Day of the Dead Layer Dip

We’ve made it through Hallowe’en, pumpkin carving and small ghouls with treat buckets haunting the neighbourhood, so what comes next? The Mexican equivalent, El Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, celebrated on 1st November. Here’s a Mexican Layer Dip that I feed to certain hungry Mexican food-lovers I know when Mexican holidays roll around and we crave a bit of chilli and spice. It’s also a great share platter to offer up to friends while you watch the forthcoming rugby fixtures. In our house it’s somewhat of a tradition to chow down on Mexican food when the rugby’s on TV. Perhaps it’s the heat in the food that helps us to scream louder and longer than usual at the ref, screen and opposing team? 

This recipe allows for four, generous, hungry adult servings, or more if you’re serving other food alongside the dip.


Individual serving of layer dip, with Mexican lime lager on ice.


BEAN layer:

2 x 400g cans of black (turtle) beans

1 small onion, finely diced

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 bottle of Wahaca Smoky Chipotle Chile sauce

RICE layer:

125g long grain white rice

Handful of coriander, chopped

Juice of 1 fresh lime

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 tspn garlic salt

CORN layer:

4 ears of fresh corn

1 red capsicum, chopped into 1 cm cubes

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 red chilli (or 2 if you like a kick)

CHEESE layer:

2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese

2 cups of grated mature cheddar (or other tasty) cheese

OR 4 cups of tasty Oaxaca cheese, if you can get your hands on some! ( can supply UK residents. I recommend their Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheeses for this recipe because they’re great for melting)

CHORIZO layer:

4 regular chorizo sausages (each about 50g in size, or equivalent), cut into 0.5cm wide slices and lightly fried on both sides until just starting to brown

CREAM layer:

2 300ml tubs of soured cream


4 ripe avocados

Juice of 2 lemons

4 Tbsp chopped coriander

1 tspn minced fresh garlic

2 large tomatoes, diced, with seeds and juice

8 salad onions, chopped finely

Tabasco to taste


4 large tomatoes, diced, with seeds and juice

1 small onion, finely diced

2 Tbsn chopped coriander

1 green chilli, chopped finely

1 Tbsn vegetable oil

1 tspn salt

½ tspn sugar

Juice of 1 lemon


Jar of sliced preserved jalapeño chillis


4 glass bowls, top diameter approximately 20 cm


2 glass serving dishes, approximately 25cmL x 20cmW x 8-10cmD

For the bowls, use a quarter of each of the layer mixes

For the serving dishes, use half of each of the layer mixes.

How to make:

The WARM layers go first.

BEAN layer:

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add onions and stir until translucent.

Add beans, stir for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through

Add the Wahaca sauce and stir until all combined

***if you don’t live somewhere that you can easily purchase the Wahaca sauces, add to the onion 8 cloves of minced garlic (less if your palate isn’t mad on the stuff) and 4 chipotle chillis, deseeded and finely diced. Next mix through 4 teaspoons of smoked paprika and pour in the beans. After stirring the beans into the pan add 4 heaped Tablespoons of cocoa for a hint of the Mexican mole experience.

Heat all for a further 5 minutes over a medium heat.

Remove from heat and set aside

RICE layer:

At the same time that you’re cooking the beans, bring to the boil a saucepan of water and add 125g of rinsed, white, long-grain rice.

Cook for 10 minutes,

Drain, rinse and place in a mixing bowl. Add oil, salt, coriander and lime juice and stir all until combined.

CORN layer:

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the shucked cobs and simmer for 10 minutes

Drain the water, allowing the cobs to cool

Trim the corn kernels from the cobs

Fry the diced red capsicum with the chilli in the vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes before adding the corn

Heat all through, but do not allow to brown

Remove from heat and reserve.

START TO LAYER the warm ingredients

Beans first in the bottom of the serving bowls/ dishes

Then a layer of the coriander and lime rice

Followed by a layer of the chilli corn and capsicum mix

Top off these layers with a generous spread of the combined grated cheeses

Place the slices of cooked chorizo in an evenly-spaced geometric pattern across the top of the cheese.

NB: You can always prepare these layers in advance and add the cool layers prior to serving. It’s also extra unctuous if you warm the first layers through in the oven for ten minutes before adding the cool layers. It helps the flavours to intensify and the cheese to melt into gooey unctuousness.

When you are ready to finish the dish, add the SOUR CREAM to the top of the cheese layer and spread evenly across it.

Then make the GUACAMOLE layer:


Making the guacamole.

De-seed and skin the avocados, chopping the flesh into rough cubes. Then put them through a potato ricer or blend well with a fork

Add the lemon juice, garlic, coriander, tomato and salad onions

Mash all together

Add tobasco to taste.

Smooth a quarter of the guacamole mixture atop the sour cream layer in each bowl

Top it all with a sprinkling of TOMATO SALSA

Combine the tomato, onion, coriander and chilli.

Add the vegetable oil, salt, sugar and lemon juice

Mix through and spoon generously onto the top of each bowl. Spread until it forms a loose layer with the guacamole showing through. Dollop a generous spoonful of extra sour cream to the top centre of each bowl.

For those who like the added kick of extra chilli, you may wish to add slices of preserved JALAPEÑO to the top of the salsa, in a geometric pattern.

Serve a bowl to each of your four guests, with lots of tortilla chips and a giant mixed salad to share.

Dig in and enjoy with a jug of home-made Margaritas, or glasses of chilled Mexican lager, poured over ice with a couple of quarters of lime squeezed into each glass, and the fruit tossed in for extra juiciness!

TO DECORATE the salad for Day of the Dead:

I found vibrant Mexican skull images online, printed them, cut them out and taped them to wooden skewers to decorate the dish.


Print off some basic, black and white skulls

Provide felt tip pens, coloured pencils or crayons in plenty of colours

Ask the kids to decorate the skulls for you, with flowers and bright and happy outlines. You may like to give them a couple of printed examples to follow, with a bowl of their own tortillas, a bowl of (not so spicy) guacamole, and a dipping sauce – perhaps Wahaca’s Habanero sauce, which we find our young friends gobble up without the need for too much water.


The serving dish version – enough for two people to fight over.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s