Cowboy Salsa is simple, fresh, colorful, and packed with flavor. Also called Cowboy Caviar or Texas Caviar, it’s made with beans, vegetables, and a tangy dressing!

black bowl with salsa, chips on the side


Let’s face it, the winter months in Minnesota are not the best time to make fresh tomato salsa. And January to August is a long time to wait for those sweet summer tomatoes to ripen.

Lucky for us, this Cowboy Salsa doesn’t use tomatoes at all. Mom introduced this recipe to me many years ago, passed down from her girlfriend Phyllis.

Sometimes called Cowboy Caviar, Texas Caviar, Mexican Caviar, or Redneck Caviar (holy moly!), this salsa is fresh and green, with crisp celery, green pepper, green onions, and herby cilantro. It’s light yet hearty, compliments of a couple different kinds of beans. And the dressing is tangy, sweet deliciousness.

People ask for the recipe every time I make it!

Here are a few more great salsa recipes that don’t rely on fresh tomatoes: Black Bean Salsa with Olives (I love those olives!), Smoky Salsa (similar to some of my favorite restaurant salsas), and Watermelon Jicama Salsa (so. much. fun!!).

all the ingredients for cowboy caviar, separated in a clear bowl

How do you make cowboy caviar?

You will probably never find a single cowboy caviar recipe that’s exactly the same as the next. There are many different versions.

Basically, though, it’s a dish that lies somewhere between a dip and a salad. (Grab some chips, or grab a spoon!) Made with a variety of fresh vegetables, black-eyed peas, black beans, and a light and tangy vinaigrette, I find it irresistible.

There’s nothing complicated about this recipe. You’ll just need to open a few cans and chop some fresh ingredients. This version from Phyllis includes:

  • black beans
  • black-eyed peas
  • shoepeg corn
  • pimentos
  • green pepper
  • celery
  • green onion
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro

What is shoepeg corn, you ask? The term dates back to before the American Civil War, when the corn was named for its peg-like shape. It’s rather long and thin. The kernels are smaller and sweeter than yellow corn. If you can’t find it at your grocery store (Our store carries just one variety), substitute either white or yellow corn in your recipes. And if it’s sweet corn season, just use raw sweet corn kernels, cut right from the cob – THE BEST!!

One of the “secrets” to a great cowboy salsa is making sure that all the ingredients are similar in size. So when you’re dicing the green pepper and celery, just eye-up the black beans and black-eyed peas. Aim for roughly the same size for all. Except the jalapeno…I prefer to mince that nice and small, for better heat distribution throughout.

dressing in a mason jar, for Texas caviar

Cowboy salsa dressing

Once all the salsa ingredients are prepared, make the dressing.

This dressing is sweet, light, and simple, but it does also pack a punch. I love the acidity from the rice vinegar and fresh lemon juice.

Simply add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar, cover the jar tightly, and shake vigorously to combine.

I like to use wide-mouth pint jars for making this dressing. And I just recently bought more of these jar caps; I like them better than the two-piece metal lids and rings used for canning. I use these jars and caps all the time!

cowboy caviar recipe

While this is a great fresh dip to make during the winter, I really do make it all year ’round. I like that it’s filling but not heavy, and that it can be served at room temperature. There’s no need to worry about questionable mayo in the heat.

Another plus is that this recipe actually should be made ahead of time, to let all the flavors mingle and soak into the beans. I find so many ways to eat this – with tortilla or Fritos corn chips, with tacos, alongside a couple fried eggs, as a relish, and as a side salad!

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pinterest image of cowboy salsa recipe
redneck caviar

Cowboy Salsa

Yield: 12 servings
prep time: 20 minutes
total time: 20 minutes
This Cowboy Salsa recipe features colorful vegetables, black-eyed peas, and black beans in a tangy dressing. Enjoy this as an appetizer dip with tortilla chips – or as a tasty relish or side salad!
4.6 Stars (5 Reviews)


for the salsa

  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (11 ounces each) white shoepeg corn (or substitute 2 cups fresh, raw sweet corn kernels)
  • 1 jar (4 ounces) chopped pimentos, drained
  • cups diced green pepper
  • cups thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno (more or less to taste, depending on the heat of your jalapenos)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (use more if desired)

for the dressing

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (use more if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin


for the salsa

  • Place the canned beans, corn, and pimentos in a large bowl. Add green pepper, green onion, celery, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic. Fold to combine.

for the dressing

  • Add all the dressing ingredients to a jar or bowl, then add a tight-fitting lid. Shake the jar vigorously for 30 seconds to combine.


  • Pour dressing over salsa ingredients and fold a few times to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day in advance. Before serving, fold the salsa a few times to combine. If desired, drain off some of the excess dressing and accumulated juices. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or Fritos corn chips. You can also serve this as a relish or side salad.


When dicing the vegetables, aim for all ingredients in the salsa to be roughly the same size. Just eye-up the beans and cut the green pepper and celery about the same size. However, mince the jalapeno nice and small, to distribute the heat more evenly.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
adapted from Mom’s recipe box, originally from friend Phyllis Knudsen

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 185kcal Carbohydrates: 23g Protein: 4g Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g Sodium: 282mg Fiber: 4g Sugar: 12g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
redneck caviar

This post was previously published in 2010. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2020.