This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

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!

2 hours 40 minutes
View Recipe

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 295 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
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I absolutely love this recipe! My kids, husband AND father-in-law all LOVED it. My favorite part about this dish is that it’s so versatile; it can be a topping, a dip(with corn chips delish), or a side dish. You can make it a day before serving, I think it even tastes better the next day so its great to take to a party. Its also a mix of fresh veggies & some canned so super easy to throw together and actually there’s no cooking involved so anyone cam make this5 stars

View all comments