It might look like we’re mindlessly scrolling through TikTok to pass the time, but who’s to say we’re not on the hunt for the next big recipe to inspire your dinner? (OK, it’s a little bit of both.) Forget feta pasta and pesto eggs, because it’s officially the summer of cowboy caviar.
Search the hashtag #CowboyCaviar and you’ll find no shortage of users sharing their recipes for this margarita-friendly snack. One such video by Bria Lemirande, aka @brialem, has already clocked 1.7 million likes and nearly five million views—so don’t just take our word for it.
What is cowboy caviar?
It’s entirely possible you’ve eaten some iteration of cowboy caviar before, since the recipe didn’t originate on TikTok. Originally known as Texas caviar, it dates back to the 1940s. According to Texas Monthly, native New York and “ambivalent” Texas transplant Helen Corbett, the director of food service for Neiman Marcus’s Zodiac Room, created the recipe. The legend follows that Corbett was preparing a dinner with only locally grown foods, and in an effort to make black-eyed peas more upscale, she pickled them and accidentally created the now-iconic dish.
Cowboy caviar is, at its essence, a salad made of black-eyed peas in a vinaigrette dressing, served as a dip for tortilla chips. Unlike real caviar, it contains no fish roe, but is typically peppered with corn, herbs, various beans and chopped vegetables, like peppers and onion. It’s vegetarian, dairy free and exceedingly easy to make. Plus, it lasts for about 5 days in the fridge, which might explain why it’s the trendiest recipe this side of your phone screen. Aside from tortilla chips, you could also pair it with pita, use it as a taco topping or just serve it as a salad.
Ready to bring the trend into your kitchen? Here’s how to make it.
How to make cowboy caviar:
The classic cowboy caviar base includes black-eyed peas, corn, jalapeño, bell peppers and onion, but beyond that, you can customize it to your own tastes. (Lemirande’s video tutorial includes mango and feta, for example.) You don’t even need to follow a recipe if you don’t want to measure, so feel free to use this as a guideline instead of a rule.
3 bell peppers (various colors), finely chopped
2 cups corn kernels
2 jalapeños, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Handful of chopped cilantro
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, corn, jalapeños, onion, peas, beans and cilantro.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Pour over the vegetable mixture and stir to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve with tortilla chips, or as desired. The salad will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days.