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With black bean dip, lunch can be as spicy as you like

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post)
Chili Black Bean Dip
Total time:20 min
Servings:1 serving (makes about 1 1/2 cups dip)
Total time:20 min
Servings:1 serving (makes about 1 1/2 cups dip)

This lunchbox centers on a creamy, chili-lime-seasoned black bean dip, which can be made as mild or as spicy as you like. (The dip recipe also works well with pinto or kidney beans.) Served with crisp, colorful vegetables and chips for dipping, it’s a lunch that is as fun to eat as it is satisfying and tasty.

How to get kids to eat a healthy lunch? Give them some control.

Chili Black Bean Dip

Leftover dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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For the dip

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (4 ounces total), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • One (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed or 11/2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

For each lunchbox

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated cotija or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup carrot sticks
  • 1/2 cup celery or jicama sticks
  • 10 tortilla chips

Step 1

Make the dip: In a small skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and coriander and remove from the heat. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Step 2

In the small bowl of a food processor or a mini-chopper, combine the beans, lime juice, water, salt and pepper, and the remaining oil. Add the onion mixture and process until smooth. Add the cayenne pepper and additional salt, if desired. You should have about 11/2 cups of dip; you will need a heaping 1/3 cup for the lunchbox. Refrigerate the remaining dip until needed for another lunchbox or use.

Step 3

Make the lunchbox: Place 1/3 cup of the dip in one section of a divided container or into a separate small, lidded container. Sprinkle the top with the cheese. Fill the rest of the divided container with the peppers, carrots, celery or jicama, or pack them in a separate container. Pack the chips in a separate small bag so they keep their crunch. To eat, dip the vegetables and chips in the black bean dip.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (heaping 1/3 cup dip plus contents of the lunchbox)

Calories: 270; Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 1 mg; Sodium: 313 mg; Carbohydrates: 37 g; Dietary Fiber: 10 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 9g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

Tested by Jess Eng and Olga Massov; email questions to

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