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Texas caviar is a flavorful bean dip you can enjoy with chips or on its own. Creamy avocado and crisp bacon make it even better!
Almost everywhere you go in Texas you’ll find some version of Texas caviar, whether you’re snacking at a BBQ joint or attending a cookout at the neighbor’s house.
It’s not hard to see why everyone loves it, thanks to the combination of ingredients and tangy vinaigrette dressing.
My own version adds avocado and bacon, turning the dip into even more of a hearty salad or even a meal.
If you’re a bean fan but haven’t had Texas caviar before, you’re in for a treat!
What is Texas caviar?
I wasn’t familiar with Texas caviar, also called cowboy caviar, until I moved to Texas.
This dish is popular for New Year’s Day thanks to the black-eyed peas, which are meant to bring luck into the new year.
Created by chef Helen Corbitt around 1940, this economical dip was given the playful name of “caviar” as a counterpoint to true caviar.
It can be served as a dip or as a salad, especially when paired with corn chips or as part of a potluck spread.
You’ll find as many variations as there are folks in Texas, but don’t forget the black-eyed peas!
This dip uses simple ingredients and comes together quickly.
Canned beans make it even easier, but you can make your own beans from dried, if you like. Make sure to cool them completely before using.
- Black-eyed peas (beans)
- Black beans
- Corn kernels
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Bacon, cooked crisp (leave out if vegetarian)
For the dressing, you’ll need olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, ground cumin, and pepper.
When selecting your avocado, make sure it is ripe but not too soft. You want the pieces to stay intact in the dip.
How to make Texas caviar dip
If using canned beans, empty the cans into a colander, rinse well, and drain.
Transfer the beans to a large bowl and add corn kernels.
Chop the bell pepper and onion, and halve the tomatoes. Chop the bacon. Add all to the beans and mix well.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, cumin, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
You can also mix the dressing by pouring all the ingredients into a mason jar, screwing a lid on tightly, and shaking until dressing is mixed and emulsified.
Pour half the dressing over the salad and mix well, then add more dressing to taste.
Just before serving, gently fold in avocado and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.
What to add to cowboy caviar
My Texas caviar recipe has all of my favorite ingredients, but you can adjust the recipe to your liking!
Try adding smoked paprika or chili powder to the dressing, or a dash of hot sauce.
Swap the red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
To make it spicier, add chopped fresh jalapeño pepper or even serrano pepper.
Use fire roasted tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. Make sure to drain the liquid first, and chop tomatoes smaller if needed.
If you don’t want to make your own dressing, swap in your favorite zesty Italian dressing or vinaigrette.
Use a mixture of bell pepper colors for a supremely vibrant dish. I love orange and red bell peppers best.
For the best flavor, make Texas caviar in advance of when you plan to serve it, to let all the flavors meld together. I like to let it rest for about an hour before eating.
Store Texas caviar dip in an airtight container or tightly covered bowl in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Whether you enjoy it as a salad, cold taco filling, or with chips, you’ll love this deliciously simple dip!
- 15 ounces black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, stir together black-eyed peas, beans, corn, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, bacon and cilantro.
- In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour half the dressing over salad and mix well. Add more dressing to taste.
- Gently stir in diced avocado just before serving and top with cilantro.
This looks like my kind of summer salad – minimal fuss, great flavour, fresh ingredients… and bacon! 🙂
I’ve never managed to get my hands on fresh cowpeas, unfortunately, but I think I’ll try it out with some canned ones… or maybe some fresh limas or romanos, since I can usually find those without much hassle.
I’m with Isabelle…ditto! I’ve never heard of cowpeas; now wondering what I would substitute. Maybe some black beans?
Yeah! I’m so glad you found a good use for your cowpeas. 🙂 Barbara, canned black beans are a pretty good substitute if you can’t get your hands on fresh. Black eyed peas and pink eyed peas are like the big brothers of cowpeas.