There are some recipes that always stick with you no matter how far away from home you go. Kentucky Benedictine dip is that way for me. This simple spread was served at family gatherings as a side dish to help round out meals. We also used to serve this at parties (the dip particularly impressed people not from the South). And, Mom also used to serve this spread in sandwiches with a salad when all we wanted was a light meal.
The combination of onion, cream cheese, and cucumber is a brilliant recipe. Unlike many other dips and cheeseballs, this recipe is made with fresh vegetables which make all the difference when it comes to taste.
The dip was first created by Jennie Carter Benedict, a cookbook author, newspaper food columnist, and restauranteur based in Louisville, Kentucky, around the turn of the 20th century.
The early recipes for this Southern staple written by Benedict herself relied on a few drops of green food coloring to let people know they were eating cucumber spread, but most home cooks leave this step out completely. I know we never put food coloring in ours at home.
The most important step is separating the cucumber and onion juice from the solids using a strainer. While some people only use the juice, in my family we always put the drained vegetables in the dip as well for a bit of crunch.
When combining the ingredients, if the mixture is too stiff you can adjust by adding more sour cream. However, the rule in my mom’s kitchen was that sour cream should be added sparingly because we liked a thicker spread.
The flavor level on this dip can easily be adjusted to suit your family. The recipe below calls for green Tabasco sauce, but growing up we used black or white pepper instead. You can, of course, also use red Tabasco sauce if you’d prefer. And, we always added a bit of dill for that fresh taste, though that is also not in the original ingredient list.
However you choose to flavor this exceptional dip, just know that it will be the hit of the table. Benedictine dip is perfect in summer, but is honestly good all year round! It’s best served on plain bread, melba toast, or saltines in order to let the flavors of this Kentucky classic really shine through.
Kentucky Benedictine Dip
Serves 10; 30 minutes
- 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and grated
- 1/4 medium white onion, grated
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon green Tabasco sauce
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Add cucumber and onion to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press down to drain liquid. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let sit in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove and wrap mixture in a clean kitchen towel, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.
- In a large bowl, combine drained cucumber and onion, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and Tabasco. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined.
- Season to taste with salt and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with bread, toast, or crackers. Enjoy!