Cowboy Caviar Recipe

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 tailgates, 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 black 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

what you’ll need for a great cowboy caviar

This recipe is traditionally anchored by black beans and black-eyed peas. But there’s so much more!

  • black beans ~ I used canned, but if you’re up for it, definitely soak and cook dried beans, they’re wonderful!
  • black-eyed peas ~ 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.
  • fresh corn ~ don’t let the lack of fresh corn stop you from enjoying this amazing dish, thaw some frozen if necessary.
  • red onion ~ adds the perfect kick; every salsa needs a bit of red onion.
  • bell peppers ~ try to get some of every color.
  • tomatoes ~ firm tomatoes like plum work best here. Cherry tomatoes will work, too.
  • jalapeños ~ moderate the heat depending on how many you use, but don’t leave them out entirely!
  • olives ~ the brine adds another layer of complexity to the flavor profile.
  • fresh cilantro ~ I love it!

for the dressing

  • olive oil
  • fresh lime juice
  • chipotle chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
A bowl of colorful Cowboy Caviar

a vegetable chopper comes in handy with this recipe

You want all the ingredients in this confetti-like salad to be evenly and finely diced. 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 (and health benefits!) of this rainbow bean dip

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. All those colors come from super healthy phytonutrients that help protect against heart disease and certain cancers. What a great reason to go in for another dip!

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!

ingredient variations 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

I’ve got a thing for bean salads…

Cowboy caviar in a bowl with a spoon.
3.89 from 94 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! 
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 30 servings
Calories 63kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 15 ounce can of black beans well rinsed and drained
  • 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 fresh 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, rough 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.

Cook’s notes

  • 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.
  • My pretty blue bowl is made by one of tvfgi’s own American Artisans!!


Serving: 3Tbsp | Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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  • 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
    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
    Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy
    April 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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
    April 26, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I like that Cowboy Caviar – never quite heard it p

  • Reply
    April 26, 2017 at 8:42 am

    5 stars
    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
    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
    April 26, 2017 at 7:46 am

    5 stars
    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
    April 26, 2017 at 5:02 am

    5 stars
    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
    April 26, 2017 at 3:11 am

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

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