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.

Recipe ingredients:

Cowboy caviar ingredients in various bowls.

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.
  • 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 vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt in a large bowl (large enough to hold the whole salad, a serving bowl if you want to).
  2. Then add the beans and all the vegetables to the bowl and mix everything together. Stir in the cilantro, cover, and chill in the refrigerator until it’s time to party.

Separated cowboy caviar ingredients in a clear bowl.

Recipe tips:

  • Make ahead: If you’re cooking ahead of time, a few of the vegetables might soften a bit in the dressing, but the beans can be dressed ahead of time without a problem. One day in advance should be fine.
  • Storage: This recipe keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. It doesn’t freeze well.
  • Leftovers: Enjoy the leftovers inside an omelet, spooned over a grilled steak, or tossed with fresh greens for a quick lunch.

Recipe variations and substitutions:

  • Dried beans: 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.
  • Vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar if that’s what you have. A splash of fresh lime juice is good too!
  • Onions: 1 white, yellow, or sweet onion, or a bunch of green onions may be substituted for the red onion.
  • Avocado: Avocado is good with everything. The avocados may darken over time, so the salad may not last as long in the refrigerator.
  • Spicy: Add a few chopped seeded jalapeños or serranos to the salad for a little kick.
  • Italian dressing: If you want to use Italian dressing (many readers have) just don’t make the vinaigrette in this recipe. Start with using about 1 cup of dressing, taste it, and see if you think you need more.
  • Mix with leftover cold cooked rice for a Cowboy Rice Salad.

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

More delicious salsas and dips:

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a rating and a comment below!

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

Cowboy Caviar Recipe

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 166 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 111

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar or to taste, see notes
  • 1/4 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
  • 15 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
  • 11 ounces sweet corn
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, from 1 bunch

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt. 
  • Add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, corn, red onion, and bell peppers. Stir to combine.
  • Stir in cilantro. Cover and chill until serving time.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Sugar:  Please feel free to reduce the amount of sugar 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. Extra sweet 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.
  3. Dried beans: Cook each bean variety separately, as cooking times may vary depending on size and age of the dried bean. You need to cook ½ to ¾ cup of dried beans for every 15-ounce can of beans the recipe calls for.
  4. Vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar if that's what you have.
  5. Onions: 1 white, yellow, or sweet onion, or a bunch of green onions may be substituted for the red onion.
  6. Avocado: Avocado is good with everything. The avocados may darken over time, so the salad may not last as long in the refrigerator.
  7. Spicy: Add a few chopped seeded jalapeños or serranos to the salad for a little kick.
  8. Italian dressing: If you want to use Italian dressing (many readers have) just don't make the vinaigrette in this recipe. Start with using about 1 cup of dressing, taste it, and see if you think you need more.

Nutrition

Calories: 111kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 201mgPotassium: 137mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 672IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 1mg
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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. 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. ?5 stars

    1. 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

  2. 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?5 stars

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. Since a serving size is a cup, it’s already “dressed,” and it has 5 grams of protein, I would chop a bowl of romaine lettuce, throw a cup of the “caviar” into the bowl, mix it up, and enjoy my super-healthy lunch … or dinner! Yum!

  3. 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! :)5 stars

    1. 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!

  4. 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.5 stars

  5. 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!5 stars

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

  6. 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!5 stars

  7. 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 Tammy5 stars

    1. 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

    2. Hi Chastity! Thanks for the question. If you want to use Italian dressing, you omit the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt. I would start with about 1 cup of dressing and see if you think you need more. What you should do is add the dressing and then taste the salad to see if you like it. Cowboy Caviar has a sweetness to it, so if you use Italian dressing you won’t have that (but it will still be delicious). You could try adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to the bowl and see if you like that, and add more if it tastes good to you that way. With a salad like this, it’s okay for you to change it and make it taste the way you want it to! I hope this is helpful. Take care and thanks again!

    3. I just use any kind of Italian dressing but I also add in those baby pepperoni’s you can get in a package.  Makes it taste even better!5 stars

  8. 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.5 stars

    1. 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!