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Loaded Nachos Recipe

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Loaded Nachos: A Crowd-Pleasing Recipe for Any Occasion

If you are like us, you probably keep a bag of tortilla chips in your pantry on a weekly basis. Chips and salsa or chips and guacamole are go to snacks for us. And nachos are a great way to use a bag of tortilla chips. Nachos make a great quick, well rounded dinner. They also are perfect for a board game night or to serve a crowd for something like a Super Bowl or game watching party. Even if you don’t keep tortilla chips around, you may want to after trying the loaded nachos recipe below.

If you are looking for more Super Bowl or game watching party food ideas, see our post on using ChatGPT for Super Bowl food ideas.

Versatility of Loaded Nachos

Crispy chips, creamy cheese and a different pop of flavor for every bite is what makes loaded nachos so special. You don’t need much to make nachos great. The beauty of nachos is that they are versatile and adaptable. You can repurpose leftovers or start from scratch with your loaded nachos. Here’s what you need to know to elevate your nacho game:

Cheese Suggestions for Nachos

Creating a gooey, flavorful cheese layer is essential for any great nacho plate. Choose from these options:

  • Queso Blanco: Smooth and mild.
  • Oaxaca: A stringy, Mexican cheese with a buttery flavor.
  • Monterey Jack: Melts well with a mild taste.
  • Cheddar: Sharp and savory.
  • Muenster: Slightly nutty/buttery flavor with exceptional melting qualities.

For the perfect cheese, meltability is key. A combination of cheeses often brings the best texture and taste.

oaxacan and queso blanco cheeses shredded and ready for nachos

Protein Options for Loaded Nachos

Whether you’re a carnivore or prefer plant-based options, nachos cater to all tastes:

  • Ground Meat: Classic and hearty. Try ground turkey for a leaner option. We use leftover taco meat for a quick nacho night.
  • Shredded Chicken or Pork: Tender and versatile. A great use for leftover rotisserie or leftover pulled pork.
  • Black Beans or Pinto Beans: A protein-packed, plant-based option. Rancho Gordo is our favorite brand of beans. In particular we like their Midnight Black, and Ayocote Blanco beans for nachos. Whole or pureed, nachos are made for beans!
  • Quinoa & Lentil Taco Meat: Ideal for vegetarian or vegan nachos. We add lentils to the Minimalist Bakers Quinoa Taco recipe to provide an extra protein and texture boost.

Customize your plate based on dietary preferences and add some protein punch to your nachos.

Vegetable Options for Nachos

Adding a variety of vegetables not only enhances flavor but also brings a burst of color and nutrients. Opt for:

  • Bell Peppers: Sweet and crunchy.
  • Green Onions or Red Onions: Adds a sharp, savory kick.
  • Tomatoes: Juicy and refreshing.
  • Kale or Crispy Broccoli: Kale will crisp up and add an extra texture to nachos. We’ve used leftover roasted broccoli in our nachos and it adds a nice depth of flavor.

Fresh veggies add vibrancy and balance to your nacho experience.

Fresh Toppings for Loaded Nachos

photo of chips surrounded by dips and vegetables showing ingredients for loaded nachos recipe

Once you’re nachos are hot and ready, don’t forget the cold toppings. Things like fresh sliced radish, cabbage, avocado or mexican crema can make all the difference in making your loaded nachos even more gourmet. Here are some other ways to enhance your toppings:

Pickle Options

Check out our How to Make Quick Pickles with any Vegetable and keep a stash of a variety of pickles in your fridge at all times! You’ll be surprised how much you use them to enhance your dishes. Some great pickle options for nachos would be:

  • Pickled Jalapenos or Fresnos: classic nacho topper that adds some spice.
  • Pickled Onions: If you pickle red onions, their pink color is a fun addition to nachos, but their flavor is even better.
  • Pickled Radishes: These are our daughters favorites. They too add a nice pink color. And pickled radishes go well with all kinds of Mexican cuisine.

Salsa Options

Salsa is the perfect accompaniment for nachos. Its almost like the last puzzle piece of flavor for the perfect nacho bite. If you are having a party, we suggest having two to three salsa choices so guests can choose what they like. Here’s some salsa ideas that would go well with a variety of nachos:

  • Pico de Gallo: classic, fresh, vibrant and simple to make with a few fresh ingredients (onion, tomato, pepper and lime juice)
  • Creamy Jalapeno: this salsa is made with jalapenos and oil blended until creamy. Creamy Jalapeño Salsa is easy to make, but like most salsas, you can buy bottles of the Jalapeno Salsa as well. We love it on breakfast tacos.
  • Green Tomatillo: tangy and goes great with black beans. Make or buy this is an inexpensive but flavorful salsa option.
  • Classic Restaurant Style: traditional, convenient and always a winner.
  • Roasted Salsa: adds a nice smoky touch; try our Salsa Negra recipe with or without black eyed peas.
  • Salsa Macha: typically made with nuts, seeds and dried peppers, this type of salsa packs both a flavor and heat punch. Salsa Macha is intense, so you only need a little. There are a variety of salsa machas available, have fun exploring them.

Tips for a Successful Nacho Bake

Making nachos is simple, easy and you typically can’t go wrong but please keep the following in mind:

  • Even Cheese Distribution: Ensure every chip gets its share of cheese.
  • Layering is Key: Alternate layers of chips, cheese, and toppings for even distribution of flavors.
  • Prevent Sogginess: Avoid watery toppings to maintain chip crispiness. As pretty as mounds of toppings can be, we prefer to keep the cold toppings in separate bowls on the side to be added to each person’s plate when they are ready to eat.

Loaded Nacho Making for Picky Eaters

For selective eaters, create your nachos on a sheet pan with designated sections. For example you could have half of your sheet plan loaded to the max with toppings and half plain, or 1/3 with meat, 1/3 vegetarian, 1/3 plain etc.

  • Plain Chips: Topped only with cheese.
  • Beans vs No Beans: have a section without beans.
  • Meat vs veggies: have a section with meat and cheese only and vegetables only.
  • Customizable Toppings: Allow individuals to choose their preferred additions. You could even have mini sheet pans and guests can build their own nachos.

This ensures everyone can enjoy nacho night, regardless of their taste preferences.

In a Hurry? Quick & Easy Nachos Shortcut Advice

When time is of the essence, try these quick nacho hacks:

  • Microwave Method: Place chips on a plate, add cheese, and microwave in short bursts until melted.
  • Broiler Technique: Arrange chips on an oven-safe tray, add toppings (less is more if you want a fast cook), and broil for a speedy, crispy finish.

These shortcuts ensure a satisfying nacho fix in no time. Enjoy the nacho goodness!

Time to Enjoy!

Crafting the perfect loaded nachos plate is an art, and with these tips, you’re well on your way to nacho nirvana. From choosing the right cheese blend to adding flavorful proteins, fresh veggies, and zesty toppings, your nachos are destined for greatness. Whether you’re a catering to a picky eater, a crowd or in a dinner hurry, these nacho-making strategies cater to all preferences and timelines.

So, gather your favorite ingredients, preheat that oven, and embark on a nacho adventure that promises a symphony of flavors in every crunchy bite. Whether it’s game night, a quick snack, or a festive gathering, these nacho-making insights will ensure your nachos are a crowd-pleaser. Get ready to savor the perfect blend of gooey, crunchy, and savory – because when it comes to nachos, perfection is only a few steps away! Yum.

up close photo of loaded nachos

Loaded Nachos

An easy, versatile, and crowd-pleasing dish perfect for dinner or game day parties. Customize with your favorite toppings for a satisfying meal.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: versatile
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 500kcal
Cost: $28.50


  • 2 cups shredded Mexican melting cheese Queso Blanco and Oaxaca blend or substitute with Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and/or Muenster
  • 1 pound tortilla chips
  • 1 pound cooked ground turkey meat taco seasoned or plain, (optional) – or use ground beef, shredded chicken, pulled pork fajita meat, or veggie option
  • 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed (or refried beans)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup guacamole or diced avocado
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream optional
  • 1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes optional
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Spread tortilla chips evenly on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper if preferred.
  • Evenly distribute the cooked ground meat and beans over the tortilla chips.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese on top, ensuring an even coverage.
  • Add diced tomatoes, sliced olives, and chopped green onions.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 7-10 mintues. If desired, broil for an extra 30 seconds to get the cheese and toppings browned.
  • Remove from the oven and top with guacamole, crema or sour cream, and salsa or pico de gallo.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro, sliced radishes, and pickled veggies (like pickled jalapeños, radishes or onions).
  • Serve immediately.


  • Toppings: Customize toppings based on preferences: Additional options include diced bell peppers, diced onions, or any other favorite nacho toppings. Shredded chicken or pulled pork also work.
  • Spice: Adjust spice level by choosing mild or hot pickled jalapeños.
  • For a lighter version: Use less cheese, and opt for lean ground turkey meat, shredded chicken breast, or plant-based alternatives.
  • Serve immediately for the best texture and flavor. Consider placing cold toppings just before serving to maintain freshness. Or serve them on the side.
  • Picky eaters: Try making a plain section of chips topped with only cheese or customized with whatever said picky person likes.


Serving: 200g | Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 600mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 600IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 300mg | Iron: 3mg

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