Seven layer dip is a classic party appetizer made by layering seven ingredients into a dish and serving with tortilla chips for dipping. The seven layers typically consist of refried beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cheese, olives, and green onions. While this is the most common recipe, there are many variations that swap out ingredients while keeping the seven layer concept. No matter how it’s made, seven layer dip is a crowd-pleasing snack perfect for game day, potlucks, and celebrations.
History of Seven Layer Dip
The origins of seven layer dip can be traced back to Mexican cuisine. Layered dips made from beans, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, and other ingredients were common in Mexican cooking. These layered dips were known as “banderas” which means flags in Spanish, referring to the stripes of ingredients resembling a flag. In the 1940s and 1950s, recipes for seven layer dips began appearing in American cookbooks, magazines, and newspapers as Mexican food became more mainstream in the US. The early recipes varied, but generally included REFRIED beans, guacamole, tomatoes, cheese, olives, and often sour cream. In 1978, the food company Kraft released a seven layer dip recipe as part of an advertising campaign that specifically called for Kraft’s taco sauce, guacamole, refried beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, olives, and green onions. This recipe helped popularize and standardize the seven layer dip we know today.
Traditional Seven Layer Dip Ingredients
While creative riffs on seven layer dip are common, the classic recipe calls for these seven ingredients layered in order:
Refried beans provide the base for seven layer dip. They are made by cooking pinto beans until very soft then mashing them into a smooth paste. Ready-made canned refried beans work perfectly fine for seven layer dip. Be sure to spread the beans evenly to create the first layer.
For the second layer, guacamole adds fresh avocado flavor. You can use store-bought guacamole or make your own by mashing avocados with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and seasoning. Homemade guacamole tastes best but isn’t required. Spread the guacamole in an even layer over the refried beans.
A layer of tomato salsa adds a juicy, bright flavor. Both red and green salsa work well. You can use store-bought or homemade salsa. Pour the salsa evenly over the guacamole layer.
Sour cream makes a creamy, tangy layer. Regular, low-fat or non-fat sour cream can be used. Lightly spread the sour cream over the salsa.
For the cheese layer, shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican cheese blends are commonly used. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sour cream. Other melty cheeses like queso fresco or shredded mozzarella also taste delicious.
Chopped black olives add a briny, salty layer. Any black olive variety works, such as kalamata, black ripe, or canned sliced black olives. Scatter the chopped olives over the cheese.
Finally, chopped green onions (also called scallions) provide a burst of color and fresh onion flavor. Sprinkle them over the top as the final layer. Other options for the top layer include cilantro, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, or crushed tortilla chips.
Seven Layer Dip Variations
While the classic seven ingredients are what define seven layer dip, there are endless ways to put your own spin by swapping or adding ingredients. Some popular variations include:
- Using black beans instead of refried beans
- Adding layers of diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro
- Using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
- Adding pinto beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas
- Using tortilla strips instead of green onions
- Adding chopped black olives instead of green onions
- Adding layers like shredded pork, ground beef, or chicken
- Using pepper jack, feta, or Cotija cheese instead of cheddar
- Swapping in pico de gallo, mango salsa, or chimichurri instead of tomato salsa
Feel free to get creative and make substitutions with whatever ingredients you have on hand! The classic seven layers are simply a guide.
Serving Seven Layer Dip
An important component of seven layer dip is the vehicle used to eat it. Seven layer dip is typically served with tortilla chips for scooping and dipping. Sturdy corn or flour tortilla chips work best. Restaurant-style tortilla chips will hold up nicely. Fritos corn chips or pita chips also pair well with seven layer dip.
When serving, arrange a bag or bowl of tortilla chips next to the layered dip. You can present it in a bowl, trifle dish, or hollowed out bread bowl. Provide a spoon for scooping and encourage guests to dip the chips through all seven layers for maximum flavor.
For parties, double or triple the recipe and serve in a larger glass trifle dish. Garnish with olives, tomatoes, cilantro or green onions to make it extra fancy. A big bowl of seven layer dip is sure satisfy a crowd!
Storing and Reheating Seven Layer Dip
To store leftover seven layer dip, press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dip, then refrigerate up to 5 days. The colors may get muddled but the flavors remain. To serve cold, simply remove the plastic and serve with chips.
To reheat, bake at 350°F for 20 minutes until warmed through, then garnish with fresh toppings. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave. The texture won’t be quite as creamy but still tasty.
The bean and guacamole layers tend to get watery when stored. For best results making ahead, prepare the beans, guacamole, salsa, and cream layers. Store those components separately, then assemble the full dip right before serving.
7 Layer Dip Ingredients
To make traditional seven layer dip for a party, you’ll need these ingredients:
- 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
- 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
- 1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained and chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Tortilla chips, for serving
How to Make Seven Layer Dip
This easy seven layer dip comes together quickly by layering the ingredients in order. Here is a step-by-step guide:
- Spread refried beans evenly over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish or rimmed platter.
- In a medium bowl, mash the avocados with lime juice. Mix in onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Spread guacamole evenly over the refried beans.
- Pour salsa over the guacamole and spread evenly.
- Spread sour cream over the salsa.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the sour cream.
- Top cheese with sliced olives.
- Sprinkle green onions over the top as the final layer.
- Cover dish and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.
- Serve chilled with tortilla chips.
Seven Layer Dip Tips
To take your seven layer dip from good to great, keep these tips in mind:
- Drain and rinse the canned beans to remove excess salt and liquid.
- Use ripe avocados; the guacamole layer really makes the dip.
- Pick salsa and sour cream varieties you love the taste of.
- Add cumin, garlic powder, or chili powder to the refried beans for extra flavor.
- Shred the cheese yourself rather than buying pre-shredded cheese which has anti-caking agents.
- Let the finished dip chill for at least an hour for the best results.
- Consider doubling the recipe for a party; it goes fast!
Common Questions about 7 Layer Dip
What kind of beans are used in 7 layer dip?
Traditional seven layer dip uses refried beans made from pinto beans. You can also use black beans or a mix instead of just pintos. The beans provide protein and creamy texture.
Can you make 7 layer dip ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare seven layer dip up to 2 days in advance. Keep the bean, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream layers separate, then assemble and top with cheese, olives, and onions right before serving. This prevents the layers from getting watery.
Can I make substitutions for 7 layer dip ingredients?
Absolutely! Swap any of the ingredients for homemade or store-bought versions. Try black beans instead of refried beans. Use Greek yogurt for a tangy twist. Add chicken or beef for protein. Mix up the cheeses. The possibilities are endless for creative seven layer dips.
What goes on top of 7 layer dip?
The top layer is traditionally green onions or scallions. Other options include chopped cilantro, tomatoes, black olives, jalapenos, radishes, tortilla strips, avocado, or crushed tortilla chips. Get creative with crunchy, fresh toppings on your 7 layer dip!
What is the bottom layer of 7 layer dip made of?
The bottom layer is traditionally refried beans spread evenly over the bottom of the dish. Refried beans provide a creamy, protein-rich base for the other layers to sit upon. For a lower carb option, you can use cooked chopped spinach instead of beans.
Do you need to refrigerate 7 layer dip?
It’s best to refrigerate seven layer dip for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Store leftover dip covered in the fridge up to 5 days. The colors may blend but the flavors will remain.
Seven Layer Dip Recipes
Ready to whip up a seven layer dip for your next game day or party? Try these tasty recipes:
Classic Seven Layer Dip
This traditional recipe is a potluck classic for good reason! Change up the brands or varieties of ingredients to suit your tastes.
Southwestern Seven Layer Dip
Black beans, mango salsa, Cotija cheese, and cilantro give this seven layer dip a yummy Southwestern twist. Ole!
Loaded Baked Potato Seven Layer Dip
All the flavors of a loaded potato – sour cream, cheese, bacon, and green onions. This potato-themed dip is a crowd favorite.
Taco Seven Layer Dip
With seasoned ground beef, taco seasoning, and tortilla strips, this Tex-Mex inspired dip is tasty nacho goodness.
Cheesy Salsa Seven Layer Dip
Extra cheese and a creamy Salsa Con Queso layer makes this seven layer dip extra rich and cheesy. A gooey, melty delight.
Pizza Seven Layer Dip
Pepperoni, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Italian seasoning give this seven layer dip a pizza twist. Yum!
With its colorful stacked ingredients and amazing flavors, it’s no wonder seven layer dip has been a party staple for decades. This fun and customizable appetizer always brings people together for scooping and dipping good times. Whip up a seven layer dip using classic ingredients or give it your own creative spin. No matter how you make it, this crowd-pleasing dip is sure to be a hit!