7 Layer Bean Dip

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7-layer bean dip with hot refried beans, topped with cheddar cheese, chilies, tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and sliced black olives.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Refried beans should be served warm.

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.

7 Layer Bean Dip

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.

7 Layer Bean Dip Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 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
  • Corn tortillas, to serve


1 Prepare the beans: 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 Spread on serving dish, top with cheese: 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 toppings: 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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A Dip into the past - 7 layer dip from Married with Dinner


7 Layer Bean Dip

Showing 4 of 19 Comments

  • Moira

    Instead of bacon, I like to start with Mexican chorizo. But I agree, having the warm beans is much better than just spreading out canned cold ones. I have been known to use leftover pink beans with hamhocks to make the refried beans.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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 :)

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