Chili Bean Dip
Looking for the perfect EASY party dip? This Chili Bean Dip is just what you need! Made with cream cheese, easy pre-seasoned chili beans, melted cheese, and pickled jalapenos, this dip is vegetarian, gluten-free, and packed full of flavor. And did I mention EASY?!
Have I mentioned before how much I love football parties? I love football parties. The food, the friends, the food, the football, the food, the socializing, the food… did I mention the food? I love football food.
Dips. Nachos. More dips. Beer. Salsa and guacamole. Cheese and crackers. Yes, please!
I always like to try new things, but this chili bean dip makes an appearance at every football party. It’s my husband’s favorite. His aunt always makes it for family events, and shortly after we started dating, he asked me to make it for a football gathering.
I’ll be honest – I definitely turned my nose up at this at first. It has Velveeta! I’m fairly certain Velveeta isn’t even real food.
Buuuuut…. it’s grown on me over the years. Now it’s just not a football party without a scoop of chili bean dip!
This dip hits the required dip trifecta: a creamy base, a cheesy layer, and a little spice. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser – you won’t have any leftovers after you make this! Melty, rich cream cheese, sweet and spicy chili beans, cheesy Velveeta. Jalapenos baked on top, so the juice makes the cheesy layer spicy.
Siiiiigh. Chili bean dip, I like you.
Are you ready to see how easy this dip is? You only need four ingredients. FOUR. You’ll need:
- two bricks (16 ounces) of cream cheese, slightly softened
- two 15-ounce cans of Chili Beans
- slices of Velveeta cheese
- pickled jalapenos
Like me, you may have never actually heard of chili beans before. They are beans in chili sauce – not actual chili (so no meat in volved). You can find varieties made with pinto beans, kidney beans, or red beans, and they come cooked in a sauce flaved with chili powder, cumin, and garlic.
When we lived in DC, every grocery store carried them. I use Bush’s Best brand chili beans (usually the pinto bean variety!), which are also gluten free.
Now that we’re in Philly, I find the chili beans are sometimes a little harder to locate. If I can’t find them, I’ll sometimes use baked beans instead, which sweetens up the dip a bit – pile on some extra japalenos to compensate!
Make Ahead and Bake
Making this dip is SO EASY, and my favorite part: it can be made ahead of time and baked just before serving. When we host big parties, I usually have lots of things to prep, so I love an easy party dip that I can assemble a day or two before and then just pop in the oven before guests arrive.
Start by spreading the cream cheese along the bottom of a baking dish. I find a 9 x 11-inch dish is great for this dip (the Velveeta slices fit perfectly!) but you can easily bake this in a 9 x 9-inch baking pan instead.
If you forgot to set your cream cheese out to soften beforehand, microwave the cream cheese or heat gently in the oven in the dish until it’s just soft enough to spread.
Drain most of the excess sauce from the beans, leaving a little behind in the can, and spread the beans on top of the cream cheese.
Next, top with the slices of Velveeta cheese. Yes, Velveeta. Of course, you CAN use other grated cheeses if you prefer, but Velveeta is king when it comes to smooth, melty texture. Why is this? It’s time for my favorite subject.. kitchen chemistry!
Unlike normal cheese, which will break down to curdled milk solids when heated past its melting point, Velveeta remains smooth and creamy, no matter how long it is heated. This is because it contains sodium alginate, a salt which helps create an emulsion that can withstand heating past the natural melting point of cheese, preventing the cheese solids from breaking down into clumpy solids.
After the cheese layer, we’ll sprinkle on some pickled japalenos. As the dip melts in the oven, the juices from the jalapenos seep into the surrounding cheese and add a little kick – add as many jalapenos as you like to your own spice preference!
Once your chili dip is layered and ready, store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. Remove from the refrigerator before the party and bake until hot and bubbly! Don’t forget to serve with tortilla chips for scooping!
Lots of Adaptations
Think of this dip as a jumping off point – there are SO many different things you can do with it! Start with the base of cream cheese on the bottom, and go from there. Here are just a few ideas to get you going:
- Cook your own beans in a thickened chili sauce instead of adding the canned chili beans
- Use leftover cooked chili
- Brown some ground beef and add a layer on top of the chili beans
- Drizzle nacho cheese sauce on top instead of the Velveeta slices
- Grate some cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese instead of Velveeta
- Dice fresh jalapenos or habanero peppers for even more kick
Tips and Tricks for the Best Chili Bean Dip
- Start with room temperature cream cheese – if it’s too hard to spread, heat the cream cheese in the microwave or oven to soften the texture.
- Drain most of the liquid from the cans of chili beans. You’ll still want a little, but dumping the whole can straight onto the cream cheese will result in a runny dip.
- The dip will firm up more as it cools down and the cream cheese starts to solidify – it’s best served warm but not straight out of the oven.
- Chili bean dip can be assembled up to two days in advance, refrigerated, and baked just before the party.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheated in the microwave or oven until warm throughout.
More Delicious Dip Recipes:
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
- Cheesy Bacon Corn Dip
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Caramelized Onion Dip
- All Dip Recipes ≫
- 16 ounces (2 bricks) of cream cheese, softened
- 2 15-ounce cans of chili beans (pinto, kidney bean, or red bean varieties)
- 6 slices of Velveeta cheese
- pickled jalapeños, to taste
- tortilla chips, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- Spread the cream cheese along the bottom of a 9 × 11-inch or 9 x 9-inch baking dish. If the cream cheese is too hard to spread, microwave in the dish for 15-20 seconds or place the dish in the oven for 4-5 minutes, and then spread with a knife or offset spatula. Slightly drain excess liquid from both cans of chili beans, and layer on top of the cream cheese. Top with the slices of Velveeta, and finally add pickled jalapeños to taste.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hot and cheese starts to bubble. The dip will be a little runny at first; let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or celery.
Chili bean dip can be assembled up to two days in advance, refrigerated, and baked prior to serving.
Ay leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave or the oven until warm throughout.