This is just one of those recipes. Your cousin’s boyfriend’s mom probably has a copy of it. Everybody loves it because the base dip is incredibly simple, 3 ingredients simple. And if they don’t love a certain part of the prepared layered dip- you can exchange out ingredients so they will!
It’s a reliable addition to a taco bar. It’s a supplement for a vegetarian’s plate for a taco night that normally would only consist of rice and beans. It’s freaking pretty to look at, come on. And super satisfying to put together and layer.
The three truly required ingredients for the base dip are sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning. You can take that however you please. You can go super low fat on both the sour cream and cream cheese, and doesn’t really change the flavour because the taco seasoning is so domineering over the rest.
Base Taco Dip
- 16 oz Sour Cream
- 8 oz Cream Cheese
- 30 grams / 1 ounce packet Taco Seasoning
- (Substitute for homemade seasoning, if desired.)
Just noting, I actually really love homemade taco seasoning. It’s considerably more mild than prepared seasoning, if that’s ya game. It’s super duper easy to mix up a quick batch and take a few tablespoons when you need it. Here’s my favourite recipe! However, there’s a time and a place for packet seasoning, particularly if you love the denominations of spice from mild, original, etc.
Here they are; your three base dip ingredients. Using these, we will make delicious magic! Note the condensation on both the cream cheese and the sour cream. We need these at at least room temperature. This will allow for the least amounts of lumps and bumps in the cream cheese once we start to mix everything together.
Must use happy cream cheese, of course! I was blessed with naturally happy cream cheese on this day. Combine the cream cheese and sour cream in a medium to large bowl.
Give it a quick mix together with a spatula, wooden spoon, etc. Some days I have the patience to whip my dip together by hand…
… but alas on this day I did not. That is actually Mother Dearest whipping this up because I hate using the electric mixer. I gave you this picture, despite it’s blurriness, so you can see why we mix this so intensely. We are really working to integrate as much of that cream cheese into the sour cream without lumps. However, this can be an impossible task, depending on the day. Don’t obsess over it too much. You won’t hurt the dip if you over mix it, you are really just mixing it until creamy and completely homogeneous like…
This! Gorgeous texture, is it not?
And then we add in our seasoning. This is a packet seasoning, but about a tablespoon or two of homemade will also do. To taste, of course, but our standard is 1 oz packet : 16 oz sour cream : 8 oz cream cheese and it turns out perfectly without fail. Just give that a stir up with a rubber spatula, there really is no reason to pull out the mixer again if you have no drive to. It doesn’t really affect the outcome if you do or if you don’t. So completely up to you!
If you prefer to eat this without veggies and cheese, you may, but it really does this no justice while comparing it to an American taco. I really recommend you go through and spread this out in a pan, and just go through it. It will be 100 times better! So, here you can see the texture. Even we can’t get all of those lumps out, and we’ve made this recipe upwards of 150 times in my life. Some of the texture is also the seasoning, so no worries about that. I find that after the dip is refrigerated, if you’ve mixed enough, none of the issues with the texture are present anymore.
Next, spread this out into as even of a layer as possible. It doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect because…
… we’re gonna cover the whole fricking thing up with shredded cheese. Oh yes. For our fourth ingredient, I used some marble jack because I like that it’s a bit less monotonous than mild cheddar, but cheddar works just as well. I also really like Mexican blends, but not the “Mexican Taco Blend” types that are just a normal cheese with taco seasoning on it. If you have a choice between that and normal cheese, definitely pick a normal mild cheddar or Colby Jack blend. Yummy!
I used a smaller more shallow pan this time, an 8×12 cookie sheet, so I didn’t use all two cups, and it was still a pretty thick layer of cheese. Finely shredded is best for this, because how the cheese sticks to the dip is important for the layerage and how the dip stays together.
Then, a layer of iceberg lettuce, our fifth ingredient. This is really just American tacos at it’s core 😂. Substitute as you wish, of course, but this is the bare bones version after all. Toss on a bag of shredded lettuce and move on with your life! I actually just really rough chopped some off of a head of iceberg, and it worked absolutely fine. The reason we keep an eye on the size of the things with this dip is so we don’t make a big mess when scooping it onto a chip or lifting it off of the pan.
And, with this final shot, our sixth and seventh ingredients, tomatoes and black olives. Both of these are really to taste type ingredients.
If you want a thick full layer of tomatoes, or even none at all, you do you boo. The world is your pickle. Our family likes a happy medium, probably around three quarters of a cup of freshly diced tomatoes. And not to boast, but these are actually some really gorgeous Beefsteak and Big Boy tomatoes from our garden. I feel like I can brag about that because I’ve had to endure tomato juice canning for the past week. As always, all of the tomatoes get ripe at once and Dearest Stepfather insists on going on the canning quest each and every August. Hey, whatever makes him happy.
Considering black olives, we like a meatier layer of those. Normally, one can of small olives quartered or ringed is perfect. Apologies for the inconsistent cut on this pan, hahah. Mother Dearest and I were cutting these together, and she was ringing and I was quartering and I didn’t realize until were nearly done. It doesn’t look all that bad, now does it?
In terms of possible additions, what immediately springs to mind is additional spice. Jalapeños, banana peppers, habaneros, green chiles, etc. to be added to the very top layer, or even minced very finely and mixed into the base dip, or perhaps even a chopped bell pepper rainbow of red, yellow, orange, and green on top.
However, if you noticed above, my family are spice wimps. Mother Dearest cannot even take original taco seasoning, she has to get mild, and is allergic to bell peppers (and has unfortunately passed said sensitivity onto moi). And Dearest Stepfather gets really terrible heartburn from anything more severe than original seasoning as well. And me, well, I just have had very little exposure to spice because of that so I’m afraid of most of them, to be honest.
In any case, here we are, the wrap up bit. I will say, this is probably one of the most iconic foods of my childhood. I very recently served a double batch of this at my graduation party and there was none left to bring home by the end of it.
As someone who has studied Spanish and hispanohablante culture for upwards of eight years, of course I love a lot of traditional foods as well. From true Mexican street Tacos all the way to Cuban Medianoche Tortas, they are all delicious to me. But dare I say that American tacos are my favourite food? Maybe? Probably? They’re definitely up there, with how much I love tortillas (and I love tortillas so much).
- 1 oz / 30 g packet Taco Seasoning
- 16 oz Sour Cream
- 8 oz Cream Cheese
- ~2 cups Finely Shredded Cheese
- Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
- ~1 cup Diced Fresh Tomatoes
- 1 can Ringed / Quartered Small Black Olives
- Bring sour cream and cream cheese up to room temperature / soften. *Important*
- Place in a medium to large bowl and give a quick mix to combine by hand. (Heterogeneous)
- Give it a quick but thorough whip with a mixer to completely emulsify the cream cheese. (Homogeneous)
- Sprinkle seasoning over cream mixture, and combine using a spoon or rubber spatula.
- Spread into a baking sheet or cake pan. (Any size, pan choice will create thickness and serving size. Smaller pans make thicker, bigger pans make thinner.)
- Coat with a generous layer of finely shredded cheese.
- Follow up with a layer of shredded greenery, traditionally iceberg lettuce.
- And top with your favourite veg chopped fairly small (we use tomatoes and black olives on every batch).
- Chill for at least an hour or two to set up the dip and the cream cheese within it for the best possible texture.
So just, all in all, so I can stop rambling, try this recipe out for me, if you eat dairy and enjoy American tacos. You will not regret it. And it just may become a family Taco Night tradition for your family too. ❤