This easy Taco Layer Dip is truly homemade – meaning less processed and more deliciousness! It’s the perfect appetizer for taco night as well as holiday get-togethers.
Whether you cook pinto beans from scratch or open a can, opting out of canned, commercial bean dip is a great way to go for more flavor and less fluff. Add a Greek yogurt crema with your traditional taco toppings and you’ve got a delicious vegetarian taco layer dip or taco filling.
Do you get weirded out when you realize that a favorite childhood recipe is over 40 years old? Or that it was actually hip and trendy when your mom first made it? Or that it’s so darned expensive when made according to its original incarnation?
Yeah, me, too.
Okay, you probably don’t have that same reaction to Taco Layer Dip that I do, but those things are all true. The recipe for Seven Layer Dip has been around since the early 80s. I had no idea that it was super popular back when my mom made it. Only she called it Traveling Taco.
I did, however, know that it was expensive to make.
This Taco Layer Dip was a favorite of mine in my teen years (aka the 80s), and I well remember my shock the first time I purchased all its ingredients. The bill was over 20 bucks! A lot of its cost is attributed to the canned and commercial ingredients: bean dip, taco seasoning, jarred salsa, guacamole, etc.
Since then when I have a craving for this classic taco layer dip, I dial down the expense — and the preservatives! — by making it more homemade.
Why Make This
It’s delicious. Taco Layer Dip is super tasty and a great accompaniment to a Mexican Food Buffet Dinner.
It’s affordable. When you make this taco layer dip with homemade beans, crema, and and taco seasoning, you shave the price down tremendously.
I think you’ll be surprised at how yummy this minimally processed version of taco layer dip is. Here’s what you’ll need:
pinto beans – You can use canned refried beans, mash canned pinto beans or make these Instant Pot Refried Beans. It’s a lower-sodium alternative to canned bean dip.
taco seasoning mix – To season the bean layer and save money, make a batch of homemade taco seasoning mix. It’s really easy!
crema – The homemade cream layer includes sour cream, greek yogurt, and more of the taco seasoning. Feel free to use all Greek yogurt or all sour cream if you prefer. You can even work in some cream cheese if you like.
cheese – I use shredded cheddar but you can use your favorite cheese for tacos, such as jack, pepper jack, or even cotija.
veggies – Chopped tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, and olives finish off the plate.
tortilla chips – These are a must for serving with taco layer dip. You can even make homemade tortilla chips if you like.
Additional add-ons – Feel free to add guacamole, diced avocado, chopped onions, , cooked taco meat, and shredded lettuce.
- Start with combining the beans and taco seasoning. In a small bowl, combine the refried beans with the taco seasoning. If you want, you can mash whole cooked pinto beans until only a few chunks remain. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the taco seasoning mix.
- Prepare the crema layer. In another small bowl, combine the sour cream, greek yogurt, and remaining tablespoon taco seasoning.
- Assemble the layers – On a small plate, spread the beans almost to the edge. Spread the sour cream mixture over the beans. Sprinkle the cheese over the sour cream. Continue sprinkling the remaining layers: cheese, tomatoes, peppers, olives, and cilantro. Serve with chips.
Seven Layer Dip, of course, has 7 layers to it, and is known by a number of names, including Taco Layer Dip, Layered Bean Dip, and Tex-Mex Dip. The layers vary from recipe to recipe but can feature but are not limited to: bean dip, commercial taco seasonings, jarred salsa, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onions, sliced olives, cooked taco meat, shredded cheese, jalapeños, and shredded lettuce.
Seven layer dip is a cold appetizer of beans, crema, cheese, and salsa ingredients.
This dip will last about 3-4 days in the fridge. Promptly store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You may find that the longer it sits, water accumulates. Just simply drain off the extra liquid and dig in!
Since the layers include sour cream, yogurt, and/or fresh tomatoes, this really isn’t a freezer-friendly dish. Better to make it fresh a day before serving.
Anytime you’re making homemade, it’s important to determine if you’re really saving money. Let’s crunch the numbers on this recipe:
- canned refried pinto beans – $0.44
- taco seasoning mix – $0.25 ($1.00/batch)
- Greek yogurt – $0.30 ($4.79/32 oz)
- sour cream – $0.15 ($1.20/pt)
- shredded cheese – $0.42 ($3.36/16 oz)
- tomatoes – $0.60
- jalapenos – $0.30
- cilantro – $0.15
- black olives – $0.15
- chips – $1.00/10 oz
Total spent for a large batch of Taco Layer Dip with chips is only $4.18 or about 52 cents a serving.
How to Save Even More
Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on cheese, I buy several packages. Same goes for greek yogurt. It’s a great way to save money on your groceries.
- Do a price comparison. I know that ALDI is the best place to buy ingredients like greek yogurt and cream cheese when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where.
- Buy spices in bulk. Buying spices is cheapest in bulk at your local health food store. You aren’t committed to buying a large container. You can actually buy just what you need.
- Cook your own beans. Cooking dry pintos and mashing them yourself will cost less than a can. Plus, you can add the seasonings and salt you prefer.
- Grow your own. Jalapeños, tomatoes, and cilantro are easy to grow yourself.
More Homemade Appetizers
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Really Homemade Seven Layer Dip
- In a small bowl, combine the refried beans and 1 teaspoon of the taco seasoning mix. Stir well to combine.
- In another small bowl, combine the sour cream, greek yogurt, and remaining tablespoon taco seasoning. Stir well to combine.
- On a small plate, spread the beans almost to the edge.
- Spread the sour cream mixture over the beans.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the sour cream. Continue sprinkling the remaining layers: jalapenos, tomatoes, olives, and cilantro. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Serve with tortilla chips.
This post was originally published November 1, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.