Nothing beats the joy of coming together with family and friends and sharing a great meal.
The flavours of Mexico were made to be shared – and when it comes to casual dining, few Mexican dishes fit the bill better than a plate of nachos.
From wondering about what nachos are to mastering to make them at home, here’s an essential run down on this delicious Mexican classic.
What are nachos?
First: what exactly are nachos?
Nachos are a dish made with tortilla chips and a huge variety of toppings and covered with cheese. Traditionally nachos are served as a snack, though over the years it has also evolved into a main meal.
The dish originally hails from northern Mexico and can trace its origins back to the 1940s. A restauranteur named Ignacio Anaya invented the dish; they were called nachos – a short-form of the creator’s name.
What’s in nachos?
What toppings belong on a plate of nachos depends on who you ask. There’s a few core ingredients – tortilla chips, cheese, jalapeño – and then a variety of toppings which can range from meat, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
Tortilla chips are the foundation for a plate of nachos and in some ways the most important element. The perfect tortilla chips should be thick and crunchy – you don’t want them to go soft and limp while cooking. Our Old El Paso™ Nachips are well up to the task; they’re twice cooked, so you can load them up and dip them with ease.
When Ignacio Anaya first made his new creation, cheese was one of the few ingredients he had to hand – melting cheese over tortilla chips turned out to be a stroke of genius. Cheddar cheese is one of the most popular varieties used today, but it also works well with anything from Monterey Jack to Mozzarella. Nacho cheese, or cheese sauce, is another popular take on the ingredient.
If you want to transform your nachos from a side dish to a snack, then you’ll probably want a meat filling. Pulled pork, chicken, chilli, steak or chorizo all taste delicious, especially when you add seasoning – try cooking them with one of our Old El Paso™ seasoning mixes to add flavour and save time.
A good salsa will enhance the other ingredients and have the added benefit of adding an extra kick if you want it too. A pico de gallo style salsa is mild and versatile, while something like a salsa verde will add heat. You can save yourself time with our selection of Old El Paso™ chunky salsas - they come in both mild and hot.
Jalapeño is one of the original three ingredients in nachos, and help add intensity and flavour to every bite. Sprinkle over some pre-sliced jalapeño to save time - our Old El Paso™ sliced red and green jalapeño taste great. If you like it extra spicy, cut them up and add the seeds.
How to make nachos at home?
Nachos work best when they’re made with fresh, simple ingredients – you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen.
For the best results, you’ll want to cook your nachos in the oven, though if that’s not an option they can also be done in the microwave.
Line a baking sheet with foil and scatter your tortilla chips. Sprinkle over your shredded cheese. Then, place them in the oven at around 220C, for around 5 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted.
Next, add any other toppings you’d like to use – scatter over with salsa, add any meat or vegetable fillings and jalapeno peppers. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the final touches – guacamole and sour cream.
If you’re serving to a larger group, a top tip is to make your nachos in layers, cooking between each. Start with a base layer of tortilla chips, cheese, salsa, jalapeño and any other hot fillings like meat and vegetables.
Once the cheese is melted, remove from the oven, then add another layer and repeat the process. Taking a few extra minutes to do this will ensure nachos are evenly covered and well-cooked from top to bottom.
How to make nacho cheese?
The two most popular methods for nacho cheese are using shredded cheese and melting it in the oven, or using a cheese sauce:
If you’re wondering how to make cheese sauce for nachos, you can whip it together quickly on your stovetop with just four ingredients.
Add equal parts butter and flour – one or two tablespoons each should be plenty - to a skillet, then melt and whisk together until they begin to bubble. This takes about a minute.
Whisk in a cup of milk and stir until the mixture starts to thicken, then turn off the heat. Next, slowly add shredded cheese – cheddar is fine – until it’s integrated into the sauce. Once it’s melted, add seasoning to your taste; a pinch of salt is all it needs, but if you want to turn up the intensity, a dash of chilli powder or cayenne tastes great.