Cowboy Caviar

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

This cowboy caviar recipe comes from The Well Plated Cookbook by my friend Erin Clarke. If you don’t already have a signature dish that you bring to potlucks, cookouts, and other get-togethers, you might have found it.

This zesty dip is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—fresh, tangy, and perfect for scooping up with tortilla chips. It’s also super easy to make, and it tastes better if you make it ahead. Trust me, you want it in your back pocket.

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 sweet corn’s 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.
  • 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 this cowboy caviar recipe super fresh and flavorful.
  • 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 this cowboy caviar recipe, 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 cowboy caviar 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. Amp up the flavor with cilantro lime dressing or vegan ranch.
  • 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 cowboy caviar recipe, try one of these tasty dip recipes next:

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Cowboy Caviar

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 30 votes
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.


  • cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 large avocados, pitted and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips, for serving



  • 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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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Dixie Kubacki

    5 stars
    I’m allergic to avocado. So I don’t use. But love love love salads. And this is one of my favs. I eat it right by itself !!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Dixie, I’m so glad you love the recipe!

  2. Claudia

    5 stars
    Loved it! Great dressing and it’s great to have another recipe that uses black eyed peas!

  3. Ginnie

    5 stars
    Made it, absolutely loved it.
    Thank you so much.
    I shall certainly make this regularly this and every summer.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  4. Essa

    5 stars
    Really good, though next time I’ll halve the cayenne. A little too spicy for me, but it’s really just a matter of preference. It sure didn’t stop me from eating it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Tayler Wiles

    5 stars
    Loved it! My family did too! 😋

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so happy to hear!

  6. Mary

    5 stars
    I made this without the beans and just used more corn cut off the cob. And also used chopped pickled red onions instead of fresh. Everyone loved the flavors so much, couldn’t stop raving about it. They were eating it with chips and on top of tacos and just by itself by the spoonful.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  7. Catherine

    5 stars
    This recipe was absolutely delicious, I added medium size shrimp to it and served it over roasted cod. It’s so versatile, definitely was a hit and will make it again!

    Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Donna

    4 stars
    Very tasty – but I think I’ll add lime instaed of vinegar for the acid next time. Took to a ladies night – it worked great and ladies liked it.
    I looked for the calorie and nutritional information on your recipe- could not find it on your page.
    That info is very important to me.

  9. Cristine

    5 stars
    This is a hit, made it 3 times this week (upon request after first batch). Served as a dip, salsa for tacos, and taco bowls.

  10. Denise

    What is the nutrition breakdown of this cowboy caviar?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m sorry, I don’t calculate nutrition facts.

  11. Becky

    5 stars
    Perfection! I love this recipe so much and am so happy to have found this blog!

  12. Sonika

    Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  13. Sabrina from

    a classic, has just about all of my current favorite food groups, thank you!

  14. Erin@WellPlated

    THANK YOU so much for sharing this! The name has always cracked me up, but it’s a way of life back home! xoxo

  15. Emily from

    I have never heard it called cowboy caviar before. What a fun name! Do you have an extra virgin olive oil brand you love? Flavor changes so much bottle by bottle and region by region.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Emily, I love California Olive Ranch and I also enjoy Thrive Market’s olive oil. I also often get the 365 brand olive oil at Whole Foods and ALDI’s Italian olive oil is great.

      I hope you enjoy!

  16. JoHn

    Thanks, and our all time favorite is your vegetable ceviche!!! And a mandaline makes them so much easier.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve been loving the veggie ceviche!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.