Cowboy Caviar

$5.30 recipe / $0.53 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.88 from 55 votes
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This super fresh and colorful Cowboy Caviar combines two types of beans, delicious summer vegetables, and a sweet and tangy lime dressing to make a bold and versatile dish that you’ll find yourself making over and over. From a party dip to a salad topper, Cowboy Caviar has become a go-to healthy meal prep item in my kitchen. It’s the O.G. refrigerator salad. 😄 Read on for more ideas on how to use this amazing cross between bean salad and salsa!

Close up overhead view of cowboy caviar in a bowl with chips on the side.

What is Cowboy Caviar?

Cowboy Caviar, sometimes called Texas Caviar or Mexican Caviar, is like a cross between a bean salad and a fresh salsa. It combines two types of beans (black beans and black eyed peas) with a colorful medley of fresh vegetables and a tangy balsamic-lime vinaigrette.

Where Do You Find Black Eyed Peas?

If you can’t find black eyed peas in the canned bean aisle, check with the canned vegetables. Because they’re a “pea” they’re sometimes found with the canned vegetables rather than the beans. You can also often find them in the freezer aisle, although you’ll want to boil those black eyed peas first, according to the cooking instructions on the package. And if you can’t find black eyed peas, you can substitute pinto beans or navy beans.

How Long Does it Last?

Well, if you don’t eat it all in one sitting (it can happen!), Cowboy Caviar holds up extremely well in the refrigerator and will be just as tasty after about 4-5 days of refrigeration. While the vegetables will let off a little water, most of the ingredients are very sturdy. Just be sure to stir the salad before serving to redistribute the dressing. This salad will probably not freeze well, due to the fresh herbs and vegetables.

Close up of Cowboy Caviar on a chip.

How to Serve Cowboy Caviar

There are SO many ways to eat Cowboy Caviar that you’ll probably find yourself adding it to everything you eat. But here are a few ideas anyway:

  • Serve it as a side dish with dinner
  • As a chunky dip for chips
  • As a topping for tacos
  • Stuffed into a burrito or as part of a burrito bowl
  • Sprinkled over a green salad
  • Spooned on top of scrambled eggs
  • Stuffed into a quesadilla with some cheese

…and so much more. If you have a favorite way to eat your Cowboy Caviar, feel free to share it with the rest of us in the comments below!

What Else Can I Add?

Cowboy caviar is an extremely versatile recipe and there are tons of other ingredients you can add to make it your own. Here are some ideas for other ingredients to add to cowboy caviar:

  • Avocado for a creamy finish
  • A dash or two of hot sauce to make it extra spicy
  • Skip the jalapeño to make it mild
  • Use green onion in place of the red onion to make it more mild, or in place of the cilantro if cilantro isn’t your thing!
  • Sweet corn adds more color and texture to the mix and can be a great low cost substitution for yellow bell pepper
  • Fresh garlic adds a savory-spicy kick!
  • Canned hominy (drained) for for more color and texture
  • Garbanzo beans in place of any of the beans

Can you Freeze Cowboy Caviar?

I don’t suggest freezing this dish because it has multiple delicate fresh vegetables that will become limp and soggy upon freezing and reheating. You want those veggies to be fresh, juicy, and crunchy to give the salad its amazing texture! :)

close up side view of cowboy caviar in a bowl.

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Cowboy Caviar

4.88 from 55 votes
Cowboy Caviar is a deliciously fresh bean salad with a colorful mix of beans and vegetables, plus a zesty lime dressing.
Close up overhead view of cowboy caviar in a bowl with chips on the side.
Servings 10 (1/2 cup each)
Prep 20 minutes
Total 20 minutes



  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fresh lime (2 Tbsp juice) ($0.33)
  • 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder* ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar ($0.02)


  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.89 )
  • 1 15oz. can black eyed peas ($1.09)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color) ($1.50)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes ($0.86)
  • 1 jalapeño ($0.12)
  • 1/4 red onion ($0.20)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro ($0.20)


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 2 Tbsp of juice from the lime, balsamic vinegar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and sugar.
  • Rinse and drain both cans of beans in a colander. Once well drained, transfer them to a large bowl.
  • Finely dice the bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeño, and red onion. Try to dice the vegetables into pieces that are roughly the same size as the beans. For a less spicy salad, scrape the seeds out of the jalapeño before dicing. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Add the chopped vegetables to the bowl with the beans.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, then stir until everything is well coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

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*This chili powder is a mild blend of chiles and other spices.


Serving: 0.5CupCalories: 140kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 7gFat: 3gSodium: 122mgFiber: 7g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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How to Make Cowboy Caviar – Step by Step Photos

Dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.

Make the dressing first so the flavors have a few minutes to blend. Whisk together 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lime juice, ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp sugar, and ½ tsp salt.

Rinsed and drained beans in a bowl.

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of black beans and one 15oz. can of black eyed peas in a colander. 

Fresh vegetables on a cutting board.

Gather one bell pepper (any color), two Roma tomatoes, one jalapeño, 1/4 of a red onion, and 1/4 bunch of cilantro. While any color bell pepper can be used, I like the colorful pop of a yellow or orange bell pepper. 

Chopped vegetables in the bowl with the beans.

Finely dice the bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeño, and red onion. The idea is to get the pieces close in size to the beans so that you have a “caviar” type appearance in the end. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves. Place the chopped vegetables in the bowl with the rinsed beans.

Dressing being poured over the salad in the bowl.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad.

Finished cowboy caviar in the bowl.

Stir the salad until everything is coated in the dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. This is one of those salads that tastes even better after it has time to chill in the fridge, so it’s great to eat over the course of a few days!

Finished cowboy caviar in a bowl with a chip.

Cowboy Caviar makes a great snack with tortilla chips, a topper for tacos, bowl meals, or salads, or spoon some onto baked or grilled fish for a nice light meal!

Try These Other Bean Salad Recipes:

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    1. You’ll have to use your best judgement there, Cathy! I think I’d toss unfortunately.

  1. Great starter recipe. I made it with some changes, I doubled the chili powder, added chopped avocado, and frozen corn, thawed. It worked great with chips and I plan to make it again sometime. A big hit.

  2. Simple ingredients that came together to seriously wow me and my other half. This is a keeper and will be on weekly repeat for a while!

  3. A winner! Great to bring to a potluck- unique, can sit out for a while and pairs well with lots of dishes.
    My modifications: double the dressing, use honey instead of sugar, kick up the spices a bit. Add frozen roasted corn (from Trader Joe’s) let it sit overnight, stirring frequently to flavor all the ingredients.

  4. This stuff is fantastic. Make it the day before you intend to serve it to let the flavors mingle. It’s great on burritos, scrambled eggs, over rice, on a chip… This is a staple recipe in my house.

    1. Thanks for this! I wanted stuff I could prepare 1 day ahead so this seems lovely.

  5. Can I substitute maple syrup for the sugar? thanks! Looks delicious and can’t wait to make!

  6. Delicious! Only wish I could make half, since there’s just 2 of us now. I’ll have to get creative to use it all up. I served it as a side dish with Honey Chipotle Chicken, which was also great.

  7. I love this recipe! I like the idea of adding the balsamic vinegar – it will have more depth of flavor than some other recipes. I’m going to bring it to our family reunion this coming Saturday!!  

  8. Totally delish!! I used this as a tortilla chip dip and I’m loving it! Only thing I changed was halved the chili powder, because I don’t love the taste. Then added smoked paprika and garlic powder in the place of the other half. Perfect cold and balanced summer snack!