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Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

This is the stuff of Witt Family legends. It’s the must-have for our annual Witt Family vacation. It’s a party side that pleases everyone. It’s the dish people talk about in hushed, reverent tones at the holiday potluck. It’s Cowboy Caviar, folks! 

There are many versions of Cowboy Caviar out there, but I’m declaring here that my mother’s is the absolute best. 

I inherited this recipe from my mom at my wedding shower. It’s kept in a safe spot.

The crunchy, sweet, savory, and creamy bites keep you coming back for more and make you feel a little sad when you realize it’s all gone. Make this recipe when you’re looking for something extremely easy, fit for a crowd, and just dang delicious. 


  • 3 can of beans (Recommended: Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans, and Dark Red Kidney Beans)
  • 1 C Celery, finely diced (Approximately 4 – 5 stalks)
  • ½ C Red onion, finely diced (I recommend a generous ½ cup.)
  • ¼ C Parsley, chopped up (I recommend a generous ½ cup.)
  • 3 Bell Peppers, finely diced (Recommended: Red, Yellow, and Orange)
  • 1 can corn (The corn is optional, but I always add it.)
  • ½ C vegetable oil 
  • ½ – ¾ C sugar (I typically do a generous ½ cup.)
  • ¾ C red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper 
  • Tortilla chips, or corn chips for scooping


  • Make the dressing by combining the oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar into a small bowl. Mix vigorously until fully combined and the sugar has slightly dissolved. Cover and put in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • First, find a large mixing bowl that can hold about 12 cups. Between the beans, veggies, and sauce, you’ll want plenty of room for mixing.
  • Drain and rinse each can of beans. I typically pour the beans into a colander together and run water over the top until the liquid is clear. Once drained and rinsed, add them to your mixing bowl.
  • Next drain and rinse the corn using the same method as the beans. Add them to the mixing bowl.
  • Now, get to chopping! Chop the celery, red onion, bell peppers, and parsley. Once they’re all chopped up, add them to the mixing bowl as well. (Tip: See the section below, “Chop it up!” for guidelines on how to achieve a similar dice on all your vegetables.)
  • Now that all the veggies and beans are in the mixing bowl, toss them together until everything looks evenly distributed.
  • Pour the sauce over the top and combine again.
  • This step is optional, but at this point, I prefer to transfer the whole dish to a large food storage bin just so that it’s easier to fit in the refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. 

Chop it up!

There is a lot of chopping in this recipe and everything calls to be in a “fine dice” which makes the Cowboy Caviar look nice, true, but it also ensures that you get an even scoop of goodness with each dip of your chip. So here are some tips about how to achieve an even dice on all the veggies. 

  • Celery: Cut each stalk down the center lengthwise creating two smaller stalks. Then, cut each smaller stalk down the center lengthwise again. You should end up with four celery stalks about ¼ inch thick. Line them up next to each other, then run your knife through them horizontally, creating small celery squares (aka a fine dice).
  • Bell Pepper: There are many ways to chop a bell pepper, but I prefer to start by slicing off the top, then the bottom leaving just the interior. Next, I slice the interior open so it can lay flat, pulling out all the seeds and membranes. With the pepper laying flat, slice ¼ inch strips. Lay the strips on top of or next to each other then run your knife through them horizontally creating your fine dice.
  • Red Onion: Peel your onion as you typically would, then slice it in half through the end of the onion, leaving the root intact. Now, run your knife horizontally through the cut end of the onion starting at the bottom, working your way to the top, slicing just until you reach the root, but not going through. Now you’re going to do the opposite. Run your knife vertically through the onion in ¼ inch sections left to right. This creates a crosshatch pattern. Once your pattern is created, slice horizontally over the entire onion in ¼ inch sections, which will create fine dice.
  • Parsley: To avoid getting the stems in your mix, hold the parsley bunch at the bottom with your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand, use a sharp knife to slice the leaves off by brushing it forward. Once you’ve got approximately ¼ cup of leaves, bunch them together and run your knife through them in an up and down fashion until finely chopped up.