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. Scroll down for a video tutorial!

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.

Cowboy Caviar - a photo of a colorful salsa mixture in a clear bowl on a dark countertop background - click photo for full written recipeAnd 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.

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Cowboy Caviar - a photo of 11 dishes containing ingredients to make cowboy caviar on a dark background - click photo for full written recipe
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.Cowboy Caviar - a photo of a colorful salsa mixture in a white bowl surrounded by tortilla chips on a white bowl - click photo for full written recipe

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!

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Bowl of Cowboy Caviar with fresh chopped vegetables and black beans. Pictured in a glass bowl with a dark background.
4.98 from 44 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.

Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine American
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
  • 1/4 cup sugar (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
  • 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 1/4 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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