Question: What happens when you have a dip with seven layers arranged any way you like plus a variety of options for each individual layer?
Answer: A dip that could be made 185,220 different ways.
I know what you’re thinking. You think seven-layer dips go in the same category as cheese balls. You think both are steeped in corny 1970s and 1980s American dinner party culture. You know that both dips have enough calories to count for a meal.
I know all this too, but I don’t care. They taste great! Who’s with me?
A good friend of mine has a seven-layer bean dip that she makes for every occasion. She makes it every time, because it kills every time. Not in the literal sense, of course. What I mean to say is that everyone loves it–every time.
Alli’s Seven-Layer Bean Dip Recipe
*2 cans refried beans
*1, 8 oz. container sour cream
*1 package of taco seasoning
*3 tablespoons salsa
*3 cups cheddar cheese
*2 cans sliced black olives
*1 bunch scallions, chopped
*3 plum tomatoes, chopped
Directions: Combine salsa and refried beans in sauce pan and place on low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool. In a bowl, mix sour cream and taco seasoning. Before chopping tomatoes, remove seeds. Pepare the remaining ingredients. Layer (from bottom to top): bean mixture, sour cream mixture, cheese, tomatoes, cheese, scallions, olives.
I followed Alli’s recipe pretty close, except that I didn’t use a second layer of cheese. Yes, that makes mine a six-layer dip–you caught me! I used a spicy refriend bean variety and wish that I had added more jalapenos to the mix. I like it spicy.
Can you guess what served as the dippers for this snack slash feast?
Tostitos, of course.
While making this special dip, I couldn’t help but think about all the different possibilities of a classic Tex-Mex seven-layer dip, which is exactly what prompted the headline for this post. I sat down and made a list of all the available ingredients for each of the layers, and then I recruited the help of Jason (the math brains behind this operation) to figure out the true number of ways that you could create and layer the dip. Like I said, there are at least 185,220 combinations for a Tex-Mex inspired seven-layer dip.
Below you’ll find my list, which I know only mentions some of the possible ingredients. Keep in mind that the last category is made of up spices and herbs, so we did not include this category in the equation that got us to 185,220.
I list the layer categories here in the order in which I would layer them, but not a single one is necessary; just make sure the heaviest is on the bottom. I know there are only six layers mentioned, but it’s assumed that you would use multiple layers of cheese or multiple layers of veggies to make up the difference.
Bean layer options
Any of the following could be whole, refried or blended (in combination with a cream or liquid substance for texture)
Creamy layer options
Sour cream and mayo/Miracle Whip combo
Cream cheese and mayo/Miracle Whip combo
Tofutti vegan cream cheese
Meat layer options
The meat layer is always optional
Vegetarian meat substitute
Any of the following could be shredded or ground
Cheese layer options
Saucy or dippy layer options
Cheese and salsa combo…think queso dip
Pico de gallo
The following can be used as individual layers or as a combo with another layer
Veggie layer options
Bell peppers (red, yellow, or green)
Spicy peppers (anaheim, jalapeño, chipotle, habanero, or whatever hotness you can stand)
Onions (scallions, white, or yellow; raw, softened, or caramelized)
Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes halved, all others chopped, diced, or minced)
Spice, herb, and other flavorings
Since any or all of these could be incorporated in any of the layers, this is not part of the math equation.
Taco seasoning mix
Lemon and lime juice
Salt and pepper