This classic recipe for Texas Caviar, also called Cowboy Caviar, is a fresh and colorful salad that is perfect for a party or backyard picnic. This sweet and tangy Texas caviar dip is a hearty combination of black eyed peas, beans and vegetables. It is a delicious dip that tastes great with tortilla chips.
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Texas caviar is a colorful bean salad that can be served as side salad or as a salsa. It has a very distinctive dressing made with sugar and vinegar, almost like the pickling liquid used for refrigerator pickles. Texas caviar dip is a fresh and healthy side dish that is easy to make and delicious!
When you have a potluck you can make a big batch of cowboy caviar to take along. This dip is great during the summer when fresh vegetables are plentiful, but it is also an excellent dish any time of the year. You can make it for Christmas dinner or a tailgate party!
Where does Texas Caviar Come From?
Even though this dip is called Texas caviar it actually doesn’t come from Texas. In the 1940s a chef at Neiman Marcus created the dish to serve on a Texas themed menu. The dish became popular and is now served all over the country.
How to Make Texas Caviar Dressing
The dressing for this recipe is made by boiling vinegar with sugar. The dressing recipe uses a lot of sugar and a lot of vinegar. These combine to give the Texas caviar its noticeable sweet and sour flavor.
To make the dressing bring the apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil and sugar to a boil. You can also use red wine vinegar or plain white vinegar if you don’t have apple cider vinegar. Once the sugar is dissolved take the pan off the burner and let it cool to room temperature.
Sometimes people are tempted to make this recipe even simpler by using a bottle of Italian dressing instead of making homemade dressing. This will be quicker to make but it won’t taste nearly as good! So I’d recommend spending the extra time to make your own cowboy caviar dressing.
Can you make Texas Caviar Recipe with Less Sugar?
Now admittedly this recipe contains a lot of sugar – because the dressing is supposed to be sweet. If you reduce the sweetness too much it becomes a bean salad with vinegar, which is a fine side dish, but is not Texas caviar.
However I think you could cut the sugar down to 3/4 of a cup without losing the distinctive sweetness. And you could also experiment with using a mixture of 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup if you want to reduce the refined sugar in the recipe. But really if you want a low sugar side dish the best thing to do is make something else, like a three bean salad, not Texas caviar!
Putting Together the Cowboy Caviar
Once the dressing has cooled to room temperature the cowboy caviar is easy to complete. Just pour the cans of pinto beans, black eyed peas and corn into a colander, rinse and let drain.
Then mix the drained beans and corn with chopped celery, green pepper and onion. Add the cooled dressing, a little bit of pepper and salt if desired and mix all the ingredients well.
This Texas caviar tastes best if it has an hour or so in the refrigerator so vegetables can marinate and all the flavors can blend together. Texas caviar dip will keep for 3-4 days covered in the refrigerator. But the vegetables will start to soften in the dressing after the first day, so it will taste best in the first 24 hours after you make it.
What Kind of Corn Should I use in Cowboy Caviar?
This Texas caviar recipe calls for a can of sweet white corn, because that is my preference, but you can use other kinds if you like. White corn is not always easy to find in a grocery store and a can of yellow sweet corn works in its place.
If fresh corn is in season you can also cook 2 or 3 ears of corn and cut the kernels off for the freshest corn possible. Or you can also substitute a cup of frozen corn which has been thawed.
Texas Caviar Variations
This is a pretty classic version of the Texas caviar recipe, but you can change it up to suit your family’s preferences. Many people make it with black beans instead of pinto beans or add in a jalapeno along with the green pepper.
What to Serve With Texas Caviar
I like to serve this as a dip with tortilla chips. It makes a nice contrast to a traditional spicy tomato salsa. But there are lots of other ways to serve Texas caviar. You can turn it into more of main dish by serving it on a bed of lettuce as a hearty salad or using it as a topping for tacos.
This makes a great party or potluck dish because it is easy to make it ahead of time. You can bring a big bowl of Texas caviar along with a bag of tortilla chips. And the recipe is easy to double if you really want to feed a crowd. So whether it is a picnic, tailgating party or a holiday celebration Texas caviar dip will be a welcome addition.
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 can black eyed peas
- 1 can sweet white corn
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- salt to taste
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and then cook until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the cans of pinto beans, black eyed peas, and corn into a colander to drain. Wash with cool water to remove all of the canning liquids.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the washed pinto beans, black eyes peas, and corn with the finely chopped celery, green bell pepper, and diced onion. Add the ground pepper and stir well.
- Pour the vinegar marinade over the vegetable mixture and stir well.
- Cover the Texas Caviar with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Serve with tortilla chips
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 112mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g
Nutrition facts are estimates.