This cowboy caviar dip (a.k.a. shrapnel dip!) is literally thrown together making it one of the easiest…AND tastiest snacks/appetizers ever. It’s perfect for potlucks and BBQs!

It’s officially eat outside all day every day season around here. The months where BBQs and neighborhood potlucks are furiously frequent.

Nearly 97% of the time when we are invited to an outdoor BBQ at a friend/neighbor/family members house and I’m asked to bring “something” – I end up with this easy dip in hand.

A bowl full of cowboy caviar dip in a white bowl.

Some call it cowboy caviar dip. I’ve always called it shrapnel dip.

No matter what you call it, it’s one of my favorite, favorite things to eat…summer eating season or not.

A metal spoon taking a helping of cowboy caviar dip out of a white bowl.

My cousin, Mark, sent me the recipe years ago (it probably looks familiar to a lot of you, since it’s been in the recipe archives for a long time!).

The first time I made it all those years ago, Brian and I were so enamored with the deliciousness that we ate it for lunch three days straight, the two of us hovering over the tupperware not even bothering to scoop some onto plates.

Just dipping, devouring, dipping, devouring while the kids looked on in a sort of shock-awe-disgust combination.

Even on day three, after the avocados had turned brown and mushy, we were still groveling over it. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

(Although don’t be us: if you think you’ll have leftovers, wait and stir in fresh avocados when serving.)

Top view of cowboy caviar dip in white bowl.

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

I could eat this every day of my life and be completely satisfied. It’s one of those dishes that is interesting enough to keep you from getting bored easily, but not so crazy that the flavors and varying textures become nauseating.

Plus, it’s super versatile – like 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 serve alongside grilled chicken and this skillet zucchini squash number. Talk about a perfect meal!

You can also add in cooked, chopped shrimp to the cowboy caviar dip for a totally delicious variation that makes me not want to share a single bite.

If you’re looking for the perfect 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 just might be the most popular person at the party because of it.

Cowboy caviar dip in white bowl.

One Year Ago: Best Italian Pasta Salad {With Quick Homemade Italian Dressing}
Two Years Ago: Double Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Whole Grain Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins
Four Years Ago: My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie
Five Years Ago: Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Creamy Dipping Sauce

Cowboy caviar dip in white bowl.

Amazing Shrapnel Dip

4.88 stars (65 ratings)


  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, such as navy or Great Northern (can also used black-eyed peas)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (11-ounce) can 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
  • cup Italian dressing (see note)
  • 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 into the dip. You can use a salad spinner to get rid of excess liquid or lay them out on a double layer of paper towels and blot dry. Add them to a serving bowl.
  • Toss in the avocados, red pepper, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro. Mix. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and using a large spoon or spatula, fold the ingredients and dressing together until everything is evenly coated.
  • Squeeze the lime juice over the top. Gently mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with chips. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. If making in advance, wait to chop and stir in the avocados until right before serving.


Corn: good quality canned corn is key here! I’ve found the Green Giant blend of white and yellow corn kernels are crisp and sweet and delicious. All canned corn is not created equal. Sometimes I’ll also use frozen corn kernels (I spread them on a plate to thaw and then gently pat dry before using).
Dressing: use an Italian dressing that you love (great flavor!). I’ve used everything from Annie’s brand to Kraft zesty brand. I’ve also used this quick homemade dressing (from my fave Italian pasta salad recipe). Delicious! Blend together: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine or white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Parm-reggiano cheese, 1 teaspoon honey or sugar, 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.
Adaptable: you can see by the ingredient list that the quantities are really adaptable based on your preferences. The key is to chop everything up in to small, bite-sized pieces so none of the ingredients overwhelm the others.
Adding Meat: if you want to take this dip to a other-worldly level, try adding cooked, chopped shrimp. Unreal.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 239kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 104mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 5g

Recipe Source: adapted from my cousin, Mark W. (he’s famous for this shrapnel dip!)
Originally posted January 2013, updated with new photos, commentary and recipe notes.

a white bowl full of bean, corn, and avocado dip