7 Layer Mexican Dip (Healthy, Paleo, and Dairy-free)

7 layer mexican dip (grain-free, dairy-free)

“Mmmmmmmmmm”, my three year old, intones while dipping into her 7 layer dip. With flavorful Mexican beef, salsa, olives, homemade guacamole, and a smokey bacon, mushroom, and red pepper layer, our children hardly felt deprived while they enjoyed their meal. In fact, they thanked me many times for making this Mexican layered dip! They could have cared less that it was healthy – they just knew they liked it. (We love Mexican inspired dishes, including Mexican Quinoa Bowls, Mexican Roasted Potatoes, and tacos too!)

This dip is lovely for a casual meal, party food, or for enjoying during the Superbowl.

I wanted to share this recipe as part of the 21 steps to a nourishing diet series as I think it’s an excellent example of how a nourishing diet isn’t at all about what you take out, but instead what you put in. When we make meals such as above, we leave feeling satisfied in every way. We feel well nourished, our delight in food was satisfied, and we feel that proper boost of energy that comes from enjoying good food. This is the goal for our eating habits. Yes, there may be some struggle to retrain our taste-buds in certain recipes (at first, I didn’t always enjoy unrefined sweeteners, for example, now I don’t really like “normal desserts”), but many times, our main dish meals are just so great, that it’s no adjustment at all.

The great thing about a dip like this, is that you can make as many layers as you want, and vary it to desire. For example, while this one is a “paleo” version, you certainly can make homemade refried beans, add some cooked Mexican flavored black beans, use a good quality sour cream, or shredded cheese, or make it simpler with only 3-4 layers of your favorite layers. The point is, it’s as flexible as you need it to be.

There is also a give and take with how much time you are willing to invest into making it. This took me about 45 minutes to make. If I didn’t make the lovely bacon/vegetable layer, it would have been shorter. If I was really wanting to go all out, I could have made dairy-free sour cream, and homemade salsa too.

A word about what to use to dip with: The rest of my family used organic blue chips. I was amused to see my children eat less chips than normal as they were so focused on eating the delicious 7 layer dip.  I used crisp endive leaves (just gently rinse and pat dry before serving), and it was delightful. If you have a little extra time, you can always make some paleo chips (examples: Almond flour chips vegetable chips, or Plantain Chips ).

I chose to put this in a fancy serving bowl, but using a glass casserole dish is also perfect for layering. I personally prefer to buy borosilicate glass pieces, as it generally breaks into large pieces, instead of shattering into millions of pieces, so I think it’s safer. Amazon carries several brands of, including Simax (#affiliate link) which fits the bill.

7 Layer Mexican Dip (Healthy, Paleo, and Dairy-free)
Recipe type: Main Dish or Appetizer
Serves: 8
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Easily adaptable, fun, and loved by all ages, this is a favorite in our household.
  • Layer one: Mexican Ground Beef (see recipe card below)
  • Layer two: 1-2 cups thinly sliced Romaine heart (see video demonstration on easy way to wash)
  • Layer three: 1½ cups of salsa (can be homemade, but I used a sugar-free, organic store-bought brand)
  • Layer four: 6 ounces of olives, sliced or quartered
  • Layer five: Chunky Guacamole (see recipe card below)
  • Layer six: Smokey Bacon and Vegetables (see recipe card below)
  • Layer seven: Chopped Cilantro
  1. In a large saucepan, make the Mexican ground beef according to directions below, Set aside beef, and put hot water in the pan to deglaze, Scrap off any browned bits, and rinse off.
  2. Make the Smokey Bacon and Vegetable layer next in the same pan, making the Guacamole while the vegetables are cooking.
  3. In a clean casserole dish, or dish of choice, layer the ingredients. We like this best when the beef and bacon layers are still a little warm. If chilling, make sure you have drained the beef and the vegetable/bacon layer of extra fat well (fat will congeal once chilled). Enjoy!

Chunky Mexican Guacamole
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This is my favorite method of making guacamole! Adjust the flavors at the end with salt and lime to make it just perfect.
  • 2 large or 4 small ripe Hass avocados
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion (for an especially mild guacamole, use 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro, washed, and finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon of unrefined salt, or to taste
  • 1 lime (I use one half, normally)
  1. Cut the avocados in half, take out the pit, and scoop into a medium bowl. Smash with a fork or with a clean meat mallet.
  2. Stir in the onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, and the juice from half of a lime.
  3. Adjust flavors with salt or lime juice, as needed.
  4. Enjoy!

Smokey Bacon Mushrooms and Red Peppers
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  • 4 slices of smoked bacon
  • ⅓-1/2 pound white mushrooms
  • 1 large red pepper
  1. Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium, to medium-high heat. Flip frequently to cook evenly, until crisp and well done. Remove from pan.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the stems of the washed mushrooms, and chopped into small pieces. Seed and chop the red pepper.
  3. Once the bacon is cooked, leave about 2 tablespoons of the hot grease in the pan, and add the peppers and mushrooms. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring here and there, or until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. Crumble the bacon back in. If there is any extra grease, drain, otherwise taste, and salt, if needed, and sprinkle with lime juice, if desired.

Mexican Ground Beef
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This simple recipe is flavorful and delicious without a specialty seasoning packet (which is often filled with unsavory ingredients).
  • 1 pound of ground beef, grassfed beef preferable
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined salt
  • 1 lime
  1. In a large pan, over medium-high heat, cook the beef, garlic, cumin and oregano, stirring frequently, until cooked (the meat will no longer be pink). If using grassfed beef, it often will not have much fat drippings, but if it does, drain.
  2. Salt, and sprinkle the juice of half the lime. Taste-test, and adjust with more salt and lime juice, as needed.


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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    This looks really good! We love mexican too, and any time my husband loves a food that’s inexpensive and healthy it goes on the menu often.

    I would probably make this with the beans, cheese and sour cream as you mentioned, and leave off the bacon layer (not because don’t like bacon, but because it’s expensive enough we don’t always have it around). I’d also leave off the cilantro if I wanted my husband to eat any. 🙂

    I like a good base recipe that I can change around, and this looks like a fun alternative to burritos.

  2. Cindy says

    Wow Kimi, this sounds awesome! I have my own homemade blend of spices for my Mexican meat that I use. We played around with different spices until we came up with the perfect blend. Can’t wait to try this!

  3. Lynda says

    Did this for Superbowl yesterday and it was a huge hit! I don’t normally serve an untried recipe for others but so glad I took the risk. You’re recipes have regularly been a success for me, so it was a calculated risk;) Not only was it something that dairy-free-me could eat, other people thought it was incredibly flavorful.

    I did add refried black beans with the beef, but other than that, did the recipe straight up. There was a little grumbling from the non-mushroom people, so I MIGHT skip them next time, but I loved them. Thanks!!!

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