Cowboy Caviar is a delicious Southwestern bean and corn salad that’s perfect for potlucks, parties, snacks, and more.
I've always called it Cowgirl Caviar but my research tells me that the interwebs call it Cowboy Caviar so that's how I wrote it here. You can call it Cowgirl-, Cowboy-, Cowperson-, Cowlover Caviar or any other fun name you want!
This recipe is super flexible and everyone makes their cowboy caviar a little differently. I like mine with some fresh crunch from a cucumber. Some people like to add a can of drained and rinsed black-eyed peas, which are a type of bean common in the south of the US. My store didn't have any so I went with all black beans here.
However you want to name it or make it, just make it! It's really quite delicious, and it's loaded with fiber, hydrating veggies, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What is Cowboy Caviar?
Cowboy Caviar has taken the internet by storm over the past year or so, and for good reason. This simple corn salad is easy to make, delicious, and full of healthy ingredients.
With the most time-consuming part of this recipe being the chopping of ingredients, it's a recipe almost anyone can make.
Not to mention, is one of the most versatile recipes out there. There are so many different ways to enjoy, here are just a few of my favorite ways:
- As a Party Dip: Eat with tortilla chips as a snack to share with others. When serving this way, be sure to include a serving spoon so everyone can choose their serving size.
- As a Snack: I love to wrap a few spoonfuls in a tortilla for a lite lunch or eat it plain for a high-fiber mid-day snack
- As a Topping: Pair Cowboy Caviar alongside your favorite Tex-Mex-inspired dish to add a great source of vitamins and minerals to your meal. Use it to top off your burrito or taco as a replacement for pico or beans.
- As a Salad: This recipe is technically considered a corn salad, although it is most commonly used as a dip. Feel free to eat it on its own, or sprinkle it on top of romaine lettuce or a light spring green mixture. Since I think it tastes even better on day two or three, it's a great option for a leftover lunch.
Using so many fresh ingredients, this recipe is a nutritious way to get in loads of your daily nutrients.
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but Cowboy Caviar comes together pretty fast. The key is to chop all of the veggies about the size of the beans and corn for a cohesive dish.
- Black Beans: Rich in fiber and protein, black beans are the star of the show in this recipe, not to mention canned black beans are budget-friendly.
- Fresh Corn off the Cobb: Summer isn’t complete without fresh corn. The secret to making this so good that people ask for the recipe is sautéeing the fresh corn until some of it is slightly browned to bring out the sweetness and more complex flavors. It's worth it! If you’re making this in corn’s off-season, feel free to swap with frozen kernels from the grocery store.
- Cucumbers: English and Persian cucumbers are very similar to the regular variety, with fewer seeds and lower water content. If using a garden cucumber, scrape out the seeds to prevent your bean salad from getting soggy.
- Bell Pepper: Incredibly nutritious and full of flavor, bell peppers are loaded with a bunch of vitamins and antioxidants. Feel free to use any color when you make this yourself.
- Grape Tomatoes: I chose to add grape tomatoes because of their crunchy texture. Of course, use whatever type of tomato you have readily available.
- Green Onions: Green onions are milder than a regular onion, plus they add a nice bit of color to the dip. Red onions are an excellent substitution as well.
- Avocado: Not only do avocados add creaminess and richness to cowboy caviar, but they also add lots of healthy fats and potassium too.
- Cilantro: It wouldn’t be a Tex-Mex-inspired dish without a healthy amount of cilantro! Simply leave it out if you don't like it.
- Cumin: As a popular spice in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, cumin adds the perfect amount of warmth and earthiness to this dish.
- Chili Powder: Chili powder is a great way to add a bit of spice to your dish. Depending on how spicy you want to make Cowboy Caviar, you can choose to add more or less (I like to add a pinch of Cayenne Pepper when I’m feeling extra spicy).
- Fresh Lime Juice: The addition of fresh lime juice adds the perfect amount of tanginess needed for this recipe. Feel free to use pre-packages lime juice, but I think there is no better taste than freshly squeezed lime.
How to Make Cowboy Caviar
The printable recipe card is below, but here's the basic method:
- After gathering all of your ingredients, it's time to get chopping.
- Simply drain and rinse the beans, dice up all of the veggies, then toss in a bowl with the seasonings and lime juice.
- A key component of this recipe is to dice all of your ingredients the same size as the black beans and corn.
- When making this recipe to be enjoyed immediately combine all of the chopped ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of two limes in the mixture, along with a quarter teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder. Stir to combine.
- Cowboy Caviar stays good in the fridge for 3-4 days, making it a great option for weeklong snacks or leftovers. Just be sure to mix well before serving, as the yummy juices will fall to the bottom of the bowl after sitting.
If you plan on making this recipe ahead of time, add the avocado right before serving. While this recipe is even better after the flavors have time to mingle and marinate, the avocado will turn brown and mushy if it’s sitting for a few days.
Here are a few extra tips and tricks to make the best version of Cowboy Caviar:
- Grill the Corn on the Cob: I generally sauté the corn on the stove until some of it gets a nice brown color, but a great way to elevate your recipe would be to grill the corn on the cob until they are fully cooked and have some char marks on them. This technique adds delicious smokiness to the dish.
- Let the Mixture Marinate: If you have the time, leave the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to mingle, making it even more delicious to serve to your guests.
- Add a Spicy Kick: Add a diced jalapeño for a little extra heat, if desired. For an extra spicy kick, leave the ribs and seeds while chopping.
Cowboy Caviar is a big bean and corn salad that's loaded with fresh flavors and crunch. Adjust any ingredients to your liking to make it your own. I highly recommend sautéeing fresh corn when it's in season, you won't regret it.
- 1 (14-ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ears of fresh corn, cut off the cobb
- 2 Persian cucumbers, seeded and diced (or ½ an English cucumber)
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 10-15 grape tomatoes, chopped (about a cup)
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced (red onion is also good here)
- 1 medium firm but ripe avocado, scooped out and diced
- a small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- juice of 2 limes (about 3-4 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
- Remove the corn off the cobb with a sharp knife over a bowl to catch the kernels as they fall. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and sauté the corn with a big pinch of salt for 5-7 minutes until some of it starts to brown but it's still a little crunchy.
- Drain and rinse the beans then add them to a large mixing bowl.
- Dice all of the veggies to be about the same size as the beans and corn then add them to the bowl. Add the corn. Add more of anything you want, or leave out anything you don’t love. A chopped jalapeno is nice for heat if you want it.
- Top with the cumin, chili powder, lime juice, and salt then toss until well combined. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Enjoy it on its own or serve it with your favorite tortilla chips.
- You can stretch this recipe by adding another can of beans. If you do that, add a little more salt and lime juice. Some people like to add a can of drained and rinsed black-eyed peas.
- I intentionally didn't include garlic here because raw garlic can overpower the corn and we have so many other flavors happening here. However, if you want to give it a try you can grate 1 clove of garlic over the whole thing and toss to combine.
- Fresh corn really makes the dish here so I recommend fresh if you can use it. If you want to use frozen corn, use 1 cup of defrosted corn kernels. You can defrost them in hot water while you chop the ingredients. Pat them dry before adding to the salad.
Keywords: Cowboy Caviar, Black Bean Salad