How to Make the Best 7-Layer Dip (Without a Recipe)

© Dennis Prescott

By F&W Editors Posted January 25, 2016

It's easy to upgrade the classic dip. Here's how to achieve maximum deliciousness in every layer.

Last week, party food guru Dennis Prescott unveiled his game-changing seven-layer dip on FWx. It's a towering, inspiring example of what a dip can be, and it would be an amazing centerpiece snack in any Super Bowl spread. But to upgrade this classic dish, you don't have to follow Dennis's recipe, only his example by infusing each layer with as much deliciousness as possible. Here's how to build an amazing seven-layer dip from the bottom up.

1. Lay the Refried Foundation

It's not hard to make your own refried beans, but there's nothing wrong with sturdy, salty canned beans as your base layer. Just skip the mysterious taco seasoning.

2. Mash Some Avocados

Food & Wine:

As your guacamole goes, so goes your dip. It's a bellwether layer. If you make it from scratch, with ripe avocados and lime to keep them green, its goodness will elevate the other six layers. And if you use a slimy, prefabricated guacamole substitute from the supermarket, your dip will suffer. No one will complain if your guac is creamy or smoky or bacony, but you'll never err by keeping it simple. Dennis just mashes avocados with lime juice and salt.

3. Spike the Sour Cream

Dennis is very smart with this layer. He mixes sour cream with lime juice, cayenne and chili powder to add tang, heat and visual appeal. This isn't mandatory, but it's recommended if you like a substantial sheet of sour cream; too much of the stuff, unadulterated, will dull your dip.

4. Use Respectable Salsa

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The salsa layer should add vivid freshness, which is hard to find in a jar. If you have a favorite store-bought salsa, feel free to use it, but know this: If your guac projects unadorned competence, your salsa should strut. Add tamarind for complex sweetness, roast your peppers for a little char-ry bitterness, or burn the place down with habaneros. You don't have to spend a lot of time on this; a simple pico de gallo will do the job well.

5. Shred Your Own Cheese

Simple cheddar or Jack is best here, but there's one kind to avoid: pre-shredded. The stuff in the bag is coated in cellulose powder, an insoluble fiber derived from wood, which keeps it from sticking together but also makes it taste cakey and dry. Especially since you're not melting it, this matters. Get out the coarse Microplane.

6. Don't Get Cute with The Olives

Save your Castelvetranos for another dish. Plain black olives work well here.

7. For Layer Seven, Think Garnish

Many recipes call for shredded lettuce here, but cilantro is far superior. Scallions are a good alternative. You're after bright freshness and maybe a little crunch.

 

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