The traditional Texas Caviar recipe (or sometimes called Cowboy Caviar) was created by Helen Corbit in 1940 and is made from black-eyed peas, cilantro, garlic, red bell pepper, and red onion and topped with olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. Our recipe is an update on this classic recipe and also includes black beans, corn, mini-peppers, diced tomatoes, avocado, and a zesty lime vinaigrette. Served cold it is a great summertime salad. It is light and refreshing and the perfect side to burgers, grilled pork, chicken, or steaks. It also makes a great appetizer served with your favorite chips for dipping.
And if you are from the south it is a tradition on New Year’s Day to eat black-eyed peas. The black-eyed peas symbolize luck and prosperity in the new year and this recipe is a delicious way to enjoy these lucky beans.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Made from fresh ingredients Texas Caviar is the perfect easy-to-make cold side. Black-eyed peas are the backbone of this salad but you can easily substitute the other ingredients. Since cooked black-eyed peas are softer in texture you will want something with a little crunch like corn, peppers, and onions. Fat and acid are also essential ingredients. We chose olive oil and avocado for our fat and lime and tomatoes for acid. These are our favorite ingredients but you can easily adjust any ingredients so get creative.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Black-eyed peas are a must-have legume for this recipe. Dried beans are great but you can make this recipe with canned black-eyed peas.
- Black beans are some of our favorite legumes but you can easily substitute them with another bean such as pinto or red beans. Again you can use canned to save some time.
- Corn can be fresh, canned, or frozen and adds a hint of sweetness.
- Avocado is not only heart-healthy but adds a delicious creaminess.
- Red onion has a milder flavor than other onions and adds color and crunch. You can substitute fresh red onion with pickled red onions for a milder flavor and a little extra hit of acid.
- Cilantro is a bit spicy with citrus hints. It’s the perfect garnish but parsley can be substituted.
- Scallions add another layer of onion flavor as well as a pop of freshness.
- Tomatoes are a classic summer flavor and will add a little sweet, sour, and savory bitterness to the dish. We prefer to use locally-grown grape or cherry tomatoes since they tend to be a little sweeter.
- Peppers add color, sweetness, and crunch. Green bell peppers are the go-to for most recipes; if you want a little heat you can use jalapeno or poblano. We chose mini-peppers which are a sweeter option.
- The dressing for this salad includes lime juice for a little acid along with olive oil, sugar, garlic powder, and salt. Your favorite Italian dressing is an easy substitute.
How to Make Texas Caviar
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Use canned beans and corn to save some time but without sacrificing taste.
1. Make the dressing: Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, sugar, garlic powder, and lime zest. Set aside.
2. Prep the ingredients: Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas, black beans, and corn. Dice the red onions and the dulce Mediterraneo peppers. Chop the avocado, scallions, and cilantro. Slice the tomatoes.
3. Assemble: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients then drizzle the ingredients with the dressing and mix gently.
Frequently Asked Questions
Texas Caviar is a cold black-eyed pea “salad” that was first introduced in 1940 by Helen Corbitt at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, where it was named Texas Caviar as a humorous nod to true caviar.
Yes, it can be made up to 24 hours in advance minus the avocado. Wait to add the lime dressing and avocado until two hours before serving to help maintain crispness and freshness
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Some of the veggies will release some water so give it a toss before serving.
Leftover Texas Caviar is great as a garnish on chicken or fish, as a topping for quesadillas, or as an alternative to the traditional tomato and lettuce on your favorite burger. It is also great as a dip served with your favorite tortilla chips.
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Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
- 1 tablespoon lime zest, see note
- 4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed (approximately 2 limes)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 15 ounces black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn, see notes
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup avocado, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ¼ cup mini peppers, diced
- ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, sugar, garlic powder, and lime zest. Set aside.
- Drain and rinse black-eyed peas, black beans, and corn.
- In a large bowl combine black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, red onion, avocado, peppers, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.
- Pour dressing over salad and mix gently.
- Serve with your favorite main dish or as an appetizer with chips.