The Seven-Layer Dip To End All Seven-Layer Dips
From the brain of your favorite pastry whiz, Christina Tosi.
April 16, 2020 ● 3 min read
By JJ Goode, Helen Hollyman, and the Editors of MUNCHIES | Photograph Brayden Olson © 2017
Christina Tosi’s greatest strength is her palate.
And what’s propelled the visionary behind Milk Bar, the Momofuku sweets spinoff, to the top of the sugar heap (and a gig as a Master Chef judge) is that this palate isn’t sensitive to the nuances in various chocolate varietals; rather, it’s attuned to the pure nostalgic joy of French fries dunked in a milkshake. Whether you realized it or not, that salty-sweet, hot-cold delight was probably your first experience with culinary sophistication.
Her best desserts are moderately deranged riffs on iconic, glorious junk: like insanely delicious crack pie (think pecan pie without the pecans) and compost cookies (which contain chocolate and butterscotch, pretzels and potato chips). She cooks like a twelve-year-old who has spent too much time at Dairy Queen—but in the best way possible.
So when she undertook a day-drinking adventure, her crew of Wonderwomen headed out in a van stocked with kimchi Bloody Marys directly through the Holland Tunnel to the closest DQ. After a breakfast of Blizzard, fries, and chicken strips, her nostalgia tour continued at Brooklyn’s Rockaway Beach, where kites were flown, cutthroat sandcastle-building competitions were had, and kimchi micheladas were downed, and then putt-putt golf on Randall’s Island. Tosi is just as sweet as her signature cereal milk, but she takes her fun very seriously. And so do her friends: midway through a game, Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien delivered several dozen Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos. Putt-putt gave way to a fever dream of tailgating fare, like kimchi quesadillas, seven-layer dip, and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with sweet corn cookies standing in for bread. The cheese was American, of course, and one of her friends carried around the yellow block like it was Simba on Pride Rock. It was all fun and games until someone called the cops.
Christina Tosi MOMOFUKU MILK BAR – New York, New York
When Christina Tosi isn’t in sweets mode, making birthday-cake shakes and cornflake-and- Marshmallow cookies, she cooks glories like this seven-layer dip. Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you—the details are important. You must, for instance, use iceberg lettuce. You really should buy canned refried beans instead of attempting to make your own. (Because it’s seven-layer dip.) And you should eat it nice and cold, as if you’ve pulled it straight from the fridge during a bout of desperate hunger, which you probably have. The only part that requires cooking is when you whip up classic “taco beef,” cooking the meat with some spices, though we doubt Tosi would mind if you used a seasoning packet. She might even give you a high five.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons paprika
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 (15-ounce) cans refried pinto beans
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (16-ounce) containers sour cream
4 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
8 vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded (about 4 cups)
1½ cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or equal parts cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese)
Tortilla chips, for serving
To make the taco beef, heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high, then add the beef and cook, stirring to break it up, until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and keep cooking, stirring, until all the liquid evaporates and the beef is lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Take the pan off the heat and let the beef cool completely.
To make the dip, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the beans and cook, stirring, until smooth and spreadable, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool completely.
Add the beans to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and spread to form an even layer. Top with the sour cream in an even layer, then the beef in an even layer. Mash the avocados and lime juice together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, then spread this evenly over the beef. Top with the tomatoes in an even layer, then the lettuce and the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dip is thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.