Have you ever ordered a plate of nachos and thought to yourself that they were the best that you have ever had?
Then when you try to recreate them at home, you are disappointed because they just don’t taste the same.
They either turn out too soggy and the chips aren’t sturdy enough to hold the toppings. Or maybe you were hoping that the tortilla chips would be crispy and hot like they are at your favorite restaurant.
Although we all may prefer different toppings, I have discovered, after much practice that there are 5 simple tips for making perfect nachos every time!
5 Secrets To Making The Best Nachos
1. Layer, Layer, Layer
When my family gets an order of nachos from a local restaurant, the majority of the time all of the ingredients are placed on top of the tortilla chips. At first this appears very appetizing.
However, there are several layers of chips beneath the top layer that are totally plain.
Therefore, we spend the majority of the time rearranging the toppings. The goal here is that each chip has at least something on top.
So my first secret to making the best nachos is to layer the ingredients. Start by placing a single layer of tortilla chips on an oven safe plate or baking sheet.
Although not necessary, I prefer to line the dish with aluminum foil for easy clean up later.
Then sprinkle a layer of cheese on top of the chips. This will help the other ingredients stick to the chip as the cheese melts. Next, add any additional dry toppings such as ground taco meat or shredded chicken, diced onions, peppers and/or jalapeños.
Repeat the layers two to three times, depending on how many people that you are serving. Using this layering method will allow all of the chips to be coated with your favorite toppings.
2. The Type of Cheese Matters
Skip the liquid cheese sauce and use shredded cheese for your nachos. Liquid cheese is simply too messy and you end up with more on your hand than in your mouth.
However, not all cheese is created equal. Although it is best to use fresh grated cheese, I know that most likely, when the craving hits for nachos, that the bag of pre-shredded cheese is coming out of the refrigerator.
But there is a reason that pre-shredded cheese isn’t the best for nachos. It is coated in an anti-caking agent when processed. Therefore, the cheese has a harder time melting when heated.
However, I am also a realist and know that it is much more convenient to sprinkle on pre-shredded cheese most of the time.
Although you could use just about any variety of cheese, the more flavor that it has, the better. Extra sharp cheddar cheese or a Mexican blend shredded cheese is preferred when combined with tortilla chips.
However, also take note that that the cheese should be finely shredded rather than a medium grated cheese. This will help the cheese melt quicker during the cooking process.
3. Flavor The Meat
If you are going to be adding meat to your nachos, you will want to make sure that the meat is flavored. Although I love to use leftover Rotisserie chicken to make nachos, I always sprinkle on either taco seasoning, cumin, or chili powder before layering the meat on the chips.
The same goes for ground beef, turkey or plant based crumbles. Simply cook the meat with a sprinkle of taco seasoning and water. Then let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Because you most likely won’t be using an entire pound of ground meat, I prefer to use a taco seasoning spice container rather than the packet of seasoning. This way I can control how much seasoning I use without the worry of keeping the packet sealed and fresh until the next time that it is needed.
However, there is one way to flavor the meat without using any seasoning at all. Use smoked meat instead!
The intense flavor and tenderness that comes from meat that has been cooked for hours in a smoker is absolutely delicious. You can use smoked brisket, chicken, or a pork shoulder for your nachos.
And the meat makes for some of the best nachos that you have ever had!
4. Save The Salsa For Serving
Have you ever noticed that when you order nachos at a restaurant that the salsa comes on the side. However, when some people make nachos at home, they drizzle the salsa on top of the chips before heating them.
It may sound like a good idea at the time. After all you don’t have to worry about dipping the loaded chips in a serving dish or salsa. However, spreading the salsa on the chips will only make them soggy.
So in order to prevent this, make sure that the salsa is served in a small serving dish along with the nachos.
However, if you want to make the presentation look beautiful when you serve, you can place your wet ingredients, such as guacamole, sour cream and salsa in a small pile in the center of your tray instead.
5. Use the Oven, Not The Microwave
The last, and probably one of the most important tips for making the best nachos is to heat them up in the oven.
Most of us are in a hurry to get back to the couch to watch the big game or your favorite television show. Therefore, our first instinct is to throw a plate of loaded tortilla chips in the microwave to melt the cheese.
Although this may work in a pinch, in order to have restaurant quality nachos it is important to heat them in the oven instead.
Of course, this requires a little planning on the forefront. For instance, you can not use paper plates or a dish that isn’t oven safe to prepare the nachos.
I would recommend using a rimmed baking sheet that is lined with foil so that clean up is a breeze later. Although, you can use any type of dish that is oven-safe, including platters, plates, baking dishes or even a pie plate.
Just remember when choosing the vessel for the nachos, you don’t want to use a dish that is very deep. Once the pan comes out of the oven, you need to be able to pick up the chips without risk of touching the hot surface.
When you are ready, place the tray in a preheated oven set to 350°F (177°C) for 6-8 minutes. Because all ovens vary, be sure to check the doneness starting at the 6 minute mark, if not sooner.
Remove the nachos from the oven when the cheese is melted and bubbling. The edges of the chips should just start to turn light brown at the same time.
So there you have it! 5 Simple Secrets to Making The Best Nachos!
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