Texas Caviar With Tortilla Cups {+VIDEO}

Texas Caviar aka Cowboy Caviar is a fresh, flavorful bean salsa that makes a fun appetizer when served in crisp tortilla cups! Perfect for your next picnic, potluck, game day, or BBQ. 

If you like bean salad as much as we do, be sure to check out these reader favorites: Black Bean and Roast Corn Salad, Three Bean Salad, and White Bean Tuna Salad.

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texas caviar in baked tortilla cups on a plate

Why We Love Texas Caviar with Tortilla Cups

This southwest-inspired dish with a touch of spice is so great because it’s customizable to your tastes! With zesty lime juice, spicy jalapeños, fire-roasted tomatoes, sweet corn, and fresh avocado, this dish blends together a bounty of flavors. You can even skip the jalapeños for less spice, or add in some poblano peppers if more heat is your thing! This recipe can change with you or the party you make it for and can be whipped up in no time!

Texas caviar (sometimes referred to as Cowboy Caviar) is a simple dish to put together for any size crowd, and it will keep well for days after. In fact, it actually gets better the longer you let it sit. It will spice up your meal and make everything a bit more colorful!

Serve it in easy-to-make tortilla cups to really make this dish unforgettably delicious.

baked tortilla cup filled with cowboy caviar

Why Is It Called Texas Caviar?

Texas caviar is actually a bean salad that can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or dip for tortilla chips. The original Texas caviar recipe originated in Texas by a woman named Helen Corbitt in 1940. She created the recipe in an attempt to add more flavor to Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s. 

There are loads of variations of Texas caviar recipes on the internet and almost as many names.  You might be asking “What the difference between Texas caviar and Cowboy caviar”…..well, truth be told, there is no difference. Texas caviar goes by many names including Cowboy Caviar, Hillbilly Caviar, Southern Caviar, Oklahoma Caviar, Mississippi Caviar, even Mexican Caviar, Cajun Caviar, and many more! But whatever it’s called, the basics of this delicious bean salad recipe stay pretty much the same.

Texas Caviar goes with just about everything from chicken and pork to steaks and fish, and because it can be made ahead, it’s great for any gathering and can be served year-round. 

how to make tortilla cups for texas caviar

Fresh Texas Caviar Ingredients 

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  • flour tortillas – Make sure these are fajita size, about 6 inches in diameter to get the right size cups for your appetizer.
  • pinto beans –  Don’t skip on draining the can. I prefer Bush’s beans for their flavor.
  • sweet crisp canned corn – You can use frozen if you prefer.  No need to cook it, just make sure it’s thawed.
  • diced tomatoes – I like to use fire-roasted canned tomatoes for an added kick of flavor.
  • red onion – Red onions are great for dishes like this. They add color and a bold onion flavor that really stands out!
  • jalapeno pepper – While this does call for the pepper to be deveined and minced if you still aren’t a fan of the spice or have little ones hoping to take part in the snack, you can skip this ingredient or substitute bell peppers. Or, if you want to make this dip extra hot, keep the jalapeno seeds. 
  • fresh cilantro – While there are some people who hate cilantro, I couldn’t imagine this texas caviar without it! The freshness from the cilantro is truly delicious. 
  • lime juice – I like to cut a fresh lime to squeeze over the mix to add some citrus and zest to the flavor. It really elevates the fresh flavor!
  • salt and pepper – Just a pinch or two to taste.
  • extra virgin olive oil – The olive oil acts as a sort of dressing to blend all the elements together. 
  • avocado – I’m obsessed with fresh avocado! Your best bet is to buy ripe avocados the day that you need them.

overhead shot of texas caviar cups on a plate

How To Make Texas Caviar with Tortilla Cups

This quick and easy Southwest bean salad recipe is great for potlucks and BBQs. It can be served as a salad, a side dish, a snack, or an appetizer.

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Step One: Preheat your oven to 350°F. While the oven preheats, spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and tuck each of the tortillas in the cupcake pan to form cups. Bake tortilla cups for 20-25 minutes and let cool completely.

Step Two: In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, pepper, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Season to taste. Drizzle olive oil over top then gently fold in the avocado, but be careful not to mash it!

Step Three: Spoon the Texas caviar into the tortilla cups and you are ready to serve!

How To Serve Texas Caviar

Serve Texas caviar in crispy baked tortilla cup for a fun party dish. But you can also serve cowboy caviar as a dip with tortilla chips. It’s also amazing served over chicken tacos, enchiladas, or quesadillas. Or just eaten by itself, as a side dish or lunch!

cowboy caviar in baked tortilla cups

Texas Caviar Tips & Variations

I love the flavor and texture avocados bring to Texas caviar.  If you’re not familiar with buying avocados, here are a few of my favorite avocado tips.

  • Nothing beats the taste of fresh avocado. However, if your avocado isn’t quite ripe, place the avocado in a paper bag with a banana or apple and leave it out for 24 hours. The ethylene gas in the banana or apple will trigger the ripening process!
  • When looking for a ripe avocado, choose one with firm flesh, but gives a little when you squeeze. Place the avocado in the palm of your hand. Give it a gentle squeeze. If it’s hard, it’s not ripe. If it’s soft and squishy, it’s overripe. If it yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready to eat.
  • If you are making your Texas caviar ahead of time, wait to add the avocado until you’re ready to serve.  The lime juice will help keep it from browning, but by day two the avocado will start turning brown.

overhead shot of texas caviar in a bowl

You can easily make this recipe your own by adding or omitting ingredients to your liking or have on hand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Swap out pinto beans for black beans or black-eyed peas or any combination of those beans.
  • Not a fan of cilantro? Fresh chopped Italian parsley is a great substitute! 
  • Try fire-roasted corn (canned or frozen) instead of sweet corn.

If you’re going to make the tortilla cups often, consider getting some tortilla shell makers/molds.   They are non-stick, easy to use, can be used with any size of tortilla, and result in evenly browned and crisped tortilla shells.

What I really love about this flavor-packed dish, is you can make it all ahead of time, just wait to place the salsa in the tortilla cups when ready to serve, otherwise the tortillas will become soggy.

Texas Caviar will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. It’s a great recipe to make ahead of time to let the veggies soak up the flavors. Tortilla cups may be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight plastic container or bag.

Like This Texas Caviar Recipe? Pin it!

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fun overhead shot of texas caviar cups on plates

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Originally posted in May 2012. UPDATED APRIL 2021. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe.

texas caviar in baked tortilla cups on a plate

Texas Caviar With Tortilla Cups

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This colorful bean salsa or Texas caviar is a simple dish to put together for any size crowd, and it will keep well for days after.

Ingredients

  • 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 16 oz can pinto beans, drained (I prefer Bush's)
  • 1/2 cup sweet crisp canned corn, drained
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (I like to use fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, deveined and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small avocado, cubed

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. While the oven preheats, spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and tuck each of the tortillas in the pan to form cups. Bake tortilla cups for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, mix beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl and season to taste. Drizzle olive oil over top. Gently fold in avocados.
  3. Spoon the bean mixture into the tortilla cups when ready to serve. Enjoy.

Notes

  • If making ahead of time, wait to add the avocado until you’re ready to serve.  The lime juice will help keep it from browning, but by day two the avocado will start turning brown.
  • Wait to place the salsa in the tortilla cups when ready to serve, otherwise, the tortillas will become soggy.
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    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 341mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

    Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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    texas caviar cups on a platter