Tailgating Part 1 – California Dippin’

Tailgating Part One- 1st Quarter

Dips are Tailgating 101, and no tailgate party is complete without some kind of dip for football fanatics to nosh on. From the simplest tortilla chips and salsa, to the trendy spinach-artichoke dips and complex seven layer dips, a bowl of dip ties the whole party together with a communal bowl for everyone to share. For this party, I am going Mad Men retro and re-energizing a ’60s classic: French Onion (or California) dip. This is a manly-man dip that needs to be in your repertoire, because nothing in the world goes better with a salty potato chip.

California Dip Takes the World By Storm

I grew up on was Lipton’s “California Dip,” with packages of Lipton Onion Soup mixed with sour cream. It was created by an anonymous California cook in 1954 and according to Lipton public relations, this was the first “dip” ever created.  The recipe was so successful that Lipton noticed an obvious increase in sales of their Onion Soup mix, sour cream and potato chips.  Wasting no time, Lipton tracked down the recipe and re-formulated it to mellow out the flavor, determining just how much sour cream should be added to one packet of Onion Soup mix and printed the recipe on every box. During the ’70s and ’80s, over 220,000 envelopes of Lipton Onion Soup Mix were used every day, and no party was complete without the infamous “California Dip.”

But you know what? You can do it better at home.

All Hail the Great & Powerful French Onion Dip

Our homemade version of Lipton’s California Dip uses beef broth to infuse the fabulous flavor of French Onion soup and two kinds of onions to add a depth of flavor. Try to find “sweet” onions like Maui Sweets or Walla Walla, their mellow flavor is much better suited to a smooth onion dip that common brown or white onions.

  • 2 large Sweet onions, coarsely chopped  (about 4 Cups)
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 Cup beef broth, divided
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 large shallots, sliced into 1/8″ rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Melt the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When bubbling, add the onions and sweat them out for 5 minutes.

Add 1/2 Cup of the beef broth, the Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions begin to brown,  about 20 minutes.

Add remaining 1/2 cup of beef broth and salt & pepper to taste, cooking until the liquid is evaporated once more, about 15 minutes.

Add the shallots and cook until all the onions are nice and caramelized, about another 15 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

  • 2 C Sour Cream (16 oz tub)
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise

When your onion mixture is cooled, chop it to a chunky dice. Add it to the sour cream/mayo mixture and combine well. Let the flavors of the dip combine in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. This is a recipe that only gets better over time, I found that 48 hours chillin’ brings about the best flavor.

If It’s Salty…They Will Come

This is an intense onion-flavored dip, sweet and savory in all the right ways that leaves the Lipton dip in its dust. You do need to find a hearty and well-salted potato chip or it will be overwhelmed by intensity of the dip. This dip also goes well with crackers, and to complete the retro experience pick up a box of my old-school favorite Nabisco’s Chicken in a Biskit. Pretzels work well here as well, just explore the cracker & chip isle and grab your favorites… you will be rewarded my young dip-serving Jedi! If women have somehow infiltrated your game day, veggies like baby carrots and celery are also serviceable with this dip, but they will not be a tasty as a good salty snack.

Rusty Chef Scot’s Rating: 3 Solid Dip Spreaders

three knife rating


Check out Tailgating Part 2: The King of American Sandwiches


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  1. [...] I started my tailgating adventure with a retro themed California Onion Dip,  I thought long and hard about classic sandwiches that define our American culture, because [...]

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