Pair this simple Butter Bean Dip with a bag of pita chips or a loaf of crusty bread, and you’ve got the perfect campfire appetizer to hold everyone over until dinner.
We adapted this butter bean dip from a recipe we found on Serious Eats, which itself was an adaption from multiple different Spanish tapas sources. While some of the ratios changed, the main elements remained the same: big and creamy white beans, tomato paste, garlic, shallot, olive oil, and paprika, stewed together and served warm.
Before we started making this dip while camping, it was our go-to appetizer for house parties, potlucks, and BBQs. At some point, it became clear to us that this dip would be perfect for camping too. When we’re camping, one of our favorite times of the day is the late-afternoon happy hour. Camp chairs, cold drinks, and a setting sun – what could be better?
But it’s nice to have something to munch on until one of us gets motivated enough to actually make dinner. Something filling, but not too filling. That’s where this butter bean dip comes in.
As with a lot of appetizers, this one is great for groups. You can scale the amount up to whatever you want and just set it out for everyone to enjoy right in the cast iron skillet. We have a great 8-inch cast iron skillet that helps keep the dip warm long after we take it off the burner. The active cooking time is less than 10 minutes, so you can get right back to relaxing.
Why We Love It:
↠ Perfect “elevated” appetizer for camping
↠ Uses shelf-stable ingredients so it doesn’t take up any cooler space
↠ Takes less than 10 minutes to prepare
↠ Can be made ahead of time and reheated on site
So whether you’re sick and tired of the usual store-bought dips or crave the attention and accolades that only a “from scratch” appetizer can provide, then give this butter bean dip a try.
The focal point of this appetizer is, of course, the beans. As we discovered, it’s not also easy to find the right ones.
Butter Beans: Canned butter beans are our preferred bean for this recipe. If your grocery store carries them, they will be in either the canned bean section or sometimes in the Hispanic food section.
Cannellini Beans: If you can’t find butter beans at your local grocery store, don’t worry! Cannellini beans are a great substitute that is available in virtually every grocery store. They won’t be as large, but will still have that same rich and creamy texture.
How to make butter bean dip
Start off by mincing the shallot and garlic. The two cloves of garlic listed in the recipe is just a starting point. You do you.
In a cold cast iron skillet, add the shallots, garlic, 2 tablespoon olive oil, and the tomato paste (1). Turn on the heat to medium-low and saute while stirring often. You want to cook everything down a little bit, take the tinniness out of the tomato paste, and the sharpness out of the garlic and shallot. You want everything warmed up and mellowed out. This will take roughly 6-8 minutes (2). Once the oil starts to gently bubble, add in the paprika and stir to incorporate.
Next, add in the drained beans, red wine vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, and stir to ensure everything is well-coated (3-4). Cook for another few minutes until the beans start to warm up. Remove from the heat, add salt to taste, and sprinkle with parsley to garnish.
We like to serve this bean dip right in the cast iron skillet that we cooked it in, which retains a lot of heat and will help to keep it warm. Serve with pita chips, slices of crusty bread, or crackers.
This recipe can be made entirely at home ahead of time. Simply store it in your cooler until happy hour, then transfer to a skillet to warm it up.
Other appetizer recipes you’ll enjoy
Spanish-Style Tomato + Butter Bean Dip
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 14 oz can butter beans, drained (or other white bean)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- handful fresh parsley, chopped
- pita chips, crusty bread, or crackers
- Mince the shallot and garlic. In a cold skillet, add the shallot, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and tomato paste. Saute over low heat for a few minutes, stirring often, until the oil gently bubbles.
- Add the paprika and stir. Add the drained beans, red wine vinegar, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Stir to coat the beans and cook for another minute or so to warm the beans.
- Remove from the heat, add salt to taste, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita chips, crusty bread, or crackers.