It is formally eaten outside all day each day season around here — the months where BBQs and local potlucks are furiously frequent.

Almost 97 percent of the time, once we are invited into an outdoor BBQ in a friend/neighbor/family member’s house, and I am asked to deliver”something” — I wind up with this natural dip in hand.

Some call it cowboy caviar dip.

Regardless of what you call it, it’s one of my favorite, favorite things to eat…summer ingestion season or not.

This cowboy caviar dip is a significant explosion of color and texture, and taste. Sweet, delicious corn with crisp red pepper and onions, hearty beans, and smooth avocado, and it is all lightly coated in a yummy, zesty, Italian dressing.

I could eat this every day of my entire life and be completely happy. It is one of the dishes that are interesting enough to keep you from getting bored quickly, but not so mad that the tastes and changing textures become nauseating.

Additionally, it is super versatile — as I mentioned above, it makes a perfect side dish or appetizer for potlucks or whatever but is hearty enough for a light meal, in my opinion.

In warmer months, I often make this to function alongside broiled chicken and this skillet zucchini skillet.

You can even add in cooked, chopped shrimp into the cowboy caviar dip for a delicious variation that makes me not want to talk about a single bite.

If you’re seeking the ideal dish to bring to your 4th of July (or beyond) festivities, this one’ll take you less than 15 minutes to throw together, and you might be the most popular person at the party because of it.



  • 1 can 15 ounces white beans, such as navy or Great Northern (can also used black-eyed peas)
  • 1 can 15 ounces black beans
  • 1 can 11 ounces corn (see note)
  • 1 to 2 avocados diced (leave these out and add in right before serving if making this in advance)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 to 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro plus more to taste, if desired
  • 1/3 cup Italian dressing see note, plus more if needed
  • Squeeze of fresh lime about 1/2 tablespoon or so from half of a large lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • White blue or yellow corn/tortilla chips for serving


  • Drain the beans and corn together in a colander. Give them a quick rinse and let them drain really well so no extra liquid makes its way to the dip. You are able to use a salad spinner to eliminate extra liquid or put them out on a double layer of paper towels and blot dry. Add them to a serving bowl. Mix. Pour the dressing on the top of the salad and employing a large spoon or spatula, fold the dressing and oil together until everything is evenly coated.
  • Squeeze the lime juice over the top. Gradually combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with chips. Store leftovers in the fridge. If making in advance, wait to chop and wake up in the avocados until right before serving.
  • Good quality canned corn is vital here! I've discovered the Green Giant blend of yellow and white corn kernels are sweet and crispy and flavorful. All canned corn is not created equal. Sometimes I'll also use frozen corn kernels (I disperse them onto a plate to thaw and then gently pat dry before using).


Utilize a Italian dressing that you adore (great taste!) . I have used everything from Annie's new to Kraft zesty brandnew. I've also used this fast homemade dressing (from my fave Italian pasta salad recipe). Delicious! Combine together: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine or white balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or Parm-reggiano cheese, 1 tsp sugar or honey, 1 garlic clove, minced, 1/2 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, pinch of black pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes.
You can see from the ingredient listing that the quantities are really adaptable according to your own preferences. The key is to chop everything up in to small, bite-sized bits so not one of the ingredients overwhelm the others. In the end, if you would like to take this dip to a other-worldly level, try adding cooked, chopped beans. Unreal.