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This Texas caviar (Cowboy caviar) will have everyone crowded around the bowl! It’s full of big, zesty flavor and perfect for parties.

Texas Caviar aka Cowboy caviar

Here’s a tasty dip with a party vibe: Texas caviar (aka cowboy caviar)! This Tex Mex combination of black eyed peas, colorful vegetables, and zingy vinaigrette dressing is a total crowd pleaser, as a chip dip or healthy side dish. It was invented in Texas and then spread all over the US. Our spin on this party dip always has friends gathered around the bowl at our house: and for good reason: it’s just that irresistible!

Why is it called Texas caviar or cowboy caviar?

How did this dip get its name? Some people call it Cowboy caviar, a nickname for Texas caviar. The colorful dip was invented in Texas around the year 1940 by a woman named Helen Corbitt. She first served it on New Year’s Eve at a country club, possibly because black eyed peas are known as a lucky New Year’s Eve food.

It caught on and when she later served it at a Texas hotel, it was dubbed “Texas caviar” because of it’s similarity to the look of real caviar, a fancy appetizer made with fish roe. The name stuck and it’s been used ever since!

Texas caviar

Ingredients in Texas caviar, aka Cowboy Caviar

Just like a good potato salad, everyone has their own spin on the ingredients in Texas caviar. The common denominator: black eyed peas are a must! From there, there are all sorts of variations on the vegetables and dressing. Here are the essential fresh ingredients you need:

  • Black eyed peas, canned or cooked (see below)
  • Black beans, canned or cooked
  • Corn
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green onions
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Cilantro

Texas caviar dressing

Let’s talk Cowboy caviar dressing. A common spin on this recipe uses store-bought Italian dressing, but it’s much tastier with homemade! The dressing is simple to whip up using just a few ingredients you’ll likely already have in your pantry and spice drawer. Here’s what’s in this Texas caviar dressing:

  • Lime juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Spices: Garlic powder, cumin, and oregano
  • Olive oil

How to make Texas caviar: simply chop all the veggies, then whisk up the dressing and stir it together. Easy as that! Jump to the recipe below for the specifics.

Cowboy caviar

What are black eyed peas, anyway?

Black eye peas are not really not peas at all: they’re beans! Black eyed peas are part of the legume family with black beans and chickpeas. While they’re often eaten in the American South, are eaten all over the world.

One of the most popular black eyed peas recipes in the US is as a lucky New Year’s Day tradition: Hoppin’ John, a dish with rice and pork. But there are so many other ways to serve them, like Texas caviar! A few of our other favorites as black eyed pea salad or as a side dish.

Black eyed peas recipe

Canned vs cooked black eyed peas

For Texas caviar, we like using canned black eyed peas because they’re quick and easy! They also have a pleasantly soft texture that easily soaks up the dressing. But some stores don’t carry them (at least where we live!). So you also can cook your black eyed peas from dry. Here’s what to do:

  • Place ½ pound dried black eyed peas in a large pot with 2 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. (Or, cook the entire pound and double these ingredients! Use leftovers for another recipe or a double batch.)
  • Cook 40 to 50 minutes until they’re tender but still hold together, then drain.

How to serve Texas caviar

There are lots of ways to serve Texas caviar or Cowboy caviar, but the most popular is with chips! Here are a few more ideas to get your wheels turning:

Storage and leftovers info

Want to make it in advance or store leftovers? Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Texas caviar aka Cowboy caviar

More dip recipes

This Texas caviar is a perfect party dip! Here are a few more dip recipes you might enjoy:

This Texas caviar recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar (Cowboy Caviar)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

This Texas caviar (Cowboy caviar) will have everyone crowded around the bowl! It’s full of big, zesty flavor and perfect for parties and cookouts.


Ingredients

Scale

For the vegetables

  • 2 15-ounce cans black eyed peas (or 3 cups cooked)
  • 15-ounce can black beans (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
  • 1 15-ounce can corn (or 1 ½ cups frozen and thawed)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the beans and corn.
  2. Dice the bell pepper. Chop the cherry tomatoes. Thinly slice the green onions. Seed and dice the jalapeno pepper. Chop the cilantro.
  3. Add all the vegetables and beans to a bowl. Mix with the kosher salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, and cumin. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix to combine.
  5. Eat immediately, or refrigerate until serving (it tastes even better after allowing to marinade 30 minutes or longer). Serve with chips for dipping. Stores refrigerated for up to 3 days. 
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Texas caviar, Cowboy caviar

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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13 Comments

  1. Loved the Texas Caviar ❤️
    Since I first tried the recipe, I’ve made it another four times and shared it with friends. My husband is a big fan of the flavors.
    Thank you

  2. Delicious appetizer and would also be a good side dish in the summer. Test the heat of the jalepeno first before deciding how much to add. Thanks for all your wonderful healthy recipes!

  3. This is a pretty good recipe for the bean salad. Just wanted to mention that I swapped honey for the sugar and added a little more heat to the dressing by adding a small amount of hot sauce and also some dijon mustard and chile powder. I like a good healthy bang to the beans and found this really did it. Love the cumin and oregano you suggested, I added plenty.

  4. I have been making this for a few years now, thought it was about time I left a review since I really think this is a great recipe. Make it for Memorial Day and July 4th picnics especially and it always goes really fast and lots of compliments. Love the recipe and whatever you want to call it, I would not change a thing!

  5. This was an easy recipe to put together, a bit time consuming. I was expecting it to have more of a ‘kick’ to it. I added more jalapeños, peppers and onions. It helped. Will it keep more than a day? I’d like to make it a couple days beforehand.

    1. Thanks for making and sounds good! You can absolutely add more jalapeno for heat. This stores refrigerated for up to 3 days! We added that to the recipe. Thank you!

  6. I don’t see the sodium content in the nutrition facts. I need low sodium for my husband. I would like to make the cowboy caviar.

    1. Hi! We omit the sodium because many ingredients we use such as beans, soy sauce or broth can have vastly different amounts and we don’t want to give false information. 1 teaspoon of kosher salt has 1920 mg of sodium if that is helpful.

  7. What is the sodium content? If 2tsp salt are added, and the canned black eyed peas, black beans & corn are not low sodium or ‘no salt added’ this could probably be a very high sodium recipe.

    1. Hi! We don’t calculate sodium because canned goods can vary so much from brand to brand. The kosher salt results in 186mg per serving.