7 Layer Bean Dip

Refried beans should not be eaten cold.

There, I’ve said it. I don’t usually put my foot down about food preferences, but cold refried beans are about as appealing as a cold hamburger. This is why I make 7-layer dip starting with a layer of hot refried beans. Shredded cheese is added directly to the top of the beans so it melts from the heat of the beans. Then the layers of tomato, avocado, olives, and chilies, onions (mostly room temp) are added. The only cold part of the dip is the topping of sour cream (or crema Mexicana). Served this way and the taste delightfully mimics tostadas or homemade nachos, but in an easy-to-serve dip form.

By the way, depending on what you have on hand, your 7-layer dip may have 8 or 9 layers, or 6. The basics are refried beans, grated cheese, avocados (or guacamole), chilies (or salsa), sour cream, and olives. Improvise with more or fewer toppings to your own taste.

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7 Layer Bean Dip Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of refried beans, either from one 15-ounce can or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) of bacon fat (or 1 strip of bacon, cooked and minced) optional
  • 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder, Tabasco chipotle sauce, or adobo sauce, more to taste (or plain chili powder to taste)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green Anaheim chiles (canned) OR a Tbsp of chopped pickled jalapenos (more to taste)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1 hot house tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeds and juice gently squeezed out and discarded, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of sour cream, or if you can get it Crema Mexicana (Mexican sour cream)
  • 1/2 small can of sliced ripe black olives

Method

1 Heat the refried beans in a medium sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Stir in enough water to get a creamy, easily dip-able consistency, about 1/4 of a cup. The taste of refried beans is greatly enhanced by bacon fat; we'll add a teaspoon to canned beans or a tablespoon or more to taste if we are making the beans from scratch. If you don't have bacon fat, you can cook up a strip of bacon, chop it up fine and add that to the beans. If you are trying to avoid pork, note that most canned refried beans are made with added lard, so check the ingredients. You can use olive oil instead, to help the consistency of the beans.

Mix in the chipotle chili powder (or Tabasco, or adobo, or regular chili powder) and cumin to taste. Note that the avocados and the sour cream will cool down the spiciness of the beans considerably, so you can afford to be a bit more spicy than you might think. Stir in salt to taste, depending on how salted your refried beans are to begin with, and depending on how salty the tortilla chips are that you are serving with the dip.

2 Once the beans are hot and bubbly, spread them over the bottom of a warmed serving dish. Immediately add the shredded cheese so that the heat from the beans helps melt the cheese. (The cheese doesn't need to be completely melted, but even if it is just a little, it will help the dip stay on the chip.)

3 Layer on the chopped green chilies, chopped avocado, chopped tomato. Spoon on the sour cream (or crema Mexicana, crema fresca, or even cream fraiche). Top with sliced green onions and olives.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

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7-layer-dip-2.jpg

Links:
A Dip into the past - 7 layer dip from Married with Dinner
Cookie Crumb's 7 layer dip (she too doesn't like her beans cold)
Hot sisters chipotle black bean dip from Vanesscipes

30 Comments

  1. Michael

    Mmmm om nom nom nom! A superb dip. I love that core flavor combination from the beans / sour cream / avacodo mix. It compliments many other ingredients and you can make it with a diverse collection of whatever you may have on hand.

  2. Bookwoman8487

    You GO, girl… NO, refried beans should NOT be served cold! I have had dips similar to this recipe but made with cold beans on purpose (cooling during the serving time doesn’t count!) and it’s just nasty. This makes me hungry!

  3. Kalyn

    I love the idea of warming the beans. My sister makes a version of 7-layer dip for every family party. It’s different than this though. She puts a layer of beans, layer of guacamole, and then a layer of sour cream which has been mixed with chile powder, then scattered over those three layers grated cheese, tomatoes, sliced olives, and green onions. I think I like your version better, but my sister’s dip is always a hit with everyone too.

  4. jonathan

    I agree, Elise. The two greatest axioms of life are:

    1) Refried beans do not taste good cold, and…
    2) Hamsters should never be allowed to drive.

    The colors and textures (and I’m certain flavors) in the photo look wicked good. Love, love, LOVE the bean dip.

  5. katy

    Oh, you’re so right on this — I made a bean dip today using whole beans (not refried) and I couldn’t shake the feeling that it would taste better warmed up.

    This recipe looks awesome, and right in time for the superbowl! I’ve never heard of a hot house tomato though — what is it, exactly?

    Hi Katy, hot house tomatoes are those tomatoes that are grown indoors (during the off season); they typically have a thick flesh. They don’t taste very tomato-y compared to homegrown or heirloom tomatoes. Hot house tomatoes are what you would usually find in a supermarket, bred for durability and transportability. Usually I don’t buy them, but they work great in fresh salsa or on dishes like this because the flesh holds up well. The same reason that thinly sliced iceberg lettuce works best with Mexican food. High water content, holds its shape well. ~Elise

  6. Stefania/CityMama

    So agree with you about refried beans not being eaten cold. After all, that would congeal the LARD. (Hee! I prefer lard in my beans…which is also why I rarely eat them.)

    Aside from that, I would like that to get that dip into my mouth RIGHT NOW.

    Last year around Super Bowl time, I made a mediterranean layered dip starting with hummus then topping with feta, sauteed spiced ground lamb, tzaziki, red onions tossed with a little sumac, and tomatoes, and garnished with chopped mint. Served with Stacy’s Pita Chips it is so yum!

  7. fran

    OMG, this recipe is the most famous thing my mom does for parties! We use fried beans, ricotta cheese, guacamole and olives. Is sooooo good! Great you’re giving this away, everyone should know this recipe :)

  8. Whitney

    We always make a big baking pan’s worth of this in the summer at Cape Cod and no matter how big it is (or if we have 2) my family (usually about 10-20 of us) polishes this off in no time. We also wouldn’t think of serving it cold (and we eat it too fast for it to get that way) but I personally love all of the ingredients so much that I would eat it any old way. Our recipe is slightly different. We would mix a container of sour cream with a taco seasoning packet (though now I might make my own spice combo) and then layer the beans, guac., spiced sour cream, chopped tomatoes, maybe chopped pepper, maybe jalepenos, olives and cheese and then bake the whole thing ’til the beans are warm and the cheese is bubbling– then we all burn our mouths becuase we can’t wait for it to cool. I loved making the layers with my aunt when I was younger so I wholeheartedly recommend enlisting some help.

  9. Allyn

    I am going to print your post out and put it on our refrigerator so the next time my husband eats cold refried beans, he’ll know that he’s in the wrong. That man can eat *anything* cold, including french fries (blech).

    Great recipe… I’ll probably bring this over to my parents’ house for their Super Bowl party!

  10. Jessica

    This may gross y’all out a bit, but I love refried beans at any temperature, and have been known to eat them straight from a can. My mom cannot eat them cold and my grandmother can, and we all have our own version of the 7-layer bean dip and we all like our own the best :-) I season my beans with a packet of taco seasoning…mmmmmm good.

  11. Kim

    We recently brought our version of this to a potluck – it was scarfed down so quickly, we swore we’d never bring something “hard” again – this is so easy and crowd-pleasing. We used taco meat (beef with taco seasoning, bought or homemade), beans, more taco meat, salsa (slightly drained to reduce soggy; as is if you’re in a hurry), and shredded cheese. Then we baked it in the oven (350 for half an hour?) until hot and cheese is melted. When we pulled it out, we sprinkled with green onions to make it pretty. My husband doesn’t like sour cream, although you could certainly add it, and we were out of guacamole, which I think does fine heated (if you want the cheese on top and melted, then the guac goes under and gets heated).

  12. Lady Amalthea

    I’ve never had homemade 7-layer dip (only packaged, bought in the supermarket refrigerated section) and never really understood why everyone loved it. But warm–it takes on a whole different meaning! I think it’s time to reappraise my former opinions of it…

  13. Lisa C.

    My mom makes hers (and I do too) with a layer of cream cheese. We mix the salsa with room temp cream cheese and use it as the bottom layer, with refried beans right above it. It is a hit at parties. It’s practical too because the beans and cream cheese mixture helps to hold all the loose ingredients together on a chip as you scoop! Mom and I omit the sour cream or crema mexicana.

  14. Brindie

    Hi, I’ve just stumbled upon your recipe on my google homepage and have made this countless times. Warm or cold, this recipe is ALWAYS a hit. I just thought I’d toss out my “extra” ingredient since I haven’t seen it mentioned.
    After the bean layer I add a cooked package of Lipton’s Spanish Rice and then the cheese and so on and so forth. The rice really makes for an added flavor burst. (And it’s cheap!)

    I like to make this for parties and gatherings because I’m a vegetarian and most pot lucks don’t indulge into too many dishes for vegetarians.

  15. Sunny

    I like the idea of the refried beans being warmed. Makes sense. One addition that I like to add on to the top of the dip is a chopped hard boiled egg. Looks nice and adds a great flavor. Thanks for all your great receipes.

  16. The Severance Family

    We didn’t use any bacon fat but it still turned out really good. Goes very well with enchiladas.

  17. Maureen

    I made this for a party last night and I doubled the recipe. It was gone in no time! People raved about it. I added some fresh shredded lettuce with the tomatoes. I also added some green salsa into the refried beans for some tanginess and eliminated the green chilis. I will definitely make this again!

  18. The Skaskie's

    Just a quick idea for those of us who hate cold refried beans.

    We love this recipe and we snack on it almost every time we have a party to attend or football game to watch. Since we like to snack on it all day and I hate how stiff it gets when the beans start to get cold I had the idea to through it in this really great single sized crock-pot I have. (Any crockpot, fondue pot or warming plate helps) I put the tempurature on the lowest setting and it just sits there melting the cheese and keeping the beans warm. MMMM

    You do have to remember to stir the bottom occasionally, so it doesn’t burn and if it’s on a really long time you have to turn the crock pot off and on. So you have to keep an eye on things, but it’s worth it. Keeps it fresh and tasty for a long time.

  19. hotlantis

    GREAT VEGETARIAN DISH! Making this today for the veggie lovers that are participating in my Cinco de Mayo partay!

    I’m adding taco seasoning to my sour cream. I think this will add a little OOMPH!

    BYOT (TEQUILA OR TORTILLA)

  20. GaNeane Lewis

    Ok..I agree on the refried bean issue. HOWEVER…this is a HUGE potluck item…so….how do you keep it warm?

    I work in a hospital. So burners, etc. are NOT permitted in our lounge. Also, I have to be at work at 6 AM…the potluck isn’t until 11….again, how do I keep it warm? Obviously I am making it the night before, so anyone have any suggestions?

  21. Christine

    I couldn’t agree more. I can never eat cold bean dips. Just yucky. Absolutely love re-fried beans.

  22. Lily

    This is exactly what I was looking for… YUM!!

  23. Jeannie

    Chunky pieces of avocado were delicious in this dip! I added cilantro when I prepared the dip. Yum, yum, yum!

  24. Krystle

    I really liked this recipe – thanks for sharing! I’ve actually made several recipes on your site, and they are literally changing my life. Literally. I can’t cook…or, at least, I couldn’t until I tried your recipes. :)

    Anyway, I really liked this dip lots. The only thing I don’t like about it was that it doesn’t really keep well. Despite my best attempts at foiling the heck out of the leftovers, I was left with a soggy mess the next day (complete with brown guacamole). For a same-day meal, though, very good!

  25. Graham

    Adding the cheese on top of boiling hot beans….Great Idea! I usually top the cheese later. This time I prepared the beans the night before. I added whole black beans to the recipe and 1/2 sweet onion fine chopped, spicing with chipolte pepper, chili pepper, garlic powder and cumin to taste along the way.
    Using a microwave and glass bowl, cook at 30 -40% power for 5 minutes, tasting and adjusting along the way. In the meantime you can chop those Kalamata Olives, Jalapeno peppers and Grate your cheese between cycles…about three to cook down the onions and blend the spices.
    Final step is to refrigerate overnight and let the spices meld.
    Follow the recipe from here. add more cheese if desired when layering :) I Love Cheese!

  26. Cathifornia

    This is SO GOOD! Thank you for posting this recipe…it is my favorite 7 Layer Dip!! I heated mine up, but served it cold. I took it to a pot luck, and it was completely gone. Everyone loved it!!

  27. Meredith

    This is the BEST. If you are reading this and haven’t tried it, get offline and make it!

  28. Melissa

    I aggree….no one likes cold refried beans, plus it makes them hard to dip. I solved this by mixing salsa in with the beans. That way I don’t have to warm the beans and the lettuce and other toppings will not get soggy.

  29. Sven

    Usually I don’t comment on websites, but for this I have to make an exception. Found this recipe about two years ago, and it has become an integral part of my life. I eat this about once a week and it’s always delicious!

  30. AnneBB

    I love this recipe and we keep it warm by layering everything in an electric skillet.

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