Nachos are a popular Tex-Mex appetizer or snack made of corn tortilla chips layered with melted cheese and various other toppings. They are highly customizable, so you can add whatever ingredients suit your preferences. But with so many potential mix-ins, it can be tricky deciding what to put in nachos. Here’s a quick guide to the most popular nacho toppings to help you build the perfect platter.
Meat is one of the most common and delicious nacho toppings. Here are some excellent protein choices:
Ground beef that’s been seasoned with taco seasoning is a nacho classic. The spiced meat mixture adds hearty flavor and texture contrast to the chips and cheese. Lean ground beef is ideal.
Spicy Mexican chorizo sausage crumbles add a smoky, zesty twist to nachos. Other sausage varieties like andouille or Italian sausage also pair well.
For a lighter meat option, add shredded rotisserie or poached chicken breast. The tender chicken mixes nicely with the other ingredients.
A ladleful of beef or vegetarian chili makes a satisfying topping. The thick, chunky texture clings nicely to the chips.
Crispy cooked bacon crumbled over nachos provides a sweet, salty crunch.
Thinly sliced pepperoni adds a surge of savory flavor and pleasant chewiness.
So for a meat lover’s nacho platter, consider mixing together two or three of these carnivorous options. Chili and chorizo, chicken and bacon, or beef and pepperoni make excellent combinations.
Adding beans to nachos not only boosts nutrition, but also provides delicious heft and flavor contrast. These are great veggie-based proteins:
Smooth, creamy refried beans make an ultra-flavorful topping. They blend beautifully with cheese and Mexican spices.
Hearty, earthy black beans pair wonderfully with corn chips. Try them whole or mashed.
Nutty pinto beans are another excellent choice, either whole or mashed/refried.
For a sweet touch, spoon saucy baked beans over your nachos. Barbecue baked beans work especially well.
You really can’t go wrong mixing and matching these tasty beans. Refried and black make a tasty duo, or use all three for a triple bean nacho treat.
No nacho is complete without melted cheese binding everything together. Be sure to choose cheeses that melt smoothly. Here are some cheesy ideas:
Sharp cheddar is a go-to choice for its melty texture and bold flavor. Grated or sliced, it’s hard to imagine nachos without cheddar.
Monterey Jack is a prime pick for its supreme meltability. Its subtly tangy flavor also balances spicy toppings.
For easy cheese sauce, look for jars of queso dip in the Mexican food aisle. Drizzle it over your chips, or quickly heat and pour on.
Also called asadero, this creamy white Mexican cheese has excellent melting properties. Its mild flavor complements other toppings.
Part-skim mozzarella works nicely too, creating a deliciously gooey topping as it melts.
For best results, use a mix of cheeses. Cheddar and Monterey Jack or cheddar and queso make tasty combinations. And the more cheese the better!
Adding vegetables boosts nutrition and color contrast in your nachos. Here are some to try:
Diced fresh tomatoes provide sweetness and moisture. Try roma, cherry, or grape tomatoes.
Cool shredded lettuce balances the hot ingredients. Romaine, iceberg, or spring mix all work.
Minced red or white onions lend a sharp crunch. Green onions are more mild.
Chopped pickled jalapeños bring on the heat! For milder spice, remove the seeds first.
Dice bell peppers for crunchy texture and sweetness. Mix colors for a colorful platter.
Sliced black olives add a briny tang and fun texture switch-up.
Chopped or sliced avocado provides cool creaminess.
Pick and choose vegetables based on your preferences. Popular combos include tomatoes/onions/peppers, lettuce/tomatoes/olives, or jalapeños/onion/avocado.
Ladling salsa over nachos adds a surge of fresh flavor. Options include:
Pico de Gallo
Chunky pico de gallo salsa made from chopped tomatoes, onion, chiles, cilantro, and lime juice makes a fantastically fresh, vibrant topping.
Red Enchilada Sauce
For Mexican flair, smother your chips in flavorful red enchilada sauce before adding other toppings.
Tangy green tomatillo salsa is an excellent choice. Try it for a flavor change from red tomato salsas.
Of course, creamy, rich guacamole adds cool richness and pairs perfectly with spicy nachos.
For a tropical twist, use fresh mango salsa. The sweetness balances spice beautifully.
Pick one or two salsas that appeal most. Guacamole and enchilada sauce are hard to beat!
These seasoning boosters amp up the flavor of any nacho platter:
Fresh chopped cilantro leaves provide a cool herbal note.
Add more sliced or chopped jalapeños if you like it extra spicy!
Fresh lime juice brightens all the ingredients. Let guests squeeze it over their nachos.
Shake taco seasoning over meat and bean toppings for an extra punch.
Cool, creamy dollops of sour cream offset spicy heat.
Offer extra hot sauces like Tabasco, Cholula, or Tapatío so guests can customize their heat levels.
Quick-pickled radish slices add crisp, acidic crunch.
Sprinkling the salty Hispanic cheese over the top adds a nice finishing touch.
The Best Nacho Toppings Combinations
Now that you know the most popular ingredients for overloaded nachos, it’s time decide on the toppings! Here are some drool-worthy flavor combos:
Ground beef, refried beans, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños.
Chicken, sautéed bell peppers and onions, Monterey Jack, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime juice.
Chili, cheddar, tortilla chips, pico de gallo, mango salsa, queso fresco, avocado.
Chorizo, queso dip, lettuce, tomatoes, pickled onions and jalapeños, cilantro.
Seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, red enchilada sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream.
Pepperoni slices, mozzarella, pizza sauce, black olives, bell peppers, Italian seasoning.
Shredded BBQ chicken, cheddar, baked beans, red onions, cilantro.
Refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, Monterey Jack, olives, jalapeños, radishes.
Those are just a few of endless possible combinations. Feel free to mix and match your favorites or get creative with new flavor combos! The beauty of nachos is customizing them just how you like.
How to Layer and Bake Nachos
Now for some final tips on constructing and cooking your nachos:
– Start by spreading tortilla chips evenly over a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
– Top chips with a layer of shredded cheese so it melts nicely.
– Add hot fillings like seasoned meat or warmed beans next.
– Follow with more cheese and any raw veggies or garnishes.
– Bake at 400F for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are browned.
– For a quick chip/cheese melt, zap in the microwave for 2-3 minutes instead.
– Let guests customize their nachos with extra salsas, sauces, cilantro, lime wedges, etc.
– For maximum enjoyment, eat nachos right away while ingredients are hot and melty!
– Have fun piling them high with all your favorite combos.
Nachos Topping Ideas Summary
Nachos are the ultimate blank canvas for Tex Mex flavor combinations. With a foundation of tortilla chips and melted cheese, the sky’s the limit! Chili, chicken, salsa, beans, veggies, bacon—you name it—are all fair game. Try classic combos or create your own customized nacho masterpiece. Just remember to layer on plenty of ooey-gooey melted cheese and tasty mix-ins. Now get creative with your nacho toppings and enjoy nacho night!