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Fresh, vibrant, zingy, and flavor-packed Texas Caviar is a fully loaded Southwest/Mexican corn and bean salad with tomatoes, avocado, and red onion. It’s perfect for eating with chips or as a side at potlucks, picnics, BBQs, and as a quick last-minute side for any meal as it’s ready in just 10 minutes!

completed Texas Caviar [Avocado Corn and Bean Salad] in a white plate against a light background
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Fresh, Vibrant, and Delicious Texas Caviar/ Cowboy Salsa

Texas caviar (also called cowboy caviar, cowboy salsa, and Southern caviar) is the crowd-pleasing dip/salsa/salad everyone needs to know. It’s one of our go-to recipes for impressing company. It’s fresh, vibrant, nutritious, delicious, made with just a few simple, inexpensive pantry staples and fresh veggies, and comes together in just a few stress-free minutes!

In fact, aside from a small amount of chopping, this cowboy caviar recipe (originally called ‘Everyone’s Favorite Bean Salad’ from the Plant-Based on a Budget Cookbook) basically consists of draining and rinsing the beans and corn, then mixing everything together in a big bowl. Leave it to sit for at least 10 minutes, then dig in.

If you’re not entirely sure what ‘cowboy salsa’ is, if you’ve tried a Southwest corn and black bean salad or Mexican bean salad, cowboy salsa is very similar but traditionally made with black-eyed peas. This time, though, we’re using three types of beans and avocado for extra texture and flavor.

The combination of beans, sweet corn, red onion, tomato, and avocado, mixed with cilantro and fresh lemon or lime juice makes for a wonderfully zingy, fresh mixed bean salad loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein. Overall, it’s a wonderfully well-balanced dish.

It’s super versatile too! Along with enjoying it alongside vegan tacos, burritos, and vegan quesadillas, it’s also a great dish to enjoy with all your favorite picnic/ BBQ sides like potato salad, slaw, and more!

The Ingredients

One of the best things about this easy cowboy caviar recipe is that it’s made of just a few inexpensive, simple pantry and kitchen basics.

ingredients for Texas Caviar [Avocado Corn and Bean Salad] against a white background
  • Beans: Use any three cans of beans, regular or low-sodium. I.e., black-eyed peas, black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, Great Northern, chickpeas, mixed beans, etc. We used pinto, black beans, and chickpeas this time, but black-eyed peas will make a more traditional cowboy caviar.

Alternatively, you could cook the beans yourself. You’ll need around 1 ½ cups of dried beans (4 ½ cups cooked beans).

  • Corn: It’s best to use a can of unsalted sweetcorn. However, you can also use frozen corn (thawed).

If you’re making this corn bean salad on a grill day, you could even use grilled corn, which will add a lovely smoky flavor to the salad.

  • Red onion: For small bursts of sharp, acidic bite. A yellow onion would work in a pinch. For a milder flavor, use green onions.
  • Tomato: During tomato season, larger tomatoes will work great. The rest of the year, we turn to inexpensive cherry tomatoes/baby plum tomatoes. Canned tomatoes, like RO-TEL will work in a pinch, too.
  • Avocado: You’ll need one large avocado that’s ripe but still slightly firm (so it won’t become mush in the salad).
  • Cilantro: If you aren’t a fan, flat-leaf parsley or scallions/ green onion could work instead (or alongside it).
  • Salt: Season the corn and bean salad to taste.
  • Lemon/Lime: Instead of a complicated dressing, all this corn and bean salad needs is some fresh lemon or lime juice (1 small fruit should be enough).

For more of a traditional Texas caviar dressing, add a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar, garlic (or garlic powder), and a bit of sugar or maple/agave. Alternatively, you could use Italian dressing OR, for a creamy salsa dressing, blend vegan sour cream, salsa, cumin, and a pinch of salt together. Tweak the amounts to taste.

What Else Could I Add To Cowboy Salsa?

We’ve kept things simple (and low budget) for this version of cowboy caviar. However, depending on what you have in your kitchen, feel free to add:

  • Bell pepper: Diced orange/red bell peppers will add fresh crunch and color.
  • Garlic: Just one clove, minced, to add to the ‘dressing.’
  • Seasonings: There are several options you could add to corn bean avocado salad. I.e., cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes, etc.
  • Lettuce: To make a lighter green-based salad, add shredded lettuce. Start with a 1:1 ratio of lettuce to beans and increase to your desired ratio.
  • Other Vegetables: You might enjoy several other veggies in this cowboy caviar recipe, like:
    • Cucumber (Persian or English cucumbers contain fewer seeds)
    • Shredded purple cabbage
    • Diced celery
    • Black olives
  • Jalapeño: Diced, sliced, or pickled for extra heat.
  • Nuts/Seeds: Lightly toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, etc., for crunch, protein, and heart-healthy fats.
  • Mango/Pineapple: This will add a juicy, fresh, sweet flavor.
  • Vegan feta: To sprinkle over the top of the cowboy salsa when serving.

How to Make Texas Caviar (Corn Bean Avocado Salad)?

  • 1) First, drain and rinse the cans of beans. Then, finely dice the red onion and tomato, chop the avocado and cilantro, and juice the lemon/lime.
  • 2) Transfer all the ingredients to a large bowl and toss well, giving it a taste and increasing the salt if preferred. Finally, let it sit and ‘marinate’ for a minimum of 10 minutes (though 30-45 minutes is even better). Enjoy!
process shot of mixing ingredients together in a bowl

FAQs

Can I use only one type of bean?

We prefer the different colors, flavors, and textures of mixed beans. However, use just one kind if preferred. Our favorite option is making a black bean corn avocado salad, but for traditional cowboy caviar, use black eyes peas.

Why is it called cowboy caviar?

Cowboy caviar is just another name for what was originally called ‘Texas caviar’ named after its origin location.

Apparently, it came about in the 1940s thanks to a woman named Helen Corbitt (the culinary director of Neiman Marcus), who served it at a Texan country club New Year’s Eve celebration after learning the beans were meant to ensure prosperity in the upcoming year. At some point, it was nicknamed Texas caviar, and the name stuck!

Recipe Tips

  • Leave it to marinate: As it sits, the flavors of the cowboy caviar will meld, and the onion will lose some of the harsh ‘raw’ flavor.
  • For mellow onion: Leaving the onion to soak in ice water for 10 minutes will help it mellow without needing a long marination period.
  • Low-budget tip: Buying and preparing the beans from dry (rather than canned) can save you money in the long run. We recommend cooking big batches and storing extra in the freezer to use over multiple meals.
  • Add avocado when serving: Otherwise, it will brown as it sits.
completed Texas Caviar [Avocado Corn and Bean Salad] in a white plate against a light background

Storage Instructions

As long as you only add the avocado before serving, you can prepare this corn bean salad up to four days in advance, storing it in an airtight container in the fridge.

While we don’t recommend freezing the compiled salad, the beans and corn could be frozen for up to three months.

Serving Suggestions

To say Texas caviar is versatile is a massive understatement. You can enjoy it as a dip with chips or as a side alongside:

It’s also pretty much the perfect crowd-pleasing dish to bring along to potlucks, picnics, and BBQs, to enjoy alongside burgers, grilled proteins, etc. However, you can enjoy it year-round as a last-minute, quick, and simple meal-prep dish for parties and events!

More Easy Vegan Bean Recipes

Also, check out our collection of 59 Ways to Use a Can of Beans.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Texas Caviar [Avocado Corn and Bean Salad]

4.94 from 64 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Fresh, vibrant, zingy, and flavor-packed Texas Caviar is a fully loaded Southwest/Mexican corn and bean salad with tomatoes, avocado, and red onion. It’s perfect for eating with chips or as a side at potlucks, picnics, BBQs, and as a quick last-minute side for any meal as it's ready in just 10 minutes!

Ingredients 

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of unsalted corn drained and rinsed
  • 1 large avocado diced
  • ½ cup of diced red onion
  • ½ cup of diced tomato
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (about 1 small lemon or lime)
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients. The salad can be served
    chilled or at room temperature.

Video

Notes

  • Leave it to marinate: As it sits, the flavors of the cowboy caviar will meld, and the onion will lose some of the harsh ‘raw’ flavor.
  • For mellow onion: Leaving the onion to soak in ice water for 10 minutes will help it mellow without needing a long marination period.
  • Low-budget tip: Buying and preparing the beans from dry (rather than canned) can save you money in the long run. We recommend cooking big batches and storing extra in the freezer to use over multiple meals.

Nutrition

Calories: 555kcalCarbohydrates: 93gProtein: 26gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 717mgPotassium: 1496mgFiber: 27gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 610IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 156mgIron: 8mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Mexican
Method: No Cook
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was very hesitant to make this because of the black beans and garbanzo, but I’m so glad I did. This was amazing! It tastes just like ceviche but without the shrimp, which I sadly can’t have anymore. It needed a little heat, so I added some jalapenos.

  2. I love this recipe! I add diced celery and green pepper to it and leave out the corn and avocado. It’s a great salad or snack.

  3. 5 stars
    I just made this for the first time today and it is so flavorful. Thank you for such a good recipe that I can be proud of.

  4. 5 stars
    This is lovely Toni. I like to serve it with avocado on wholemeal toasted bread or sourdough bread. I mash my avocado with lemon, salt, black pepper and lime and your bean salad inside a baked potato goes together perfectly. My kids the bean salad to school with cooked brown rice and have it as part of their packed lunch. That’s what we do. I add a kiwi and/or a Satsuma or Raspberries to boost the iron from the beans as boosting it with Vitamin C increase the iron absorption of the non heme iron x4 fold.

    Your recipes are fantastic. Keep up the great work and your book is brilliant! I have recommend it to a few of my vegan friends who are mum’s looking for recipes that happen to be kid friendly and not scary to try. To be honest, it can be a challenge feeding kids (mine are teenagers now and plant-based 5 years in total) who are young and perhaps not used to plant-based eating and eating more whole foods. So yep. Lunchbox friendly recipe are a must. Thank you kindly.

    1. So glad you and the kiddos are enjoying this one! It’s certainly a favorite! Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re setting such a great example for them! 🙂

  5. This will be a wonderful new salad to bring to the cottage this summer! I love every ingredient in here!

  6. We all loved this delicious recipe! Such as easy recipe to put together and it’s full of protein to keep us going for hours!