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Here’s the very best nachos recipe, loaded with all the classic toppings! These tips make a delicious sheet pan everyone will love.

Nachos recipe
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What’s better than a big pan of nachos? (Answer: not much.) This Tex Mex favorite is one of life’s great pleasures, and we’re here for them. They’re ideal an appetizer to feed a crowd, but even better: they work as a simple dinner too! Here’s the best part about our Ultimate Nachos Recipe: it works for any diet. We’ve got a variation for meat eaters, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free eaters! We’ve also research all the best nacho toppings so you know exactly which ones are essential to that classic flavor.

Keys to the best nachos recipe (that fits any diet)

Like any good food nerds, we’ve done a bit of research to find the best way to make nachos. Here are a few of the features of the absolute best way to make nachos that will be a huge hit with everyone at the table. Here’s how to make a pan of classic nachos while accommodating many diets:

  • Make vegan taco meat OR ground beef. This walnut taco meat (aka vegan ground beef) tastes so meaty, your family might not know the difference. It makes for a healthy nachos recipe spin. Serving meat lovers? We’ve got instructions for the standard taco meat below too. Better yet, make both!
  • Add the essential toppings. There are a handful of toppings that are in all the best nachos (see below).
  • Consider toasting the chips first. Just a few minutes in the pan makes super crisp chips that get less soggy.

Essential nachos toppings

What are those essential toppings? We did a survey nacho recipes and all our favorite nacho experiences. Here are the top toppings you must have to make the best nachos:

  • Cheese (see below)
  • Refried beans: we mix ours with salsa to get big flavor; it also helps to get nice melty cheese
  • Pico de gallo: use purchased or sub in finely diced tomato and red onion
  • Green onions: the onion-y flavor and bright green color are essential
  • Sour cream: Sour cream is an absolute must! Serve on the side if you’re serving for a crowd. For vegan and dairy free, use cashew cream.
  • Guacamole: Same idea: feel free to serve on the side for dipping, or dollop on the entire pan
  • Cilantro: You can go either way, but we’re cilantro people over here
  • Jalapeño peppers: If you like heat, pickled jalapeños are perfection

The second string players when it comes to nacho toppings? Sliced black olives are popular: go for them if you’re an olives fan. Canned corn or crunchy romaine lettuce are also nice adders.

Shredded cheese vs nacho cheese

When it comes to cheese: should you use shredded cheese or nacho cheese for your nachos?

  • Shredded cheese: Shredded cheese is most common for nachos. We like a blend of Colby Jack cheese or Mexican cheese best, but you can also use cheddar.
  • Nacho cheese: Use nacho cheese if you’re a fan of the gooey stuff: or if you want plant-based nachos! Try our Nacho Cheese Sauce, or this Vegan Nacho Cheese is to die for. Even meat-lovers are head over heels for it (we’ve tested on many friends and family!).
Nachos toppings

What chips to use for nachos

Here are a few tips on the best chips to use for nachos…because it really does matter! Here’s what to know:

  • Look for organic chips with a short ingredient list. Going for a healthy nachos recipe? Or healthier? Grab organic corn chips that have only 3 ingredients: corn, oil, and salt! Check the back of the package.
  • Avoid the very thin chips. These get soggy and tend to break when loaded with nacho toppings. Speaking of soggy…

How to avoid a dry or soggy nachos recipe

There are two dreaded nachos recipe states: too soggy or too dry. This recipe avoids both and lands solidly in the “just right” camp. Here’s what we’ve learned on the soggy vs dry nacho front:

  • Add a little cheese to the chips first, which forms a protective barrier. Then layer your toppings on top.
  • Even better, toast the chips in the oven for a few minutes. This helps to crisp them up even a little more (we don’t always do this, but you can do it if you plan to set them out).
  • Use refried beans with cheese, sour cream and guacamole per the recipe below. This makes sure they’re perfectly loaded with goodness: no risk of dryness!
Nachos recipe

Step it up: use a kitchen torch

Want next level nachos? Here’s a tip we learned while making this nachos recipe. To get our cheese a little gooier for the photo, we used a kitchen torch — you know, the kind you use for creme brulee. Turns out, it infuses a delightfully smoky nuance into nachos! We assume most of you probably don’t have one of these at home, but if you do: try running it lightly over the cheese. It’s very, very good.

Nacho variations!

And that’s it! These nachos are a great appetizer for a party, perfect for game day or even a simple dinner recipe. Looking for a few other ways to make nachos? We’ve got lots of ideas because…well, we can’t get enough of them! Here are some ways to vary the theme:

Nacho toppings
Who could resist this goodness?

This nachos recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Nachos recipe

Ultimate Nachos Recipe!

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
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Here’s the very best nachos recipe, loaded with all the classic toppings! These tips make a delicious sheet pan everyone will love. 



For the nachos

  • 1 ½ cups Walnut Taco Meat or 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 15-ounce can refried beans
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 6 ounces organic corn chips (approximately 1 sheet pan)
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack or Mexican blend cheese (or Vegan Nacho Cheese, for vegan)

For the toppings

  • ½ cup pico de gallo (or finely diced tomato and red onion)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper or ¼ cup pickled jalapeños
  • Sour cream, for garnish (omit for vegan and use cashew cream or nacho cheese)
  • Guacamole, for garnish
  • Optional toppings: Black olives, lettuce or corn


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. For the meat: Make the Walnut Taco Meat (or make it in advance; it stores well). Or if using ground beef, add it to a skillet with 1 tablespoon cumin and 1 teaspoon each smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cook for about 8 minutes until browned, then drain the fat. 
  3. For the beans: Mix the refried beans with the salsa. Taste and add a few pinches kosher salt if desired.
  4. Bake the nachos: Line a standard-sized baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chips in a single layer on top (to avoid soggy chips, you can also pre-bake them for about 3 minutes until they are toasted and fragrant). Add a sprinkle of cheese (this also helps to keep them less soggy). Then add a layer of the beans, then the remaining cheese and taco meat. Bake 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese melts, then remove from the oven. (Optional: Add a smoky flair by charring the cheese with a kitchen torch — only if you have one, but it adds mega flavor!) 
  5. Top the nachos: Top with the pico de gallo, cilantro, green onion and jalapenos. Dollop with sour cream and guacamole and serve. 
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Ame says:

    How do you store the leftovers (and how long)?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Leftovers don’t store great, sorry!

      1. Kerri Tijerina says:

        Thank You. For delicious “Free-From” options!!

  2. maggie says:

    How is this and some of the other recipes on here dairy free when you add cheese or sour cream on top?