Make Ahead

Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip

January 16, 2011
15 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 12 as an appetizer
Author Notes

I have always loved the white bean dip from Williams Sonoma. It was always a go-to dip for when guests came over. One day I was making it and I had some leftover roasted fennel from the night before and I pureed it into the dip; it was amazing! The next time I broiled some Parmesan cheese on top to create a crunchy texture and it was perfect. You could serve this with crostini, pita chips, or tortilla chips. Basically anything works. - singing_baker —singing_baker

Test Kitchen Notes

Most dips involve dumping a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and mixing them until smooth. If the ingredients are good quality, you'll end up with something worth dipping a chip into, but if you're like singing_baker and you tweak some of those ingredients, you'll end up with an unforgettable hors d'oeuvre. First, you roast the fennel and garlic, to bring out their sugars and intensify their flavors. You simmer the white beans (we used canned) in a fragrant garlic-and-rosemary oil. You blend the beans and fennel with more oil so the mixture lightens like a good whipped salt cod and potato puree. And, finally, you spoon it all into a baking dish, cover it with cheese, and slide it into a hot oven so the top of the dip toasts, leaving you with a crisp veil over the pillowy dip. You won't even remember the work that went into it once you're showered with praise. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For Roasted Fennel
  • 1 Large or 2 Small Fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil (up to 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic still in papery shell
  • 1 pinch Salt and Pepper (more to taste)
  • For the Cannellini Bean puree
  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and minced
  • 2 1/2 cups Cooked Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, Freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  1. First make the roasted fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil and spread on a sheet pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning twice during cooking. Take out and let cool. When cool squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins.
  2. Start the cannellini bean puree. In a small frying pan heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until lightly golden, add rosemary and cannellini beans and cook for one minute more. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Take it off the heat.
  3. In a food processor combine the garlic bean mixture, fennel, roasted garlic, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 olive oil and all but 3 tablespoons of the parmigiano-reggiano. Puree until smooth.
  4. Raise oven temp to 450 degrees. Transfer puree into a small baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Feel free to add more. If your dish is near full, place it on a baking sheet, in case it bubbles over in the oven. Bake until cheese is golden on top, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with crostini. Enjoy!
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179 Reviews

JenCooks January 27, 2021
Have made this many, many times as part of our annual Super Bowl feast. Always a winner!
Bree H. September 23, 2020
Overall really simple & easy dip!! Mine didn’t turn out as pretty; but, the flavors were delicious!
Taylor S. January 7, 2020
This is FANTASTIC. Made it for Christmas Eve dinner this year and it was the first thing gone. I omitted the fennel (because I burned it) but added extra rosemary, lemon, and garlic and will probably keep making it the same way! I've got another batch in the works as I type this.
JenCooks November 23, 2019
Fabulous. Have made it many times, usually for Super Bowl parties.
Sarah August 6, 2018
I’m with those who have been disappointed by this. Maybe I’ll try to double the fennel. Maybe add a little toasted and ground fennel seed? It just was sort of bland and mushy.
Carolyn V. December 17, 2019
I always double the fennel, at least.
Lady S. July 3, 2018
Sorry. I followed everything perfectly... but my dip lacked flavor and had a gummy texture. Maybe double the garlic and fennel if you make this? I know there are soooo many who love this dip! Maybe its just not for me.
Carolyn V. July 14, 2018
I do suggest doubling the fennel and also cooking it a bit longer to get more charred bits. It can become gummy if you puree too long. Also, it's just as good without the cheese.
Patty B. December 18, 2018
Double the fennel and use a whole head of roasted garlic. I also double the rosemary.
JenCooks February 3, 2018
I have made this every year for the Super Bowl spread, and it gets raves every time.
Brian November 13, 2017
What type of olive oil should be used for best results? Extra virgin, regular, light?
Carolyn V. July 14, 2018
I've always used EVOO.
Donna J. November 26, 2016
Oh my, this is so delicious! I may add more fennel the next time, but wow! There's no food processor in my kitchen, but a blender and some patience works too. That soup idea (add some carrots, perhaps? is also a nice variation to consider.
Melody November 24, 2016
I've made this a number of times, and there have been nights when you could have caught me eating this with a spoon! I usually use one can of white beans and two bulbs of fennel. I'm also super heavy on the roasted garlic. Light on the olive oil. I add the parmesan to taste. I've also wondered if lemon zest would help brighten the dip. Might try that next time.
tastysweet November 19, 2016
I was wondering how many cans should I be opening? I know I can measure it, but thought if others used canned beans someone might let me know. Can't wait to make it. I may have already but can't remember-:)
Carolyn V. November 19, 2016
I used 2 of the normal sized cans. 15 oz I think? Also, see my comment a couple down about increasing the fennel. Just a suggestion.
tastysweet November 19, 2016
Thank you Carolyn V. I did read about the fennel. Good suggestion.
kschurms November 18, 2016
I've made this so, so many times -- enough that I would normally think it's time to change things up, but I'm not going to because this dip is AMAZING!
Carolyn V. November 6, 2016
This is one of my go-to appetizers. Love it! I've made it with and without the cheese and it's a big hit either way. I have doubled the fennel (2 large bulbs) because I love it and I felt it got a little lost when I only used one. I also roast it a bit longer to get more charred bits which enhance the flavor.
Änneken September 23, 2016
I have made this a few times now and it knocked my socks off every time. I eat it warm or cold with scrambled eggs, or just rice or quinoa, on toast or just plain out of the container. The first time I made it I tried it before the parmesan was to go in. It was so outrageously delicious I skipped the cheese altogether. I did cook the beans from dried and added lots of herbs to the cooking water so I guess that made the difference. The other thing I love about this dip so much is that it is a lot easier to digest thanks to the fennel. In my eyes, this deserves to be a Genius recipe.
Geri June 24, 2016
Big hit, deep flavor!
reahpeah March 27, 2016
I think I am a lone voice but found this a bit bland. Wasn't much of a hit with my friends. We thought a bit more cheese and fresh lemon would be good.
enbe November 25, 2015
This is such a favorite, especially around the holidays. I'll be making it for my third Thanksgiving in a row for cocktail hour. Thank you!
Daniel T. June 1, 2015
Not to add another voice to the choir - but I served this for my friends and they were definitely fans! I was too. I will definitely work on roasting more fennel.
verborgenheit May 5, 2015
I wonder if a splash of Pernod liqueur at the end would intensify the fennel flavour?
Chef T. December 30, 2014
I made this on Christmas and it was a HUGE hit with the family. Everyone asked for the recipe.