The Ultimate Party Dip – Perfect for the Super Bowl
Everybody knows California Dip, a/k/a Lipton Onion Soup Dip. Food Timeline says it’s probably "America's most beloved" dip.
But good as this recipe is, it’s even better when you kick it up with clams.
Throw this dip together, add some chips, combine with friends — and it’s instant party. Perfect for your annual Super Bowl view-fest.
Recipe: California Clam Dip
The basic (non-clam) version of this recipe was called California Dip because it originated in Los Angeles. No one knows the name of the inspired party animal who concocted the first batch. Because it was made with Lipton Onion Soup mix – and because the Lipton people started printing the recipe on their packages in 1958 – it’s also called Lipton Onion Soup Dip. This clam-enhanced version is just one of countless riffs on the basic California Dip.
When I make this dip, I use the traditional trinity of ingredients: dried onion soup mix, sour cream, and canned clams. In the notes, we discuss some ways of jazzing up the taste with optional additions.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of dip, enough for a big package of chips. Ridged potato chips work best (those little ridges do seem to make the chips stronger), but any kind of chip is an appropriate vehicle for hoisting the dip from bowl to mouth. Leftovers, in an airtight container, keep a day or two in the refrigerator (as if you’ll have leftovers).
- 1 16-ounce container of sour cream (full-fat or light; your choice)
- 1 envelope dried onion soup mix (Lipton is traditional, but store brands work well too)
- 1 6½ ounce can chopped or minced clams, drained
- see Notes for optional ingredient suggestions
- Dump sour cream into a bowl.
- Open and add soup mix (along with any optional ingredients you may elect to use).
- Open and drain clams, and add to the mix.
- Stir thoroughly, and chill for an hour or two before serving.
- When it comes to this dip, I’m a purist: I don’t add any additional ingredients. I like the traditional flavor.
- But it’s pretty easy to add some interest to the basic dip. One common addition is Worcestershire Sauce (start with half a teaspoon, taste, and add more to taste if necessary). For a nice zing, try a shot of lemon juice (perhaps a tablespoon).
- Aromatics like chopped chives or scallions marry well with the flavors of this dip – you can mix them in or sprinkle on top as a garnish. Or you could add some minced parsley or cilantro.
- Cayenne pepper or hot sauce is great if you want to add a bit of zip. Old Bay Seasoning might be an interesting addition (I haven’t tried that, but it sounds good). Or you could add onion powder, garlic powder — you get the point. If something sounds good to you, it’s worth experimenting.
- Some people like to add cream cheese to this dip. Or substitute cream cheese for the sour cream. But that’s a little too fancy for me.
- I haven’t done a formal taste test of canned clams, but over the years I’ve used all the major brands in this recipe. I don’t discern much difference among them, so I always buy the cheapest.
- There is a taste difference among potato chips. Some of those high-buck brands really are a cut above your mass-market chip. But are they necessary as a dip vehicle? I don’t think so. The chip plays two roles in this dish. First, functional: You use it to get the dip to your mouth. Second, flavor balancer: The saltiness of the chip is a great flavor enhancer for the dip. A less expensive chip performs both of these tasks quite adequately.
Dips are perfect for a party. But one just isn’t enough. So later this week, we’ll feature another chip-ready recipe, just in time for your Super Bowl shopping.
“More dip, eh?” asked Mrs Kitchen Riffs.
“Yes, it’s a brand strategy, you see. Readers need to know they can rely on Kitchen Riffs for their entertaining needs.” Sometimes I have to explain this high-level blog stuff to Mrs K R.
“Right. So now when people see Kitchen Riffs, they’ll think ‘a bunch of dips’”?
“Yes!” I beamed enthusiastically.
“I thought so,” she smiled.
Not sure what she meant by that.
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