We have something to confess. This ridiculously good riff on seven-layer dip had been meticulously reworked by the folks at Cooking Light magazine to contain as few fat grams as possible thanks to low-fat cheese and reduced-fat sour cream. The thing is, what really matters when it comes to satiety is satisfaction. And we derive a heck of a lot of that from real food. You know, food that hasn’t been tampered with in any way. So we ditched the low-fat dairy but kept the recipe, which is seriously the best seven-layer dip we’ve ever had. Provided you use real cheese and sour cream. One taste and we think you’ll agree that it was the right thing to do.–David Leite

Seven Layer Dip FAQs

Any tips before I stow leftovers in the fridge?

You might find that a seven-layer dip releases a little moisture after sitting in the fridge overnight but this is easily remedied–just carefully tip your serving dish and pour out that extra water. But more importantly, before stashing this in the fridge, make sure that any guac poking out gets covered with sour cream, cheese, beans, whatever it takes to keep that layer oxygen-free. When you scoop into it tomorrow and the guac is still green, you’ll be glad you did.

What’s the difference between pico de gallo and salsa?

Technically, pico is a type of salsa but there are a few things that make it perfect to use in a dish like this. Pico de gallo is made from freshly chopped veg and doesn’t get cooked. This means it will remain chunky and isn’t as loose or wet as a typical Tex-Mex salsa.

A bowl filled with seven-layer dip with a spoon resting inside and a plate with tortilla chips, dip, and a lime wedge on the side.

Seven Layer Dip

4.75 / 8 votes
Seven layer dip is a Mexican-inspired party staple made with beans, cilantro, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and jalapeño. It’s crazy easy to make as well as quite healthy. And it requires no cooking whatsoever. And this is the best darn rendition of it we’ve ever had.
David Leite
Servings8 to 12 servings
Calories311 kcal
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt
  • One (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped, and drained
  • 2 ripe peeled avocados, halved
  • 2 cups fresh or canned corn kernels
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/3 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1/3 cup), preferably with jalapeño peppers
  • 1 1/3 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions


  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the water, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and the beans and cook, stirring and mashing the beans frequently with a wooden spoon, until warmed through and almost smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Spread the bean mixture in a 2-quart (2.3-liter) baking dish and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup cilantro, red onion, 2 tablespoons lime juice, oil, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and the tomatoes and sprinkle over the cooled bean mixture.
  • Combine the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork until it achieves the desired consistency. Spread the avocado mixture over the tomato mixture.
  • Sprinkle the corn over the avocado mixture. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, chili powder, and cumin and spread it over the corn. Sprinkle with the cheeses, jalapeño chiles, and green onions. Serve immediately or cover and stash it in the fridge for up to several hours.
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Serving: 1 serving, based on 8 servingsCalories: 311 kcalCarbohydrates: 29 gProtein: 11 gFat: 19 gSaturated Fat: 7 gCholesterol: 24 mgSodium: 171 mgFiber: 10 gSugar: 4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Cooking Light. Photo © 2016 Oxmoor House. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Wow, wow, wow! Seven layer dip is one of those things people throw together using cans and packages of things. You see it at a potluck or family picnic and think it should be a good thing, but because of all the packaged foods used, it’s only so-so. But this seven-layer dip is something else altogether. Because everything is homemade using beans and veggies, it actually feels like a healthy(ish) thing to eat for lunch. And that’s exactly what we did—we sat down with a half recipe of dip and a bag of tortilla chips for the two of us. I made half a recipe and it’s a good thing I did or we might have eaten the entire batch. I reduced all my ingredients by half except I used the entire amount of beans. So perhaps the recipe could use double the beans if people want more.

It brings me great joy to see a traditional dip like this seven-layer dip and find that someone has elevated the recipe. While this dip recipe does require some time and effort to put together, it was worth it. It was fresh tasting, light, satisfying, and the perfect appetizer for our summer barbecue. I layered my dip in a 9-inch glass pie dish. The dip filled the pie dish but it didn’t overflow it or make a mess. The glass dish also made for a visually appealing presentation. I served my dip with tortilla chips. I had some leftovers and when I pulled it out of the refrigerator the next day, there was a little liquid in the dish but the flavor was still very good.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I will admit, the first time I made this my husband and I devoured practically the entire dish of this for dinner in one sitting! This is very addicting, and very good! The black beans, and fresh elements like jalapenos, cilantro, green onions and lime elevate this to feel more luxurious and gourmet than a standard seven layer dip. I also doubled the recipe and made this for a party and it was enjoyed by those who tried it. I reserved some of the ingredients, sans the dairy products, and layered them in a small dish for one of my guests who is vegan, she appreciated the gesture and enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks for letting us know, Dawn, and reminding me of this recipe. This could be a perfect dip for New Years Day, I may have to add it to my menu!

    2. Thanks so much Dawn! You are not alone; we have been known to devour whole batches in one sitting as well. And what a lovely gesture to make a vegan version for your guest. Definitely something we’ll keep in mind the next time we’re layering up our fave dip.

  2. Made this for Memorial Day. Looked pretty but was very wet, maybe my tomatoes but after a scoop, a puddle appeared so I drained it off several times but was not a hit.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear that, Kathy. Yes, watery tomatoes can certainly do this. Also, if the beans and corn aren’t drained completely, sogginess can ensue. I hope you’ll give it another try, as every one of our testers who tried it (we test each recipe over and over and tweak them when needed before deeming them spectacular enough to share on the site) thought it was an improvement over other seven layer dips they’ve tried…

  3. Sounds yummy!! I will substitute green onions for the red ones in the tomato layer, as the milder flavor is more to my liking. I often add a can of diced green green chilis to the bean layer, and I’ll seed the jalapenos to reduce the fire a bit. I like the little extras added to this recipe instead of plain layers of beans, tomatoes and lettuce.

    1. Love your suggestions, Carole! I’m with you on the green onions and appreciate you sharing the other tips, too!