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How to Make Nachos

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Anybody can microwave chips and cheese, but it’s not much more work to make restaurant-quality nachos at home! We’ll walk you through how to make nachos, from the best ingredients to different cooking methods. MORE+ LESS-
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Who doesn’t like nachos? With so many options — beef, chicken, vegetarian! — there’s a nacho style for everyone. You can do them quick, using pre-made ingredients in the microwave, or you can take your time, making the tortilla chips, shredding the cheese and baking them in the oven. There’s even dessert nachos to be had! Come along as we explore everything you’d ever want to know about nachos.

How to Make Nachos

Learning how to make nachos is really just a series of tips for success. Start by choosing your nacho adventure. First up: cooking method. Do you want to make them in the microwave, slow-cooker, oven or on the stovetop? Next: choose your nacho style. Are you looking for beef nachos, chicken nachos or vegetarian nachos? We’re partial to our Easy Beef Nachos recipe, so that’s what we’ll use to walk you through our favorite way to make nachos — in your oven.

What You Need:

  • Ingredients for Easy Beef Nachos
  • 12-inch pizza pan or 15x10x1-inch pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • 8-inch nonstick skillet

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line 12-inch pizza pan or 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. Spread half of chips evenly on pan. Set aside.

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2. In 8-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and green chiles. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until beef is thoroughly cooked and seasoning is well combined.

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3. Arrange half of beef mixture on chips. Top with half of other toppings. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add additional fresh toppings if desired.

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How to Make Nachos in the Microwave

Even though our favorite method for making nachos is in the oven, we would never turn a nose up to microwave nachos. These Microwave Nachos take 10 minutes, which is a little less than half the time it takes to bake our Easy Beef Nachos recipe in the oven.

How to Make Nachos in the Slow Cooker

What can’t you make in the slow cooker?! You can indeed make nachos in the slow cooker, which is a great option when entertaining. To clarify, you make the nacho meat or cheese (or sometimes both!) in the slow cooker, which infuses flavor while also keeping it hot if you’re serving to a crowd. You can cook everything from beef to chicken to carnitas for nachos in your slow cooker. Here are our favorite slow-cooker nacho recipes.

Nachos are an excellent meal to serve to a crowd because everyone can build their own. Simply set out all the fixings and let people make their ultimate nachos. That way, even picky eaters and those with dietary restrictions can enjoy.

How to Make Nachos in a Skillet

Another easy way to make nachos is in your trusty skillet. With this fan-favorite recipe, you can have a delicious dinner on the table in just 20 minutes.

How to Make Nachos on the Grill

Believe it or not, you can even make nachos on the grill. Whether you do it in a disposable foil pan, or tucked into individual foil packs, these nachos will wow for picnics, barbecues and backyard parties.

How to Make Tortilla Chips

If you’re super dedicated, you can make your own homemade chips, which take very little effort and offer a high reward. It only takes about 25 minutes, and there’s definitely a difference in texture, which we love.

Looking for plain, salted tortilla chips? You can use the recipe above, but omit the lime juice, honey and chili powder. Want to make your chips into fun shapes? Here’s how to make star tortilla chips for a fun presentation.

Baked Chili Lime Chips

Best Ingredients for Nachos

One of the reasons why nachos are beloved by so many is the endless ingredient options. Lucky for you, the best ingredients for nachos have everything to do with your personal preferences. Switching up the chips, cheese, meat, beans and toppings will nearly always result in deliciousness, but we’ll stick to the basics and let you in on the best ingredients for traditional nachos in each of these categories.

Best Chips for Nachos

Traditionally, nachos are made with corn chips. Any kind will do: yellow is most common, but everything from white to blue corn chips are tasty options. When buying chips for nachos, make sure to select thick chips so they’re less likely to break while you assemble and eat your nachos.

Sweet Twist: Try making homemade flour tortilla chips and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. You can use them for dessert nachos or for dipping into fresh fruit salsa.

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Flavor Twist: For a Greek twist, try these hummus nachos, which call for feta cheese instead of nacho cheese and pita chips instead of corn chips. Then they’re loaded up with flavorful Mediterranean toppings like chopped cucumber, Roma tomato, Kalamata olives and more.

Greek Hummus Nachos

Another option is to make nachos without chips. Nachos can be made with potatoes, from waffle fries to Tater Tots™. Need a healthier option? Try making nachos with plantain chips or yucca fries, both of which are grain-free. You can even make nachos with cereal!

Easy Chicken Ten Minute Nachos

Best Cheese for Nachos

As you now know, there’s boundless options and flavors when it comes making nachos and the story is the same when it comes to the cheese. Really, any melting cheese or cheese sauce will work for nachos, it just depends on what you’re going for!

  • Pre-shredded cheeses are an easy way to cut down on prep time. Our Easy Chicken Ten Minute Nachos call for Mexican cheese blend, while these Skillet Nachos call for shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Pepper Jack cheese, which you’ll find in these BBQ Nachos, makes for a slightly spicier flavor. If you don’t like things too spicy, you could swap out the Pepper Jack, or omit half of it to be replaced with milder Monterey Jack.
  • Prepared cheese product is a good option for making cheese sauce. These Slow-Cooker Spicy Chicken Nachos call for Mexican prepared cheese product for flavorful nachos for a crowd.
  • If you’re looking for a flavor twist, try feta cheese like in these Greek Nachos or Mediterranean Nachos.

Best Meat for Nachos

Really, any meat can be used for nachos as long as it’s made bite-sized. Ground beef is a common option as is shredded chicken. Chorizo and carnitas are both options with tons of flavor and ground turkey makes for a lighter option.

If you’re looking for a make-ahead option, the slow cooker will be your best friend. Try any of these recipes and you won’t be disappointed!

We’ve also developed some new slow-cooker meats to swap into your favorite nacho recipes.

Traditionally, you’ll find black beans, pinto beans or refried beans in Mexican cuisine. All three of these are perfect for making nachos as well. Beans are not required, but they’re a protein-packed ingredient in case you’re looking for a vegetarian option. If you’re serving strict vegetarians, make sure the beans don’t contain lard.

Double Bean and Cheese Nachos

For a twist on the classic, try these Kansas City BBQ Nachos, which call for spicy chili beans.

Kansas City BBQ Nachos

Best Toppings for Nachos

Traditional nachos can be made better when loaded with all your favorite Mexican garnishes. Just be sure to add just before serving – most of these aren’t meant to be cooked with the nachos. We love mixing and matching any (or all!) of the following: 

  • Lime wedges for a squeeze of acid
  • Chopped cilantro or green onions
  • Sour cream or crema and guacamole
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Chopped avocado, tomatoes, white onion and lettuce
  • Sliced black olives
  • Jalapeños – fresh or jarred

This corn and avocado salsa would be a fantastic addition to any classic nacho spread.

Types of Nachos

In addition to all the amazing types of nachos we’ve already discussed, there are even more versions to enjoy. Ever heard of breakfast nachos? How about dessert nachos? You can make nachos out of whatever you desire. Whether it’s chips piled high with scrambled eggs, cooked bacon, cheese and salsa or 3-ingredient s’more nachos, we believe there’s a nacho idea for every occasion.

There’s even this!

Raspberry Chocolate Hazelnut Nachos

And the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Nacho flavor can be packed into anything from pinwheels to casseroles to soups. Here are some of our favorite nacho-inspired recipes.

What to Serve with Nachos

While you can certainly serve nachos on their own, there are also some Mexican dishes you can add to complete the meal. So if your nachos are a side dish or appetizer, these flavorful recipes can make mealtime even more delicious!

Whether you prefer chicken nachos, beef nachos, or all the nachos in between, we’ve got recipes for all of ‘em!


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