This Cowboy Caviar Recipe is the ultimate black bean and corn salad.

When we are “out on the range” of everyday life, we need something easy to toss together and something healthy to eat. A Cowboy Caviar recipe fits the bill. It’s a southwest-style side salad that tastes great alongside some tasty burgers and hot dogs, or as a dip or filling for corn chips or tacos.

top view of Cowboy Caviar in a bowl with chips in the back

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We Love this Corn and Bean Salad

  • This cowboy caviar recipe with Italian dressing is the best. Similar to Trader Joe’s Bean Salad, it’s heavenly served with corn chips and Smoked Tomato Guacamole!
  • With this recipe, there is no need to heat up the kitchen on those hot summer days.
  • It’s super easy to put together, especially if you need to quickly make something for a gathering or a meal.
  • Chances are, most of the ingredients can be easily found right in the pantry!

What is Cowboy Caviar?

Cowboy caviar is a dish first made in Houston, Texas. While it has no fish in the ingredients, it does have plenty of black beans, pinto beans, corn, and an Italian-style dressing! As a main or a side, it is served cold, like a salad. This is the best recipe for summer picnics, potlucks, or just a side to go with something on the BBQ or smoker.

top view of ingredients in bowls to make Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar Ingredients

THE BEANS Black beans and pinto beans are the meat of this black-eyed pea salad. Packed with protein, fiber and, lots of vitamins, beans are a powerhouse of nutrition. This recipe calls for canned beans. Remember to rinse and drain them well before adding them to the salad.

THE CORN This corn bean salad calls for frozen sweet corn. However, if you want to take this to a new level of delish, then make corn on the BBQ grill. Once the cob has cooled, use a paring knife to cut the kernels from the cob. Add these kernels to the salad. This will give the salad a smokier flavor and a chunky texture.

THE PEPPERS  Peppers need to be seeded and chopped before being added to the salad. Using a veggie chopper will make this process a little easier.

THE DRESSING Unlike the Costco bean salad sold in a jar, this dressing isn’t overly sweet because there is no sugar. Mix the dressing until it is almost creamy to create an emulsion. Apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for red wine vinegar.

THE DRESS UPS Adding avocado, cilantro, and serving with tortilla chips gives this dish a Mexican flair. Remember to add the avocado just before serving so that it stays bright green and fresh. 

ingredients in a glass bowl to make Cowboy Caviar before mixing

How to Make Cowboy Caviar

Mix this delish salad up in a flash and then dip away! It’s easy and quick:

  1. Mix dressing in a large bowl & whisk thoroughly (per the recipe below)
  2. Add beans, peas, corn, peppers, & jalapeno, toss well
  3. Cover & chill overnight or for at least 4 hours
  4. Before serving add the tomatoes, green onions, & cilantro
  5. Serve with avocado, crackers, & tortilla chips

Tips and Tricks 

  • If using frozen corn, don’t forget to thaw and drain before mixing with the rest of the beans to keep the salad crisp and crunchy.
  • Stir in the green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro ½ hour before serving. This will keep them fresh and colorful. The salad can also be made without tomatoes. They are optional.
  • The avocado can be mixed in with the salad. However, add this just before serving so that they retain their creamy green color.
  • Try rubbing avocado slices with lemon or lime to help them stay fresh for longer.

ingredients to make Cowboy Caviar in bowls and mixed salad

How to Eat Cowboy Caviar

The dip method – Make this a cowboy caviar dip by using those crackers and chips as an edible spoon. No utensils are needed!

The bowl method – Throw the salad into a bowl, use a spoon and try to be polite as it is devoured…cowboy style!

Got Leftovers?

Leftovers will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bean salad can be frozen. It will keep for up to 6 months. Remember though, to wait until half an hour before serving, before adding the green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. To thaw, remove the beans from the freezer and defrost in the fridge. Freezing in individual containers is a great idea for a quick lunch to bring on the go. Trying stuffing a burrito with Cowboy Caviar, and why not add some cooked ground beef or chicken, too? Leftovers can also be wrapped in a romaine lettuce leaf, or the salad can be tossed with some quinoa or rice.

Cowboy Caviar on a chip

Barbecue Entrees & Sides

top view of Cowboy Caviar in a bowl with chips in the back
5 from 22 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Cowboy Caviar

Black bean and corn salad is a crunchy and colorful salad or corn chip dip!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Candace


  • 15 ounces black beans 1 can, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces black eyed peas 1 can, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups sweet corn frozen, thawed
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped

Cowboy Caviar Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice 1 lime, plus more as desired
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder optional

Before Serving

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved (drained if necessary)
  • ¼ cup green onion sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped, plus more for garnish

To Serve

  • 1 avocado *diced, optional
  • 1 box crackers *optional
  • 1 package tortilla chips *optional


  • In a small bowl, whisk together all Cowboy Caviar Dressing ingredients.
  • Add beans, black eyed peas, corn, red pepper, jalapeno, to a large bowl. Add dressing and toss well. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  • About ½ hour before serving, stir in tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro.
  • Serve with avocado*, crackers, and tortilla chips.


*Avocado can be mixed into the dish before just before serving. The salad will keep best if the avocado is not mixed in.
Keeps for 4 days in the refrigerator.
5 from 22 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 279 | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 271mg | Potassium: 505mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 805IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Appetizer, Dips, Dressing, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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