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Cowboy caviar is a flavor packed mix between a salad and a salsa. Filled with black beans, black eyed peas, avocado, corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, and more – this cold salad is the perfect party appetizer.
Cowboy caviar is my new favorite party dish. This flavorful concoction is a mix between a vegetable bean salad and a salsa. Like a dip or a salsa, you can serve it cold with tortilla chips.
Or, use it to top a mix greens salad, your next batch of tacos, or eat all alone with a fork. That’s the brilliance of cowboy caviar, it can be enjoyed in so many ways.
You’ll find beans, avocado, corn, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, jalapenos, and cilantro in this magical salsa-dip. Plus, it’s topped with an amazing homemade vinaigrette that ties all of these fresh flavors together.
How To Make Cowboy Caviar
Making cowboy caviar is incredibly easy because it requires little more than chopping up vegetables and stirring ingredients in a bowl. It’s THAT easy. No cooking, no baking, and you don’t have to turn on the stove. I call that a win.
First, open up your cans of black beans and black eyed peas. Rinse and drain them in a colander and set aside.
Then, dice your vegetables and fresh herbs. This includes your red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeños.
When cleaning your jalapeños, feel free to leave some of the seeds and membranes inside, if you’d like to make your cowboy caviar hotter. If not, clean out all seeds and membranes before dicing. This is where most of the heat is found in a jalapeño.
In a very large bowl, add your rinsed beans, diced vegetables and herbs, as well as your corn. Then, set your salad ingredients aside.
Cowboy Caviar Dressing
Cowboy caviar would not be complete without a vinaigrette dressing. I love to make homemade dressings because they taste more vibrant, fresh, and flavorful than anything I can find in the store.
In a bowl, combine all of your dressing ingredients – olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. I like to add cumin for a hint of southwestern flavor.
Whisk together your dressing, then pour over your bean and vegetable mixture.
Gently toss everything until evenly coated. I like to make my cowboy caviar at least 30 minutes ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. This salad holds together well and can even be made a full day ahead.
The genius part about this recipe is that it’s so easy to make with any ingredients you have on hand. Cowboy caviar is flexible like that.
I like to use black beans and black eyed peas for variety and visual appeal. However, you’re welcome to use all of one type of bean, or even substitute with other beans you have on hand. Any beans will work.
If you don’t like or don’t have a particular vegetable in the recipe, feel free to substitute. Instead of jalapeños, you can also use serrano chiles, in half the amount. For more pepper substitutions, check out this site: Serious Heat: A Guide to Chile Substitutions.
For no heat at all, substitute your jalapeños for more bell peppers. Try using yellow, orange, or red bell peppers for more color!
Halved cherry tomatoes are a great substitution for roma tomatoes. If you are part of the population who hates cilantro, feel free to substitute cilantro with parsley instead.
I used frozen, thawed corn in my cowboy caviar. If your corn is still frozen, feel free to toss it straight into the salad, as long as you’re not serving it immediately. The small kernels of corn thaw quickly.
You can also use cooked corn on the cob that’s been cut off the cob. In a pinch, canned corn, rinsed and drained, will also work.
If desired, you can substitute the homemade vinaigrette with a store bought favorite instead. This is a great time saver if you don’t have time to make your dressing from scratch.
- 14 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 14 ounces canned black eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 1 small red onion diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 cup corn
- 4 roma tomatoes diced
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- In a very large bowl, add your rinsed beans and prepared onions, peppers, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Set aside.
- In a bowl, add all of your dressing ingredients: olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, honey, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Whisk to combine.
- Pour dressing over your prepared salad ingredients and gently toss until evenly coated.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Will keep for 2-3 days refrigerated in a sealed container.
- Black beans and black eyed peas can be substituted with any other beans.
- Cowboy caviar can be made the day before, and is best served within a day of preparing. Will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
- Fresh corn, or frozen, thawed corn is recommended. If your corn is still frozen, feel free to toss it straight into the salad, as long as you're not serving it immediately. The small kernels of corn thaw quickly.
- Cilantro can be substituted with parsley.
- The dressing can be substituted with your favorite vinaigrette or Italian dressing instead.