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The Best Healthy 7-Layer Dip Recipe (Dairy-Free & Vegan)

7-Layer Dip is delicious, obvi, but it’s also loaded with dairy and unhealthy ingredients. I gave it a makeover and can honestly say that I like it just as much as the original.

Most of the dairy-free dip recipes I usually find have fake cheese or sour cream substitutes made with highly-processed soy or other combos of strange ingredients. I set out to make a version of this game-day favorite with real food—no franken-food cheese required.

The Secret?

Cashew cream!

With a few flavor additions, cold Zesty Taco Cashew Cream really does the trick to replace the sour cream and cheese.

7-Layer Dip is pretty self-explanatory and doesn’t really require a lot of recipe details. The part you want to master is the zesty cashew cream. Cashew cream is really simple to make once you get the hang of it, don’t let my detailed instructions trick you into thinking it’s hard or involved.

Healthy 7-Layer Dip Recipe Elizabeth Rider Dairy Free

Basic Garlic Cashew Cream

Total time: 10 minutes plus soaking time
Makes: 2 cups, and freezes well

Ingredients for garlic cashew cream:

  • 1.5 cups plain raw cashews (not roasted and not salted)
  • 2/3 cup purified water, plus more for soaking
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and skins removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Method: Soak the cashews overnight (12-24 hours) in purified water at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Drain and rinse well. If you forget to soak your cashews you can do a quick soak by soaking them 1 hour in hot (just off the boil) water for one hour; drain and rinse well. Next, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the 2 garlic cloves to the oil with a pinch of sea salt. Infuse the garlic in the warm oil 10-15 minutes until very fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. The garlic will turn a light brown but the oil should not smoke; simply turn off the heat and (carefully) remove the garlic if it starts to burn.

Blend the soaked and rinsed cashews and water in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, until smooth. When using this amount of cashews, the blender containers with a more narrow base work best. Once smooth, blend in the olive oil on a low setting. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator up to one week or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Zesty Taco Cashew Cream Elizabeth Rider-7

Zesty Taco Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup of the garlic cashew cream above
  • 1.5 teaspoons taco seasoning*
  • 2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Method: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and chill.** Serve as a sour cream substitute or with Healthy 7-Layer Bean Dip.

Chef’s notes:

  • * You can buy a packet of taco seasoning from the health food store or look at a local spice shop that doesn’t use preservatives and fillers. I buy mine from the Savory Spice Shop online. Just look for something without additives or unhealthy ingredients. Or, make your own by combining 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, a pinch of sea salt and pinch of black pepper.
  • ** I prefer to mix the taco seasoning in by hand instead of blending it with the cashew cream in the blender so it maintains some texture.

Onto the dip. You can go rouge and make 5, 6, 7, or even OMG 8 LAYER BEAN DIP. OK, calm down. Just make it the way you want it.

Healthy 7-Layer Dip Recipe (Dairy-Free)

Total time: about 20 minutes
Serves 8, easily doubled for a party
I used a 1-quart round pyrex dish in the photos here

Starting with the bottom layer:

  • Layer #1: 15-ounce can of vegetarian refried pinto beans (I use Amy’s brand)
  • Layer #2: 1 Large avocado, mashed with a sprinkle of sea salt and squeeze of lime juice. Or, 1 cup prepared guacamole. The real stuff, not the fake green goop
  • Layer #3: 1 cup of Zesty Taco Cashew Cream (recipe above), more or less to preference
  • Layer #4: About 3/4 cup of a thick salsa. If your salsa seems watery then strain the liquid out through a fine mesh strainer to prevent your dip from getting soggy
  • Layer #5: Shredded iceberg lettuce. The flavor of iceberg is a staple in this type of dish
  • Layer #6: Tomatoes + chopped red onion, or 1/3 cup pico de gallo
  • Layer #7: Chopped cilantro
  • Debatable layer #8: Sliced black olives. These are polarizing, use them at your own risk.

Method: Assemble the dip the day it will be served. Serve with sliced bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and/or your favorite healthy tortilla chips. Tastes great warm or chilled. Will keep in the refrigerator up to one week, but the salsa might get a little watery so it’s best prepared the day of.

ER-Health Coach-HEALTHY 7-LAYER DIP RECIPE-01

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  1. Tina says:

    Hi Elizabeth! Could you recommend a couple of brands of healthy tortilla chips? Thank you!

    • Hi Tina! Honestly I don’t recall the brands I buy, I just look for them at the health foods store or in the health foods section. They should only have 3-4 ingredients: corn, oil, salt and maybe lime. I avoid canola oil. The ones in the health foods stores are generally made with better oil. Look for organic ones if possible. Texture-wise, I prefer the extra thin ones if I can find them 🙂 I do recall that I like the whole grain ones from Food Should Taste Good, but I know I’ve bought other ones, too. Hope that helps! ~E

  2. Ashli says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I was just wondering about the 2 Tbs of olive oil in the cashew cream recipe… Have you tried making it without it? It just seems like unnecessary extra fat to a natural but already heavy fat source (cashews). I assume it must be a texture thing but was just curious if you had tried making it without it.

    Recipe looks delicious though, and I look forward to trying it soon! I’m hooked on Amy’s refried black beans (Have you tried that variety?), so I know I’ll be including that. 🙂

    Thanks!
    Ashli

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