With so many snack dips on the market these days, it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. Add international appetizers into the mix and even the most in-the-know chefs need a cheat sheet.  

Next time you’re in the store looking for a delicious dip for salad-topping or rounding out a cheese plate, don’t go blindly. Here’s a breakdown of what exactly those popular dips you’ve been seeing are made of, and where they’re originally from. 

Sour Cream

coffee, milk, cream, cappuccino, yogurt, sweet
Sabrina Knap

Sour cream is a dairy product commonly used as a component of snack dips, but come people like to have it straight. It's made by adding bacteria to cream. Sour cream is tart and thick and can be used in a variety of ways beyond dipping. 


bread, hummus, vegetable
Christin Urso

Hummus is a creamy dip that's typically made with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and spices. It's from the Mediterranean, but a variety of flavors can be added to add international flavor. If you're not the DIY type, there are tons of brands and flavors on the market

Some of the best things to dip in hummus are pita chips and fresh veggies. If you're not a dip person, try incorporating hummus into your diet in different ways for extra plant-based protein. 

Black Bean Dip

dairy product, bread
Kathryn Stouffer

When you get tired of hummus, but are still looking for a dip or spread that's a good source of plant-based protein, try black bean dip. It has a pleasantly different texture and flavor with the added bonus of being a good source of fiber. 


Ajvar is a red bell pepper spread. It's one of many delicious, but relatively unknown, balkan foods that I think deserve more attention. Traditionally, Ajvar is served as a component of any meal with bread and meat. As far as I'm concerned, that's got all the major food groups covered besides dessert. 


Sam Jesner

Olives are a very polarizing ingredient, hated by some, but loved by many (including me). My favorite way to incorporate olive flavor into my meals is using tapenade. It's a dip made from a mix of olives, olive oil, and spices.

Try this recipe to make it at home, or just play with adding ingredients. Different blends of olives will give different flavors. Once you've got the flavor right, try spreading it on bread or bagel chips for maximum enjoyment. 

Baba Ganoush

This middle-eastern dip is made from roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon, and spices. It's basically the eggplant version of hummus. Although it has less protein, it is a lower-calorie snack dip option. 

#SpoonTip: My personal favorite baba ganoush is from Whole Foods. It has wonderful smokey, lemony flavor. 


cream, dairy product, milk, white sauce, soup, bread, pudding
Kristine Mahan

Although tahini is most well-known as a sideline ingredient in other snack dips, it can hold up on its own perfectly fine. Tahini is sesame seed paste with superfood health benefits

You can find tahini dip made from tahini, lemon juice, and spices, that's a great texture for spreading at Trader Joe's. Or just enjoy the plain stuff in one of these recipes


Although the names are close, tzatziki is not to be confused with tahini. Tzatziki is a creamy, tart greek dip made from greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, and other spices. It's a cool and refreshing condiment for topping your gyro or dipping your kabob and pita. 


guacamole, vegetable, herb, avocado
Jocelyn Hsu

I'm including this one for the sake of a complete list, not because I have no doubt that everyone knows what guac is. In case you need a refresher, the primary ingredient is mashed avocado.

From there, the add-ins are only limited by your imagination, but the most traditional are red onions, tomatoes, lime, and cilantro. If you're feeling adventurous, try upgrading your guac with nontraditional ingredients. When you make it yourself, guac is never extra. 


Pâté is a French condiment, coming from the French word for pie. That's because it is served baked in a crust. What's on the inside, you may ask?

It varies widely depending on the recipe, but usually it's some blend of meat and fat with vegetables and spices for extra flavor. Depending on the ingredient ratios, this dip can be creamy or chunky. Either way, it's best served on some crusty bread. 

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a staple of the southern american diet. Usually spicy, this creamy dip is made from a combination of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayo, pimentos (red cherry peppers), and spices. 

If you're from the South, you know that pimento cheese can star in many dishes besides plain dip

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

cheese, spinach, lasagna
Brianna Sutherland

This is another classic creamy dip that has grown so much in popularity that it's popping up in many main dishes from quesadillas to deep dish pizza.

As the name suggests, you'll need spinach and artichokes, along with cheese, sour cream, mayo, and spices, to make Spinach and Artichoke Dip that will help you slay your next tail gate


salsa, chips, tortilla chips, corn
Katie Stotts

Although queso is most popular in tex-mex cuisine, it can be found in all 50 states. It's a super creamy, runny, cheesy dip made from either velveeta or a combination of real cheeses that tastes best when it's oozing off a fresh tortilla chip

My personal favorite queso recipe also involves sausage, but it's easy to leave that out for a vegetarian dish. 


cream, milk, bread, dairy product, flour, batter
Ishaan Pathak

Cheese fondue is like a fancier European version of queso. It can be made with a variety of cheeses, liquids, and spices, all resulting in different flavors.

One classic combination is gouda with white wine. Flour and butter are then added with spices for the perfect texture for dipping bread, green apples, and veggies. 

Crab Dip

If your arteries are clogged by the time you finish reading this article, I apologize. But, I can't leave out a single creamy, cheesy dip.

Although the exact recipe varies depending on where you order it, most crab dips are made of cream cheese, mayonnaise, and lump crab meat along with spices. One spice that's usually added to up the flavor is old bay. 


salsa, tomato, chili, vegetable, sauce, pepper, bread, Chip, Tortilla, dip
Caroline Ingalls

The flavors of this dip from Mexican cuisine are nearly limitless because salsa literally just means sauce. The most common ingredients are tomatoes, onions, and chilis. 

The list of uses is just as long as the possible ingredients, but some of my personal favorites are on eggs, in taco salad, and for dipping freshly fried tortilla chips. 

Pico De Gallo (or Salsa Fresca)

tomato, pepper, vegetable, cheese, salad
Katherine Baker

Like I said before, salsa encompasses a huge variety of cooked and uncooked sauces. One version of salsa that I wanted to highlight due to its popularity is pico de gallo. It's an uncooked sauce that can be made super quickly.

Again, flavors can vary, but the ingredients you'll definitely need are tomato, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. 

7-Layer Dip

tuna, avocado, tomato
Elizabeth Emery

I wanted to save this snack dip to end all snack dips for last. It's another contribution to your backyard tailgate from Mexican cuisine. 7-layer dip, as the name suggests, is a snack dip made by layering seven different ingredients.

The components, many of which have already made appearances on this list, are black bean dip, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bell pepper, and black olives. 

Hopefully, that was the soup to nuts of snack dips. Next time you're looking for a snack, don't blindly grab whatever snack dip you see first in the grocery store. Try something new now that you know what's what.