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!

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 3/4 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 1/2 to 3/4 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 112 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 111kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup 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.

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 3/4 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 1/2 to 3/4 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: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 672IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Jim

    Try balsamic vinegar instead of adding sugar. I also like soy sauce to balance the flavors and that five sense of taste–umami. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Tammy

    I usually add jalopenos, leave out the sugar (diabetic) and add fresh lime juice instead of the vinegar. It just changes it up to a more southwest flavor. Add cooked chicken, quinoa or pasta to it the next day with more of the vinaigrette for a really good side dish or hot weather meal.5 stars

    1. Christy L Brinkley

      that’s a great idea! thanks

  3. Rosario

    This is lovely. Just lovely. My kind of sandwich. I
    never knew tomatoes and avocado go together.5 stars

  4. Janet

    This recipe was great. I used what I had in my pantry and also substituted apple cider vinegar for white vinegar. The results made an easy summer side dish for burgers!5 stars

  5. Jewls

    Love this recipe. Thanks for sharing. My family is crazy about it. I generally substitute whatever is in my kitchen and pantry. It always comes out great. For those worried about the sugar, we substitute Stevia to taste. Voila! Sugar free :)5 stars

  6. kevin p mccabe

    We leave out the oil and sugar. I add a Jalapeno pepper diced diced up. I also add a combo of red wine, white wine and a touch of balsamic. Some Cumin and chipotle chili powder. We make this weekly.5 stars

  7. Mitra S

    Best Cowboy Salad that I have made. My picky son devour on it :).5 stars

  8. Ally

    absolutely loved this recipe-such a fun summer side dish. didnt have any black eyed peas so i used a can of canneli beans and it came out just as great! also added a bunch of tajin.5 stars

  9. Jim Bob Joe

    Used a can of ro-tel tomatoes with green chiles instead of fresh and it turned out good.

  10. Tia

    I made this for the first time last night, with a coupl.e of minor tweaks. I used a bag of Baby Sweet Peppers, (Red, Yellow and Orange), and instead of Roma tomatoes, I used Sunset Wild Wonders Gourmet Medley Tomatoes (Orange, yellow, wtiahite, red, and brown) cut in quarters. Turned out so good I’m making it again today.5 stars

  11. Stephanie Taylor

    So good! Used 2 cans black beans I stead of black eyed peas (couldn’t find any). Next time I’d use a little less sugar. Yum!5 stars

  12. lisa conley

    Thank you for the recipe will make tomorrow for a birthday party 🥳

  13. Nanci

    I just made this again – reduced the sugar. It is amazing!5 stars

  14. Lisa

    Made this for the first time last Saturday for a party! I actually followed the recipe and it was spot on delicious and a huge hit!! This will be my future go to for sure!! Thanks 😊5 stars

  15. Jennie

    I just love this ! My family can’t get enough of it. We make a double batch and it’s gone in 1day. I also mix in 1 cup diced avacado and add in some crumbled up bacon.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jennie, thank you so much for this! The avocado and bacon additions sound divine. I will definitely try that next time I make if. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks again – Meggan

  16. Jenny Doyle

    What a fantastic recipe. My family and friends love it. I’ve made it about a dozen times and always receive compliments. It’s easy and versatile, too. Sometimes I leave out the chili powder and add balsamic vinegar, sometimes I add garlic and mustard powder to the vinaigrette, sometimes add other vegetables, always rave reviews. Thank you very much.5 stars

  17. Lynn

    I made this for thanksgiving and it made a lot!!! So much that I wondered if you can freeze it. I will probably eat a little more not sure about the rest of my family.5 stars

  18. Kathy Berrier

    You had a lot comments about the cowboy caviar so if some already made this observation, I apologize. Onions and bell peppers are some of the few veg that freeze well without blanching so I tried freezing part of a completed batch. And guess what! It was fantastic! I would let it marinate in the fridge for a day or 2 to boost flavor, but wouldn’t this work well as a make-ahead for a large gathering? BTW, your recipe worked well for me, even without cilantro, which I am not fond of. Thanks so much, Kathy/western Wisconsin5 stars

  19. Lynn Morella

    This is the perfect recipe ! Thank you very much for all your time and energy that goes into all that you do!5 stars

  20. Suzana

    I made this today. Since we are on a low carb diet, instead of the sugar and vinigar, i did a little olive oil and chilli powder. Also added chopped green chilis. The k8ds love it a little spicy and so do i. Thank you for the base recipe.5 stars

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