January 29, 2013

Modernist Seven-Layer Dip

A seven-layer dip is part of the quintessential Super Bowl experience, especially as far as my wife, Rose, is concerned. So this recipe is for her.

Johnny Zhu, Development Chef

Recipe Tags

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7 Layer dip Final 5460-V2


We liked using a beaker for this photo, but recommend using a deep casserole dish when serving this dip to guests.

Pressure-cooked carnitas, shredded


Shred the meat, using two forks. Try not to leave in too many big chunks.

Frozen stock


Freezing extra stock in ice cube trays makes it easy to store.

Refried Beans


Use an immersion blender to puree the whole, cooked beans.

Pico de Gallo


Finely chop all of the ingredients to ensure consistency in every bite.



Slowly add the cheese to the simmering liquid until the cheese has completely melted and achieved a smooth texture.

Tips & Substitutions

For the Carnitas
  • For tips on our Carnitas recipe, click here.
  • The carnitas keep up to five days when refrigerated, or up to six months when frozen.
For the Refried Beans
  • You can use store-bought stock, or make your own. See page 89 of Modernist Cuisine at Home for a recipe.
  • Store excess stock in ice cube trays for easy access.
  • If you use water instead of pork stock, it is important to use pure water, such as distilled or deionized water. In low-calcium water, the beans will burst and become tender.Tap water may contain chlorine, calcium, or magnesium, which can cause the beans to not cook thoroughly. For more on this, see page 3·278 of Modernist Cuisine.
  • If your pureed beans are too thin, slowly add heavy cream until they reach your desired consistency.
  • These beans will keep for one day when refrigerated.
For the Pico de Gallo
  • Chop the ingredients finely to ensure a mix of each ingredient in every bite.
  • This salsa keeps for up to two days when refrigerated.
For the Queso
  • If you are scaling the yield of this recipe up or down, you can calculate how much sodium citrate to use by weighing the liquid and grated cheeses together, and then multiplying by 2.8% of the total weight.
  • You must use sodium citrate for this recipe. Citric acid will not work. For more on using sodium citrate to create melty cheese, check out our Mac and Cheese recipe.
  • The cheese will thicken slightly as it cools.
  • The cheese keeps well; you can store it up to 10 days when refrigerated, or up to two months when frozen.
  • For this dish, we prefer pepper jack cheese, but you can use any kind of cheese, or a combination of cheeses.
  • We find that using an immersion blender greatly helps in emulsifying the cheese.
For the Sour Cream and Scallions
  • We find that there are so many flavors in this dip, you don't need to add anything to the avocado. But if you have a preferred recipe for guacamole, feel free to use it!
  • You can use any variety of store-bought sour cream.
  • We like to slice our scallions as thinly as possible, but that's just our preference.
For the Assembly
  • We shot the final dish assembled in a beaker because we liked the look of it. When we actually serve it, we use a deep casserole pan.
  • Use a glass pan at least 5 cm / 2 in tall. If you have an even deeper dish, use it.
  • You can make the layers as thin or thick as you want.
  • Be careful not to make the bottom layers too thick, or you may run out of room.
  • Tamp down the layers to make them even. This is especially important with the carnitas, which can be lumpy.
  • In the end, though, we feel that assembly is less important than using really great components. Use your own creativity and judgement!


  1. Doug Matson January 31, 2013 Reply

    please add me to your email list for new posts

  2. Matt June 7, 2013 Reply

    For the liquid portion of the queso, is 58% scaling or 58mL the correct measure? If 58% scaling, that would equate to 110mL; if 58mL, that would equate to 30.5% scaling.

    • Jeffrey August 31, 2013 Reply

      Matt, 58ml is correct. Scaling should read 30.5%. The cheese plus liquid is 248 grams and a sodium citrate rate of 2.8% checks at 7 grams.

  3. Adele January 31, 2014 Reply

    Well.. thanks for the idea but I had already heard of this from reading hip pressure cooker website:

    Adding a layer of carnitas is not a bad addition to an already great idea.

  4. Bertrand February 2, 2014 Reply

    Recipes for carnitas and beans are far from what true carnitas and refried beans really are.
    Better to buy them at a mexican restaurant and not being fooled with recipes like these. Just my two cents.

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