Cowboy Caviar Recipe

Cowboy Caviar is packed with colorful, fresh ingredients that also happen to be healthy. Makes a great salsa, dip, or salad at your next party or barbecue! Naturally vegan and gluten free.

If you’ve never had Cowboy Caviar before, welcome to the party. I think you guys are going to be great friends. This recipe has black-eyed peas, black beans, and a pile of fresh veggies in a sweet and spicy dressing that just really hits the spot.

Bowl of Cowboy Caviar with fresh chopped vegetables and black beans. Pictured in a glass bowl with a dark background.And nothing could be easier to make.

Sugar Notes: Some readers have made this recipe and were disappointed by the sweet taste from all the sugar. This is how we make it in the Midwest. Please read the notes at the bottom of the recipe to learn more.

Before I tried Cowboy Caviar dip, the closest dip I’d ever had was Black Bean Salsa. I love Black Bean Salsa too, but this Cowboy Caviar recipe has a more complex flavor profile. The dressing is made with chili powder and sugar which cut through the usually suspects of olive oil and vinegar. Fantastic stuff.

8 bowls of ingredients for Cowboy Caviar. Clockwise from top: bowl of black beans, chopped red onions, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, sweet corn kernels, white wine vinegar, black eyed peas, red bell pepper.
When it comes to the black-eyed peas and beans, seek out the canned varieties if you can, if only for the convenience. You may also find cooked black-eyed peas in the produce section.

For the corn, the original recipe calls extra sweet corn (in a can) which may also be labeled as super sweet corn or even shoepeg corn, depending on the brand. It’s a smaller can than normal, 11 ounces instead of 15 ounces. If you can’t find it or would rather not pay the premium, use regular canned sweet corn (not creamed) or even 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed.

Beyond that, sharpen your knife and get chopping. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of red and green bell peppers, but if you just want to purchase 1 pepper and use the whole thing, that would work too. And, you’ll need an entire bunch of cilantro in order to get 1 cup chopped. If you hate cilantro, leave it out or substitute parsley.

I’ve seen Cowboy Caviar with avocado too, but this recipe is how we serve it in the Midwest.Bowl of Cowboy Caviar served with crispy tortilla chips. The Cowboy Caviar is pictured in a white bowl. There is a dark blue background.

This Cowboy Caviar appetizer is delicious with salty tortilla chips, on a bed of greens, or served with grilled meat. It’s a versatile, healthy dish that you’ll be proud to serve and happy to eat!

Save this Cowboy Caviar to your
“Appetizers” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

Bowl of Cowboy Caviar with fresh chopped vegetables and black beans. Pictured in a glass bowl with a dark background.
5 from 2 votes
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Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar is packed with colorful, fresh ingredients that also happen to be healthy. Makes a great salsa, dip, or salad at your next party or barbecue! Naturally vegan and gluten free.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 194 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained (see notes)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (from 1 bunch)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt. 

  2. Add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, corn, red onion, and bell peppers. Stir to combine.

  3. Stir in cilantro. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight to blend flavors. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  1. Regular canned sweet corn or frozen corn may be substituted for the extra sweet corn. The closest measurement for either option is 3/4 cup, but feel free to use the whole 15-ounce can of corn.
  2. 1 sweet onion or a bunch of green onions may be substituted for the red onion.
  3. A single bell pepper may be substituted for the 1/2 cup each of chopped red and green bell peppers.
  4. In the Midwest, we like the sugar in this recipe. I personally think it tastes great. BUT. If you think 1/3 cup sugar sounds like too much, feel free to use less. Perhaps add 1 tablespoon at a time. A couple of readers have suggested this is way too sweet and they were disappointed. It breaks my heart. You can always add more vinegar and salt if you want to try to save your batch. But I swear, this is how we eat it in America's Dairyland. And we love it.

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142 comments

  1. Hi Meggan. This is delicious! I used green onion because that is what I had. It was really good  before I got it into the fridge to meld the flavors. Can’t stop picking at it. Hope there is some left to go with dinner. Another keeper. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much, Julie! Really, any kind of onion tastes great in this. And I really prefer chopping green onions vs. other onions, so good call there! Everything else makes me cry. :D I have been eating this for breakfast all week. Is that weird? Like you say, can’t stop picking at it. My 1-year-old is also addicted. So glad you loved it. Take care!

  2. This is delicious and I don’t know anybody who does not like it. Last timber made it, it was a casserole. Not all hat great.   But as a dip oh yeah!

    I’ll make mine drenched in good seasons Italian dressing because that’s what I love.   This Is a versatile mix with endless possibilities. 

    Thanks Megan and Aunt Tammy

    • Hi Dave!!! You know, on Facebook someone else mentioned they use Italian dressing on theirs. So clearly I’m missing out and need to investigate that immediately. Thanks for visiting the ol’ blog. :D xoxo

  3. FINALLY! After teasing us with pictures of your adorable baby eating this, I finally get to try it myself. ;) If it’ good enough for her, it’s good enough for me!

    • WAIT – hold the phone. You eat something besides cake?! Yeah Charlotte and I ate most of this ourselves, we didn’t really share with the boys. Thanks for visiting, you are the sunshine in my universe!

  4. Wow, this dip is making me feel good and bad at the same time, Meggan! Good because it looks so darn colourful and healthy. Bad because I just ate loads of junk food and am now wishing I’d seen this recipe beforehand to steer me away from the junk. :-(

    Really nice party recipe staple!

    • You are too sweet, Helen! Don’t feel bad, tomorrow is always the best day to start a diet anyway. ;) Miss you! xoxo

  5. This looks so tasty I can hardly stand not having some to eat right now. I can see hogging the whole bowl all to myself. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  6. Cook time of 1 hours minutes is posted with the recipe. What is cooked?

    • The “cook time” is actually the “chill time.” You need to have this sit in the refrigerator for an hour so the flavors blend. There isn’t really a way to call it “chill time,” it’s just “cook time.” Sorry for the confusion. Basically I wouldn’t want to say this recipe takes 5 minutes to make and then have someone be upset that I didn’t account for flavor-blending time!

  7. This is a beauty and props to Aunt Tammy! I for one LOVE cilantro so that stays, this is happening this weekend. Thanks and Happy Birthday Meggan! :)

  8. This looks delicious! Other than as a dip, what would you recommend to eat this with?

    • Hi Sylvia, thank you! :) I personally like to eat it with grilled chicken or any kind of grilled meat. It’s also really good on tacos/burritos if you’re in to that sort of thing. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. This sounds amazing! I am currently preparing meals with as little sodium as possible. Do you believe cooking dry beans and then cooling them would yield the same results?

    • Hi Leah, yes absolutely. I think the beans usually aren’t quite as mushy, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. :) Thank you for your question!

  10. The first list confused me. It read 1 3 cup cup sugar. Luckily I read through the entire blog and saw the 1/3 cup cup sugar. Might want to proof read before sending. I have the same problem with Indy correct. Drives me nuts! I can hardly wait to make this. Sounds delicious. Thanks. ?

    • Oh my gosh, I would never be offended by your proof-reading comment… LOL! Guilty as charged. I appreciate you pointing that out to me so I can correct it… last thing I need is someone using the wrong number of cups of sugar!!! I hope you feel better soon and get out of the hospital!!! xoxo

  11. I hope I didn’t offend you with my proof reading mention. I just always miss a correction, then go nuts trying to fix it. As for your Xavier. I am sitting in bed in a hosp. With pneumonia. Hungry. Hosp. Food is gross. All I want is a bowl of this Xavier and tortilla chips. Mouth watering, and stomach growling.

  12. This looks delicious and would love to make it. I do have a question though, do you think I could substitute the green bell pepper with finely chopped celery hearts? Green peppers and I don’t get along to well, but the red ones do not bother me….go figure.

    • Hey Dani! Yes, I think you should absolutely substitute whatever vegetables you want, ever. Celery hearts would be great. I love the crunch. I put those in my 3-bean salad (which is also full of beans and a sweet/sour dressing) and it’s just perfect. Possibly even better than peppers. I’m going to have to try that next time! Thank you so much. :)

  13. Do not put sugar in this. I followed this recipe exact and it is way to sweet. Ruined the whole bowl. Dissappointing

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, John. This is exactly the way I always had it and I like the sweetness, but I understand not everyone would. I’m sorry again!

    • Amen, John! I made this according to the recipe and I ended up draining off all the liquid I could and remaking it with a tablespoon of sugar and a quarter cup of lime juice instead. It was still overly sweet from the residual sugary dressing, but much more palatable to my tastes. Next time I make this, and I will, I’ll do only the 1 tablespoon sugar and add the quarter cup lime juice. The lesson I learned: listen to your intuition as you cook! Meggan, other than the sugar I love this recipe and thank you for it.

    • Glad you were able to make it at least edible, Tammy! All I can say is, I have posted a warning about the sugar. :) It really comes down to personal taste. I’m glad you’ll make it again, it really is great! And it’s true it doesn’t need the sugar to be delicious. I’m just sharing the classic recipe which happens to be quite sweet. Take care!

    • Was the problem just its sweetness alone? Reducing the amount of sugar that is put into I’m sure would help or removing it all together because you have the SWEET corn already.

  14. I made this today. I had to double the recipe because a lot of people were coming over.  I should not have added extra sugar, it made it too sweet. First time to double it, won’t add the sugar next time. Or was there something I did wrong?

    • Hi Tracy, I think it must come down to personal taste. Another reader commented today that he thought it was too sweet, but this is exactly how we ate it growing up and still the way we eat it today. And be “we” I guess I mean everyone I know in the Milwaukee area. If you doubled the vinegar and olive oil, doubling the sugar shouldn’t have been a problem. I will make notes for people to go easy on the sugar though. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you! You definitely didn’t do anything wrong.

  15. This is absolutely delicious, thank you so much for sharing. 
    It’s going to become my staple for BBQ’s and parties for sure ?

    • Hi Nicci, THANK YOU! This is so wonderful to hear and I really appreciate that you took the time to let me know. :) I personally love the stuff and can’t stop eating it, ever. Thanks again and have a wonderful week! :)

  16. How long can you keep cowboy caviar?

    • Hi Carol, general storage times for leftovers are about 3 to 4 days, and I think Cowboy Caviar would be good for that long. I hope that helps. If not, just let me know! Thanks!

  17. Thank you Meggan. Love your recipes!

  18. Just wondering if anyone had tried coconut sugar or pure maple syrup to replace the white sugar? I am definitely going to experiment with this to make the recipe totally raw, plant-based. Yum!

    • Hi Amy, I think that is a great idea! I have been thinking the recipe needs a makeover. I mean, I love it with the sugar but I could eat it all the time, constantly, if it didn’t have all the sugar. :) I will definitely post any updates I figure out. I hope you find something that works for you too!

  19. Meggan I love this! I made it for the first time today because it was obviously going to be awesome and IT WAS! I just ate some for “lunch” and it will be served alongside burgers and fries tonight! (And probably any leftovers will be paired with the BBQ’ed ribs tomorrow!)
    I loved the sugar but didn’t have any white wine vinegar-let me tell you that red wine vinegar works just fine!
    I am from Texas and living in Mississippi and I give my stamp of approval but it is probably like BBQ sauce, spaghetti, and chili-everyone has a preference and no way is every the same! 

    • Yay Brittany, that’s so great to hear! I am not surprised that red wine vinegar works. I feel like any kind of vinegar would work. Even the plain old white stuff my mom uses to clean glass, with all that sugar it would probably still taste good. :) So glad you and I agree on Cowboy Caviar! xoxo PS: I had 2 burgers today (one at brunch and one at dinner). I think I might have a problem. LOL

  20. Hi! I was wondering if you can make this in advance? Like the day before an event or do the veggies get gross?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Erika! I think you can make this the night before without problems. I have for sure enjoyed leftovers for a couple of days after without issue. Just in case you have a higher standard for such things, though, you could chop all the vegetables the night before and have them in separate containers, mix up the dressing, and just toss it together shortly before serving it. That would be your best option if you’re worried. Thank you!

  21. How many people will this race?

    • Hi Julie, I have 12 servings listed in the post which is a rough guess. The recipe makes about 3 quarts of Cowboy Caviar which is 12 cups, so that’s assuming 1 cup per person. I’d say it’s a rough guess because it might depend on how big your onion is or things like that. And of course, it depends on how much your guests each. This is the size recipe I would make for a potluck where there are other dishes around and people will be grazing. I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. Good luck! If you have other questions just let me know. Thanks.

  22. Just used this as a starter recipe, changed quantities and a couple of things and…. Wow fantastic! Really good base dressing idea and a really flexible recipe!  One to keep. Likewise, did limited sugar, because the corn gave that sweetness.

    • Great, Frances! I’m so happy to hear that. :) You’re right, the corn gives sweetness. Glad you could make it work for you!

  23. I made this last night and it was a HUGE hit with my husband, 6 year old, and especially my 18 month old!  We loved it!  It was delicious and so easy to make!  Thank you for the recipe!

    • Awwww yay Leah! I’m so happy to hear that! It’s a huge hit in our house and I’m so happy to share the joy. :) Have a great weekend!

  24. I made this today. (left out the sugar) My husband ate a bowl as is. I sprinkled a little crumbled goat cheese into it. YUM! And so healthy. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much for the update Nell! I’m sure it would be delicious without the sugar (I love black bean salsa which is similar). And goat cheese… YES! Amazing! Thanks for letting me know it worked out for you. :)

  25. Does anyone have nutritional information on this.

  26. Yum! Made this today for a potluck–doubled the recipe except kept the dressing the same–it is delicious!
    Thank you for this keeper!

    • I am so delighted to hear, that Sue! Yes, I don’t think you’d need to double the dressing if you’re doubling the recipe. I hope everyone loved it. It’s definitely a hit in my house! Have a great weekend. :)

  27. I tried this recipe for dinner last night, and it was so refreshing! My husband even enjoyed it. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Laurie! I am so happy to hear that. It’s a huge favorite in our house. :) Have a great week!

  28. I love this as is..yummerz…wouldnt change a thing..ty

  29. I am making this now. A friend brought this recipe to a group and everyone loved it! :) I was wondering how long will it keep in the fridge? I am the only person in my home that will eat it. So I am just wondering if I can have a week of lunches or if I need to share before it spoils. Thank you!

    • Hi Carmen! It should be fine for 3-4 days in the fridge. So maybe not quite a week? I’m so glad you loved it though! Have a lovely weekend. :)

  30. Sounds fantastic. I was at a grad party and the host served this but instead of sugar, she added one can of crushed pineapple for the sweetness. It was very addicting!

    • THAT sounds like a genius idea. It’s perfect, it really is. It would give the sweetness plus pineapple is just delicious. Great idea!

  31. Does this stay nice & fresh if I make the day ahead?

    • Hi Amy, I would say the veggies (the peppers, mostly) lose some of their crunch if they sit over night. But, I still think it tastes delicious. If anything, you could mix the salad dressing part separately and assemble a bowl of all the beans and veggies, and just toss it together at the last minute. That should preserve the freshness! Thanks!

  32. I have never left a comment before, but here we go!  My son tasted Cowboy Caviar at Costco a few years back and I was floored he went back for seconds. He’s not a huge veggie eater. Needless to say, they stopped carrying the product and life went back to normal. Last week I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought, “why not?”.  Well, I will tell you that I’ve made it twice this week and it will be on our menu indefinitely. I took out the cilantro because I hate it. And my kiddo won’t touch a tomato to save his life, so those are gone too. But it didn’t alter the taste at all. BRAVO! I am uber thankful and impressed.

    • Hi Jill! This is all so wonderful. It is one of my favorite ways to eat veggies too, and also to convince others to do so. :) I had no idea Costco ever carried Cowboy Caviar either, that’s so interesting. Yes, ditch the cilantro! I do the same thing for my mom. You made my day, maybe even my week, so thank you so much for sharing your story. :) Take care!

  33. This recipe is absolutely delicious.  I ended up not adding the sugar at all and added a clove of minced garlic to the dressing. It was so good…it even tasted batter the next day!!! Thanks for a great recipe!!

    • Hi Catherine, I’m so glad you liked it! Yes, it’s pretty delicious even without the sugar. Like a fantastic bean salsa, I think. Especially with that garlic mixed in! Glad you made it work for you. :) Take care!

  34. I made this for a cookout this evening and it was a HUGE hit! Friends of mine had made “cowboy caviar” but said they hadn’t had it as good as this recipe! The midwest version is a keeper. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Lindsey! That’s great news! :) I’ve seen other versions of Cowboy Caviar too, usually more like regular bean salsa or sometimes with avocado. I love this sweet version and I appreciate that you gave it a try! Also happy to hear everyone liked it. That’s not always the case. :) Take care and thank you so much!

  35. I just made this tonight as a trial to see if it would be good for an engagement party I’m hosting for my daughter this summer. I’ve got to say it is yummy as is, I made it as directed. It is so fresh tasting! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Theresa, that is SO great to hear! Smart of you to test the recipe in advance, just in case. I’m glad it’s going to work out for you. Congratulations to your daughter, how exciting! :)) Take care and thank you!!

  36. I have to say I have never used cilantro before. I am telling you to sniff it at the store and if it smells like soap leave it there. I thought well maybe it taste great but oh my goodness I had to throw the whole bowl out cause it all tasted soapy to me. 

    • Hi Jessie, I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. Basically, there is a gene in some people that causes them to think cilantro tastes like soap (my mom has this gene, so does Ina Garten, and it sounds like you do too). So, it will be all cilantro that strikes you this way, not just some. I would suggest just leaving cilantro out if you make my recipe or any others, because I don’t think you will like it under any circumstances. You could also substitute parsley if you want to but it is not necessary. For those of us who like cilantro, we can never get enough. I will update the recipe to say that parsley is also an option. I am sorry again for your troubles! Take care.

  37. I sure wish cilantro was not in the recipe . I’m one of t,he people that follows a recipe exactly. If you change or add to it it is a different recipe. Anyhow I wasted a lot of stuff and next time I will leave cilantro out and will not put the dressing on till time to eat.

  38. Great recipe!!!!! Everyone’s tastes are different and l found this recipe way too oily!!! No worries, l rinsed the dressing off with water and started again. This time l added 1 tsp chilli powder, 3 tbls lemon juice and a table spoon of maple syrup. Amazing!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!! My son is a vegan and l’ve never tried black eyed peas until now. I will be adding them in more of my recipes. 

    • Thank you, Carol! I’m so glad you were able to make it work for you. I do think it’d be easy to leave the oil out of this, and I’m glad you were smart enough to rinse it off and start over rather than just wasting it. Good job. :) I will definitely try your variation; it’s a lot healthier! Especially for people who are vegan or not eating refined sugar. Many thanks. Take care!

  39. Love it! I think this amount of sugar is perfect. I make my Cowboy Caviar different each time I make it, a lot depends on my mood. I’d never added sugar before but now that I’ve tried it this way, I can’t wait to do so again. As a Kentuckian, I tip my hat to you Midwesterners, you nailed it!

    • Joi, you’ve made my day! Thank you so much. :) I appreciate that you tried the recipe and I’m so happy it worked out for you. Have a great weekend and thanks again!

  40. We took this to old school cookout in Pittsburgh. Ribs, brats, and burgers. This was the vegan option. Inevitably, it was a big hit. Thanks, Aunt Tammy!

    • AWESOME! I love that this is accidentally vegan. LOL! Ribs, brats, and burgers… my stomach just growled. Thanks for sharing your story. :) Glad it was a hit. Happy weekend!

  41. I made this today with a few changes. First, I omitted the sugar altogether. Sugar takes this healthy dish and turns it into an unhealthy dish, IMO, and is completely unnecessary. It adds no nutritional value to the recipe yet feeds the sugar frenzy that most SAD’s are fueled by.

    Next, I used red wine vinegar because that’s what I had on hand. I only used 1/3 cup olive oil because these ingredients are going to make their own liquid and I don’t want a drippy dish. I used red, yellow, and orange peppers to really give it a good visual. Lastly, I used cumin in place of the chili powder to give it a more southwest flavor. This turned out fabulous and I will make this again.

    • These are great changes! I have made Cowboy Caviar too with red wine vinegar and it’s one of my favorite changes. I completely understand on the no sugar front, that’s a wise choice although I aim to present the dish in its original form which is why I included the sugar. But it’s always good when people adapt to their own needs, that’s really what it’s all about. Just finding the inspiration for something and then making it exactly the way you might love it. And it sounds like it worked out for you so that’s great! Thanks for sharing all these ideas, I especially want to try to cumin. Take care.

  42. Can’t wait to make tonight and serve at our fam jam tomorrow! I’m going to sub stevia in the raw (by half) for the sugar. Anyone ever try it with apple cider vinegar rather than white wine variety? Just curious. I’ll be slow cooking a BBQ pork roast and thought the flavor of apple cider would compliment the pulled pork sammies!

    • Hi Christy, I have made this with apple cider vinegar and it’s great! I’ve also made it with red wine vinegar and just plain white vinegar too. It’s always a hit no matter which kind of vinegar. I agree the apple cider vinegar is perfect to go with the BBQ pork! I’m crashing your fam jam for sure. ;)

  43. Do you know how many calories are in a 1 cup serving?

    • Hi Rachele, I don’t know! I don’t really compute calorie information right now, although it’s clear to me that everyone wants this information. So, I’m trying to figure out the best way to go back and add it. Sorry about that!

    • Hi Rachele, I’ve now added a nutrition label for this recipe. It’s calculating 194 calories for a 1-cup serving (not including chips). It might be just *slightly* high because it assumes all of the dressing in the recipe is consumed, while in my experience a lot ends up at the bottom of the bowl. But, at least it gives you a pretty good idea of the calories. Thanks for your question!

  44. This was amazing!!!!! I could live on it!!! Oh yummm!!!!!! Perfection!!!

  45. Do you think I could can this if I pressure canned it

    • Hi Sandy, I really have no idea! I don’t know anything about canning or whether special ingredients/methods are required. I used to have a guide to canning around… if I find it and learn anything, I’ll email you. Wish I could help more!

  46. HI Meggan

    Im in London and I made your dish this week to celebrate summer and as an interesting alternative to boring salad and served alongside steak.  I eliminated the sugar altogether and also used raw corn straight from the cobb. It was absolutely delicious!  I don’t think the dish needed any additional sweetness – the peppers and corn added enough in my opinion. Great, great dish and I have already passed it along to a load of friends who will be enjoying the dish across the pond this summer. Thanks again!

    • Hi Susan, I’m so happy to hear that!!! Makes my heart sing. :) It’s true, the dish doesn’t really *need* the sugar. That’s just the classic recipe. I love when people modify it to their taste, and I’m positively tickled that folks in London are enjoying Midwestern food. That’s just the best! Thanks again!!!

  47. This looks great Meggan! I can’t wait to make this for my nephew’s birthday party that’s coming up! This is just what I was looking for! Thanks for sharing!

  48. Wowwweee!! Oh my goodness! Had this at a birthday party and my hubby and I LOVED this!!Now I have to make it all the time! My hubby requires it to be in the fridge at all times! Have given batches to a lot of people and they ask for the recipe and, of course, I give them your site! I do want to say that my hubby doesn’t like me using sugar, so I only put in half the sugar and may try honey the next time. Keep the fantastic recipes coming and THANK YOU to Aunt Tammy! 

    • Thank you so much Carol! That’s all just so fantastic. :) I appreciate you spreading the word about my little ol’ blog! I think other readers have used honey in the recipe with great results, and I’m planning to try that myself at some point. Just so I can write in the variation! Thank you again for your kind words and support. :) Take care!

  49. I normally don’t comment on many recipes but I have to say- this is great! I’ve had it before but never made it and it turned out great. I don’t think it was too sweet at all! I only added half the sugar to the dressing at first, but after tasting it decided it was still too bitter with the vinegar and oil so added the rest of the sugar and it is perfect. Doesn’t taste at all sugary which I was worried about after reading some of the reviews. (I am also in the Midwest- MN here!) it’s just like all of the other recipes o have tasted before- actually I think it’s better! Thanks!!

    • So great to hear Melissa! Makes me so happy. :) I love MN and was in Minneapolis/Hanover at the beginning of July. It’s one of my favorite places! Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it and it worked for you. And yes – all the sugar for me, please. :) Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

  50. We up in Michigan don’t use the sugar at all. nor does it have the red or green peppers. Instead, we have avocado, tobasco sauce, white not sweet corn, green not red onion, and only the black beans. I’m excited to try this version!

  51. I have an intolerance to corn what would be a good sub?

    • Hey Carol! You could just leave the corn out entirely and not worry about it, or you could add another bean (or bell pepper) in its place. Another commenter added pineapple instead of sugar, that sounds pretty good to me too! I feel like diced up cucumber would also work. Good luck!

  52. I have been making Cowboy Caviar a lot this summer. The recipe I use is very similar to yours. Each time I make it, I add something a little different. It depends what is in the fridge. In fact, I just made a batch to take to my cousin’s for tomorrow. We are going to be making several batches of pear strudels. We are going to need to snack on something to keep our strength up. Lol. For the dressing though, I have been using a roasted garlic olive oil with balsamic vinegar that I purchased at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. That stuff is AMAZING! I use it in everything.

    • Roasted Garlic Olive Oil with Balsamic Vinegar….?!?! That sounds AMAZING!!! Pretty sure I could drink that straight. And yes, I’m so happy you throw “whatever” in your Cowboy Caviar, not everyone is comfortable doing that but it’s such a good way to be! It’s different every time, you can use stuff up, and you don’t get bored. Pear strudels? Sounds exhausting. :) Good luck to you! Thank you so much for sharing!

  53. Hi Meggan I have yet to make this and looking forward to it. My question is,,if I were to use dry beans and soak them would you know the quantity? I have a big bin of 7 beans and would like to soak them and use them for your recipe but I am uncertain how much I should use. Any idea??? Would I have to cook them after I soaked them? Clearly I have not done this before…lol.

    • Hi Joanne! First, you will definitely need to cook the beans after you soak them. The package should tell you how to cook them (it’s probably something like, boil them for an hour, or faster if you use a pressure cooker although I’ve never used one myself). I looked up the conversion of dried beans to canned beans. You’re replacing 2 cans of beans (the black-eyed peas and the black beans), and it looks like 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried beans = 1 can of beans. So, it’s up to you if you want to use 1 cup total or 1 1/2 cups total. Depends on how many you’re feeding, I think! There will be MORE than enough dressing/sauce if you want to go with 1 1/2 cups of dried beans and cook those up. Good for you for putting your giant bag of beans to work! Good luck and thanks for your questions. I love to feel useful. :) Take care!

  54. Can I substitute cannelini beans for black eyed peas?

    • Hi Cassandra, yes absolutely! Sometimes canned black eyed peas are hard to find, so just substitute whatever you have on hand or can locate. Cannelinis are great. Thank you so much!

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  56. Love this!  But, here in New Mexico we add green chillis to everything.  So, I added some chopped roasted mild green chillis and made a double batch hoping for leftovers (there are 4 of us). No such luck!  Finished it in one day.  The kids asked me to make more tomorrow….

    • Green chiles are great in this recipe! I’ve tried it myself. They are good in everything, like you said. :) I cannot believe the four of you ate A DOUBLE BATCH in one day. Wait – I can believe it. So happy to hear that, thank you Pam!

  57. I make this all the time, love it! Side note: try substituting apple cider vinegar for white wine vinegar, gives it a nice tangy bite! I usually add the juice of 1 lime as well, it brightens up all of the flavors. Also makes an awesome topping for scrambled eggs or omelettes. This has been a family favorite for years!!!!

    • Hi Cindy! Your tweaks sound awesome, especially the part about eating the Cowboy Caviar with eggs omelettes, Hellloooo high-protein breakfast! In the best possible way! Thank you so much, have a lovely day. :)

  58. Just made this Cowboy Caviar and it’s delicious. The sweetness reminds me of Three Bean Salad. Thank you!

    • Hi BB! Three Bean Salad is on my list to post next, it’s really good. :) Thanks so much for trying my recipe and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Take care.

  59. I tried this at a birthday party yesterday and it was amazing! And I don’t usually like beans! The version I had also had chick peas in it and they used Garlic Expressions dressing and marinade. I think there are a lot of variations you could do with this recipe.

    • Hey Karen! I will definitely have to seek out that dressing, it sounds fabulous. So glad someone made Cowboy Caviar! It’s so good and like you said, the sky is the limit! Have a great week!

  60. I have made your cowboy caviar (with less sugar) several times now. Everyone loves it! This is great for parties and potlucks because it won’t go bad (or taste bad) if you can’t keep it chilled the whole time. Thank you so much for giving me a delicious way to eat my veggies! 

    • Hi Nadine, that is so great to hear! And you are right, it’s nice to have something that won’t spoil because of mayo or whatever. It is definitely the best way to eat vegetables and beans! :) Thanks so much for trying the recipe and I’m glad you like it.

  61. Wow, really love this salad! (w 1T sugar, and a jalapeno!).  Found this by accident when I was looking at your ancho chile powder technique (from poblano peppers, we have a bunch growing), and made it to surprise my wife.  I bookmarked this site to find some more treasures!  Thanks.

    • Hi Sam! Wow thank you so much! :) Sounds like you made a pretty fantastic version of the Cowboy Caviar. So excited you have poblano peppers growing. That’s definitely my favorite pepper! Thank you so much and have a great day. :)

  62. Can’t wait to make this, thanks for sharing. Always looking for a new side for myself, or for impressing my guests! I love your blog! Keep up the good work!

  63. Would you consider this more of an appetizer or a side dish? Looking forward to trying this. Thank you!

    • Hi Staci, I consider this more of an appetizer (served with tortilla chips like salsa). However, if you wanted to be healthy, you could eat it as a side dish or a topping to grilled meats, something like that. However, traditionally it is an appetizer. I hope you love it! Thanks for your question. :)

  64. Do you think it would be ok to freeze the leftover?

    • Hi Nadine, I am not sure it would hold up well. The flavors would be fine, but I suspect the texture would be quite mushy after freezing and thawing. I wouldn’t really recommend it. Thanks for your question!

  65. This a great healthier option! Love it! Colors are fantastic, and flavors awesome!

  66. Loved this recipe for new year’s potluck appetizer! Used 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/2 tsp of black pepper but otherwise made exactly as you have it. I agree the sugar it partly what makes this “cowboy caviar” vs. a more tex-mex style recipe. It also makes it kind of a special treat. Thanks !

    • Thank you so much Melissa! I’m making it myself, too. You must be from the Midwest if you love the sugar too. :) I think just that little tweak makes it so good and different. Happy New Year!

  67. To be true to the recipe I made it pretty much exactly like it is written. I did substitute  Poblano pepper for about 1/3 of the bell pepper. My red onion was too strong apparently because it overpowered the dish. I too found it to be too sweet with 1/3 cup of sugar unless using it strictly as a relish. I’m not crazy about black eyed peas so using this as a relish to mix with the black eyed peas we also had for new years made both dishes more palatable. I would make this recipe again but with only 1/2 the sugar, maybe less.

  68. I just made this for the first time and absolutely loved it! I left out the cilantro because my husband hates it, and as you recommended I started with only a tablespoon of sugar and I found that to be perfect! I think if you are looking for more of a salty savory flavor, one tablespoon of sugar is perfect! Will definitely be making this again and again, thanks so much!!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Ashley! Glad you started off small on the sugar and loved it. :) And yes, leave out the cilantro if someone isn’t a fan! It’s the easiest thing to do and nice to have one less ingredient to buy. :) Take care and thanks a lot!

  69. OMG this stuff is delicious and addicting!  And we love the sugar in it…we use every bit of the 1/3 cup (plus a tablespoon or so more…we are from the south :)!  It is the perfect combo of salty, sweet and fresh!

  70. I can’t get enough of this stuff! I have found that sweet italian dressing works really well instead of the sugar and vinegar….It’s sweet, but not too sweet.

    • Hi Tina, thank you so much! I’m so glad you love it. Which dressing are you using? Sweet Italian dressings are a personal addiction of mine. Sounds like a great substitution! Thanks for sharing. :)

  71. We tried this recipe at our housewarming party this weekend and loved it (no cilantro for us though)! One of the most popular items at our party! We loved it. We will definitely be making this again! We also shared the recipe on our blog too (with credit given here of course)!

    • Awwww that’s so great to hear, Jason! Yes, cilantro is the best thing to leave out if you hate it. :) Thanks for the link back and I’m so glad you liked it. It’s a favorite around here! Take care.

  72. Has anyone subbed honey for the sugar? I think it would blend well in the dressing 

    • Hi Stephanie, there are way too many comments for you to go through them all, but I feel like tons of people have subbed honey for the sugar. I have tried it myself too and loved it! I will add a recipe note to that effect. Thank you for your comment!

  73. I make this every week, never change one thing and it’s just the BEST!  Sometimes I mix a serving of it with chilled Quinoa for a quick lunch, I serve it with Tostito Scoops and often we just eat it as a relish with our meal.  This one is a Winner Winner Chicken Dinner for sure!!!!! Thanks so much for posting.  P.S.  I’m from Nashville, so I’m a Southern lady and the sweetness of it is just perfection!

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