Southwest Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This hot spinach and artichoke dip has a southwest flare from the addition of poblanos, tomatillos, and chipotle chile powder. A jazzed up party favorite that is sure to wow your family and friends.

Warm, cheesy, slightly spicy, complex in flavor – this is what I want in a dip. Living in Texas, I often filling this craving with queso, but sometimes I want something a little different. Enter this southwest spinach and artichoke dip.

I’ve been making various forms of spinach dip for years, and while they all have their virtues (still a huge fan of the Knorr’s cold spinach dip recipe), this is my favorite. I took inspiration from the flavors I love in queso and other tex-mex staples, and incorporated them with a tried-and-true method for making spinach artichoke dip. There is smokiness, a little heat, and the excuse to continue eating more and more – I mean, it’s full of vegetables, right? I promise this will be a fan favorite anytime you serve it.

How to Make Southwest Spinach Artichoke Dip

To make this spinach artichoke dip, you’ll need to become friends with your broiler. We use it twice – first for charring a poblano pepper and some tomatillos, and then at the end of the recipe to melt and brown the dip. Charring the poblano pepper and tomatillos first adds so much complexity to the flavor of the dip – the thing that will make your friends and family say, “Woah. What is in this??”

The rest of the dip comes together on the stovetop until the cheese is melted and all the flavors have had a chance to combine. I like to then take the extra step of transferring the dip to an oven-safe serving dish, sprinkling more cheese on top, and broiling it until it is golden brown and bubbly. But you could absolutely serve this straight from the pot in all its ooey gooey goodness

Southwest spinach artichoke dip after baking in white pie dish

Tips and Substitutions for Southwest Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • Char it, char it good. When broiling the poblanos and tomatillos, you are looking for a really good char on the poblano. You’ll need to turn it over once or twice to get all sides nice and blackened. The tomatillos likely won’t get as charred, and that is ok. You’re looking for something like in the image below.
  • Use other peppers. Feel free to swap out the poblano for other peppers based on how much heat you want. Poblano is my favorite and adds a subtle heat, but you could increase the heat by using a couple jalapeños or dial it back with a cubanelle pepper or even a bell pepper. Just keep in mind that the time required to char the pepper will vary based on its size.
  • No tomatillos – no problem! If you can’t find tomatillos, try drained, canned tomatillos or even add a few tablespoons of a mild tomatillo salsa. If you use canned, they do not need to be broiled first.
  • Chile powder, not chili powder. I know chipotle chile powder is not a staple in most homes, but I highly recommend it! What is called “chili powder” is actually a blend of spices (like ground chiles, cumin, and garlic powder) meant for making chili, whereas chipotle powder is just dried, smoked jalapeños crushed into a powder. You could substitute with other single-chile powders, like ancho chile powder, or use smoked paprika to add a smoky flavor like you get from chipotle without adding any heat.
  • Shred your own cheese! Anytime I’m making a dish where I want really gooey, melty cheese, like this dip or mac and cheese, it is so worth shredding your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in an additive, like potato starch, to prevent it from clumping in the bag but also prevents it from getting quite as melty too.

If you make any substitutions, I would love to hear from you in the comments to know how it turned out!

Southwest Spinach Artichoke Dip

Try out this smoky, slightly spicy spinach artichoke dip for a southwest spin on a classic favorite.

Ingredients

1 poblano pepper

4 fresh tomatillos, removed from husks and rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 large yellow or white onion (about 1 cup chopped)

4 garlic cloves

10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed

1 can (~15 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained

8 ounces freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Move an oven rack within 6 inches of the top heat source, and set the oven to broil. While the broiler preheats, place poblano and tomatillos on a foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the tomatillos only and sprinkle them with salt – leave the poblano dry. Broil for about 10-15 minutes, turning the poblano and tomatillos once or twice, until the poblano is charred all over and the tomatillos have blistered and softened.
  2. Once the poblano and tomatillos are charred, place the poblano in a plastic bag (or in a small bowl and then cover with plastic wrap), and let it cool for 10 minutes while the tomatillos cool on the sheet pan.
  3. While the poblano and tomatillos char and cool, prep the other ingredients. Place the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Chop half of an onion into a small dice and mince the garlic, then roughly chop the drained artichoke hearts. If you haven’t already, grate the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheese, and cut the cream cheese into cubes. If you plan to broil the dip at the end, remove a small handful of the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheese to a separate bowl for topping.
  4. Remove the poblano from the plastic bag and peel off the charred skin. You can also use a paper towel to help rub the skin off. Remove the stem and seeds, then chop the pepper. Roughly chop the charred tomatillos. (They will be very soft and probably already bursting out of their skin – this is normal).
  5. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften. Season with a large pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, then add the chipotle powder. Sauté for 1 more minute, then add the spinach, artichokes, poblano, tomatillos, and Worcestershire sauce, breaking up the spinach with your hands as you add it to the pot. Mix thoroughly and cook together for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the cubed cream cheese to the pot and stir continuously until it has melted and combined. Then add the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until melted. Taste, adjust for seasonings, and remove from heat. At this point, you can serve the dip as-is, or continue to the next step to broil the top.
  7. Grease an oven-safe serving dish with cooking spray and transfer the dip into the dish. Spread out somewhat evenly (you don’t want a perfectly smooth top), and then sprinkle the reserved cheeses all over. Broil on high for about 5 minutes or until parts of the cheese are golden brown. Cool slightly, then serve with your favorite dippers (like crostini, bagel chips, or tortilla chips) and enjoy.

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