Cowboy salsa has fresh vegetables, black-eyed peas and beans in a tangy dressing. Make this Texas caviar dip for a tasty snack or appetizer – it’s fantastic on fish and chicken, too!
I have a few go-to simple appetizer and party snack recipes that I can make quickly during the December holidays. I always keep the ingredients on hand to make quick batch of Rotel dip, refried bean dip, and this cowboy salsa.
This recipe is perfect for when you need to quickly throw together a dish to bring to a party, or when guests drop by unexpectedly.
When it was first served in the 1940’s, it was known as Texas caviar as a lighthearted comparison to the actual caviar hors d’oeuvre. Helen Corbitt, the woman who created the recipe, first served it at a fancy Houston country club. Later, it earned other names, like cowboy caviar, Texas caviar dip, and cowboy salsa.
Whatever the name, it’s a delicious cross between, a dip, a salsa, and a salad. It’s great for scooping with chips or eating it straight from the bowl. In the summer months, I like to serve it over grilled fish and chicken. It’s a big hit at 4th of July picnics, too!
This recipe is super simple to make and it’s really tasty and healthy, too! Lots of fiber from black eyed peas and black beans, plus loads of colorful veggies. The caviar dip gets a pop of heat from spicy chiles, and the tangy cumin-infused dressing brings it all together.
Some people consider it good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. That’s a fantastic time to serve a bowl of Texas caviar dip!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
One of the reasons I like this recipe is that it can be made with just about any veggie you like. Technically, salsa is meant for dipping or scooping, but occasionally I’ll eat it like a salad and enjoy a bowl of it for lunch.
- Legumes – Black eyed peas are a must in cowboy caviar, but you can swap the black beans out for another variety if you’d like. Pinto beans or navy beans would be tasty.
Despite the name, black eyed peas are actually a bean. They’re native to Africa, and are packed with fiber, protein, iron and potassium. I buy them canned to save time, but you can cook the dried beans if you’d rather.
- Veggies – There are a LOT of veggies in the salsa, and they add a lot of color and flavor to the dish. Again, use what you have on hand.
Tomatoes – If you have fresh tomatoes, perfect. If not, drain the liquid from canned diced tomatoes and you’re good to go.
Because there are chili peppers in the caviar dip too, you could even skip the fresh chiles and get the canned diced tomatoes with green chiles.
Corn – When fresh sweet corn is in season, I like to use that, but in the winter months, frozen corn is my go-to. Just let it thaw a bit before you add it to the cowboy salsa.
Bell peppers – For a bit of sweetness, I use a combination of red, yellow and green bell peppers. Because they’re more ripe, red and yellow peppers have a sweeter flavor than the green.
Cowboy caviar recipe notes
- Better on day 2! The zesty cumin-lime dressing for the cowboy salsa highlights all the beautiful flavors of the other ingredients. It tastes even better the next day, after the beans have marinated in the dressing overnight.
- Keep refrigerated and use within 5-7 days. After a few days, the natural juices from the veggies will begin to leach out and water down the dip.
If you need to keep the cowboy salsa fresh for longer than four days, place into a colander set inside of a larger bowl. Store it in the fridge that way (covered with plastic wrap). This allows all of the liquid to drain out into the larger bowl.
Looking for other easy holiday appetizer ideas?
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Dec. 6, 2019, was last updated with new content on Dec. 6, 2021.
Cowboy Salsa (Texas Caviar Dip)
- 3 cups chopped bell peppers (See Note 1)
- 2 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 poblano chile seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
- 15 oz black eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 15 oz black beans drained and rinsed
- 8.5 oz corn kernels drained, or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 avocado seeded and diced (optional)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano or traditional oregano
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- Add all peppers, tomatoes, chiles, onion and cilantro to a large bowl.
- Drain and rinse the beans, peas and corn. Add to the bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over bowl of salsa ingredients. Use tongs to toss and combine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour (or overnight) for flavors to meld. Toss again before serving.
- Serve with tortilla chips or your favorite chips for scooping.
- I like to use a combination of red, green and yellow or orange bell peppers. You may use all one color, but you’ll need 3 cups total.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.