How to make healthy choices every day

Legendary Layer Bean Dip – Vegan, Grain-free


Dips are my favourite food group. Yes, food group. If I ever got a tattoo, it would probably say something like: “pass the hummus”.

I was recently hosting a party-for-no-reason, and like most of my get togethers they involve a lot of food. But I didn’t feel like making a fallback dip, like tzatziki, or baba ganoush. No. I felt like leveling up and creating something I hadn’t tried to before. Something with BIG DIP ENERGY – a chunky, spicy, creamy, and above all impressive layer dip. I’d cooked pinto beans the night before, had a little tin of chipotle chilies kicking around the pantry, and I knew that if I cut a couple corners, this thing would come together so I’d still have time to tizz myself up before the guests arrived.

My childhood memories of layer dip involve many cans and jars of processed food being dumped into a large bowl, but the current-reality-holistic-nutritionist version definitely involves making every single one of those things from scratch. Mama don’t have time for that! So I simplified things by cutting out the guacamole (don’t yell at me like that – add it if you want to!), and using jarred salsa. Everything else was homemade, but came together quickly and easily.



First, I sautéed the pre-cooked pinto beans with onions, garlic, spices, and the chipotle peppers. While that was on the stove, I whipped up the hemp seed “queso” (no soaking required!). And the salsa got an upgrade with some fresh, chopped cherry tomatoes. This is such an easy hack btw, since it makes the salsa taste more alive and juicy, while giving it a lot more texture, which I personally dig. All it takes after that is mushing the beans up a bit in the pan, which you can do with a bean masher, or an immersion blender, if you don’t want to haul out yet another large piece of equipment. Then layer away! All in all, this took me about 20 minutes, start to finish, and the party people hung around this bowl like it was the last dip on planet earth.

The delicious, creamy “cheese” sauce is a riff off my cashew queso, but in the interest of keeping this allergen-free, I used hemp seeds instead. I love this change-up, since it’s less expensive, and contains way more omega-3 fats and protein. You can dial up the heat here if you like, but because both the salsa and the bean layer have quite a kick to them, I kept the queso pretty mild. Did I mention that this is delicious on its own next to a platter of veggie sticks?! Or chips. Let’s be honest. 


Pinto Bean Dreams

Just look at those beautiful beans! Don’t they look gorgeous in all of their tone-on-tone mottled-ness? “Pinto” actually means “painted” in Spanish, and when you take a close look at pinto beans you can clearly see how they’ve earned their moniker. Their speckles fade when cooking, and turn a lovely pale pink colour. They also gain a super creamy interior that is perfect in soups and stews, but also dips.

Pintos, like all beans, are a mixture of protein and complex carbohydrates, making them incredibly filling, but won’t spike blood sugar levels. Pinto beans are low in calories and fat, but contain the highest amount of fiber out of all the legumes (wow!). Key nutrients in pinto beans include potassium to maintain normal blood pressure, calcium for supporting muscle and nerve function, iron to enhance oxygen transport, and zinc for skin health. 

Like all beans, pintos can cause an increase in intestinal gas (burps! farts! abdominal discomfort!), due to the oligosaccharides in the beans fermenting in the lower intestine. Because these starchy molecules live in the skin of the beans, a simple soak in water overnight usually does the trick. The soaking process will help leach out many of these fermenting properties, which is why it is so important to discard the soaking water and then boil them in fresh water. Adding a strip of kombu seaweed to the pot will further help to reduce the gas-producing potential of pinto beans (and all legumes), acting like a sponge to absorb those raffinose sugar toot culprits. Try these two tricks to reduce your toilet tunes, and stay social! 



I used a clear glass bowl to serve the dip in so that they layers are visible, and it was not until after pouring in two layers did I have the idea to put cilantro stems up on the sides of it. Doh! But knowing it would be #worthit, I painstakingly scooped out the beans and salsa trying to keep everything separate, cleaned the bowl, and started over. I lightly brushed the tiniest amount of olive oil on the leaves to act as glue, then pressed them to the walls of bowl. This is completely unnecessary, but it makes the dip look less monotone and more enticing in my opinion – green always does it! This step takes an extra two minutes and adds a decorative touch, but it’s your call. Maybe you need those two minutes to tizz yourself up? 

If you want to change up the recipe, try using black beans or kidney beans in place of the pintos. If you want to add another layer to this already boss situation, go on and add the guac! I was just trying to keep things a little easier for ya’ll.  And if you’d like to make your own salsa, I have a stellar raw recipe right here.

Lastly, I want to add that my bowl for this was roughly 1½ quarts / litres capacity, and everything it fit perfectly. I would only suggest sizing up if you don’t have this exact container size.


Hope you’re all doing well out there. If you are experiencing any semblance of Spring weather where you are, please send some my way. K thanks. Happy dipping!

xo, Sarah B

52 thoughts on “Legendary Layer Bean Dip – Vegan, Grain-free”

  • ‘ll have to try making them sometime. Thank you for sharing your recipe suggestions. If you have any other recipes that you think I might enjoy, feel free to share them with me. I’m always looking for new and interesting dishes to try. 🙂

  • Drooling!! Thanks Sarah for the step by step in detail “Legendary Layer Bean Dip” recipe. Definitely going to share this delicious vegan recipe with my colleagues. I Love everything and cannot wait to try your every vegan recipes out.

  • Hi Sarah! I would like to try the dip as it sounds very delicious! Unfortunately I can’t find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in my local supermarket. Is there anything I can replace it with? 🙂

  • What an amazing vegan dip! Legendary indeed! The fact that it is also grain-free is very satisfying and guilt-free. I could just enjoy my salads and chips with this dip! Thanks for sharing this very delicious recipe and wonderful idea!

  • HI Sarah,
    Thanks for that recipe. as a French woman living in the US (French-American family) I am very new to layered dips but this looks amazing. I am not sure from your recipe about what layer is what and in what order to put them in… may be you can help me understand it better ?

    I have your books and i LOVE them. they are gorgeous and even if i don’t try as many as i want i would Ive been using the life changing loaf of bread recipe for years and its a staple in our home now. We have bread just at breakfast, but what a breakfast ! LOVE your books ! They always inspire me to be more creative. And with three kids under 5, it’s always a success. so, THANK YOU !

    Also, i read your taco post, and I am sorry to hear about all your struggles with hormone balance. Many of my friends have some as well, who got over it with a little nutrition work instead of years of symtomatic medical treatments. I’ve heard of the woman code book, but one i reasd thats also great is “period repair manual” by Lara Briden. ND. Very good advice in there!

    I am from a family of doctors and nutritionists, and in my experience what makes also a big diffrence in hormonal balance and blood sugar regulation is the cooking method. One that is not really well known because of marketing confusion is the soft steam cooking method – pressure cooking is not in this category. Provided you have the right steam-cooker, it’s a very quick method, and very easy, complements all other methods beautifully. I try to inform English speakers about it at my own pace in my facebook group (I’m not yet a professional health coach, but treaining for it). The best proponent and teacher of this method, to me, is my mother, nutritionist and author Christine Bouguet-Joyeux. Check out how she explains the impact of the cooking method at this link:
    I coauthored a recipe book on soft steam cooking with her, in French “tout à la vapeur douce”(2019)

    I tell you that because I think it could help you balance blood sugar and shorten your cooking prep time… wouldn’ that be awesome!
    i’d be thrilled to chat with you about it, if I could, and so would Christine. What we seek is to help people be more healthy, by cooking without spending hours in the kitchen. And in the US, it’s a challenge. To me, soft steam cooking is the ticket. But we would love english-speaking cooks to know more about it too! so people get back to liking cooking, and are healthier – especially in times of pandemic !!!

    ALl the best, and keep inspiring us Please!

    Bernadette Jastrebski

    • Wow! What a thoughtful comment, thank you so much for taking the time to send this info and for your sweet words. To be a little bit healthier everyday is something we all need, especially at this time–thank you for your love and support! <3

    • Hello Sarah! You could make all the individual components a day in advance but compile just before serving.

  • Made the hemp heart queso from this minus the garlic and added a dash of cumin. It was amazing! The texture was spot on and it’s great you don’t have to worry about soaking. Such a good recipe!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Soooo thrilled to hear you’ve had great success with this one! I like the cumin addition for sure 🙂

      xo, Sarah B

  • Hi
    Would you recommend sprouting these beans first? Or just soaking them overnight?? I don’t know much about sprouting (I read your hummus post that’s why I’m wondering about this) … I’m assuming when you sprout beans you shouldn’t cook them? Thanks in advance !!!

    • Hi Michelle,

      No, you don’t sprout these before cooking. Just soak, drain, rinse, cook 🙂 I hope that helps!

      Sarah B

  • a vegan layer dip?! yes pleaseee! That looks scrumptious ! your photos are seriously goals 😉 so pretty!! thanks for sharing again

  • This looks exquisite! Beans are an amazing party food. I actually made a chocolate peanut butter hummus today! Not gonna lie, it would have been so neat to create a savory bean dip and eat it all myself because it is the best 😉

  • So is the hemp mixture a riff on real cheese? I am not vegan and I embrace all cheese. What would I use in stead of hemp?

  • This may be a silly question, but you talk about soaking the beans before cooking to reduce the gassiness. Does that only work if the beans are not already cooked (i.e. canned)? In other words, did you soak these canned beans?? Thanks,! This sounds delish….going to make it for Mother’s Day 🙂

    • Hi Dorothy!

      No silly questions 🙂 The soaking step is for dried beans only – if you are going to use canned, the beans are already cooked so you can skip that step. I always encourage people to cook their own beans from dried, but I also create my recipes in amounts that translate into canned, so that people don’t have little bits of leftovers! I hope you get to try the dip and enjoy it.

      xo, Sarah B

  • This dip sounds amazing! A few years back I made a vegan cheese dip based on cashews and nutritional yeast ( – it came out great and I guess it’s similar to the vegan queso you mentioned. But as a layer dip in combination with the spicy beans… this sound’s perfect for the upcoming summer parties! Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah 🙂
    xx Corinna

    • Hi Corinna!

      Yum, your dip sounds divine! Yes, it’s similar to the cashew queso I posted a couple years back 🙂 I hope you try it in combination with the beans and salsa too…heaven 😉

      xo, Sarah B

    • Hi Gabriella,

      It IS epic! Haha (slightly biased). Seeing people crowd around this one makes me really happy. I hope your friends love it too!

      Sarah B

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