Texas Caviar

Tailgate season is coming to a close, but we still have bowl games coming up, as well as the NFL playoffs. So humor me as I sneak this perfect tailgate dip into the lineup. Texas caviar, what a name! Credited with its invention is the legendary Austin-based Neiman-Marcus chef Helen Corbitt, who popularized it in the 1940s. Texas caviar is a cold black-eyed pea salad, with chiles, onions, and bell peppers that doubles as a dip for tortilla chips. This particular version of the recipe comes from my friend Lisa Fain, food blogger extraordinaire, and author of the newly released Homesick Texan Cookbook. Now most of the food we make around here gets shared among many—parents, boyfriend, friends, brothers, neighbors. But this one? I did not share. Mine. All. Mine. It’s that good.

Texas caviar can be served either as a little side salad, perhaps on some butter lettuce if you like, or it can be used as a dip, like salsa, for tortilla chips. You will find that if you make it as a dip, well, it takes a steady hand to keep the beans from falling of the chips. But, it’s well worth it. Enjoy!

Texas Caviar Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.


  • 4 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (2 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 8 green onions, just the green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 jalapeño chile peppers, stems and seeds removed (wear gloves! do not touch your eyes after handling them!), finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced, or 1/2 cup of canned diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


1 In a medium bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, green onion greens, cilantro, chopped jalapeño, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.

2 In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Pour over the the black-eyed pea mixture. Stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Best chilled for several hours. Serve cold as a side salad or with tortilla chips.

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Recipe by Lisa Fain, the Homesick Texan. Republished with permission.


Zannie's Black Eyed Pea Dip - from The Pioneer Woman

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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • Sprigs of Rosemary

    I’m glad to know the history of this! I’ve only made it with black beans and was told it was “Cowboy Caviar.” Whatever it’s called — great flavors and great tailgating! (Gotta try black-eyed peas, though.)

  • Glenda

    Throw some small chunks of avocado in this and it’s over the top. Delicious, as is, however!!!

  • James King

    Maybe if you mash or purée some of the beans (or some extra beans) then the dip would hold itself together better? Maybe make a small paste using 1 cup of beans and a drizzle of olive oil? I know it alters the caviar’s texture, but perhaps it would be a compromise if you’re going for a dip.

  • Kevin Holt

    My brothers fiancee makes a similar dip. The main difference is they make it Sante Fe style by adding corn. They also add orange, red, and green bell pepper along with the yellow, to give it a lot of color.

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