Texas Caviar (Cowboy Caviar)

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.

Texas Caviar aka Cowboy caviar

Here’s a tasty dip with a party vibe: Texas caviar! Cowboy caviar, as it’s also known, was invented in Texas and has now spread all over the US. This combo of black eyed peas, veggies and a vinaigrette dressing is equal parts zesty and comforting: and you can use it as a dip or healthy side dish. Our favorite recipe has loads of colorful veggies, cilantro and jalapenos, and a simple zingy dressing with the perfect flavor. Even better: this party dip happens to be a vegan appetizer that’s full of plant-based protein. Here’s how to make it!

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: you absolutely must use black eyed peas! From there, there are all sorts of variations on the vegetables and dressing. Here are the essential fresh ingredients you need for the salad:

  • 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

Texas caviar dressing

Now, let’s talk Cowboy caviar dressing. A common variation of this recipe uses store-bought Italian dressing. But of course you must make 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

Why is it called Cowboy caviar?

Some people call this dip Cowboy caviar, which is a nickname for Texas caviar. Texas caviar is named for its birthplace: Texas! It was created around 1940 by a woman named Helen Corbitt. She first served it on New Year’s Eve at a country club (perhaps because black eyed peas are known as a lucky New Year’s Eve food). When she later served it at a Texas hotel, it was dubbed “Texas caviar” as a play on the real caviar, a fancy appetizer made with fish roe. The name stuck!

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 beautifully soft texture. But some stores don’t carry them (at least here in Indiana!). So you also can cook your black eyed peas from dry. Here’s what to do:

  • Place 1/2 pound dried black eyed peas in a large pot with 2 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt. (You can also cook the entire pound and double these ingredients! Then you’ll have leftovers.)
  • 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:

Texas caviar aka Cowboy caviar

This Texas caviar recipe is…

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

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Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar (Cowboy Caviar)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.89 out of 5)

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


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.



For the vegetables

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

For the dressing

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


  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.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex

Keywords: Texas caviar, Cowboy caviar

More dip recipes

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

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip Irresistibly creamy and tangy! Everyone will park themselves in front of the bowl, then ask you for the recipe.
  • Simple Guacamole Perfect flavor! Creamy, savory and perfectly balanced, you’ll hear a chorus of “Wow’s” every time you serve it.
  • Dill Pickle Dip Perfect for parties! Creamy and tangy, it’s like biting into a dill pickle spear.
  • Peanut Butter Dip Wow, do people love this one! This healthy dip is just 4 ingredients and tastes like frosting! Perfect for dipping apples, pretzels or fruit.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Luna @ Healthy Kitchen 101
    July 14, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Great combination! Use many ingredients for a salad is my knack xD

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