Make this creamy Baked Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Dip when you need a show-stopping appetizer! A decadent base of cream cheese and sour cream pairs irresistibly well with fresh basil pesto and the subtle sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes. Serve this dip with a warm baguette for a crowd-pleasing, easy-to-make, 30-minute appetizer dip!
There are about a million and one things I wanted to name this recipe…including many names that would seem like hyperboles but were, in fact, the truth. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you won’t be able to stop at just one bite of this dip, or that it could send you into a toddler-like tantrum when someone tells you you’re expected to share.
This is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian appetizer recipes. I mean, can you go wrong with the combination of fresh basil pesto, sweet sun-dried tomatoes, and melty, warm cream cheese?! I think not.
Except that it’s also served with toasted baguette slices. And you know our love for baguettes runs deep.
This baked dip recipe is easy to make and can be prepped ahead of time until you’re ready to pop it in the oven to bake. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and honestly, it’s an absolute crowd-pleaser. I’m pretty sure you need no further convincing, so let’s cover the basics to set you up for success and get you to dippin’!
Ingredients You’ll Need for this Incredible Dip
Alright, friend, the ingredients are simple yet they pack a flavor punch. This isn’t a dip one might call exceptional in the nutrition category, but it’s exceptional in the soul-filling goodness category. Let’s not forget that life is about balance!
Here’s what you’ll need for this layer dip:
- Basil Pesto: the first key player here! Feel free to make your own pesto or use store-bought. Keep in mind salt levels will vary, so be sure to taste test along the way (darn, such a tough job, I know!).
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: for this recipe, I like to use sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in olive oil. They often include herbs that give the dip more flavor. However, the pouch of dried tomatoes will work, too. If you are shopping at a higher-end grocery store, they sometimes have their own sun-dried tomatoes…and those are fresh and delicious!
- Cream Cheese: don’t skimp here! Cream cheese adds a tang and ultra creaminess to this dip.
- Parmesan Cheese: freshly grated is my preference, however, you can buy pre-shredded or grated for this recipe.
- Sour Cream: contributes to the creaminess of the dip while also keeping it a little light (is that an oxymoron?).
- Garlic: of course, we have more garlic.
- Dried Herbs: why would we not add more herbs? In goes dried basil, oregano, and thyme. Feel free to substitute an Italian herb blend if you have that on hand.
- Fresh Basil Leaves: an optional garnish that adds a bright pop of color and is delicious!
- Baguette: my serving vehicle of choice. You could also use crackers (an easy way to serve this dip gluten-free), crostini, or pita chips.
How to Make this Baked Appetizer Dip
Did you catch that I said this is a layered dip? It is, technically, except once you dig into it, it doesn’t really matter that you put them in layers and it all tastes just the same, so I’m going to make a note of a super easy lazy girl route to take if you’re into that kind of thing. If you like fun layers and “following rules” (me, it’s me), then follow the two-step layer approach.
Before you begin, be sure to bring the cream cheese to room temperature so you can easily incorporate it with the other ingredients!
The Pesto Layer
Each of the two “layers” starts with cream cheese. You saw that note about bringing it to room temperature so it mixes in, right? Ok, great.
The pesto layer is really easy…just combine half of the cream cheese with the pesto, stirring until it is completely combined.
Then, spread the pesto layer into the bottom of a baking dish.
The Sun-Dried Tomato Layer
If you want to keep completely clean layers, do this in a separate bowl. If you don’t mind a little pesto, go ahead and use the same mixing bowl.
Next up, for those of you taking the two-layer route, is the sun-dried tomatoes.
Combine the rest of the cream cheese with parmesan cheese, sour cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and herbs. Mix it together until completely combined. Spread this layer on top of the pesto.
Bake the Dip
That’s it for assembly!
Now, it’s time to bake the dip so the cheese melts, resulting in a creamy baked dip that, as I said, is irresistible.
Bake until bubbly, then let rest to cool for about 5-10 minutes. If you’re planning to serve this dip with a baguette, I highly recommend heating the baguette so you have warm slices to dip. Warm bread is simply the best!
Garnish the dip with fresh basil if you’d like. Pine nuts are a fun addition if you have them on hand. You can also chop up some additional sun-dried tomatoes to garnish, too. Yes, you can eat raw sun-dried tomatoes! They’re like raisins… just dried fruit!
The Lazy Method
Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with the lazy method.
And lazy isn’t even a bad thing.
So you’re pressed for time and don’t want to do extra dishes…whatever the reason, you can make this dip even easier. This *hack* is an update to the original recipe, because after many years of layers…I realized, hey, we can make life easier.
Instead of mixing each part separately, simply mix together all of the ingredients, then spread in the pan and bake. This dip is so versatile, and in the end, it’s all about getting a little bit in each bite anyway. So go ahead, make life easier.
What Kind of Baking Dish Should I Use?
As mentioned, this recipe truly is so versatile, that any small baker you have will work. As long as the dip fits, you are good to go. The baker pictured is an old (now discontinued) Pampered Chef 2-cup oval baker that measures 9 3/4 inches by 6.
Small rectangular bakers will work, too, or even an 8-inch cast iron skillet. As long as it holds at least 2 cups, you are good to go!
If you are using a larger baking dish, just know the dip will be more spread out and require less time to bake.
What to Serve with This Pesto Dip
This dip is the best kind of appetizer when you have friends or family over for a gathering.
It’s festive for Christmas, one of those elevated football game foods that everyone will devour, and easy enough to make before a big-time dinner party. No matter the occasion, this dip is the answer!
Now, what to serve with it? As far as dipping vehicles go, as I mentioned warm baguette slices are my go-to. Crackers are great, too, especially if you are looking for a gluten-free alternative to bread. Pita chips are a wonderful option, as are homemade crostini for a more toasted dipping option.
If you are looking for additional appetizers to serve with this dip, I would recommend lightening up the spread with some marinated olives, roasted garlic olive oil dip, or artichoke tapenade. Or, serve it as the appetizer and follow with a green salad (you can even take a VIP move and enjoy the dip and a salad for dinner…winning!).
Storage and Reheating
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, you can portion a bit out in the microwave, reheating in 20-25 second intervals until warmed through. Otherwise, if reheating a larger portion, you can reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
Try tossing leftovers with pasta or spreading it on a sandwich – both super yummy ways to repurpose the dip!
Can You Make this Pesto Dip Ahead of Time?
Yes, yes, yes! You absolutely can. Simply assemble the dip in your baking dish, cover it, and place it in the fridge up to a day in advance.
When ready to bake, remove the dish from the fridge while the oven preheats so it can come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
There really isn’t a point in baking the dip ahead of time, since we’re really just baking it to make it a warm, cheesy, creamy dip rather than cooking ingredients. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Baked Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Cream Cheese Dip
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature, divided
- 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes*, julienned
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chiffonade or gently chopped, optional
- Baguette, sliced, for serving
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pesto and half of the cream cheese (4 ounces). Spread the cream cheese and pesto mixture on the bottom of a small baker (a 2-cup baker works well).
- In a second mixing bowl, or the same bowl*, combine the remaining cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, sour cream, garlic, and dried herbs. Mix well. Spread evenly over pesto mixture.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Note cook time may vary depending on the size of your baking dish. Let the dip sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and additional sun-dried tomatoes as desired (pine nuts are yummy, too!).
- Meanwhile, if serving with a baguette, I highly recommend placing it in the oven while the dip rests to warm. Slice and serve with the dip.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes – I highly recommend using the sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in oil; I’ve found they have a much better flavor and texture in the dip. Just be sure to blot them with a paper towel to soak up the oil before mixing with the other ingredients.
- Quick Tip: If you don’t want to dirty another bowl, you can mix the second layer in the same bowl as the pesto layer. Your dip may not look as “layered”, as some pesto may mix with the white layer, but it will taste just as delicious! Or try my lazy girl method and mix all the ingredients together, forgoing the layers.
- Double the Recipe: I’d recommend using a glass pie dish or an 8×8 baking pan.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
Inspired long, long ago by a Pampered Chef recipe.
By the Way…
This recipe is part of our easy vegetarian appetizer collection. Check it out!