This Cowboy Caviar is a wonderfully fresh, healthy, and easy-to-make dip. It’s loaded with tomatoes, avocado, beans, corn, and the best dressing infusing every bite. This recipe is popular for good reason and we make this salsa all year long.
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If you are looking to spice up your ordinary summer cookout, you have to add this to your menu. Serve it as a side dish with crispy tortilla chips or Scoops corn chips, or pair it as a side with Hamburgers and Homemade Lemonade.
This cowboy caviar is a crowd-pleaser and always disappears fast! There are many recipes for cowboy caviar, but we really love this delicious version that my classmate, Annie from nursing school, shared with me years ago. It makes a big batch so it is an ideal potluck or party appetizer; right up there with Spinach Artichoke Dip and Ceviche!
Cowboy Caviar Video Tutorial
Watch the video tutorial and see just how easy it is to make this Cowboy Caviar. If you enjoy our videos, subscribe to our youtube channel and click the bell icon so you will be the first to know when we post a new video!
What is Cowboy Caviar?
According to the stories, in the 1950’s Neiman Marcus’ food director, Helen Corbitt, introduced this dish at a party in Houston, Texas. Because of its “humble” ingredients, guests dubbed it “Cowboy Caviar”.
Is it a salsa? A dip? Or is it a black bean salad? Call it what you will, I call it delicious. Cowboy Caviar, also known as “Texas Caviar,” is a beefed-up Pico De Gallo type salsa, but unique because it’s loaded with beans, avocado, and corn and is dressed with our special ingredient, Italian dressing.
It’s so colorful with all of the fresh vegetables and those black beans add a great source of protein. Today, stores such as Costco and Trader Joe’s sell packaged versions of this popular dish, but we, of course, think fresh is best.
Time-Saving Tip: Save time by using our favorite food chopper for cutting up the tomatoes, jalapeños, avocado, onion, and bell pepper.
This cowboy caviar salsa is so colorful, loaded, and satisfying. This salsa tastes best in Summer when you can get fresh and garden-grown veggies but it’s delicious with store-bought ingredients as well.
- Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes are the tastiest in season, but the beauty of this salsa is it can be made all year long.
- Beans – We love home-cooked beans or canned black beans or black-eyed peas. Be sure they are rinsed and well-drained. We often interchange these two beans based on what we have on hand and either one works great.
- Corn – During the winter months, we use canned or frozen corn and in the summer months, we add freshly cooked Corn on the Cob.
- Avocado – Adds an irresistible creaminess. I’ve been known to sneak in extra avocado.
- Bell Pepper – We have used red, orange, yellow, and even green bell pepper. Any kind will work.
- Onion – Adds great flavor and crunch to every bite.
- Jalapeños – Don’t be intimidated by the jalapeños – the Italian dressing mellows it out and even the kids love it!
- Italian Salad Dressing – This surprising ingredient infuses every bite with incredible flavor. We love Newman’s Own brand, but you can use your favorite one or try our Homemade Italian Dressing.
- Limes, garlic, and salt – Use fresh lime juice and garlic for the best flavor.
- Cilantro – salsa would not be complete without it!
Pro Tip: Wear a glove when handling the jalapeño, and scrape out the seeds with a spoon to reduce the heat.
How to Make Cowboy Caviar
- Chop the fresh ingredients – tomatoes, avocados, onion, jalapeños, bell pepper, cilantro, fresh corn. Mince the garlic and add everything to a large bowl.
- Rinse and Drain – Black beans (and corn if using canned corn). Add to the bowl.
- Combine – Add Italian dressing, lime juice, and salt. Stir to combine and enjoy!
It really is that easy. You can make it several hours ahead and the leftovers are still great the next day.
Pro Tip: Make this side dish a complete meal by adding shredded chicken and/or cooked pasta such as penne, macaroni, or fusilli just before you mix all of the ingredients together. To make it a totally simple, no-cooking-required meal, purchase a rotisserie chicken from the deli and omit the pasta.
A bowl of fresh vegetables surely has great nutritional value. With black beans and/or black-eyed peas, this recipe is a great source of fiber and protein. Of course, you could choose a healthier option than tortilla chips for scooping, but I am not judging.
This recipe is so versatile and modifications based on personal preference or which ingredients you have on hand are so simple to make. Want to add red onion instead of white onion? Chili powder instead of jalapenos for an extra kick? Canned corn kernels instead of fresh corn on the cob? By all means… substitute. It is so simple and you really cannot go wrong.
Texas Caviar can easily be prepared up to two days ahead of time and be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Longer than two days, and the vegetables will start to lose their crispness. This recipe is also easily doubled or tripled for your party crowd.
How to Serve Cowboy Caviar
- Appetizer – We always serve Cowboy Caviar with tortilla chips as an appetizer. It’s perfect for parties because it makes a big batch. My husband and I often skip dinner and just make a big batch of this black bean salad in the evening with crunchy tortilla chips.
- Topping – If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, it can be served as a topping for Beef Tacos, burritos, Nachos, or over Pan-Seared Steak.
- Side Dish – You can serve this as a salad or side dish for a potluck. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
This recipe for Cowboy Caviar is a keeper. Make this once and you will make it again and again.
More Party Appetizers
These are our best appetizers, from salsas to dips and small bites. These are the top-rated recipes that always get rave reviews:
Cowboy Caviar Recipe
- 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced
- 1 large avocado , peeled, pitted and diced
- 15 oz can corn, drained (or from 1 cooked cob of corn)
- 15 oz can black beans, well rinsed and drained (or make your own)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, About 1/2 cup chopped
- 3-4 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 cup light Italian Dressing, *
- 4 medium garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, combine diced tomatoes, chopped onion and bell pepper, seeded and diced jalapeño, sliced avocado, fresh (or drained canned) corn, rinsed and drained black beans, and chopped cilantro.
- Stir in 3-4 Tbsp of lime juice, 1/2 cup of Italian dressing, 4 pressed garlic cloves, and 1 tsp of salt or season to taste. Mix everything together and serve with tortilla chips.