Tex-Mex Stuffed Peppers, 7-Layer Dip Style

August 18, 2010 · 30 comments

filed in: Dairy,Gluten-Free,Main Courses,Vegetables,Vegetarian/Vegetarian Option

Tex-Mex Stuffed Peppers, 7-Layer Dip Style

Do you remember Tex-Mex 7-layer dip, the outrageously popular appetizer and party buffet table mainstay of the 1990s? I’ve certainly dunked more than my fair share of tortilla chips into that wonderful dip while attending other people’s parties. However, I’ve never actually served it at my own. This appetizer always struck me as too filling, too addictive, and thus too likely to ruin my guests’ appetites for whatever dinner I was serving that night. In fact, 7-layer dip seemed to me better placed as an ingredient for a main course, rather than a starter.

This recipe, which includes a vegetarian option, is an effort to follow through on that last thought above, and the result pleases me no end. Here a lighter variation on the ingredients list of 7-layer dip is used as a filling for baked bell peppers: seasoned black beans, reduced-fat sour cream (or yogurt) flavored with chipotles and cilantro, avocados, cheese, fresh tomatoes, green onions, and black olives. Please note that this is intended as a flexible recipe and can comfortably accommodate an eighth layer of chopped chicken, beef, or pork. As a test case, I added leftover smoked pulled pork to one of the peppers made for this recipe and thought the flavors melded together beautifully.


2 slices bacon, chopped (or substitute 2 teaspoons olive oil for a vegetarian version of this dish)
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 cups home cooked or canned black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
A small pinch of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 large or 6 medium-sized bell peppers
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
2-4 finely minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (coriander greens, dhania, etc.)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, or queso blanco)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons pitted and sliced black olives


  1. In a frying pan, saute the chopped bacon until lightly browned. Stir in the minced garlic and saute until golden. Stir in the drained black beans, cumin, oregano, and red pepper. Cook for one minute, taste, and season with salt and pepper, if the latter are needed. Set aside. (For the vegetarian version of this dish, substitute 2 teaspoons olive oil for the bacon and proceed as described above.)
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream (or yogurt) with the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and cilantro. Set aside.
  3. Prepare each bell pepper for stuffing by cutting off its stem end to create a “lid”, as shown in the photos above. Scoop out each pepper’s core, seeds, and any excess white pith. Place the bell peppers, cut side up, in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish just large enough to accommodate them and poke a tiny hole (with a toothpick, for example) in the base of each pepper.
  4. Stuff each bell pepper, in order, with layers of the black bean mixture, sour cream (or yogurt) sauce, avocados, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and olives.
  5. Add 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the baking dish and bake the stuffed bell peppers covered at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes until the peppers are cooked through and lightly browned on top. Serves 4-6.

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{ 27 Comments...read them below or add one }

Zazuza January 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

a great idea! we make stuffed peppers in a different way, but I am always glad to see many brilliant ideas involving peppers.


Jane Bonacci September 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Oh my, you have combined two of my favorites in one. I can’t wait to try this! Thanks!!


Alta September 3, 2010 at 5:32 am

Wow, what a brilliant idea! This sounds really tasty.


SMITH BITES August 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm

This is brilliant! And yes, I’ve had/made my fair share of the 7-layer dip in the 90s – to the point that I still can’t eat it . . . until now. I love everything about this – the recipe, the presentation, the colors . . . I can almost taste it!


Delishhh August 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I have done stuffed pepper before but why didn’t anyone think of putting them up right just like this?? No wonder my stuffing usually comes out.


Haley August 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! I enjoyed it so much. I also brought in leftovers to work for lunch and had my coworkers drooling. Also I want to put the chipotle sour cream on everything now!


DianaHayes August 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I think I could eat this raw. We have lots of peppers coming in and it would be a great way to use it.


Suzanne August 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Have to tell you that I made this recipe last night for dinner and what a big hit! My husband and I both loved this dish! I used it for a side dish for our elk steaks. Couldn’t have been more perfect! I fixed four (two red and two yellow bells), we ate two, so I’m happy to report that there are two in the refrigerator that will be calling our name for lunch tomorrow. Can’t wait! Absolutely delicious!!!


Barbara August 21, 2010 at 6:11 am

Many thanks for the feedback, Suzanne! We food bloggers deal in that strange, very personal thing called taste. We make up recipes, like some of them well enough to publish them, and then cross our fingers that our sense of what tastes good is actually in sync with others. I, at least, wonder about that last point all the time.


Faith August 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Stuffed peppers are one of my hubby’s favorite! you’ve done it beautifully. I am bookmarking this to make it and suprise him. nice pictures! Faith


Mei Teng August 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Excellent food photo. And a great way to enjoy stuffed peppers.


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme August 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Very creative, Barbara! I always loved that dip, too. But you’re right, it is very filling. We mostly served it back in the day for football parties and the like. After which no one was hungry for dinner, of course. Love the idea of incorporating all those flavors inside a pepper. Brilliant.


marla {family fresh cooking} August 19, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Barbara, this is SO AMAZING. What a great idea! I do not like to destroy my appetite with heavy appetizers but they are often so tempting. You have it all figured out with these peppers. I absolutely need to try this creative recipe. Love that the 7 layers fit in the pepper! xo


Arnold August 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Wow, a lot of work but the final product looks superb. This was really well done.


A Canadian Foodie August 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Another brilliant idea. Why didn’t I think of this. YUMMMMM. I can’t wait to make these. I love the dip and I love stuffed peppers. Now you really have my creative juices flowing – and the photograph is gorgeous. valerie


Katrina August 19, 2010 at 9:10 am

What a fun, yummy idea. Looks beautiful, too.


Cookin' Canuck August 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

What a fun idea for stuffing peppers. This has all the flavors I love in one place.


Angie August 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

This looks amazing! And being from Florida, rural Florida, I honestly never saw this dip until 2002. I did hear that this appeared in the 70′s though. I am completely addicted it to it though, but restrict myself to only making it on the super bowl. This is a great way to enjoy it more than once a year, thanks!


skip to malou August 19, 2010 at 3:07 am

It’s my first time to hear about 7 layer tex mex dip. I guess I grew up on the other side of the globe. I love the way you used the peppers to serve the dip… great presentation indeed.


Rocquie August 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

What a great, beautiful, and delicious idea. I must try this soon.


Suzanne August 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Oh my! I know exactly what I’m going to do with the two red peppers I have in the refrigerator! This looks delicious and I love the ‘light’ version. I agree with you, I’ve always thought that 7-layer dip was the entire meal, of course I think chips and salsa are their own food group, too. But who needs more? Especially if you top with some chicken or beef! Right up our alley! Outstanding photos, as always!


Barbara August 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm

It’s likely to be my Southern roots showing through, but smoked pulled pork or smoked chicken would be ideal meat additions to this dish.


Amanda August 18, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Oh Barbara, these look so good and sound really good right now. I’m starving!


Megan August 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I love it, Barb, they are so pretty! I’ll have to give these babies a try! I bet they would be great with some chicken or ground beef too. Oh the possibilities!!!


Cajun Chef Ryan August 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Great way to stuff peppers, but I have to tell you, we were making layered taco dips in the 1980′s too! I made plenty of them for special functions at the restaurant. Bon appetit!


Barbara August 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Many thanks, Ryan. I was living outside the US throughout the ’80s, and my home state of FL tends to be behind the times. Perhaps we Floridians caught the 7-layer dip wave a bit (or more than a bit!) later than other places.


Mags August 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

What a unique way to serve tex-mex dip and a great way to use peppers. I love it!


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