Plain Cowboy Caviar | cookies and cups

This easy cowboy caviar recipe makes the perfect appetizer or even a light dinner. Enjoy with a bowl of fries, as a baked potato topper, or on a plate of nachos!


And if you like this recipe, be sure to try my Spicy Frito Corn Salad too! CRAZY GOOD!

A bowl of cowboy caviar

What is cowboy caviar?

It’s a fun name, isn’t it? Cowboy Caviar aka Texas Caviar is a bean-style salsa that originated in…you guessed it…Texas! It’s a cross between a thick salsa and a bean dip, with a very simple vinaigrette that adds tons of flavor. It usually has black-eyed peas in it, but I don’t love those, so my version uses all black beans! I also add a not-so-secret ingredient to really bring out all the flavors: granulated sugar! There are countless variations of cowboy caviar, so feel free to get creative! I’ve included a few ideas later in this post! This is the perfect dip for a potluck or BBQ!

Bowl of Corn and Bean Salsa



  • Black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Canned corn, drained
  • Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes and green chillies), drained well
  • Fresh coriander
  • Red pepper
  • jalapeno
  • Red onion
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • granulated sugar. It might seem weird to add sugar to this recipe, but it really works! You can certainly add less or even leave it out entirely, but I definitely encourage you to try. The subtle sweetness pairs so well with the savory ingredients and enhances the overall flavor! I also really like using extra fine granulated sugar because it dissolves so quickly. That’s great if you’re going to serve this right away. But don’t worry if you don’t have extra fine sugar. Any granule will work!
  • Any light oil. I like to use avocado oil or light olive oil!
  • juice of a lime
  • Ripe avocados

How to Make Cowboy Caviar / Instructions:

  1. All you have to do is place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. You can enjoy this right away or cover the bowl and refrigerate to allow the flavors to combine. Letting this sit in the fridge for a few hours will all come together nicely, making this a great entertaining recipe!

How to serve cowboy caviar:

It’s your decision! Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious serving ideas:

  • With tortilla chips! This is the most obvious and popular serving idea for Cowboy Caviar.
  • On a baked potato! This is a great idea and way to turn your potato into a meal. Just add a little butter, cheese, sour cream and a whole lot of cowboy caviar. So good!
  • If you love making nachos, this is a great addition.
  • I have a cowboy caviar pizza recipe here on my website that works great!
  • On grilled chicken or steak! I grill heaps of chicken breasts, especially in the summer, and this is so good served right on top with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese!
  • In a burrito!
  • As a side dish for New Year’s Eve! Sub in Black Eyed Peas for a can of black beans and you’ve got a traditional good luck side dish in the New Year!
  • Any night when you’re preparing a Tex-Mex style dinner or tacos!
  • In a burrito bowl with your favorite protein and rice!
  • On a taco salad!

Can You Make This Cowboy Caviar Recipe Ahead?

  • If you plan to make this recipe ahead of time, wait to add the avocado until ready to serve, especially if you’re making it a day ahead. The avocado may brown a little the longer it sits, which is okay in terms of flavor, but it’s nice to add at the last minute to look the prettiest!
  • If you prep it ahead of time, you may notice liquid shapes in the bowl as the veggies macerate. Simply stir the mixture with the liquid to maximize flavor, then drain the excess.
  • You can store them airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe tips:

  • Chop everything the same size! This is such a simple recipe that chopping up the ingredients is the main part of the prep! Since you’ll most likely be serving this with fries, it’s best if all the ingredients are evenly diced so it’s easy to dip like a chunky salsa!
  • Wash your cilantro well! Nothing beats getting sandy cilantro in your cowboy caviar!
  • Make sure you empty the can of Ro-Tel well. The mixture will naturally form some liquid so you don’t need to add anything. Same goes for the corn and black beans!
A bowl of Texas caviar with a chip in it


This is one of those recipes that can be changed endlessly. Whether it’s with spices or veggies, the possibilities are endless! Here are a few simple ideas:

  • When fresh tomatoes are in season, feel free to swap out the can of Ro-Tel for fresh ones. You can also add some diced green chiles if you like!
  • Omit cilantro. I know so many don’t like cilantro, so it’s a very easy ingredient to omit (although I personally love it!). Simply fold in chopped flat-leaf parsley instead!
  • Change the spices and add what you like! Cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, chili powder are some great additions to spice it up!
  • Use black eyed peas along with the black beans. I don’t like black-eyed peas, so I’m happy to use all black beans in my recipe, but you can swap them out if you’d like, like pinto beans. Honestly, most beans work in the recipe.
  • Use orange, yellow, or green peppers with or in place of the red peppers if you prefer!
  • Add some spring onions! You can do this for a last minute garnish or mix them in right away!
  • Use pickled jalapenos instead of fresh.
  • If you don’t have fresh lime juice, swap that out for lemon juice or even white or red wine vinegar!

Check out the FULL RECIPE HERE! This recipe was made in collaboration with my friends at Imperial Sugar. Thank you for supporting the brands that continue to make this site possible!

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