Cowboy Caviar Recipe with Pickled Onion

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Black eyed peas and black beans,  cowboy caviar is the perfect starter for taco night!

My intention for 2021 is to connect more in person with friends. I wrote on instagram that bread and water with people is better than a feast alone. People feed our soul just as much as food feeds our body. Today I’ve invited a new couple from church over to start the new year and make connection.

  • There are many food traditions for the new year all around the world. Here are a few:
  • Pork: eaten as pigs root forward. 
  • Black Eyed Peas: peas for pennies (prosperity). 
  • Greens for Prosperity
  • Cornbread for Gold 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, we always had pork and sauerkraut, as cabbage is considered one of the good luck foods. Here in the south, it’s all about the black eyed peas, greens and cornbread. 


I decided to make carnitas (pork) with corn tortillas and our guests brought a delicious cabbage slaw.  Black eyed peas cowboy caviar was the perfect starter. We were covered with all the good luck foods in a non-traditional way. 

This dinner was so good that I think it will be our new year’s tradition from now on. 

What is Cowboy Caviar?

Typically cowboy caviar, also known as Texas caviar (sometimes Tennessee caviar) is a mixture of beans (maybe corn) onion, jalapeño, cilantro, oil, vinegar and meant to be eaten with tortilla chips as a dip. 

There a hundred ways to make it and I chose to use black eyed peas and black beans. I skipped the corn because it’s winter and the only time I want to add corn is when I can grill it and cut it off the cob. Honestly, it’s not necessary, as we all thought this version cowboy caviar was just right. The four of us ate almost the entire bowl. 

Ingredients for Black Eyed Peas Cowboy Caviar

The main ingredients are black beans, black eyed peas, pickled red onion,  cilantro, lime juice. I added in a mixture of brightly colored bell peppers, because I just happened to have them left over from this pizza recipe. Avocado is an option and should be added right before serving. Salt is a must and you will need to taste for seasoning before serving. 

The secret to the brightness and flavor in the dip the pickled red onion and jalapenos. I am not a raw onion fan, but I do like pickled onion and thought that acid will give these beans what they need. I was right.

Pickled Red Onion in 30 minutes. 

I found a recipe from the Kitchn that was pretty easy to use.

  • Slice red onion in half moons. Place in colander. 
  • Pour two cups of boiling water over the onions. 
  • Pour a cup of vinegar into jar. I used half cider vinegar, half balsamic.
  • Add peppercorns, seasonings and a teaspoon of sugar. 
  • Add onion. 
  • Ready in 30 minutes. 

Make the Night before so the flavors meld. The beans will not get mushy and will be absolutely delicious. I didn’t add any seasonings to the vinegar.

Tips for Black Eyed Peas Cowboy Caviar

  • Make sure to rinse the beans in cold water to remove the sodium. 
  • Make a day ahead for full flavor profile. 
  • If you don’t use pickled onion, you will need to add vinegar to bring acid to the dish.
  • Salt liberally. 
  • Add avocado right before serving.

Playing around, in the summer, add some chopped tomato and grilled corn (off the cob). 

Serve with any of the following dishes from Spinach Tiger:


Taco Meat for Tacos

Fried Fish Tacos

Salmon Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Puerto Rican Picadillo

Authentic Guacamole

How to Marinate Carne Asada

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Cowboy Caviar with Black Eyed Peas

A perfect starter for tacos, made with black beans, black eyed peas, pickled onion
Prep Time4 minutes
Resting Time for Pickled Onion30 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: tex mex
Keyword: black beans, black eyed peas, cowbow caviar
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 red bell pepper (or a mix of colors) small dice
  • 3 tablespoons pickled onion small dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper or serrano
  • 1 handful cilantro chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado diced (optional)

Pickled Red Onion

  • 1/2 red onion sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar optional
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns or some black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic cut in half


  • Rinse beans in colander in cold water. Set aside.
  • Dice peppers, onions in very small dice.
  • Mix beans, peppers, onions.
  • Toss with olive oil.
  • The pickled onions may be enough vinegar. If not add a teaspoon or two.
  • Add cilantro.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add avocado right before serving.

Pickled Onion

  • Slice into thin half moons and place in colander.
  • Pour boiling water over onion.
  • Put vinegar in jar with sugar and peppercorns.
  • Put onion in jar. Will be ready in 30 minutes. Dice fine for the bean dip.

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If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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