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.

Just like classic Pico de Gallo and Guacamole, this is one of those appetizers you’ll make over and over. Watch the video tutorial and you’ll be craving this ‘Texas Caviar’ until you finally make it.

Cowboy caviar dip in a large bowl with a serving spoon

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Cowboy Caviar

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  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.

tortilla chip scooping fresh cowboy caviar ingredients avocado, corn, black beans, red pepper

Time-Saving Tip: Save time by using our favorite food chopper for cutting up the tomatoes, jalapeños, avocado, onion, and bell pepper.

Ingredients

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!
ingredients to make Cowboy Caviar corn, tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, black beans, italian dressing, cilantro, limes, bell peppers, avocado

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

  1. Chop the fresh ingredients – tomatoes, avocados, onion, jalapeños, bell pepper, cilantro, fresh corn. Mince the garlic and add everything to a large bowl.
  2. Rinse and Drain – Black beans (and corn if using canned corn). Add to the bowl.
  3. 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.

Cowboy caviar ingredients diced in a large bowl ready to combine

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.

Common Questions

Is Cowboy Caviar healthy?

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.

Can I substitute…

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.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

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.
tortilla chip scooping fresh cowboy caviar ingredients avocado, corn, black beans, red pepper

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

5 from 209 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
This Cowboy Caviar salsa is wonderfully fresh, healthy, simple, and loaded with fresh vegetables! We make this recipe all summer long.  It makes a big batch so it is an ideal summer party dip.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 10 people
  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

We like to use either Newman’s Own or Olive Garden brand light Italian dressing. 

Nutrition Per Serving

149kcal Calories19g Carbs4g Protein6g Fat586mg Sodium436mg Potassium5g Fiber3g Sugar745IU Vitamin A30.7mg Vitamin C27mg Calcium1.3mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Cowboy Caviar Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
149
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
6
g
9
%
Sodium
 
586
mg
25
%
Potassium
 
436
mg
12
%
Carbohydrates
 
19
g
6
%
Fiber
 
5
g
21
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
745
IU
15
%
Vitamin C
 
30.7
mg
37
%
Calcium
 
27
mg
3
%
Iron
 
1.3
mg
7
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Tex Mex
Keyword: Cowboy Caviar
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 149
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

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Comments

  • Nadya Cohrs
    June 15, 2024

    Love love love this caviar! It’s addictive and I am asked of this recipe anytime I make it for any gatherings or bring it to potluck get togetherness.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 15, 2024

      I’m so happy it has been a hit, Nadya!

      Reply

  • Joanne S
    June 12, 2024

    Made this for a pool party at our house on Sunday and it was outstanding, thanks Natasha for another great recipe! Your cookbook is always my go to for entertaining or when I have to bring dish to a party. This says it serves 10 people, what actually is a serving size?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 12, 2024

      Thank you for your awesome feedback, Joanne! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It does make a very large bowl of salsa. Unfortunately, I didn’t portion out individual servings to measure it out that way. I would guess it makes 8-9 cups of salsa, so just over 3/4 cup per serving.

      Reply

  • Kathy
    May 19, 2024

    Why can’t I post a comment because it’s too short? I was replying to someone else’s post about not having any tomatoes so she used canned. I thought it was an excellent idea. A compliment shouldn’t have to read like an essay. Thank you. And by the way this is an excellent recipe. I will make again.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 19, 2024

      Hi Kathy, we have to do that to prevent spam comments – its one of the measures we have to take otherwise we risk getting bombarded.

      Reply

  • Kathy
    May 19, 2024

    I’ve made this before and it is absolutely delicious. I will make this over and over again.

    Reply

  • Margaret
    May 18, 2024

    This sounds crazy but one winter day I has everything I needed to make this but I forgot the grape tomatoes. Its 10 miles to the grocery store. Only tomatoes i had were in a can. I opened a can and threw them in a colander then rinsed and drained well. Done it many times since. I use petite diced tomatoes.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 18, 2024

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Margaret! I’m so glad that worked well!

      Reply

  • Kim Herschaft
    March 26, 2024

    Great recipe. I made my own Italian dressing because I didn’t have any on hand. It was delicious!

    Reply

  • Ora
    March 9, 2024

    I think that was too much Italian dressing for a Mexican dish. I tasted an awful lot of Italian dressing so next time I think I do a fourth of a cup.

    Reply

  • Margaret
    February 10, 2024

    Has anyone tried making this with Rotel? Just wondering if it would be good. The tomatoes where I live are not good this time of year.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 10, 2024

      Hi Margaret, I have not tried this with Rotel to advise, I looked through the comments also and don’t see anyone mentioning using if, but if you happen to experiment I’d love to know the outcome.

      Reply

    • Margaret
      May 18, 2024

      From one Margaret to another I have had it with Rotel and I hated it. I thought it just ruined it.

      Reply

  • Geepee Almazan
    January 31, 2024

    Hi Natasha,

    First of all I would like to greet you a very warm hello from land down under (Australia ), and how are you? I would like to say a very big thanks for sharing this cowboy caviar recipe of yours it was very delicious and like you said this disappear quickly. I paired it with birria tacos. This cowboy caviar is different from what I firstly made. A very big thanks to you. I am going to make another batch upon request. Cheers Geepee

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 1, 2024

      Hello there, thank you for your comments and we’re doing great! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed our Cowboy Caviar recipe a lot!

      Reply

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