Cowboy Caviar Recipe

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Cowboy Caviar ~ whether you call it Texas caviar, black bean salsa, black eyed pea salad, or Southwestern bean salad, this cross between a salsa and a salad is just plain GOOD!

Cowboy Caviar ~ whether you call it Texas caviar, black bean salsa, black-eyed pea salad, or Southwestern bean dip, this all-American cross between a salsa and a salad is just plain GOOD!  It’s a multi-tasker that’s always welcome at barbecues and potlucks, and it has Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, and 4th of July written all over it.

Cowboy Caviar in a bowl with chips and lime

Cowboy caviar is a healthy rainbow bean salad that doubles as a dip, a salsa, and an all around people pleaser!

Sit me down in front of a bowl of this colorful cowboy caviar, throw in a pile of chips, and I won’t come up for air until I’ve polished it off ~ definitely my kind of food.  And between the beans and all the veggies, this is substantial food, chunky enough to double as a side dish.  But whether you call it a dip, salsa or salad, it’s a healthy dynamo, so the more you scoop up with your chips or pile on your plate, the better.

Ingredients for Cowboy Caviar in a bowl

Cowboy caviar is traditionally anchored by black beans and black-eyed peas.

I used a can of black beans, but when I couldn’t locate canned black-eyed peas at my store, I used dried.  They don’t need to be soaked, and they cook up surprisingly quickly.  I love the contrast between the two types of beans, it’s a really pretty effect in the caviar.

A bowl of colorful Cowboy Caviar

A vegetable chopper comes in handy with this recipe

because there are so many things to chop and you want them all to be evenly and finely diced.  In my Salmon with Pineapple Jalapeño Salsa post I go into detail about why I love my Alligator Chopper.  if you do a lot of recipes that require fine chopping, it’s a wonderful time saver.  If you plan to use this cowboy caviar as a salad you can afford to go a little bigger with the size of the pieces and a knife will work just fine.  But for a salsa, everything needs to be fine enough to fit nicely on a chip!

Cowboy Caviar in a blue bowl with spoon

Color is key to the charm of this cowboy caviar ~

bold bell peppers pop against the black and white beans…with bright yellow corn, vivid red tomatoes, black olives along with pimento stuffed greens, and purple onions all contributing to the rainbow effect.

Cowboy Caviar is a high protein, high fiber salsa or side salad that will take you right through the spring and summer season ~ everybody raves about it!

Other ingredients to use in your cowboy caviar:

  •  avocado
  • green onions
  • jicama
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • garden peas
  • cucumber

Cowboy Caviar with corn chips in a colorful bowl

Reader Rave ~

“This is one of my favorite tailgate snacks to make!! The colors are perfection!”  ~ Annie

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3.46 from 68 votes

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar ~ whether you call it Texas caviar, black bean salsa, black-eyed pea salad, or Southwestern bean dip, this all-American cross between a salsa and a salad is just plain GOOD!  It's a multi-tasker that's always welcome at barbecues and potlucks, and it has Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, and 4th of July written all over it.
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Yield 6 cups salsa


  • 1 15- ounce can of black beans well rinsed and drained
  • 1 15- ounce can of black-eyed peas well rinsed and drained
  • 1 ear of corn kernels removed (the corn can be cooked or raw)
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 jalapenos to taste minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped green stuffed olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped black or kalamata olives
  • a large handful of fresh cilantro leaves chopped


  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice to 2 large limes
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together and taste to adjust it to your liking.
  • Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently.
  • The salad is best if made a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the flavors to develop and mingle. It keeps for a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  • These amounts are approximate, you will just eyeball it.  A rough guide is to include an equal amount of veggies to beans ~ and lots of cilantro 🙂
  • The corn can be cooked or raw, but I think it has the best flavor when it's grilled, and it gets nice char marks that way, too.  You can set it right on the grill in or out of its husk, and turn frequently with tongs until it starts to steam or soften.
  • I've got a thing for bean salads ~ check out my MEDITERRANEAN BEAN SALAD, it's made with chickpeas and creamy cannelini beans.  My LAYERED 7-BEAN SALAD IN A JAR is a fun way to serve a healthy salad at parties, but also a handy grab and go working lunch.  And my DECONSTRUCTED HUMMUS SALAD  is a chunky take on everybody's favorite appetizer.
  • My pretty blue bowl is made by one of tvfgi's own AMERICAN ARTISANS!

Thanks for pinning this colorful and healthy cowboy caviar!


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  • Reply
    Anna Jennings
    January 18, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Question: can the corn be canned (rinsed and drained)? I did buy one ear of corn but it’s pitiful looking and I have a bag of frozen white corn. Which do you think? I love your recipes and photos. Thank you:).

    • Reply
      January 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Anna <3 I prefer fresh, and next to that, frozen, but you can use canned in a pinch. I would definitely rinse well to get rid of an much of that ‘canned’ flavor as possible.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 9:53 am

    We have been eating this for years – the original recipe I found was Texas Caviar…but we just call it ‘crack’ now – even though our recipe makes a bunch, we always double it as much of it gets eaten literally, right out of the bowl. The dressing we use is a mix of rice wine vinegar, cumin, olive oil, garlic powder and chili powder – boiled for few minutes then cooled – to die for!! Thanks for sharing and reminding me that it’s been a while since I made this.

    • Reply
      January 4, 2018 at 10:53 am

      The chili powder sounds like a fabulous idea. I don’t think about making this so much in the colder months, but maybe I should!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Sue: Nice colors and excellent repertoire! An alternative suggestion: Black or Beluga Lentils to sub for black beans. These will have to be cooked for about 30 minutes. The effect is stunning as the lentils more closely resemble caviar in shape and size. Also they present great contrast in green leaf salads with arugula, for example. I’m seeing our local gourmet restaurants including them in their salads. Great ideas you’re showcasing. Why eat bland when, as Petula Clark sang back in the day, “You can Color my world with sunshine!”

    • Reply
      December 21, 2017 at 8:15 am

      Love that idea, those little black lentils are wonderful, and I think they’d be great in this salsa, thanks Bruce 🙂

  • Reply
    May 4, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Want to make this! In the Dressing ingredients, is it supposed to be 1 tspn. chipotle chili powder OR 1 tspn. chipotle chili pepper, as it appears? Thank you!

    • Reply
      July 3, 2017 at 11:46 am

      That’s powder, sorry Janet, I fixed it!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    April 29, 2017 at 6:31 am

    This is one of my favorite tailgate snacks to make!! The colors are perfection!

    • Reply
      April 29, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Thanks Annie, the colors make it so much more fun and delicious!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Love this amazing bowl of goodness and all the flavors, my kind of salad.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    April 27, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Yes please, I could easily eat my weight in this colorful salsa! (All I need is a margarita to go with! ;))

    • Reply
      April 28, 2017 at 7:16 am

      I’m glad you like this Laura, and yes, I pretty much did eat my weight in it…and I’m not sorry 🙂

  • Reply
    April 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

    This would be hard to resist on any holiday buffet table. GREG

    • Reply
      April 28, 2017 at 7:16 am

      thanks Greg ~ and the bonus is that it keeps so well, no wilting or spoiling.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    April 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I wouldn’t even need chips for this. I’d eat it right out of the bowl like a salad! LOVE!! It’s so pretty and colorful too!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2017 at 11:47 am

    This must be super are the second one topost today! Must try!

  • Reply
    Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy
    April 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Cowboy Caviar! What a fascinating name! I am never ever calling it ‘black bean salad’ ever again!!!!

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Haha! Caviar is a great description of the texture, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    April 26, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Love both black beans and black-eyed peas, but given my druthers (glad I don’t have to make the decision!), it’s black-eyed peas all the way for me. And you’re right — they cook so quickly, don’t they? Love the looks of this. And the flavor! Good stuff — thanks.

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 10:32 am

      To be honest John I barely cooked them at all, after they came to a boil for a minute, I turned off the heat and let them soak for an hour. They were just perfect and still had a nice ‘bite’ to them. I decided not to go into that method in the post because some people say you shouldn’t eat under cooked beans ~ the jury is still out on how much they have to be cooked to be safe.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    April 26, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Goodness this bowl of deliciousness looks fantastic. All the color and textures and the flavor must be over the top! Brilliant recipe for any get together or for my lunch for the week 🙂

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 10:33 am

      This is the perfect take along salad, you’re right Tricia ~

  • Reply
    April 26, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Such a colorful dish/caviar/salad/dip/etc… Love that this can be a meal in and of itself. So filling and healthy.

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 8:46 am

      It really can be a meal, Anya, and a healthy one at that. A great working lunch too 🙂

  • Reply
    Luci's Morsels
    April 26, 2017 at 8:16 am

    I love a quick and healthy snack! This looks like it certainly won’t disappoint. Yummy! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I like that Cowboy Caviar – never quite heard it p

  • Reply
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    April 26, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I am totally addicted to this stuff and could put it on everything. Grilled chicken or fish – yes! I have never added olives and jalapenos but I’ll bet it adds so much flavor. Perfect spring and summer potluck dish.

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Addicted is the right word for it, this salad pushes all my buttons!

  • Reply
    Deborah @ The Harvest Kitchen
    April 26, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Gorgeous gorgeous salsa!! I bet there’s never any leftovers!! (I love the bowl too!)

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Thanks Deborah ~ this recipe makes a big batch but we had no trouble going through it! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    April 26, 2017 at 5:02 am

    I have never tried cowboy caviar, but putting it on my list to try right now! Looks delicious and such a great snack 🙂

    • Reply
      April 26, 2017 at 7:12 am

      I really loved this Jennifer, and it absolutely makes a great high protein pick-me-up snack any time!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    April 26, 2017 at 3:11 am

    Lots of colours and flavours…my kind of everyday salsa! I love your salsa bowl too, Sue.