For the Hungry Crew

Mexican Layered Dip

By Carolyn Shearlock

Mexican Layered Dip has been a favorite since I first had it. Not only does it taste great, but there are variations for almost any situation.

I can make a hearty version with meat if I know snacks are likely to stand in for dinner, or a lighter version – maybe only 4 layers from whatever I have on hand – if friends stop by unexpectedly. Then there’s a “no refrigeration” alternative, as well as dairy-free, gluten-free and even vegan. No wonder it’s become one of my go-to snacks when we’re on the boat or camping!

Even if you don’t like Mexican food, check out how to make sour cream without refrigeration at the end of the article.

Mexican Layered Dip

Serves 8

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

1 package taco seasoning

Layers — choose as many as you wish:

1 cup sour cream (see below to make your own, with no refrigeration needed)

1/2 cup shredded lettuce

1/2 pound ground beef, ground turkey, shredded chicken OR mushrooms

1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar

1 cup chopped tomatoes OR 1/2 cup salsa

4 green onions, thinly sliced OR 1/2 cup diced red or white onion

1/4 cup minced sweet (bell) pepper — any color OR spicy pepper, to taste

1/4 cup sliced black olives (a small can is perfect)

If using meat or mushrooms, mix 1/2 the packet of taco seasoning with the refried beans. If not, mix the entire packet with refried beans. Let sit while preparing other layers.

If using meat or mushrooms, sauté until browned and then add the remaining taco seasoning and water (if needed). Set aside when done.

To assemble, spread refried bean mix on a plate or other serving container. (I usually use a covered plastic container as in the photo if I’ll be transporting it or putting it in a cooler.)

Spread or sprinkle other layers over the top in the order given — use however many layers you want.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

VARIATIONS – I often divide the ingredients and make more than one plate to accommodate various dietary restrictions:

Dairy-free:  omit the sour cream and cheese layers

Vegan: omit the sour cream and cheese layers; use mushrooms instead of meat

Gluten-free:  make your own taco seasoning (there’s a recipe on my web site; go to and type “taco seasoning” in the search box).  Most tortilla chips are gluten free.

No Refrigeration needed:  omit the meat and cheese, use extra salsa or un-refrigerated veggies, and make sour cream with no refrigerated ingredients.

Make Your Own Sour Cream

While living in Mexico, I discovered fantastic canned cream called Media Crema (it’s not the same as evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk). It’s available in the Latin/Mexican food aisle of almost every US grocery store.

While Media Crema (see photo at right) is great in lots of recipes – you can use it to make a wicked potato soup or clam chowder, and lots of wonderful pasta dishes – the best way to use Media Crema is to make sour cream. Real, thick, wonderful sour cream that you can use in any recipe just like commercial sour cream. And it’s easy.

Pour 1 (8-ounce) can of Media Crema into a small bowl or covered plastic container. Be sure to scrape all the “thick stuff” out! Mix in 1 teaspoon white vinegar OR lemon or lime juice OR white wine. The mixture will thicken considerably. If you can, put it in the refrigerator or cooler for 15 minutes and it will thicken still more – or you can use it at once.


From The Boat Galley Cookbook, Carolyn’s new book (with Jan Irons) available from Amazon and other retailers. It contains over 800 boat-friendly recipes made from obtainable ingredients with hand utensils, in-depth instructions for unfamiliar cooking techniques, and food storage and substitution information.

Carolyn’s web site is

This entry was posted in For the Hungry Crew and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>