My Crowd-Pleasing Party Dips Have A Surprising Secret

Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today we're making three different party dips with Refinery29's social media editor, Wendy Steiner: spinach, 7-layer, and hot artichoke. The recipe trio comes from Wendy's mom, Heidi Steiner, who's been whipping up the crowd-pleasing appetizers for family occasions ever since Wendy was a kid. “My mom always had everyone over all the time — she's my kitchen hero who made it clear that you can be relaxed during a party and still execute a lot of food. I was never intimidated by cooking because she was doing it so effortlessly.” Aside from loving how these dips taste (which, according to Wendy, is "luxurious"), she also loves how forgiving they are to make. “I’m still not that good of a cook, so I like that it’s non-mess-up-able," she confessed. “Whenever I have people over, I always make a dip because I want people to feel like this is where I actually live." Although many of her friends opt for fancy cheeseboards as party food, Wendy argues that dips are just classic. "It's only a tiny step harder than a cheeseboard and it makes people feel more nurtured. It’s wholesome to walk in to, I put it in a bread bowl and it’s really comforting. They are not foodie cool, they just taste good,” she declares.
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But not all three dip recipes are created equal — and Wendy dished on the big secret behind the first. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with family and everything to do with packaging: "I remember being really disillusioned because I always really liked my mom's spinach dip. So, I asked for the recipe and she told me that it's literally what's on the back of the Knorr package." But the store-bought Knorr brand must know best, because when up against more gourmet craft competition at an office Dips-giving, Wendy's "secret" recipe stole the show. "I think it’s funny now when people ask for the spinach dip’s recipe, as if it’s this protected, centuries old, family heirloom — and it’s just right there in aisle nine." Wendy recommends making this killer spinach dip for any dinner party where you're looking to easily impress, shock, and satiate your guests.
The other two dips, although more family-recipe friendly, are just as effortless to assemble as the first. Wendy describes the reliable 7-layer dip as ideal for any game night gatherings, affordable, and customizable. "I’m very willy-nilly about it because you can make it based off whatever ingredients you have. If I’m feeling bougie, I’ll add a corn layer — it’s fancier with the corn because you get a full rainbow. Half of this dip's impressiveness is how it looks, it’s really just stacking ingredients.” Although Wendy swears by the cheap and easy ingredient route for this recipe (with pre-made guacamole, canned beans, etc.), she plans to whip up a pricier gourmet batch (with homemade guacamole and home-cooked beans) for a blind side-by-side taste test at her next gathering. (Her money's on the inexpensive one!)
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But it's the final dip that's a true family heirloom — one best served at summer BBQs or large holiday gatherings. Wendy tells us that the hot artichoke's recipe is made special because of her mom's sour cream base preference — instead of cream cheese that's more commonly found in other takes. "A lot of people make it with cream cheese, and that sounds wrong to me — I think it would come out a little too sweet, there’s something sweet about cream cheese. I think it should be a more tart dip." Together, all three of these tasty party apps cost around $50 total to make, with only a tiny bit of kitchen intuition required (and ingredient free-styling encouraged). Watch Wendy whip them up in the video above and try making the recipes below for your next group gathering — because who needs cheeseboards anyway?
Ingredients
1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry-ish
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
Instructions
1. Combine all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours (or until ready to serve).
2. Hollow out a sourdough round and fill round with chilled dip.
3. Serve with scooped out bread and assorted veggies!
7-Layer Dip
Serves 4
Ingredients
16 oz. refried beans
1 cup sour cream
1 cup guacamole
1 cup salsa
1 cup Mexican cheese
4 oz. olives, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
Handful of pickled jalapeños
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Instructions
1. Layer all ingredients (with the salsa on top of the guac to keep it from turning) and chill for about 2 hours (or until ready to serve).
2. Serve with tortilla chips!
Hot Artichoke Dip
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
8 oz. cheddar or colby jack cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 (4.5 oz.) can green chiles, drained
Instructions
1. Mix all ingredients together and cover with more loose cheese.
2. Bake for 10 minutes at 350° covered in foil — then remove foil and bake for another 5 minute, or until bubbly.
3. Serve with torn french bread!
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