This cowboy caviar recipe is always a hit at BBQs, parties, and picnics. People ask me for the recipe whenever I bring it, so I thought I would share it with you here! And I’ve got some delicious wine pairings to go with it.
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
What is cowboy caviar, you ask? Well, I’ll start by saying there are no fish eggs in this recipe. Kind of a poor man’s caviar, this zesty dip is a mix of beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and avocado. It’s also known as Texas caviar in some places.
Tortilla chips are a perfect scooper to shovel it into your mouth. Or it makes a tasty side salad with something like pulled pork sandwiches.
As a supertaster (look it up — I swear it’s really a thing!), I have a hard time with spicy food. My friends that love it tell me I should focus on the flavors that the spice adds. But I just can’t get past the fiery-pits-of-hell sensation in my mouth.
Needless to say, my version of cowboy caviar is not spicy. However, I know many of you would say, “Bring on the heat!” So, I’ve included optional ingredients for all you ghost-pepper-loving peeps.
Wine Pairings for Cowboy Caviar
This dish’s lime juice and tomatoes scream for a wine with good acidity.
You’ll also want to avoid high-tannin and high-alcohol wines, especially if you turn up the heat. This will increase the burn and make the wine taste more bitter.
Spicy Pick: Off-Dry Riesling
Despite its reputation, Riesling comes in all shapes and sizes (or rather, sweetness levels). You’ll want one with a bit of sweetness to counteract the heat. Add a nice chill and taking a sip will be like diving into a cool pool on a hot summer’s day.
Now, looking at the German Riesling classification system makes even my head spin (and that’s before having a few glasses). So just find ones labeled halbtrocken or feinherb. If all else fails, you can take a gander at the alcohol content. Usually, a lower ABV = a sweeter wine.
Non-Spicy Pick: Chenin Blanc
One of my personal faves, this fruit-forward white is crisp and sometimes has some sweetness. You’ll get flavors of fresh apple, pear, and citrus.
Vouvray in the Loire Valley region of France has a cooler climate. This produces light-bodied versions of Chenin Blanc with fruit and floral notes and would be a great match for the non-spicy version of this dish. Although, frankly, it would work with the spicy version too.
Adventurous Pick: Verdejo
If you want to impress your friends with something different, go for Verdejo (not to be confused with Verdelho from Portugal). Hailing almost exclusively from the Rueda region in Spain, this refreshing white wine is light in body and high in acidity.
You’ll find flavors of lime, melon, and peach that will be a perfect match with the lime dressing and cilantro in cowboy caviar. Keep an eye out for ones that come in a high-shouldered bottle (AKA a Bordeaux-style bottle), which will be lighter and more minerally in style.
Looking for more appetizer and wine pairing ideas? Check out my guides for wine pairing with antipasto skewers, burrata wine pairing, and Cambozola wine pairing. Or get 21 easy ideas for snacks with wine.
Cowboy Caviar Recipe Equipment
For this recipe, you’ll need the following equipment:
- Sharp chef’s knife – I use this one for everything
- Mixing bowls – I love this set with lids
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- 1 Bell pepper I prefer half of a red and half of a yellow.
- 1/2 of a Red onion
- 3 Tomatoes
- 15 oz Black beans
- 1 1/2 cups Frozen corn
- 2 Avocados
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 1 Jalapeno pepper optional
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Lime juice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
- Chili powder to taste – optional
- Deseed and dice the bell pepper, tomatoes, and jalapeno (if using). Dice the red onion. Finely chop 1/2 of a cup of cilantro. Dice the avocado (if not eating right away, wait to do this until right before serving so it doesn't go brown). Rinse and drain black beans.
- Put the above ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine them.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a separate bowl and whisk together.
- Mix dressing into bowl with main ingredients and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Do you like your cowboy caviar spicy or mild? Which wine did you have with it?
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