This easy nachos recipe is a classic appetizer of tortilla chips topped with spiced ground meats, beans, melty cheese, and all your favorite toppings.
How to Make Nachos
We're cooking up a huge plate of Nachos in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends.
You can't go wrong with nachos. There are so many ways to make them, and you can really customize the dish pretty much any way you'd like.
It's an easy win for spicy food lovers like myself who love the creative possibilities, and I can really spice things up as much as I want to.
I make them so many different ways, and I will share many variations below, but it all starts with a base of ingredients common to this classic dish.
The Original Nachos - History
The story of the origin of nachos comes from Mexico, when a man named Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya made the dish on the fly for a hungry customer looking for something a bit different.
It was originally nothing more than fried corn tortillas cut into triangles topped with melted Colby cheese and pickled jalapenos.
He dubbed it "Nacho's Special", and the rest is history. Today, you'll find them everywhere in so many different forms, with so many wonderful toppings.
What a great time to be alive!
This particular recipe is a simple but classic way to make them, something you'll find in restaurants all across America.
Use it as a base recipe, a springboard to allow your creativity to roam. Endless possibilities await you!
Let's talk about how to make nachos, shall we?
- Olive Oil. For cooking the beef.
- Ground Beef. You can use other ground meats, though ground beef is most common.
- Taco Seasonings. Try my homemade taco seasoning recipe, or use your favorite store bought blend.
- Refried Beans. You can also use mashed pinto beans or black beans. Try my easy homemade refried beans recipe.
- Tortilla Chips. Use your favorite store bought brand for an easy recipe.
- Shredded Cheese. I am using an even mix of Colby Jack and Cheddar cheese, though you can use any of your favorite melty cheeses, like Monterey jack. I definitely recommend shredded it yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses don't melt as evenly.
- Pickled Jalapenos. You can use fresh sliced jalapeno peppers, though pickled jalapenos are most commonly used.
- Nacho Toppings. I am using diced tomatoes, extra pickled jalapenos, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, red pepper flakes. See the RECIPE NOTES for more ideas.
How to Make Nachos - the Recipe Method
Cook the Ground Beef. Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium heat.
Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned and mostly cooked through, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
Drain excess fat and liquid.
Spice It Up. Add the taco seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes to let the spices bloom.
You can customize with any of your favorite spices as well, like spicy chili powder.
Refried Beans. Stir in the refried beans and water. Mix to incorporate, then reduce the heat.
Simmer for 10 minutes to develop flavor. You can simmer longer if you’d like to develop flavor further.
Prep For Baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Tortilla Chips Layer. Layer the tortilla chips onto a large baking sheet. Sheet pans are great for making nachos.
Get a nice even layer, with the chips overlapping to catch all the goodness about to come.
Meat-Beans Layer. Spread the cooked beef and beans mixture evenly over the tortilla chips.
Do this quickly to avoid getting soggy nachos.
Cheese Layer. Top evenly with the shredded cheeses. Move quickly, but I like to make sure it slips down into any nooks and crannies to get extra cheesy nachos.
Make sure you get the corners, too.
Pickled Jalapenos Layer. Top with pickled jalapeno peppers. Add as few or as many as you’d like.
I like lots and lots of pickled jalapenos, please!
Bake the Nachos. Bake the tray for 10 minutes, or until the cheeses are nicely melted and gooey.
Toppings. Remove from heat, top with your favorite toppings, and serve!
Boom! Done! Your nachos are ready to serve. They're so easy to make, right? Now, the real question is -- what toppings are you going to use? Let the real fun begin!
Upgrade Your Nachos
As mentioned, use this recipe as a base to build new ways to make it your way. Here are some ideas:
The Meats. Use other ground meats, like ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version. One of my favorites is ground chorizo. Huge flavor!
Or, go vegetarian and focus on the awesome toppings!
Nacho Toppings. You can really mix it up here. Use your favorites! More ideas include diced avocado, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh roasted jalapeno slices, sour cream or Mexican crema, lime wedges, pickled red onions, salsa, fresh chopped onions, black olives.
What's YOUR favorite? I'd love to hear!
Extra Cheesy Nachos. If you'd prefer restaurant style or movie theater style nachos, try my homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe.
It's extra creamy, more like a dip, just like they serve in theaters when I worked there.
Another great sub for this is salsa con queso. Very cheesy!
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this easy, classic nachos recipe. Let me know how you enjoyed it, and what toppings you chose! I must know! =)
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Easy Classic Nachos Recipe
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 15 ounces refried beans 1 can
- ½ cup water
- 13 ounces thick tortilla chips 1 typical bag
- 3-4 cups shredded cheese I love a mix of Colby Jack and Cheddar – use your favorite melty cheeses
- ½ cup pickled jalapenos
- Diced tomatoes, extra pickled jalapenos, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, red pepper flakes. See the RECIPE NOTES for more ideas.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned and mostly cooked through, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Drain excess fat and liquid.
- Add the taco seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes to let the spices bloom.
- Stir in the refried beans and water. Mix to incorporate, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes to develop flavor. You can simmer longer if you’d like to develop flavor further.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Layer the tortilla chips onto a large baking sheet.
- Spread the cooked meat and beans mixture evenly over the tortilla chips.
- Top evenly with the shredded cheeses.
- Top with pickled jalapeno peppers. Add as few or as many as you’d like.
- Bake the nachos tray for 10 minutes, or until the cheeses are nicely melted and gooey.
- Remove from heat, top with your favorite toppings, and serve!