Cowboy Caviar Recipe – Love and Lemons

Made with black-eyed peas, black beans, and veggies, this cowboy caviar is an easy, fresh, and flavorful dip. It’ll be a hit at your next potluck or party!

cowboy caviar

Cowboy caviar is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser! This zesty dip is made with black-eyed peas, beans, sweet corn, and other veggies. It’s fresh, tangy, and perfect for scooping up with tortilla chips.

This cowboy caviar recipe is super easy to make, and it tastes better if you make it ahead. If you don’t already have a signature dish that you bring to potlucks, cookouts, and other get-togethers, you might have found it.

What is Cowboy Caviar?

Also called Texas caviar, cowboy caviar is a fresh black-eyed pea dip that was created by dietician and chef Helen Corbitt in the 1940s.

The dish has diverse culinary roots, with similarities to Mexican pico de gallo and ensalada de frijoles con nopales as well as Southern Hoppin’ John.

Though cowboy caviar recipes vary, they commonly contain black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onions, plus a vinaigrette dressing. Keep reading to see what’s in this one.

Cowboy caviar recipe ingredients

Cowboy Caviar Recipe Ingredients

You only need a few simple ingredients to make this cowboy caviar recipe:

  • Black beans and black-eyed peas – They make up the bulk of this hearty dip. Use canned, or cook your own.
  • Corn – If fresh corn is in season, slice the kernels straight off the cob, and add them raw! If it’s not, make this recipe with thawed frozen corn.
  • Red onion – For sharp, savory depth of flavor.
  • Red bell pepper – For color and crunch! Make sure to dice it finely, about the same size as the beans, so that you can get a little of everything in each bite.
  • Cherry tomatoes – I love how their juicy texture contrasts with the crisp veggies and creamy beans. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes on hand, chopped fresh roma tomatoes are a good substitute.
  • Jalapeño – For heat! If you’re sensitive to spice, remove the seeds and membranes before adding it to the salad, or feel free to skip it.
  • Avocado – I love its creamy texture here.
  • Cilantro – It makes the dip super fresh and flavorful.
  • Fresh lime juice and a red wine vinaigrette – They tie the dip together. The vinegar and lime make it nice and bright, while garlic, cumin, and cayenne add complexity and extra heat.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Beans, corn, jalapeño, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and black-eyed peas in a bowl

To make the cowboy caviar, place the black beans, black-eyed peas, corn, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, tomatoes, and lime juice in a big bowl, and fold to combine.

stirring cowboy caviar

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinaigrette. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture, and stir to combine.

Finally, add the avocado and cilantro, and season to taste. Enjoy!

Pouring dressing over black bean and corn mixture

Tips and Variations

  • Let it chill. This recipe tastes great right away, but it’s even better after an hour or two in the fridge. If you have time, chill the dip for a few hours—or even a day—before serving to allow the flavors to marry.
  • Give it a good stir before you eat. As the dip sits, the veggies release liquid, and the dressing sinks to the bottom of the bowl. For the best flavor, stir the dip well right before serving so that the dressing coats the veggies and beans.
  • Add the avocado at the last minute. Nobody likes brown avocado! If you’re making this recipe in advance, fold in the avocado right before serving so that it keeps its bright color and creamy texture.
  • Make it your own. This cowboy caviar recipe is fantastic as written, but there are all sorts of ways to change it up! Add a sprinkle of salty Cotija or feta cheese. Use Italian salad dressing instead of the lime juice and red wine vinaigrette. Or add a pinch of chili powder for smoky, savory flavor. Let me know what variations you try!

The Well Plated Cookbook with a bowl of Cowboy Caviar

How to Serve Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy caviar is a delicious appetizer or side dish for almost any occasion. Set it out with tortilla chips at your next picnic, potluck, or game day party, and this tasty dip will disappear in minutes.

But that’s not the only way to enjoy cowboy caviar!

  • Eat it as a salad. Swap the corn chips for a fork! This recipe tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge, so it’s a great one to meal prep for a protein-packed lunch.
  • Toss it with your favorite greens. This recipe makes a tasty salad on its own, but it’s also delicious with fresh greens mixed in.
  • Make lettuce wraps! Pile the cowboy caviar into Bibb lettuce leaves, and drizzle chipotle sauce on top.
  • Stuff it into tacos or burritos. Cowboy caviar + cilantro lime ricefajita veggies + vegan sour cream = an epic burrito filling.

How do you like to serve cowboy caviar? Let me know in the comments!


Cowboy caviar keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you’re making it ahead, wait to add the avocado until right before serving.

cowboy caviar recipe

More Favorite Dip Recipes

If you love this recipe, try one of these tasty dips next:

Cowboy Caviar

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves 8

This cowboy caviar recipe is adapted from The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke. Served with tortilla chips, it’s a fantastic party appetizer, but it’s also delicious as a salad. Toss it with greens, or enjoy it on its own.

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In a large bowl, stir together the black beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice.

  • Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the the vinegar, oil, cumin, cayenne, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture. Fold in the avocado and cilantro, and season to taste.

  • If time allows, refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry. Serve with tortilla chips.

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