The Only Formula You Need to Make 7-Layer Dip

Grab some veggies or tortilla chips and get to scooping with a creamy, veggie-packed dip.

5 glass bowls of different types of dip on a white surface
Photo: Charlotte and Johnny Autry

Seven-layer dip is always the first thing to go at a potluck, and for good reason. Aside from being delicious, the dip is easy to make ahead and it travels well. With this easy formula, you can put your own flavor twists on the classics. But be prepared: everyone is going to ask for the recipe.

1. Use Beans for the Base

Mashing canned or cooked beans creates a thick, dippable base for seven-layer dip. You can start with any bean or even lentils. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the bean can (or the bean-cooking liquid if you're using dried beans you've cooked yourself) to a large bowl. Rinse the beans, add them to the bowl and mash until smooth.

Beans (Canned or Cooked)

  • Black beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Great northern beans
  • Navy beans
  • Butter beans

2. Sprinkle in Some Seasoning

Add a little flair to those beans and set the tone for the flavor profile of the whole dip by adding some seasonings to the beans. Stir in 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. seasoning of your choice, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and spread into an even layer.


  • Salt-free everything bagel seasoning
  • Curry paste
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt-free za'atar
  • Salt-free taco seasoning

3. Create a Creamy Layer

Adding a layer of cream cheese combined with another creamy dairy product creates richness, but if you want something plant-based, nondairy cream cheese combines with vegan yogurt or silken tofu to create the same effect. Just mix 1/2 cup softened reduced-fat cream cheese with 1/4 cup creamy ingredient of your choice, 1 tsp. lemon juice and 1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper. Spread that mixture on top of the bean mixture.

Creamy Ingredients

  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Labneh
  • Silken tofu
  • Crème fraiche
  • Ricotta cheese

4. Add Color with a Variety of Veggies

Here's where the fun comes in: Mix and match a variety of vegetables to add texture and color to your dip. Sprinkle 1 cup of sliced, shredded or chopped vegetables over the top of the creamy layer.


  • Sliced snow or snap peas
  • Shredded carrots
  • Chopped artichoke hearts
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped fresh spinach
  • Chopped red onion
  • Chopped cucumber

5. Sprinkle on Some Cheese

A layer of cheese provides salty, tangy flavor. Dairy-free or vegan? Just swap in a plant-based version. Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled and shredded cheese over the top of the vegetables.


  • Crumbled cotija
  • Crumbled feta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Shredded Cheddar

6. Top It Off with Something Fresh

Fresh herbs add bright and—you guessed it—fresh flavor to these rich layers. Scatter 1 Tbsp. to 1/4 cup chopped, torn or sliced fresh herbs over the top of the cheese.

Fresh Herbs

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Torn basil
  • Sliced mint
  • Chopped dill
  • Chopped oregano

7. Add a Finishing Touch

The final layer creates the first impression in terms of looks, but it's also the last chance to add flavor, so reach for high-impact ingredients like pickled vegetables, hot sauce and cured meats. You can even mix and match multiple garnishes for maximum impact.


  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Hot sauce
  • Flaked smoked salmon
  • Capers
  • Sliced olives
  • Sliced salami
  • Sliced pepperoncini
  • Citrus zest
  • Sliced chile peppers
  • Chopped unsalted nuts
  • Drizzle of oil

Recipes to Try

01 of 05

Taco Dip

taco dip
Johnny and Charlotte Autry

Here we lighten up classic 7-layer dip by using plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips and/or crudités.

02 of 05

Za'atar-Spiced Chickpea Dip

Za'atar-Spiced Chickpea Dip
Greg Dupree

Labneh—a thick and tangy strained cow's-milk yogurt—adds creamy richness to this layer dip featuring salty feta and olives. Serve with pita chips for dipping.

03 of 05

Everything-Bagel Smoked Salmon Dip

Everything-Bagel Smoked Salmon Dip
Charlotte & Johnny Autry

Give 7-layer dip a brunch twist with this recipe featuring layers of cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber, red onion and capers. Serve with bagel chips for scooping.

04 of 05

Thai Chile-Curry Dip

thai curry dip
Charlotte & Johnny Autry

Curry paste lends a pop of heat to this 7-layer dip, while carrots and snap peas add fresh crunch on top. Look for roasted peanut oil for the strongest nutty flavor.

05 of 05

Antipasti Layered Dip

Antipasti Layered Dip
Charlotte & Johnny Autry

A typical antipasto platter features cured meats, cheeses, olives and anchovies—we took a lot of those elements and turned them into a creamy layer dip with white beans and ricotta. Serve with toasted baguette for scooping.

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