, and it’s perfect to bring to a potluck or picnic.

Cowboy caviar is a fantastic appetizer recipe. It takes the bright, fresh flavors of salsa and the heartiness of beans and turns them into a dip that is perfect for any occasion. Sometimes I make several dips for a party like hot spinach dip, Reuben dip, bacon ranch dip and this cowboy caviar.

Cowboy Caviar Ingredients

The base of this cowboy caviar recipe contains black beans, black eyed peas, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, corn, avocado and cilantro.

Bowls of assorted chopped vegetables.

To make the dressing for cowboy caviar you will need olive oil, lime juice, honey, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Bowls of beans, black eyed peas and salad dressing ingredients.

How Do You Make Cowboy Caviar?

To make cowboy caviar start by placing the black beans, black eyed peas, vegetables and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour the dressing over the beans and veggies and toss gently to combine. Serve, and enjoy!

Process shots showing how to make cowboy caviar.

Tips For The Perfect Dish

  • You can substitute other types of beans instead of black beans. I’ve used pinto beans before and it’s delicious.
  • I use canned black eyed peas as they are the most convenient, but frozen will also work fine.
  • I recommend Roma tomatoes in this dish, as they have less seeds and a firmer texture. Halved cherry tomatoes are also great for a heartier texture.
  • This is a mild dip, despite the jalapeno in the recipe ingredients. To make jalapeno peppers less spicy, remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers.
  • No lime juice on hand? Try using two tablespoons of red wine vinegar instead.
  • Not a fan of cilantro? Use sliced green onions instead.
  • Serve your caviar either as a dip with tortilla chips, or as a salad over lettuce leaves. It also makes a great salsa like topping for grilled chicken breast, London broil, grilled salmon, quesadillas or steak tacos. You could also try some cowboy caviar on a burrito bowl.

Quick Tip

I typically use frozen thawed corn kernels, but you could use canned sweet corn or even fresh corn off the cob.

A hand scooping up Texas caviar on a chip.

Recipe FAQs

Why do they call it cowboy caviar?

This dish was created in Texas, and is sometimes also referred to as Texas caviar. It got its name as a humorous comparison to true caviar as the round beans may resemble fish eggs.

What is cowboy caviar made of?

This dish typically consists beans and assorted vegetables that are tossed in a simple dressing. It also always contains black eyed peas.

Can you freeze cowboy caviar?

I wouldn’t recommend freezing this dip. While the beans will hold up just fine in the freezer, the tomatoes and avocado will not fare as well. I’d recommend simply making your dip 1-2 days before your event to save on some prep time, then store it tightly covered in the refrigerator.

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A bowl of cowboy caviar served with chips.

Flavor Variations

While I typically serve my cowboy caviar as a dip, sometimes I like to add more ingredients to turn it into more of a meal. There are so many different ways to customize this dish!

  • Protein: Stir in 1 1/2 cups of diced cooked chicken or small shrimp, then serve as salad.
  • Bacon: Stir in 1/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon right before serving.
  • Spicy: Leave some of the seeds and ribs in the jalapeno, and add a dash of hot sauce to the dressing.
  • Cheese: Add 1/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese or cotija cheese.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add other veggies to the mix such as green bell peppers, black olives, grilled zucchini, poblano peppers or cucumbers.
  • Fruit: For a sweeter version of this dish, try adding some diced mango or diced pineapple.

Make Ahead Instructions

The great thing about this dish is that it can be prepared in advance. You can make the dressing up to 3 days before you need it. Simply store the dressing in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator. You can prepare the beans and veggies up to 8 hours in advance, except for the avocado. Omit the avocado, and add it at the very end just before serving. Mixing the avocado in the salad at the last minute will keep it from turning brown. I also recommend waiting to add the dressing until right before serving.

Once you try this recipe, you’ll find yourself making it on a regular basis. It’s great for entertaining, but also perfect for a lighter lunch option.

Other Recipes You’ll Love

Cowboy Caviar Video

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5 from 77 votes

Cowboy Caviar

AuthorSara Welch
A serving bowl of cowboy caviar made with beans and veggies, and garnished with cilantro.
This cowboy caviar is a colorful and hearty dip that’s loaded with beans, avocado and veggies, all tossed in a zesty homemade sauce. It’s the perfect make-ahead dish for a potluck!
Time
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Total Time21 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Serves 8

Ingredients 

  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black eyed peas rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup tomatoes seeded and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup corn can be fresh, canned or thawed from frozen
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 3/4 cup orange bell pepper seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Place the beans, black eyed peas, tomatoes, jalapeno, corn, avocado, bell pepper, onion and cilantro in a large bowl. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve as a salad or with chips.

Notes

  1. Make ahead instructions: Assemble according to instructions, except omit the avocado. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Add the avocado right before serving.
  2. I recommend Roma tomatoes in this dish, as they have less seeds and a firmer texture. Halved cherry tomatoes are also great for a heartier texture.
  3. Not a fan of cilantro? Use sliced green onions instead.
  4. I typically use frozen thawed corn kernels, but you could use canned corn or even fresh corn off the cob.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 380IU | Vitamin C: 10.6mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1.2mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The Cowboy Caviar looks like a salsa for me. It looks and sounds so delicious! Hope I can try it this Sunday.

  2. 5 stars
    WOW! You weren’t kidding when you said colorful! I love all of these flavors together. It looks amazing and healthy!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this !! It combines all my favorite foods together! I can’t wait to try it. Do you think it would be good over rice?

  4. Lovely healthy recipe.I would like to make this & have it as an evening snack with my drinks.Thanks I love all your recipes.

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve seen something similar before, called Tex-Mex caviar. It didn’t have corn it it. This looks equally as good and is very simple to make.

  6. 5 stars
    I love cowboy caviar. Since we moved to the southwest, it’s become one of my favorite things to make for the family.

  7. 5 stars
    Cowboy caviar is one of my favorite dishes to serve at game day parties. It has that great “game day” feel to it, but it’s a lot healthier than most eats you see at those parties.

  8. 5 stars
    I like how nutritional this recipe is! So many healthy and tasty ingredients in one bowl? Sign me up!

    1. This is not a good candidate for the freezer, I would just cut the recipe in 1/2 or 1/4. You can freeze any leftover beans if you choose to make a smaller portion!

  9. 5 stars
    We love this and have made it many times. I recently elevated it to a main dish salad by adding shredded chicken and bow tie pasta!