This no-cook smoked almond dip is a rich, flavorful starter that's a definite crowd-pleaser

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By Bibi Hutchings


Published April 15, 2023 3:59PM (EDT)

Smoked almond dip (Courtesy of Ashlie D. Stevens )
Smoked almond dip (Courtesy of Ashlie D. Stevens )

In "Bibi's Gulf Coast Kitchen," columnist Bibi Hutchings takes you on a culinary journey across the coastal south. Come for the great food writing, stay for the delicious recipes.

Here's a tasty dip to toast the almond — the nutritional powerhouse that's high in antioxidants, vitamin E, protein and fiber and has remained at the top of every health guru's list for years now.

From early January through mid-February 2020, my husband and I rented a house in Del Mar, CA, just a couple of doors down from the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Lulled by all the natural beauty and charmed by the laid-back and easy going people, we were smitten with Del Mar within days of arriving.

The lawn-less yards fascinated me, made of pebbles and rocks instead of grass and dotted with huge succulents that looked like enlarged versions of the miniatures I sometimes set on my kitchen windowsill. In between the stone-like mulched areas and along walkways and drives was a shimmery green ground cover, called Silver Carpet, that I became obsessed with. My favorite, though, was a flowering shrub called Pride of Madeira — and it grew everywhere. Some of the single bushes looked to be over eight feet tall, but regardless of size, all were covered with stalks of the prettiest elongated cones of small petaled blossoms, each one a slightly different shade of my favorite color: purple. The tall flowers shot up out of spiky, gray-green leaves and were brilliant against darker, rustier tones in the yards.

Having never spent time along the southern California coast, I was awed by the blue, blue ocean — so different from the greener tones of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico — and the many miles of deep uninterrupted shoreline. With dramatic cliffs, sea lions and coarser darker sand, it was a drastically different world and such a different kind of beautiful from where we live along the bay in Coastal Alabama.

Many evenings, we walked from our house the few blocks north, parallel to the shoreline, to one of many restaurants that were neighborhood favorites. We couldn't help but return often to the cozy little Italian place on the corner with dim lighting, an impressive wine list and delicious appetizers like sweet pea pesto crostini and focaccia barese, but there was so much wonderful food within walking distance that anywhere we landed, we were happy.

This recipe for Smoked Almond Dip is actually mine, but it's inspired by one we purchased on repeat while in Del Mar. We bought it from a little market located right on Camino Del Mar, the name of a small portion of Highway 101 that runs through town. You entered through a very small door into a rather unappealing entryway. Once inside, it was only a couple of hundred square feet, with low ceilings, made to feel even lower by the incredibly tall man who ran it.

dip, nuts, almond, appetizer, rawSmoked almond dip (Courtesy of Alicia Miranda)This market had a variety of pantry staples, along with made-in- house, grab-and-go lunch options like sandwiches, soups and salads. Attractively labeled containers of hummus, olive tapenades, gourmet dips and spreads and an assortment of cheeses lined their cold cases. Despite their daily offerings changing, this Smoked Almond Dip was generally available and with its simple and few ingredients listed right on the label, it was pretty easy to replicate once I got home. I doubt we would have sought out this market, but it happened to be along our well trodden path to the bakery.

We walked to our favorite bakery most every afternoon for the best homemade chai either of us had ever tasted and for our sugar fix that inevitably showed itself around midday. The heavenly smell of their daily breads baking was enough to summon angels to their door, but upon entering, my eyes feasted on the display of perfectly lined and stacked pastries, fruit tarts, little quiches, and croissants. Just above it all was a handmade sign that read: Made with imported Normandy butter. All of that, plus a huge, state-of-the-art espresso machine with locally roasted Cafe Virtuoso beans; call it a contact high, but I was happy as soon as I walked through the door.

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Most evenings, we were home in time for sunset. Whether relaxing on the deck or walking the beach, we witnessed some of the most spectacular displays of nature imaginable. With magenta and coral slashes lighting up the sky in front of faded and wispy azure and purple clouds, we watched in awe as the brilliant orange and yellow rays, emanating from the almost white ball of sun, dropped lower and lower before fading below the horizon line of the ocean. We generally fell into silence, overwhelmed by what was happening right before our eyes. All above the calm lap of waves, glowing blue to white as they made it up the deep shoreline, until receding and leaving just a strip of dry sand.

It's crazy thinking back to that time, over three years ago now, to how just like everyone else on the planet, we had no idea what was lurking around the corner. We had plenty of cares and concerns at the time of that trip, as we were actually there for medical reasons, but the "novel coronavirus" occurring overseas at that point was hardly a blip on our screen, despite hearing of travelers being quarantined at a military facility on the outskirts of La Jolla.

dip, almond, nut, raw, appetizer Smoked almond dip (Courtesy of Alicia Miranda)

I wonder, had we known what was coming: the shutdowns, the losses, the restrictions and lockdowns of the pandemic that upended every facet of our lives; could we have enjoyed ourselves even more than we did? I don't see how we could have . . . but maybe?

Perhaps knowing that life as we knew it was about to change the way it ultimately did would have made our time in Del Mar sweeter. I will never know. But I do know those weeks along the Pacific were some of the best of my life.

Smoked Almond Dip
08 servings
Prep Time
05 minutes
Cook Time
00 minutes


1 bunch parsley

2-4 fresh garlic cloves

1 scant cup or 1 small can of smoked almonds**

8-12 oz sour cream, cream cheese, mayo, plain, full-fat yogurt or combination of these.



  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well.
  2. Refrigerate at least an hour or two for the dip to thicken and the flavors to marry.
  3. Serve with plain crackers and/or raw veggies. 

Cook's Notes

- This also makes a great salad dressing!

- This dip is even better the next day. Basically, the longer it is refrigerated, the thicker it becomes — in a good way.

-If you don't have or can't smoked almonds, you can substitute regular roasted almonds, but add the following to make up for the difference:

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp maple syrup

Dash of Worcestershire (optional)

Salt (if your almonds are unsalted)

By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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