Cooking

The Great Dip-bate

Onion or spinach? Seven-layer or queso? We face off on our favorite dips.
The Great Dip-bate
Illustration: Kim Graziano/Tasting Table

Let's be honest. Watching the big game is really about one thing: dips. You can get all fancy with your spread this Sunday, but we'll be dunking crisp veggies, potato chips, crackers and just about anything that will sit still into our favorite bowls of creamy, cheesy, not-at-all-good-for-you goodness.

Turns out Tasting Table's editorial team has deep feelings about dips, so we're facing off on which bowls truly bowl us over. This could get more heated than the Pats vs. Hawks.

Game on.


Team Spinach Dip: Editor in Chief Kat Kinsman
"If I could figure out how to survive on a dip-based diet without succumbing to some sort of pirate disease, I surely would. Knorr Spinach Dip may be my loophole. The classic side-of-the-envelope recipe isn't just paradise for a texture freak like me (water chestnuts and green onions are listed as 'optional,' but that's a gigantic lie)—it's packed with nutrient-rich greens and a powdered mix of tiny dehydrated vegetables that surely counteract the cup of mayonnaise, 16 ounces of sour cream and hollowed-out loaf you'll serve it in if you're not a savage. 'Health' benefits aside, this dip is a creamy, crunchy, miraculous umami bomb, and when it's in the room, you know you're at a party. Even if the only guests are you and a soggy bread bowl. (Note: The recipe says nonfat Greek yogurt can sub for the sour cream, but Knorr, just quit playing.)"

Team Onion Dip: Associate Managing Editor Jillian King
"Admittedly, I do not have health on my side. But my love for dip has nothing to do with a concern for nutrition and everything to do with the glorious union of a potato chip (ruffled, preferably) and a creamy dollop of the universally acknowledged king of all dips. Sure, I've spent the time caramelizing onions for a homemade version (and to great success), but there's something magical about swirling together a 16-ounce container of sour cream with an envelope of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix. Maybe it's the oddly alluring texture of those dehydrated onions. Or the joy of discovering a pocket of extra seasoning in the bowl. Or maybe that you don't have to bother with a single other ingredient (dairy and sodium are enough, thankyouverymuch). Whatever it is, guests will gush—without fail—about how delicious it is and how they forgot about how freakin' wonderful it is. Unless they frequent my gatherings. In which case, the memory is recent, and a bowl of the good stuff is an eagerly anticipated given."


Team Queso: Senior Editor Jamie Feldmar
"Here's the thing about queso: It's kinda gross. And that's why it's kinda great. Sure, 'queso' is the generic Spanish word for 'cheese,' but the queso we're talking about here refers to one thing and one thing only: melted Velveeta cheese mixed with a can of Ro*Tel tomatoes and green chiles. It's a Tex-Mex classic (and technically shorthand for 'chili con queso,' but everyone who's anyone uses its nickname) served with tortilla chips, and the cold, hard science of the matter is that you must use use the packaged, processed cheese spread to make it taste right. Queso is timeless in its appeal and impervious to fancification (a brave few have tried and failed), and for that, we salute it, in all its artificially colored-and-flavored glory."

Team Seven-Layer Dip: Executive Editor Karen Palmer
"Chefs are always talking about restraint and letting individual ingredients shine. Seven-layer dip is all like, 'Eff that noise. More is more.' For my version, you don't just get melted cheese and some tomato (ahem, queso), you get cream cheese and cheddar and tomato and avocado and a whole lot of other stuff. I take a block of Philly cream cheese, let that bad boy come up to room temp and spread it on the bottom of a casserole. Next, in goes a can of Hormel chili, a smattering of pickled jalapeños, guac, store-bought pico de gallo and a thick shag carpet-esque layer of shredded cheddar. Once that's baked until the cheese has melted, it gets a sprinkling of more pico and some chopped canned black olives. Then the challenge is to dunk a tortilla chip and get a little smear of each and every layer—the golden scoop, if you will."


Team Crab Dip: Editorial Assistant Abby Reisner
"Anything I can pile on a cracker and shamelessly shove into my mouth has a one-way ticket to my heart–and crab dip definitely sits first class. Because let's face it, there's something inherently impressive about seafood. (Artichokes? Meh.) Crab dip is the magic that happens when you take everything wonderful about crab cakes and replace the bad parts (read: effort) with cream cheese. Even landlocked dip lovers can dive into this one, thanks to the invention of canned crabmeat. I like to toast the insides of the bread bowl (yes, we're using a bread bowl), crumble some Parm on top and bake the whole thing until my kitchen smells like Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Seafood, bread crumbs and ridiculous amounts of cheese product? Crab dip is basically fork-free lobster mac and cheese."

Team Artichoke Dip: Assistant Editor Elyse Inamine
"Garlic powder and onion salt, I still love you. Though I fall astray fawning over the leafy herbs on my windowsill, these cannot replace you, your mysterious, salty-sweet, Dorito-y deliciousness and your shelf-stable resiliency. Especially not in this hot, bubbly, cheesy ramekin of dip heaven. You bring life to the mundane (read: canned artichoke hearts, mayo and sour cream). You inject nostalgia, complexity and straight-up umami alongside your good pal, grated Romano. Now crab dip feigns all this with its Parm, mayo and garlic, but it's missing your spunk and special MSG-like quality—oh, and some paprika smokiness and extra sour cream lusciousness. So this game day, I'm inviting artichoke dip back to the table, and MVPs go to you, garlic powder and onion salt, you powdery dynamic duo."

What's your favorite dip? Tweet it at @TastingTable with the hashtag #TTDipbate.

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