Smokey Spinach Artichoke Dip ~ a warm, cheesy classic that’s an absolute necessity if you’ve got friends coming over on a chilly night. My smokey recipe takes this familiar comfort food and gives it a delicious edge.
It’s amazing how a little change like using smoked cheese can bring alive an old standby that, yes, everybody loves, but has become a little ho hum in the past few years. This is actually one of the recipes I make most often, my whole family adores it and asks for it often, but for some reason it never found its way onto the blog, weird.
I changed up my usual recipe a little bit today and used a combination of smoked Gouda and smoked mozzarella cheeses. There are lots of smoked varieties to choose from if you visit a supermarket or cheese store with a good selection, so feel free to experiment. Generally when I’m making it for the family or friends I’ve made it with a good brand of bagged shredded cheese, either an Italian mix, a sharp white cheddar, or both.
Pre-shredded cheeses make this dip incredibly quick to make, but they do limit your choice. If you want to think outside the box (or the bag in this case) like I’ve done today, you’ll have to do your own shredding. I use the shredding disk on my Cuisinart food processor, but a good old box grater will work fine. If you have trouble grating a softer cheese, try freezing it for 30 minutes first.
I recommend the cup style chips for this dip for obvious reasons…they allow you to gouge out as much dip with each swipe as humanly possible, always a good thing when you’re competing with others for your favorite appetizer.
I’ve made this dip so many times over the years that I don’t use a recipe, I just make it by eye. I use slightly varying amounts of everything each time but it always comes out great, so don’t stress about exact measurements too much. I tend to go heavy on the artichokes and spinach, which I think ‘lightens’ the dip a little bit, and makes it ever so slightly more healthy 🙂 But if you want it more decadent, go heavier on the sour cream, mayo, and cheese.
Things to remember when making spinach artichoke dip ~
- Use canned artichoke hearts or quarters, not the marinated ones in jars. If using whole artichoke hearts, lightly squeeze them over the sink to release excess moisture.
- Defrost or lightly microwave your frozen spinach, and then press out the excess liquid. I put it in a mesh strainer and press firmly with a large spoon. Excess liquid will make your dip watery.
- Be sure at least half your cheese has a strong flavor ~ don’t use all Monterey Jack or cream cheese or anything too mild. I like to use sharp cheddar or Parmesan for at least some of my cheeses.
- If you make your dip in a food processer like I do, use the pulse function and try not to over-process. A little chunky texture is a good thing.
- Flavor enhancers are useful, and I love to use a squeeze or two of fresh lemon.
- Garlic is a must, but raw garlic can be overpowering, so I roast mine first. Slice the tip end off a head of garlic, then wrap it loosely in foil. Drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil and roast in a 350F oven for about 45-55 minutes until browned and fragrant. When it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft cloves out of their skins. It’s divine and will make your dip divine. Use as many cloves as you dare, it’s much milder than raw garlic.
- Choose a baking dish that has enough surface area so the dip is not too deep. The dip will cook quicker, brown better, and be easier to serve and eat that way. A 9×13 baking dish works well, as does a larger oval gratin dish. In the photos today I used my 10 inch Lodge cast iron skillet which I think makes a really fun, rustic presentation.
Smokey Spinach Artichoke Dip
- food processor
- 15 ounce can of artichoke hearts or quarters, drained
- 12 ounce bag of frozen spinach, completely thawed or lightly microwaved
- 4-5 cloves roasted garlic, see instructions below
- 8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
- heaping 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- heaping 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Add the artichokes to the bowl of a food processor. Make sure to drain off any excess liquid.
- Put the spinach in a colander or mesh strainer and press firmly with the back of a large spoon to remove any excess moisture. Add it to the processor along with the garlic, cheeses, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, until everything is uniformly processed to a slightly chunky texture.
- Season the mixture to taste with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Spread into an oval baking dish such as a gratin dish, or a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until hot through, bubbly, and beginning to brown on top. Serve immediately with chips or a thinly sliced baguette.
- To roast garlic, take a whole bulb and slice the tip end off, just to expose the cloves. Put it on a piece of foil, drizzle it liberally with olive oil, and loosely wrap it with the foil, leaving the top open. Roast in a 350F oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until soft and golden. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the cloves from their skins.
Make this Smoked Spinach Artichoke Dip your own ~
If you’d like to use fresh spinach that’s fine, just be sure to cook it, chop it, and press out the excess moisture first.
If you’d like a more chunky texture, hand chop the artichokes and fold them in after mixing everything else in the processor.
If you’d like to make this in a slow cooker/crock pot, cook it on low for 3-4 hours until bubbly. Be aware that you won’t get the browning that you get from a nice hot oven.