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This easy recipe for Cowboy Caviar is fun, fresh, colorful, and endlessly adaptable. It makes a great dip, salad, side dish, or even a topping for grilled meats. Always a potluck favorite!

Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.

Cowboy Caviar is a popular Midwestern take on salsa. With a few cans of beans and corn, a pile of crunchy fresh veggies, and a sweet-and-spicy dressing, it might just be the perfect summer appetizer/salad/side dish.

I love it with tortilla chips, but it makes an excellent taco, burrito, or quesadilla topping. Or, serve it with grilled fish or chicken. It’s also delicious stirred into cooked rice or pasta. There’s so many ways to enjoy Cowboy Caviar: just pick one and get started!

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Cowboy Caviar Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for cowboy caviar.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Sugar: The recipe reflects how we make it in my family. But YES, it has a lot of sugar. Please feel free to reduce it or omit it entirely. If you want to reduce it, mix the dressing with just a tablespoon of sugar to start, taste it, and go from there.
  • White wine vinegar: Or substitute apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even lime juice. It changes the flavor, but not in a bad way.
  • Extra sweet “shoepeg” corn: Regular canned sweet corn or frozen corn may be substituted for the extra sweet corn. The closest measurement for either option is ¾ cup, but feel free to use the whole 15-ounce can of corn.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon). 
Cowboy Caviar salad dressing in a clear glass bowl with a whisk in the background.
  1. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, red onion, bell peppers, and cilantro.
Cowboy caviar ingredients in a bowl before being mixed.
  1. Drizzle with the dressing and stir to combine. Cover and chill until serving time.
Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 12 cups of Cowboy Caviar (more or less depending on the size of your bell peppers).
  • Storage: This recipe keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Make ahead: You can make the dressing up to 3 days in advance. You can assemble the full recipe a day in advance too, but the bell peppers might soften a bit in the dressing.
  • Avocado: Avocado is good with everything. The avocados may darken over time, so the salad may not last as long in the refrigerator.
  • Italian dressing: Many readers like to use a store-bought or homemade Italian dressing in Cowboy Caviar. Start with about 1 cup of dressing, taste it, and see if you want more.
  • Cowboy Rice Salad: Mix some Cowboy Caviar with leftover cold cooked rice.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use dried beans in Cowboy Caviar?

Dried beans are extremely economical and much lower in sodium. Cook each bean variety separately, as cooking times may vary depending on size and age of the dried bean. How many dried beans makes a can? You need to cook ½ to ¾ cup of dried beans for every 15-ounce can of beans the recipe calls for.

How do I make Cowboy Caviar spicy?

Add a few chopped seeded jalapeños or serrano chiles to the salad for a little kick.

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche is a refreshing salad made with raw shrimp “cooked” in citrus juice and tossed with fresh herbs and vegetables. It’s delicious on tostadas, crackers, or tortilla chips with plenty of hot sauce!

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Perfect drink pairings

Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.

Cowboy Caviar

This easy recipe for Cowboy Caviar is fun, fresh, colorful, and endlessly adaptable. It makes a great dip, salad, side dish, or even a topping for grilled meats. Always a potluck favorite!
5 from 280 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 12 servings (1 cup each)
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 185

Ingredients 

For the dressing:

For the vegetables:

  • 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 sweet corn drained (see note 3)
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro or fresh parsley, chopped, from 1 bunch

Instructions 

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon). 
  • In a large bowl, add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, red onion, bell peppers, and cilantro. Drizzle with the dressing and stir to combine. Cover and chill until serving time.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Sugar: The recipe reflects how we make it in my family. But YES, it has a lot of sugar. Please feel free to reduce it or omit it entirely. If you want to reduce it, mix the dressing with just a tablespoon of sugar to start, taste it, and go from there.
  2. White wine vinegar: Or substitute apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even lime juice. It changes the flavor, but not in a bad way.
  3. Extra sweet “shoepeg” corn: Regular canned sweet corn or frozen corn may be substituted for the extra sweet corn. The closest measurement for either option is ¾ cup, but feel free to use the whole 15-ounce can of corn.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes about 12 cups of Cowboy Caviar (more or less depending on the size of your bell peppers).
  5. Storage: This recipe keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  6. Make ahead: You can make the dressing up to 3 days in advance. You can assemble the full recipe a day in advance too, but the bell peppers might soften a bit in the dressing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 185kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 5gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 201mgPotassium: 336mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 872IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
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I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

    1. Hi Denny, thank you for the question! I am not sure it would hold up well. The flavors would be fine, but I suspect the texture (especially the tomatoes) would be quite mushy after freezing and thawing. I wouldn’t really recommend it. Take care! – Meggan

  1. We’ve made this several times – always a hit! My husband hates cilantro and I don’t think I used fresh parsley last time either (I rarely have fresh hers on hand). Any substitution to the fresh herbs? Or can they be left out?

    Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Megan, you can totally leave them out. The best part of this recipe is how customizable it is! – Meggan

  2. This is the first time I made Texas Caviar. I’m going to a Salad Social. This recipe is so good. Eating it making yummy sounds. When I look up recipes I google “Award Winning” what ever I’m making. This time it is Texas Caviar! I could eat the complete bowl this made. I highly recommend. So easy and delicious! Thank you from PA.5 stars

  3. This is absolutely delicious!! My daughter would request it whenever she came home from college.
    She just graduated and home…just made it!!5 stars

  4. Made it with the chili powder which is listed in the recipe and it was delicious! But was just curious if it is supposed to be made with paprika like it shows in the picture of the ingredients?

    1. Hi Bri, thank you so much for pointing that out. It’s a mistake in the photo, the chili powder is correct. So glad you enjoyed and thanks again for pointing that out! – Meggan

  5. Tried this for the first time today and it was AMAZING! I am so looking forward to having it again.5 stars

  6. Absolutely delicious! We use it for appies, omelets and taco filling – friends are requesting more taco nights to come!!! Thank you, Meggan! Absolutely love your site and look forward to my daily “recipe email.!” Love that you have so many plant-based (non-meat) options!!!

    Trish5 stars

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