Seven-Layer Dip, My Way

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on November 14, 2013

I love seven layer dip. At least I thought I did. Until this summer, when I took a long, critical look at the classic, world-renowned tailgate and party staple and realized it had a fatal flaw.

seven layer dip, via
Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the satisfying taste. As Stefon would say, “It. Has. Everything.” The problem lies with the way most of us have been taught to assemble the dip: the goopy stuff, like guacamole, is underneath all the stuff that inevitably falls off your chip because it doesn’t have enough “stick”—cheese, olives, etc. Underneath all of this are the refried beans, an anchor layer that’s always way too thick to dig into without breaking the chip and sending said cheese flying across the room or back onto your plate.

This faulty organizational method is slightly improved if you do the ladylike thing of politely spooning out dip onto an appetizer plate and then dipping from your own personal serving. But come on. Who does that? Everyone just digs their chip right into the communal bowl, not even looking at what’s happening because their eyes are glued to the TV screen, or wandering away from the tailgate buffet to grab another beer, or all the things we do at parties when we don’t feel like carrying tiny plates around.

And that’s when seven layer dip chaos ensues.

Being that I love to organize, I thought long and hard about finding a better way to get all the seven layer dip flavors properly onto my chip without such agita. Behold, my improved order of layering seven layer dip!

seven layer dip, via 

Look at that glorious stacking! See, the beans are loosened up by sour cream, so they’re oh so scoopable. The black olives and scallions come next, where they become velcro-suctioned to the dippable beans. Next, the feathery shredded cheese, which usually flies everywhere because people throw it on top. Not so here. A handful of chopped tomatoes weighs the cheese down, then gets sandwiched in by fresh guacamole with a power punch of citrus. Finally, a dusting of taco seasoning makes the whole thing look less like a pile of glop. Because visuals are important here.

Instead of one communal scooping trough, I like to divide the seven layer dip between a few smaller bowls so more people have easy access to the goodies. This also makes my husband, the inveterate black olive-hater, a happy man, since the dip can be made in two versions (I’ll stick to my bowl full of the brined beasties, thankyouverymuch). Baking dishes seem to be the industry standard for this kind of thing, but I like using shallow pasta bowls for a change. 

Oh, and you may notice from the pictures that I’m submerging nacho cheese Doritos into the seven layer dip. That’s the bad influence of my favorite Texan, Amber from Bluebonnets & Brownies. I’m sure she wouldn’t give you the side-eye if you used Fritos as a dipping mechanism either, but trust. You won’t be able to go back to regular old tortilla chips once you’ve added Doritos to the seven layer dip repertoire.

 seven layer dip, via


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryellen November 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Doritos. *sigh*


Casey Barber Casey Barber November 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Dude, I know, right?


Sarah - A Beach Home Companion November 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I’ve never been conscious of the unbalanced recipe until now, but, by god, you are right! Now you’ve got me thinking about individual 7-layer dips for our next get-together. Too much?


Casey Barber Casey Barber November 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Sarah, it’s never too much when it comes to seven layer dip! (Though if you’re making individual servings for more than 10 people, I truly applaud your commitment.)


Kate | Food Babbles November 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Genius!! Why has no one reordered this amazing dip before? You speak the truth. Lovd this and I’m all about the Doritos for dipping


Aimee Wimbush-Bourque November 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

You really, really know how to do it up right.

Great illustration! =)


Wino November 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm

That dip is awesome. Can’t get that at Chile’s


celia November 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

taking the guacamole out of the basement was brillant – love the visual!


Allison November 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I really love that you made an illustration for 7 layer dip. I like you even more now.


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