Texas Caviar — You don’t need to buy this FAST and EASY crave-worthy appetizer or snack recipe made with Tex-Mex inspired ingredients including black eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, avocado, and a seasoned lime-cumin dressing! Serve it as a dip with tortilla chips at your next backyard barbecue, picnic, game day party, or for a holiday party. It’s good luck to eat black eyed peas in the new year!
Table of Contents
- Easy Texas Caviar Recipe
- Ingredients in Texas Caviar
- How to Make Texas Caviar
- Texas Caviar Ingredient Substitutions
- When to Serve a Texas Caviar
- What to Serve with Texas Caviar
- Storage Instructions
- Texas Caviar FAQs
- Texas Caviar Recipe
- More Easy Salads and Appetizer Recipes:
Easy Texas Caviar Recipe
Before I dive into this recipe I would like to say:
- I’m not from Texas. I have lived in six states in the US, and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But for the last 20 years I have called San Diego home.
- Is being a Texan a requirement for making this recipe? Heck no!
- Are there literally 9 million search results for ‘Texas Caviar’? Yes there sure are, and they are all a bit different. Which is also why I have a section below called Ingredients Substitutions so if your mom/grandma/uncle/grocery store deli makes this just a little differently, that’s awesome. You can refer to that section and compare or get ideas.
- Do I need or want you to write to me telling me this isn’t the ‘right way’ to make this recipe? Just no, please. I get enough mail and that’s not any I need.
Moving on with our regularly scheduled recipe!
If you’ve never had a chip piled high with Texas caviar, you need to try it, stat. It’s the most addicting stuff ever!
That’s because Texas caviar is chock full of black eyed peas, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro for a flavor and texture explosion in every bite!
This poor man’s “caviar” recipe is finished by tossing everything with an olive oil, lime juice, chili and cumin-spiced dressing that coats everything to perfection.
I don’t know if you want to call Texas caviar a snack, side, appetizer, or dip – but I know your family and friends will gobble it right up!
You may have even seen it at Trader Joe’s or Costco but i’s the fastest and easiest appetizer recipe you’ll ever make. This cowboy caviar is ready in 10 minutes flat. I do suggest chilling it for 30 minutes after you mix everything together but do what you need to do if you’re short on time.
And shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s accidentally vegan and gluten-free too making this such a protein filled healthy snack idea that’s low in saturated fat. I promise that people who don’t “like beans” will still like this!
What’s the Difference Between Texas Caviar vs Cowboy Caviar?
Not only are Texas caviar and cowboy caviar similar, I have scoured the internet and researched this and I’m pleased to tell you: they’re the same thing.
Now, recipes will vary from person to person, grandma to grandma, and from Texan to say Californian, but the overall gist of the recipe is the same.
You’ll always find beans (black eyed peas for sure, and possibly black beans too), a variety of Tex-Mex-inspired vegetables like corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and a seasoned dressing that’s sometimes homemade and sometimes made with store bought Italian dressing.
Scroll to the FAQ section of the post for more background story on how Texas caviar came to be and how it reportedly got its name.
Ingredients in Texas Caviar
This family-favorite recipe is made with easy to find and very common refrigerator and pantry ingredients including the following (and make sure to see the following section on ingredients substitutions):
- Black eyed peas
- Green onions
Did You Know?
Black eyed peas are not actually peas at all! They’re beans and part of the legume family and a staple in the American south, including Texas.
It’s rumored that the “eyes” of the black eyed peas look a bit like caviar sticking out when they’re sitting in a mixing bowl with all the other ingredients in the recipe. It’s a stretch, I know, but let’s pretend it’s 1940-something and use our imaginations a bit!
Black eyed peas are also known to bring good luck so many people eat them on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year.
- Lime juice
- Honey (or agave nectar especially if you’re trying to keep it vegan)
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chips, for serving
Shortcut for the Dressing
I do prefer simply whisking together my own dressing, but in a pinch, if you want to use 1/4 to 1/3 cup store bought Italian salad dressing, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and another 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, be my guest.
I also recommend doctoring it up a bit more by seasoning it with some of the dried spices (cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika) but it’s up to you.
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Texas Caviar
I love an easy-peasy dump-it-all in one bowl recipe and that’s exactly what this cowboy caviar recipe is!
- Add all the Texas caviar ingredients to a large bowl. Make sure to drain and rinse the beans (black eyed peas) very well before adding them.
- Mix up the dressing portion, whisking in the olive oil last to emulsify it.
- Drizzle the dressing over the Texas caviar ingredients, cover, and chill before serving!
Texas Caviar Ingredient Substitutions
This is one of those recipes that everyone’s grandma, auntie, or brother-in-law makes it a little differently based on what their families enjoy or have on hand. And of course you have that same flexibility to customize the ingredients as you see fit.
Here are just some of many ingredients swaps and substitutions you can make:
- Beans – Rather than, or in addition to, the black eyed peas, you can use black beans. Either swap them in entirely, or do half and half. I’ve heard it called black bean salad at this point.
- Corn – Frozen, fresh, or canned are all fine. Make sure to drain off the water from the frozen corn after it thaws and drain canned corn well. White or yellow corn are fine. I used white for this recipe mostly for color because yellow corn (especially if canned) can look really yellow. Hominy is also a viable option here if you have it, like it, and want to incorporate it. It’s full of fiber, too.
- Tomatoes – Roma are my go-to, although if you have cherry or grape tomatoes, halve or quarter them and toss them in.
- Avocado and Cilantro – I have seen recipes without them, but they are so essential to me, I personally can’t imagine omitting them. However, if you’re a cilantro hater as some people are, just skip it.
- Onions – I always use green onions, sometimes red onion if I have some on hand, and white or yellow will work although aren’t as common.
- Bell Peppers – Green bell peppers, red bell peppers, orange or yellow are a nice touch.
- Lime juice – This is a staple for me, but I have seen people use apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.
- Honey – Agave nectar, maple syrup, or granulated sugar also work.
- Cumin, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika – I use all three, but they have overlapping flavor profiles, and if you only have 2 out of the 3, go for it. Always add to taste! I use 1 teaspoon of each but if you want to tone done the boldness, use 1/2 teaspoon.
- Garlic fan? Add a few shakes of garlic powder or garlic seasoning or even a clove or two of finely chopped garlic. You may need less salt if using garlic seasoning as it already has a decent sodium content.
- Salt and Pepper – Make sure to season well because simple plant-based ingredients really benefit from proper seasoning. Meaning, if it tastes flat or boring, it probably needs more salt, and perhaps a bit more pepper, too.
- Love jalapenos? It’s easy to add some to your taste. They don’t provide much true ‘heat’ but they add flavor.
- Craving Heat? – Add either a bit of a finely diced serrano chile pepper and/or a pinch of cayenne pepper. Note that serranos are about 10x hotter than jalapenos which really aren’t spicy – flavorful, but not spicy. And be very, very careful with the cayenne pepper. A teeny tiny pinch will do the trick!
When to Serve a Texas Caviar
Texas caviar dip is a party favorite!
I don’t know if you want to call it a snack, side dish, appetizer, or dip, but it’s always a people pleaser especially for game day parties, tailgating, summer holidays like Memorial and Labor Days, the Fourth.
It’s also a great backyard barbecue, picnic, or potluck recipe. Or serve it poolside if you’re lucky enough to have a pool. No mayo either which is a summertime warm-weather win!
And it’s also a winner at holiday parties like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve parties. Remember those black eyed peas are rumored to bring good luck for the new year!
What to Serve with Texas Caviar
You’ll need some hearty white or yellow corn tortilla chips at a bare minimum to serve with your recipe for Texas caviar (I love making these homemade corn tortilla chips!). Although I’ve been known to eat this straight out of the bowl without chips!
Fritos or some sort of “scoop-able” dipper work well too.
It’s almost a guarantee you’re going to be serving this at a party or event of some sort along with other dips, snacks, and appetizers.
If you need to round out your menu with some complimentary recipes, here are a handful of easy fan favorites:
- Layered Beef Taco Dip
- Cheesy Beef Taquitos
- Easy Pizza Dip
- Loaded Baked BLT Dip
- Homemade Sloppy Joe’s
- Best Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Blueberry Corn Salsa
- Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Grilled Mexican Corn (Elote)
- Easy Cheese Bomb Bread
Now you’re going to need to wash it down and here are some of my favorite drinks:
- The Best 3-Ingredient All Natural Margarita
- Easy Pina Coladas (No Mix!)
- Bloody Mary’s (No Mix!)
- White Sangria (glass or pitcher)
- Aguachile Margarita
- The Best Mojitos
- Spicy Margaritas – the mouthwatering image below and recipe courtesy of Mixop.net
Kept in an airtight container, cowboy or Texas caviar will keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
As time passes, it may become a bit more liquid-ey or watery. This is natural because the salt will cause the veggies to release their natural juices.
Also, the avocado will oxidize. In the presence of plenty of lime juice, it’s minimized, but there’s no way to prevent it fully. Therefore, after 24-48 hours it may not win any beauty contests, but the taste will be just fine.
We’ve made use of a few days’ old Texas caviar by wrapping it up like a burrito or taco.
Texas Caviar FAQs
It’s rumored that Texas caviar was the creation of a lady who lived in, you guessed it Texas, back in the 1940s.
She was an executive chef at a prestigious institution in New York, and moved to Texas. There, she became aware of how common black eyed peas were. But she didn’t like black eye peas. So she came up with a way to make them more palatable.
Her recipe was served at a hotel at the time, gained fame, the name stuck, and here we are today still enjoying the recipe we know as Texas caviar.
Since cowboys and Texas go hand-in-hand, it’s not surprising that this easy appetizer recipe also took on the name cowboy caviar, although as I previously mentioned, they’re on in the same.
Note: This is my condensation of a variety of “facts”, stories, information, and details I pulled from a dozen sources or so on the internet. I do not guarantee accuracy and it could be a true old wives tale – no one knows. But this is what is the reported truth.
While the homemade Texas caviar dressing I make is a cinch, and since you have to use lime juice not only for flavor but to prevent the avocado from oxidizing as rapidly, I think it’s just as easy to make my own dressing rather than using store bought.
However, if you don’t want to be bothered, you can use a 2 tablespoons lime juice + 1/3 cup Italian salad dressing from a bottle, see how it looks, and add more, if desired. I also think 1-2 tablespoons olive oil drizzled in is a nice touch but again, play it by ear and decide as you’re mixing it up.
For quick and easy dip recipes like this, and most other recipes in my kitchen truth be told, I am a huge fan of canned beans for ease, simplicity, and time savings.
If you really want to make homemade beans beginning with dry beans that you first soak and then cook, my Instant Pot Beans recipe is a big time saver if you have an one. While the recipe uses black beans, you can also use it for black eyed peas (which are not peas but are beans).
Yes you sure can. If you’re making this for a party such as a tailgating or game day party, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Father’s Day, or as a Christmas party or New Year’s Eve party recipe and you know you need more, by all means – double or triple all the ingredients.
Absolutely yes you can, and in fact, I prefer it after it’s been sitting 12-24 hours in the fridge. The flavors meld and marry as time passes.
However remember there’s a “sweet spot” in just how far in advance you can make it because you don’t want the avocado to start oxidizing, which it’ll be prone to doing after 24-48 hours.
Pin This Recipe
- one 15-ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (black beans may be substituted for part or all of the black eyed peas)
- one 15-ounce can white corn, Frozen, thawed, and drained corn OR fresh corn may be substituted; white or yellow ok
- 2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced small
- 2 large or 3 medium ripe Hass avocados, halved, seed removed, flesh scored, and scooped out
- ¼ to ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, finely minced
- 2 green onions, trimmed and sliced very thin (I use root to tip; 1/4 cup finely diced red onion may be substituted)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- ¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or regular
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Texas Caviar – To a large bowl, add all the ingredients, and stir well to combine. Tip – Read the blog post for the myriad of substitutions and swap you can make with the ingredients. I listed the obvious in the ingredients above in the recipe like black beans in lieu of black eyed peas, or red onions instead of green. But you can add bell peppers of any color, jalapeno pepper, serrano chile, etc.
- Dressing* – To a medium bowl, add all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil, and whisk to combine.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly to emulsify it.
- Pour the dressing over the Texas caviar, stir and toss well to combine, and taste. Seasoning Tips – If it tastes at all flat, boring, or lacks oomph, it likely needs more salt, so add it, and fairly generously. The same is true for pepper. Then move on to a dash more cumin and chili powder for more flavor. While not specifically called out above, garlic powder or garlic salt is a nice addition. Add more lime juice if you like more acid, or a bit more sweetener if that's your preference, etc.
- Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 12-24 hours) in the fridge before serving. Serve with white or yellow corn chips, or your favorite dippers. Leftover Texas caviar will keep airtight in the fridge for 4-5 days, noting that the mixture will become more watery as time passes as the vegetables release their natural juices over time. And the avocado will oxidize. The taste will be fine, despite the color.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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