Cowboy Caviar is an easy recipe that’s always a huge hit at parties. It’s made with fresh & simple ingredients, and you can assemble it in just about 20 minutes!
What is Cowboy Caviar Made Of?
Cowboy Caviar is made with freshly chopped vegetables and beans, and it’s all tossed with a simple red wine vinaigrette. (I also like to add a touch of lime juice to brighten everything up.)
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Fresh tomatoes
- Red onion
- Bell pepper
Yes, we’re squeezing 9 varieties of plants into one delicious bowl!
This is a very flexible recipe, so if you don’t have a particular vegetable on hand, or don’t like one of the ingredients, you can simply leave it out. I don’t always have corn or avocado on hand, and this recipe is still delicious without them.
Why is it called Cowboy Caviar?
Whether you call is Texas Caviar or Cowboy Caviar, this dish got it’s name as a playful alternative to the more expensive fish-based caviar. This version is far more affordable and accessible!
Cowboy Caviar was created by Helen Corbitt in the 1940s, when she served it at a New Year’s Eve party in Texas. Eating black eyed peas is thought to bring good luck and prosperity for a new year, and tossing them with lots of veggies, and a simple vinaigrette, makes them taste much more appealing!
How to Make It
To make this easy bean salad, you’ll just have to stir together the dressing and chop the veggies. If you’re efficient with your time, it can be ready to eat in just about 20 minutes!
For the best texture, I like to chop the vegetables into small pieces– about the same size as a bean. That way, you get a little bit of everything with each bite.
For jalapenos, I dice them even smaller, so they won’t be too overwhelming. They don’t add too much spice, as long as you leave out the seeds and white pith.
When you mix the dressing in the bottom of the bowl first, you don’t even need to dirty another dish. It’s an easy one-bowl recipe!
I use maple syrup as the sweetener to balance out the acidity of the vinegar, but you can use any other sweetener you like.
As written, this recipe is vegan-friendly, and you can leave out the oil if you need to.
How To Serve It
You can serve Cowboy Caviar as a salad, eating it with just a fork, or you can bring it to a party to serve as a dip with chips.
How Long Does it Last?
You can store Cowboy Caviar in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days without it getting too soggy.
If you want to make this salad in advance, I’d recommend that you wait to add the avocado and cilantro until shortly before serving. That way the salad will have the most fresh taste and texture.
Cowboy Caviar (Easy Bean Salad)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- freshly ground black pepper
Cowboy Caviar. Assembly
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz.) can black eyed peas , drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 3 roma tomatoes , chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (see notes)
- 1 bell pepper , chopped (seeds removed)
- 1 jalapeno , seeds and white pith removed, and diced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro , chopped
- 1 ripe avocado , diced
- In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt, maple syrup, garlic, and several grinds of black pepper. Whisk well to combine.
- To the bowl full of dressing, add in the drained black beans, black eyed peas, red onion, tomato, corn, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado. Toss gently, coating all of the vegetables in the dressing.
- Let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes, then serve! You can enjoy it as a salad, directly with a fork, or serve it as a dip with chips.
- Leftover cowboy caviar can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours. If you want to make this salad in advance, I recommend waiting to add in the avocado and cilantro until right before serving. (This will help prevent browning and a soggy texture.)
Nutrition information is for 1 of 6 servings. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
More Party Appetizers
If you need another healthy recipe that would be great for a party, try one of the options below.
- The Best Bean Dip (no cheese!)
- Brownie Batter Hummus
- Vegan Nacho Cheese (like the movie theater)
- Cashew Queso (copycat vegan Rotel dip)
- 5-Minute Hummus
If you try this Cowboy Caviar recipe, or any other recipe on my website, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all learn from each other’s experience.
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite dish to bring to a party?