Make this Cowboy Caviar recipe for your next get-together and watch how quickly it disappears from the table!
Lime vinaigrette adds a tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with this vegetarian-friendly dish. You can serve it on its own as a salad or dip, or incorporate it into a full meal.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your summer potlucks or fall tailgates, you need to try this cowboy caviar recipe!
It’s packed with protein and fiber from black-eyed peas, beans, and vegetables, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a light but filling snack that will leave you feeling satisfied.
I love serving it with air fryer tortilla chips as a fresh take on salsa, but you can also spoon it over salad greens, add it to tacos, or even serve it as a side dish with grilled chicken.
Go ahead and make extra because leftovers keep well in the fridge for days and there are plenty of ways to enjoy this tasty treat throughout the week.
What is it called Cowboy Caviar?
Cowboy caviar, also known as Texas caviar, is a bean and corn dish that’s a cross between a salad and a salsa.
Many people think the name “cowboy caviar” comes from the idea that this salad was traditionally made by cowboys as tasty and convenient way to supplement their diet while working hard outdoors. While that’s a fun image, it was actually created in the 1940s by a New Yorker living in Texas and was dubbed cowboy caviar as a tongue-in-cheek nod to expensive salted fish caviar.
The ingredients for this cowboy caviar recipe are inexpensive and easy to find at any grocery store, which is one of the reasons I love it so much!
To make it, you’ll need:
- Fresh Tomatoes. I like using roma or plum tomatoes for this recipe, since they’re nice and meaty. For the best results, remove the seeds and dice the tomato. You could also use halved cherry or grape tomatoes!
- Black Eyed Peas and Black Beans. You’ll use one can of each type of bean for this recipe. I buy low sodium versions and always make sure to rinse the beans well!
- Frozen Corn.
- Bell Peppers.
- Jalapeno Pepper.
You’ll also need some pantry staples to make the delicious lime vinaigrette that brings everything together and adds so much flavor:
- Fresh Lime Juice.
- White Wine Vinegar.
- Maple Syrup.
- Chili Powder.
- Garlic Powder.
- Dried Oregano.
- Dried Basil.
Tip for making cowboy caviar
Start by mixing up the vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl. One well mixed, you can add the beans and vegetables right into the same bowl. This way, you only end up with one dirty dish!
Once the vegetables are coated with vinaigrette, you can serve the salsa immediately. For the best flavor though, I like to refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. This gives the flavors time to mingle and the vegetables to take on a lightly pickled flavor.
You can also make Texas caviar in advance. It stores well in the refrigerator for about 5 days, but the vegetables will soften as it sits. If I’m serving it to guests or bringing it to a party, I don’t like to make it more than one day ahead of time. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Pro Tip: Finely diced cilantro has a tendency to clump up in a way that makes it difficult to blend well when added along with other ingredients. Adding it by itself at the end helps it distribute more evenly throughout the recipe.
Substitutions and Variations
As written, this dish has medium heat. You can adjust the spiciness by reducing or eliminating the jalapeno — or adding more! You can also use jarred pickled jalapenos instead of fresh ones.
Here are some other easy swaps that you might want to consider based on what you have in your kitchen:
Try sweet onions instead of red onions.
Hate cilantro? You can use parsley instead.
You can use honey instead of maple syrup. Just keep in mind that the recipe will no longer be vegan.
Add salty crumbled cheese, like cotija or feta.
More healthy dips and salads for tailgating
- Low Carb Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Spicy Bacon and Scallion Dip
- Pumpkin Beer Cheese Dip
- Beet Hummus with Walnuts and Feta
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon basil
For the salad:
- 4 Roma or plum tomatoes seeded and diced
- 1 can 15 ounces blackeyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 can 15 ounced black beans, rinsed and drained
- 20 ounces frozen corn thawed
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- In a large mixing bowl, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the lime juice, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, and spices.
- Add the black-eyed peas, black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, onion, and jalapeno. Mix gently until coated.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro.