Cowboy Caviar


Cowboy caviar is a quick, refreshing dish made with black-eyed peas and other pantry staples you're sure to have on hand. It comes together in minutes and develops more flavor as it sits in the fridge, so consider taking this crowd-pleasing dip to picnics, parties, or potlucks.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Additional Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

Cowboy caviar, a crowd-pleasing and incredibly easy appetizer that comes together in minutes, will quickly earn a permanent spot in your recipe box.

What Is Cowboy Caviar?

Cowboy caviar, also called Texas caviar, is a refreshing salad of black-eyed peas and other ingredients tossed in a vinaigrette dressing.

It was invented in 1940 by Helen Corbitt in Texas. Corbitt, who later became the food service director for the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, first served the dish on New Year's Eve at the Houston Country Club.

So why is it called "cowboy caviar?" The dish got its tongue-in-cheek name when Corbitt served it at the Driskill Hotel in Austin — it's meant to be a funny comparison to true caviar, which is much more expensive and difficult to come by.

Cowboy Caviar Ingredients

Here's what you'll need to make this colorful cowboy caviar recipe:

  • Canned veggies: Cowboy caviar starts in the canned food aisle. You'll need one can of black beans, one can of black-eyed peas, and one can of diced tomatoes.
  • Frozen corn: This recipe calls for frozen corn, but you can use a (drained) can of whole kernel corn if it's more convenient.
  • Fresh veggies and herbs: You'll need an onion, a green bell pepper, and fresh cilantro.
  • Pickled jalapeños: For spicier flavor, use a diced fresh jalapeño instead of jarred jalapeños.
  • Garlic salt: Garlic salt takes the flavor up a notch, but you can use regular salt if you like.
  • Salad dressing: A cup of Italian salad dressing brings the whole dish together.

Optional additional ingredients include avocado, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, fresh garlic, and scallions. This dish is super customizable, so it's easy to make it your own.

How to Make Cowboy Caviar

It truly couldn't be easier to make this cowboy caviar recipe: Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl! Find the full, step-by-step recipe below for more detailed instructions.

Can You Make Cowboy Caviar Ahead of Time?

Yes, this cowboy caviar is a great make-ahead recipe. In fact, since you'll need to let it chill in the fridge for a bit to allow the flavors to meld, it might actually make more sense to make this recipe a day or two in advance.

bean salad in bowl next to tortilla chips and plates

How to Serve Cowboy Caviar

Traditionally, cowboy caviar is served as an appetizer with tortilla chips. But that's not the only way to enjoy this Southern staple! You can also serve it as a light salad alongside your dinner or you can make it a meal by layering it with rice or lettuce.

How to Store Cowboy Caviar

Store cowboy caviar in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. We don't recommend freezing this dish, as some of the ingredients don't freeze well.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"Easy, delicious, and multiplies easily for a crowd," raves GOOEYDAY. "Substitutions work well. I use fresh garlic (in lieu of salt) and serve with a big chunk of avocado."

"This is my go-to recipe," says Carol (WI). "I love to take this for food days at work and for family functions. It's delicious. You can make it hotter by using jalapeños or you can make it mild by using green chiles."

"This is a summer staple around our house," according to steveweis. "I put everything but the kitchen sink in this one and it is always good. I usually make a double batch and substitute banana peppers for the jalapeño peppers."

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

  • ½ medium onion, diced

  • ¼ medium green bell pepper, finely chopped

  • ½ cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers

  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing

  • ¾ cup chopped cilantro


  1. Mix black beans, black-eyed peas, diced tomatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers together in a large bowl. Season with garlic salt, then pour in Italian salad dressing and add cilantro. Mix until well coated.

  2. Refrigerate until flavors have melded, at least 20 minutes or up to 3 days, before serving.



 This cowboy caviar is also delicious over a salad, rice, or quinoa.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

233 Calories
9g Fat
32g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 233
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Sodium 1255mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 15mg 76%
Calcium 86mg 7%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 465mg 10%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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