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Cowboy Salad

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This cowboy salad is sure to knock your boots off with big, bright flavors! It’s a fun mix of classic chopped salad recipes and homemade bean and corn salsa (cowboy caviar). The delicious Tex-Mex taste and crisp crunchiness will make this vegan salad a favorite at your spring and summer gatherings.

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a platter of cowboy salad ready to serve

My inspiration for this cowboy salad was my love of cowboy caviar by Paula Deen and my favorite chopped salad from Corner Bakery. So, I created this fresh, delicious salad combining the best of both in this recipe.

Healthy Cowboy CHopped Salad with Cowboy Caviar

As I mentioned, this cowboy salad has a fun twist! Mixing a classic chopped salad and bean and corn salsa (cowboy caviar) gives the recipe a little pizzaz! It becomes a side salad or main dish that even the pickiest eaters will love.

This easy no-cook recipe includes lots of fresh and flavorful raw veggies. Plus, it has hearty goodness from creamy black beans and sweet corn.

The salad is perfect as a dish to share at potlucks, BBQs, and picnics as there’s no meat here. It’s also great to make ahead for lunches, as it keeps really well.

Just drain and rinse the canned ingredients, chop all of the veggies, and toss them together. Then, serve with your favorite southwestern dressing for a deliciously hearty – and healthy – side dish or main entree salad.

chopped romaine lettuce for classic chopped salad

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

As-is, this is a fantastic vegan-friendly recipe. However, feel free to swap or add ingredients as you like.

  • Romaine lettuce – You can also use other leafy greens like iceberg lettuce, kale, or spinach.
  • Roma tomatoes – Or other varieties of tomatoes like cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • Black beans – You can use canned or homemade cooked black beans.
  • Corn – Either canned or frozen will work fine with this recipe.
  • Red onion – If you don’t have these in hand, you can use white or yellow onions or even scallions.
  • Cilantro – You can also use basil or parsley if you don’t like cilantro.
  • Bell pepper – Poblano, and Anaheim pepper work best too.
  • Avocado – If you don’t have avocados, you can substitute it with diced mango or pineapple but keep in mind that the taste and texture will be different.
  • Jalapeno pepper – If you want more heat, you can use habanero, serrano, or red pepper flakes.
  • Fresh lime juice – This gives acidity to the salad. But you can also use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if you like.
  • Optional: canned black-eyed peas or garbanzo beans plus any extra goodies you’d like to add, such as chopped scallions, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, or crumbled cotija for a non-vegan (but still vegetarian) salad, or crispy fried onions.
cowboy chopped salad with cowboy caviar black bean salsa

How to Make Cowboy Salad as a Main Dish

While the recipe below is enough for six or more side salad-sized servings, here are some suggestions for turning it into four hearty dinner portions…

Add a can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans to make a filling yet still light and vegan-friendly cowboy dinner salad. Or, add in 6 ounces of rotini or pasta. You might consider doubling the avocado (so one full avocado per serving).

Prepare this salad as a non-vegan main dish by adding cooked and chopped bacon, ham, turkey, ranchera meat (steak), or chicken.

It’s also fantastic with homemade Instant Pot Chicken Tenders or Bisquick Chicken tenders on top. Although the cowboy salad will no longer be vegetarian, it’s still a relatively healthy entree.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients can I substitute in this cowboy chopped salad recipe?

Nearly all of the ingredients in this recipe can be changed up however you prefer.
– You can use green leaf, Bibb, or any other type of hearty green lettuce you like.
– Add black-eyed peas or garbanzo beans (chickpeas).
– We use canned corn to make our version of cowboy salad. However, you can use 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn that’s been thawed.
– Substitute the Roma tomatoes with whole grape or cherry tomatoes.
– We love the spicy kick that hot peppers add to this recipe, but you can skip it or replace it with sweet peppers for mild cowboy caviar.

What main dishes pair well with a cowboy side salad?

– Enjoy this salad with your favorite vegetarian or vegan main dishes like veggie enchiladas, tacos, or a bowl of creamy tomato soup.
– For those not vegan or vegetarian, serve chopped salad with cowboy caviar alongside Pan Seared Chicken Breasts, Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops, Brined Pork Chops, or Creamy Chicken Enchiladas.

Can cowboy salad be made ahead?

Yes, this recipe is terrific to be made ahead up to 3 days before enjoying. So prepare this ahead of your gathering, or include this recipe as part of your weekly meal plan. Keep the salad in one large or a few individual airtight containers in the fridge. And wait to add the salad dressing until ready to serve.

a white platter of cowboy ciao salad with a silver bowl of pasta salad in the background

Here’s the Full Chopped Salad Recipe with Cowboy Caviar

a platter of cowboy salad ready to serve
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5 from 1 vote

Cowboy Salad

Fresh cowboy salad is a fun mix of classic chopped salad and homemade bean and corn salsa (cowboy caviar). The delicious Tex-Mex taste and crisp crunchiness will make this vegan salad a favorite at your spring and summer gatherings.
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Salads, cowboy salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 242kcal


  • chef's knife
  • large bowl


  • 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped (about 2 small heads of lettuce)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced (can substitute with 15 oz canned tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (11 ounces) shoe peg white corn, rinsed and drained (any type of corn can be used)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed


  • In a large salad bowl, mix salad ingredients together. Then, toss with lime juice. Or spread the salad ingredients on a large serving platter, and squeeze lemon juice on top.
  • Toss with your favorite salad dressing and top with optional bacon just before serving.


To make ahead salad: Mix all salad ingredients together, except tomatoes. Keep the salad in one large or a few individual airtight containers in the fridge. Wait to add tomatoes and the salad dressing until ready to serve.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 832mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 5284IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg

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