If you are getting ready for the game night party or any other, then this Mexican 7-layer dip is an ideal appetizer. This is one of my favorite party appetizers.
The TLC version of Mexican 7-layer dip offers a mix of complex flavors–limey, smoky, creamy, spicy–without any hefty intake of salt or heavy dairy-based sour cream.
The best thing about this appetizer is that you can do the component cooking for the key layers a day or two in advance and assemble the dip within minutes on the game night, which is around the corner. Just be ready with some healthy chips to scoop this Mexican 7-layer dip.
A note on eating layered food: source of excess salt
Let’s pause a minute to ruminate on the health effects of eating layered food? What is layered food? Think of recipes that combine two of more separate (cooked or uncooked) recipes that get assembled before eating. For example, pizza–pizza crust, tomato sauce, veggie topping, and cheese–has at least four layers. The crust and tomato sauce each has a sub recipe requiring salt. Therefore, the layered food recipes tend to have excess salt. If you are watching salt, a good practice to do so after age 40 to prevent the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, it’s a good idea to make these layered food recipes at home so that you can lower the salt content. This Mexican 7-layer dip offers a healthy alternative to a dip bought from a restaurant or grocery store.
Let’s make the Mexican 7-layer dip: Layer-by-Layer
Don’t let the mention of 7-layers in this Mexican dip scare you. If you follow the component cooking principle, i.e. making a few things in advance, then assembling this zesty, creamy dip is a breeze on the day you want to serve it–either to your family or a crowd. Before moving forward let me unveil the star of this recipe–dried chipotle chili powder.
Layer 1: Make the refried beans. You can totally omit this step and use the canned refried beans. However, store-bought refried beans tend to much higher in sodium than the regular pinto beans or the ones made at home. To make refried beans at home, either use canned pinto beans or make from scratch from dry beans. I have used low-sodium canned pinto beans. To make from scratch, you will need about 3/4 cups of dry pinto beans. Before using any canned beans, rinse under running water thoroughly to wash away the metallic taste as well as extra sodium. Add chopped green onions (or any other type) to pre-heated oil in a pan, then add rinsed pinto beans with dried chipotle chili powder and cook with water for about 10 minutes. Start mashing the beans while cooking with the back of the cooking spatula/spoon till they are mashed completely. You can make refried beans a day or two in advance and store in an air-tight container in refrigerator. Before assembling, just microwave to bring the beans to room temperature. (Total Time: 11 minutes)
Layer 2: make the basic guacamole. Do this step just before assembling the dip as the homemade guacamole tends to become brown. You can also buy real pre-prepared guacamole from the grocery store. Please don’t buy the one laced with chemicals. It’s just not going to taste good. This step takes only 5 minutes. Crush a fresh avocado and mix with a pinch of salt, homemade cumin powder, and freshly-squeezed lime juice. (Total Time: 5 minutes)
Layer 3: make the zesty, garlicky cashew sour cream. This cashew sour cream is a much healthier alternative to the regular sour cream. Soak the cashews at least 3-4 hours in advance in warm water. Rinse and add to a blender with cloves of garlic and homemade taco seasoning–a mixture of cumin and dried chipotle pepper. Add cashews, spices, and garlic to a blender with filtered water and blend till well-mixed. If you (or a family member) is allergic to cashews, you can use pumpkin seeds instead. Make this cream a day or two ahead of the party and store in the refrigerator. (Total Inactive Time: 3-4 hours for soaking; Total Active Time: 3 minutes)
Layer 4: Store-bought salsa. Choose one that does not have too much liquid as the liquid tends to seep into the bottom layers. I spooned out a couple of teaspoons of liquid from the store-bought salsa before adding it to the dip. Add it just before assembling the 7-layer dip. You can replace salsa with homemade pico de gallo to make the dip even healthier. (Total Time: 1 minute)
Layer 5: Add the shredded iceberg lettuce. This is a staple in a Mexican 7-layer dip. I have previously also used finely shredded romaine lettuce and it works out fine. So go with the one you have at hand. It’s best to have freshly shredded lettuce. (Total Time: 10 minutes, especially if you are chopping a full head of lettuce).
Layer 6: homemade pico-de-gallo. Don’t be daunted by the fancy name, it is just a quick tomato and onion salad sprinkled with a lot of fresh cilantro, a couple of pinches of homemade cumin powder and lime juice. Go bold and add a seeded jalapeño as well if you would like the dip to be on the spicier side. Make this salad just before assembling the dip otherwise it tends to become watery. (Total Time: 5 minutes)
Layer 7: chopped black olives with more cilantro. This is kind of a controversial layer at our home. The kids HATE the olives and I like them. So if you don’t like olives in your dip, you can either add to the half side of the dip or totally omit them. If you not putting olives just add more cilantro. (Total Time: 2 minutes). Enjoy!
Can I store this Mexican 7-layer dip?
Unfortunately, no! But you can totally make the two components–refried beans and zesty cashew cream– in bulk and freeze those for at least for one month. If you have those two at hand, assembling the dip takes only minutes.
Let me know if you made this dip
Drop a comment below if you make this dip. I would love to hear from you. Enjoy the game! Who are you rooting for? Patriots or Rams?
Mexican 7-Layer Dip (Vegan)
To make the refried beans*
- 1/2 tsp avocado oil (or any other type)
- 1/4 cup green onions (~3 stems, can sub with any other type of onion)
- 1 can pinto beans (15-oz can, rinsed under running water)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 tsp dried chipotle pepper** (less or more to taste)
- 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste, no more than 1/4 tsp)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
To make the fresh guacamole
- 1 large avocado
- 2 pinches salt ( or to taste, no more than 1/4 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp homemade cumin powder (optional, can sub with store-bought)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (can sub with lemon juice)
To make the zesty cashew cream
- 1/2 cup raw cashews*** (soaked and rinsed)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 pinches salt
- 1/4 tsp homemade cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp dried chipotle chili powder (can sub with regular chili powder)
- 1.5 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (can sub with apple cider vinegar or white rice vinegar)
- 1/2 cup water (preferbly filtered, keep 2 tbsp of water at hand if the cream is too dry to blend)
To make the pico de gallo
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved or chopped, can sub with regular Roma or any other variety of tomatoes)
- 1/4 cup (packed) red onion (finely chopped, about half a medium onion)
- 1 jalapeño (seeded, finely chopped, optional)
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped or minced)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/2 cup salsa (for layer #4, low-sodium, store bought)
- 1 cup iceberg lettuce (for layer #5)
- 1/4 cup black olives (For layer #7, optional)
- 2 tbsp cilantro (For layer #7)
To make the refried beans
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottom wide-mouth pan. Add the chopped green onions and minced garlic, cook for a minute. Then add the rinsed pinto beans and chipotle chili powder. Add the water and cook till beans are soft. Mash with the back of the spoon and set aside.
To make the guacamole
- Scoop out the avocado flesh in a deep bowl. Add the salt, cumin powder, and lime juice. Mash with the back of spatula or spoon till well-mixed. Store in the refrigerator immediately, if not ready to assemble the dip.
To make the zesty cashew cream
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend till well-mixed. Set aside.
To make the pico de gallo
- Halve the cherry or grape tomatoes (or finely chop if using the regular tomatoes). Finely chop the red onion, jalapeño (if using), and cilantro. Mix in a bowl with minced garlic and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Assemble the dip
- Add the first layer of refried beans. Tap with the back of a spoon to set at the bottom of the dish. Add the second layer of guacamole, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Add the third layer of the zesty cashew cream. Spread evenly. Add the fourth layer of store-bought salsa.Add the fifth layer of finely shredded iceberg lettuce. Add the sixth layer of pico de gallo.Add the seventh layer of chopped olives and more cilantro. Dig in with some healthy chips! Enjoy!
- Omit sodium in making the refried beans and guacamole. Just add some to pico de gallo.
- Use any type of white beans instead of cashews to make the zesty sauce.
- Replace store-bought salsa with 1/2 cup of homemade pico de gallo.