Cowboy Caviar

Packed with flavor (and perfect for specialty diets), this cowboy caviar dip is sure to disappear at your next gathering.

When I think of dips at parties, the first recipes that come to this Midwesterner’s mind are heavy and loaded with cream cheese. Are they delicious? Absolutely. But even though I could easily eat plates full of seven layer dip, chicken nacho dip, or seven layer dip, that’s not always the case for my guests. Some of our friends have dairy intolerances, some are vegan, some are allergic to nuts, and still others can’t eat gluten. What appetizer recipes are okay to share with these friends, but still taste indulgent? My go-to is always this cowboy caviar.

Jump to Recipe

My husband and I first tried this dip at a gathering in college, hosted by a friend’s mom. Knowing that we were perpetually-hungry college students, at the end of the gathering she insisted we take home small containers of leftovers, including one of this cowboy caviar. It was very kind, and I knew my then-boyfriend and his roommates would devour anything that didn’t come from the university cafeteria. Little did I know how truly captivating my then-boyfriend found this dip. A few weeks later, after I had forgotten the specifics of the meal, he sent me a text message. “Can you get me that recipe for cowboy caviar??” While hubby is certainly a whiz in the kitchen (his vanilla cheesecake is a prime example), he rarely cooked when living in the dorm. Our friend’s mom was happy to share the recipe, and it has now been a part of our recipe arsenal for many wonderful years.

Cowboy caviar sits in a white bowl, surrounded by tortilla chips

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When I transitioned to a mostly plant-based diet, I was delighted to discover that this cowboy caviar dip fit into my new food goals. The ingredients in this dip are minimally processed, but it still packs a flavorful punch. This dip could even be used as a pico de gallo alternative for tacos (especially if you were trying to boost the protein in your meal).

If you’re interested in other plant-based recipes, I highly recommend you check out the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. It has given us many excellent vegan and grain-free meal ideas, and the recipes are usually easy enough that we can throw one together on a weeknight after getting home from work.

Although this cowboy caviar recipe might require a quick trip to the grocery store, putting it together is a pinch. You’ll need a few canned items – black beans, pinto beans, and corn. You’ll also need one tomato, a green pepper, a few green onions, and one bunch of fresh cilantro. This recipe also calls for lime juice, apple cider, vinegar, paprika, garlic salt, and cumin, so stock up on those if your pantry is running low.

(If you are making cowboy caviar with gluten-free or nut-free goals in mind, take heed: ensure all of the chips you serve with this dip truly fit those specifications. People have different sensitivity levels, but for some individuals, even a bit of dust from a friend’s flour tortilla chip or almond cracker can cause deeply unpleasant health consequences.)

How to make cowboy caviar

Now, let’s make this gluten free dip! Drain your cans of corn, black beans, and pinto beans. Rinse off the beans and combine all three in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Next, dice your green onions, cilantro, tomato and pepper. (I used a green pepper, but a yellow, red, or orange pepper would bring a lot of flavor and color to this dish.) Add all of these ingredients to your bowl of beans.

Toss in your spices, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine. Grab a chip and sample your finished product! Feel free to adjust the spice ratio to your liking.

And you’re done! I told you this cowboy caviar dip was easy. The flavors in this appetizer will mesh together as they sit, so you could easily make this a day or two before your event, as long as you kept it stored in the refrigerator.

If you make this dip at home, please tag @WhiskAverseBaking on social media, or leave a message in the comments below. You can also click “Pin Recipe” in the card below to save this cowboy caviar for later.

Cowboy Caviar

Simple to prepare and packed with flavor, this dip is sure to disappear quickly at your next gathering.
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1.5 quarts


  • 1 15 oz. can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can corn drained
  • 1 15 oz. can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro diced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika


  • Dice vegetables. Drain and rinse canned beans and corn.
  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  • Adjust spices to taste. Serve like salsa – as a topping for tacos or a dip for chips.
Keyword bean salad, dip, green bean, mexican, pico de gallo, salad, salsa

2 comments on “Cowboy Caviar

  1. Annette

    Thankful to have this recipe now! I’ve always tried to guess ingredients, and my results were inconsistent! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Susan Sanders

    I have made this for years from memory and it is good to have it in print! I like to spoon it over greens. Adds flavor, nutrition and dressing all in one!

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