Amazing Shrapnel Dip

Are there any recipes that have made you famous among your family and friends? Dishes you take places and get swarmed for the recipe? Well, prepare to add another one to your “I’m a rockstar in the kitchen and I know it” collection.

My cousin Mark sent me this recipe telling me it’s made him famous and is now highly requested anytime food is present. After that kind of stellar review, I figured I’d love it. But love is an understatement here. Even after changing it up a bit (since I can’t leave recipes alone to save my life), Brian and I were so enamored with this snack/salad/appetizer 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.)

The 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, all lightly coated in a flavorful, zesty dressing. I could eat this every day of my life and be completely satisfied. It’s light and tasty and really addictive. If you want to take it to the next level, try mixing in chopped, cooked shrimp. Oh my stars. A complete meal kept completely and zealously to myself.

Amazing Shrapnel Dip

One Year Ago: Robert Redford Dessert {My Way}
Two Years Ago: Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella
Three Years Ago: Chicken Spiedie Sandwiches

Amazing Shrapnel Dip

Yield: Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Amazing Shrapnel Dip

Note: 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. The same goes with Italian dressing. I used Kraft Zesty, based on my cousin's recommendation. It was tasty but ultimately, use a dressing you like to eat normally because the taste will come through. 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. Finally, if you want to take this dip to a other-worldly level, try adding cooked, chopped shrimp. Unreal.


  • 1 can white beans, such as navy or Great Northern
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn (see note above)
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup Italian dressing (see note above), 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


  1. 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 large bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Recipe Source:
adapted from my cousin, Mark W. (he’s famous for his shrapnel dip!)

42 Responses to Amazing Shrapnel Dip

  1. Sarah says:

    I’ve made this at least six times since finding this recipe on your website about two months ago. I’ve made it for three potlucks and also for weekday lunch. Very delicious – thank you; I took your advice to use good quality canned corn. I leave out the onion and make my own Italian dressing, which takes only about another 2 minutes and is inexpensive.

  2. Kristen says:

    My recipe is similar, but it calls for rotel tomatoes (I like mild) and black eyed peas instead of white beans. I also throw in a cup of salsa in a pinch to stretch the recipe.

  3. LIbby P. says:

    I also have made this recipe for years but called it Cowboy Caviar like others said. I would make the italian dressing from the packets and I would half the oil, and replace the other half with just water to lessen the calories. When I was doing weight watchers, I made this dip almost weekly so that I could put it on top of a salad with some chicken. I credit this stuff for helping me lose all my baby weight!

  4. Linda says:

    Can I make the Amazing Shrapenel Dip the day before?

  5. Natalie says:

    Love this recipe! Making it for dinner tonight with cheese and spinach quesadillas. A great meatless meal. Love your website and recipes.

  6. Mark says:

    Mel, your picture of the final product makes it look even better. Gotta try the chopped shrimp.

  7. Jean says:

    I made this for the Super Bowl, and we loved it so much that I’ve made a couple more batches since then! It’s on the list of all-time favorites now.

  8. Deb says:

    So so so good and so easy to put together. A real winner!

  9. Barbara says:

    I have served it as a side dish for any Tex-Mex meal, but never with avocados. I run, shreiking and quaking, from avocados, LOL. There’s nothing you can do to an avocado that will make me like it. I use crisp frozen corn and not canned. Adding garlic is good, black beans and not black-eyed peas are good, and up the lime juice. I may try adding some chipotle Tabasco in the future. It’s just way too much, volume wise, for two people to consume. I wish they sold beans in those small half-size cans rather than the tall ones.

  10. Amber says:

    This stuff is AMAZING and addicting! The funny part–we lived across the hall from Mark (& fam) up at USU (7 years ago! wow!) and they introduced us to this famous dip! Such a small world! Thanks for formalizing the actual recipe!

  11. Meg says:

    yum yum yum!!! We made this for lunch and my kids gobbled it up, along with me! Delicious! I used the homemade zesty italian dressing from Our Best It was completely awesome! Thank you!

  12. Oh I love this kind of dip! So addictive!

  13. Cammee says:

    This has been a favorite recipe for years. I use the frozen corn from Costco because I can’t stand cannned corn.

  14. Terry Bridges says:

    Love this dish! I find it works best if you also add the tomato at the last minute (won’t get too soupy). Your favorite home-made oil and vinegar works far better than any bottled dressing. If you have any vegetarians in the house, this works great on taco night. Substitute refried beans for the meat and top with this. Heavenly.

  15. Amy Weaver says:

    Yay! I am so glad this recipe is on here now! We always love it when Mark makes it but I can never remember everything that is in it when I want to make it myself! Now I know where to find it!

  16. Natalie says:

    I have made this for years, it is yummy and if you have never tried Hendrickson’s sweet vinegar and olive oil dressing on this you have to it is so much better than italian dressing I promise. 🙂

  17. grace says:

    i love the name, i love every single component, i love your cousin for sharing it with you, and i love you for sharing it with us–this is an outstanding recipe!

  18. ChrissieK says:

    where’s the garlic?!!?! 🙂

  19. Melanie B says:

    I love this recipe too and found I reached “rock-star status” when I made it using homemade Italian dressing (from a packet). It makes all the difference.

  20. Tanya says:

    Yum!! My sister is famous for this recipe… she brings it to family parties and we all devour it! We also call it “cowboy caviar”. I’d say the best chips to eat this with are the Tostitos “scoops”. You can get all the ingredients in one bite, plus the juices.. and they aren’t dripping off your chip!

  21. There is not a single part of this dip that I don’t love!! Kudos to your cousin on a fantastic dip!!!

  22. Sofia says:

    WOW, not only does it look amazing, it looks as if very good for you too. Next time we have a gathering I will be making it, though will be using dry beans as I have been able to finally clean my pantry from canned food!

  23. Samantha S says:

    This looks so good, I already ran to the store and am making this tonight. thanks for another amazing recipe

  24. Danielle says:

    Yes! I’ve made this before too and it is amazing. I use frozen corn like other readers have mentioned. I just made this two weeks ago when my mom was visiting. I’m the only one in my family who will eat that many fresh veggies but my mom loves it too.

  25. Jennifer Paulk says:

    Looks so good. . . .I can think of many uses for this other than just a dip. It could be great on fish, chicken, pork, just to name a few.

  26. Camille says:

    This recipe has made me famous as well. I share it all the time. I use actual small white beans that I find in a Mexican food aisle and I’ve started adding cilantro if I have it on hand. Yummy! Thanks Mark!

  27. Jocelyn says:

    We must be on the same wave length because I made this (with my variations) this weekend as a topping for shrimp tacos in warm corn tortillas. I coudn’t get enough of it either!!!

  28. Tammy K. says:

    When we make this, we use fresh salsa instead of sals dressing – Yummy! Going to go make some for lunch…

  29. Kim S. says:

    Mel–this is kind of along the same line as Pioneer Woman’s “Katie’s Roasted Corn Salad” in her first cookbook, or you can find it on other cooking blogs of people who’ve tried it, just google it if you don’t have the book. I highly recommend that! It calls for corn on the cob, which I use, so I only can make it in the summertime, but it is awesome!

  30. Sally says:

    About following recipes…I always tell everyone that the first time they make a dish they should follow the recipe. I, on the other hand, almost never do that. I’m more likely to follow a recipe when I’m baking than when I’m cooking.

  31. Rachel R. says:

    This is a super good recipe. I’ve made a really similar one that has black eyed peas instead of the white beans. I also agree about your corn selection being key – I like the a white corn in it.

  32. Renay says:

    I have almost the same recipe called confetti salsa but without corn and with black-eyed peas. And it uses a packet of the Good Season’s Italian dressing. So good! I love the idea of adding avocado and shrimp. If I have leftovers, sometimes I put it in a tortilla with some rice and make a burrito. It makes a great lunch!

  33. Andrea says:

    We make something similar to this but had a hard time finding an italian dressing that was tasty enough. We found it – its called “Hendrickson’s Original Sweet Vinegar and Olive Oil Dressing”. Any Kroger grocery store should have it (Kroger, Smith’s, Ralph’s, etc.). I highly recommend it in this dip. They sell it online at as well.

  34. Teresa R. says:

    I’ve had a dip almost identical to this and I forgot to ask for the recipe. I can’t wait to make it….well, actually I can’t wait to eat it! I made the confetti chicken yesterday and we loved it, especially the cheesy biscuit top.

  35. kimberlee says:

    Frozen corn thawed works great in this Cowboy Caviar. And if you don’t have any Italian dressing 1 T of red wine vinegar and 2 T of olive oil makes it just as tasty, I promise! We never mess with the black beans, but sometimes we use kidney beans for the Great Northern. It’s all good! And with those hint of lime tostitos—oh, yeah!!

  36. Danica says:

    AH! I have been looking for this dip for YEARS. I first had it when I was in high school at my ex-boyfriends house and lost the recipe over the years. I couldn’t justify calling him back up just to get this recipe, even though I *almost* did haha. You have just saved me a lot of embarrassment!

  37. Angela @ AnotherBitePlease says:

    we make a dip like this in our house – i love making a huge batch and eating for days in a row!

  38. Terri says:

    This is almost my exact recipe for what we call “Texas caviar”. But of course being from Texas we use black eyed peas, which by the way, is the only way I can or will eat black eyed peas.

  39. Renee says:

    This looks amazing. I love dips. I would rather eat them than a whole meal. I will definitely make this!!! Thanks Mel!

  40. StephenC says:

    Getting ready for the Super Bowl, huh? So would I, except I don’t care a whit about either team. Maybe I’ll just go for a dip. lol

  41. Kim in MD says:

    I am on the hunt for recipes to serve at my Super Bowl party (go Ravens!), and stopped by your site first. This dip will be perfect, Mel! I love the name of the dip, too! I’m sure thi will be a huge hit at my party!

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