Game DayTexMexGluten-FreeNachos

Classic Tex Mex nachos! Corn tortilla chips, baked with refried beans, shredded cheddar cheese, and jalapeno peppers. Served with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cilantro.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Nachos are considered more “Tex Mex” than Mexican, being an invention of one Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, a restaurateur serving American servicemen in the 1940s. At their essence, they are simply a layer of tortilla chips with melted cheddar cheese and jalapeño peppers.

These days most people use melted, processed Velveeta cheese, instead of real cheddar. But you don’t have to. You can easily make nachos with regular cheddar cheese, which will melt beautifully in the oven.

Nachos are all about the ingredients—the best tortilla chips, refried pinto beans, grated cheddar cheese, jalapeño peppers, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and fresh cilantro.

There are two kinds of tomato salsa that we use often, one with fresh tomatoes and one with cooked. We used to make the cooked tomato salsa from scratch, but there are so many great prepared salsas on the market these days, that we don’t ours from scratch very often. This recipe works best with the cooked tomato salsa, but really, you can use any salsa.

Nachos Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8



1 Assemble the nachos: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange a layer of tortilla chips along the bottom of a wide, shallow baking pan. It will make things easier if this baking pan also can be used as a serving pan, such as the ceramic platter shown in the photo above. The layer of tortilla chips can be a couple chips thick.

Spread the refried beans over the chips (this is why you need extra thick chips, so they don't break when encountering the beans).

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of chips and beans. Sprinkle slices of jalapeño peppers over the cheese.

2 Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 5 minutes in a convection oven.

3 Serve with dollops of salsa, sour cream and guacamole, with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.

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Texas nachos with homemade tortilla chips from Lisa Fain, our Homesick Texan

Showing 4 of 16 Comments / Reviews

  • Jay

    I lived in Austin for five years, and I consider Smoky Hill Salsa from Austin Spice Company to be the best I’ve tasted, and I’ve tasted a lot :). I still stock my cupboards through their online store (live in Seattle now, salmon / hazelnut salsa just doesn’t cut it).

    Smoky Hill Salsa, and Smoky Hill Salsa Verde (I’m not a big fan of the Chile Ancho or Green Chile varieties):

  • Jeff

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think using fresh salsa as opposed to a jar of salsa makes a much larger difference than using fresh beans. I guess ideally I would use fresh beans and fresh salsa :)

    Also, I highly recommend adding some/all of the following when making nachos:
    * sliced black olives
    * diced yellow pepper
    * fresh cut jalepenos
    * habenero peppers (if you like them spicy)
    * lettuce
    * fresh diced tomato (depending on how chunky your salsa is)

    Nachos are also great if you add some meat, such as slices of chicken breast or steak. Or left over taco meat always makes great nachos!

  • pate

    Salsa from a can??? No way, salsa is just too easy to make.

    Besides, a healthy dollop of home made mango-chipotle salsa is just the thing to take your nachos to the next level.

  • Elise

    Hi Jay – thanks for the recommendation, it looks good!

    Hi Jeff – great suggestions, thank you, though I must disagree with you regarding the beans/salsa discussion (read on…).

    Hi Pate – Salsas come in all kinds – fresh tomato salsa, cooked tomato salsa, tomatillo salsa, mango salsa, etc. The fresh tomato salsa we make fresh during the summer when we have access to delicious fresh tomatoes and chiles. The rest of the year we don’t have access to decent fresh tomatoes or chiles, so we use salsa made from canned cooked tomatoes and canned cooked chiles. (You can also cook the tomatoes and the chiles from scratch, but have the same problem in the winter time in terms of access to good fresh tomatoes and chiles.) You can either make salsa from scratch using canned cooked tomatoes or you can buy salsa that has already been prepared and canned in a jar using cooked ingredients. Quite frankly, I don’t find much a a difference between making salsa from scratch using canned tomatoes and canned cooked chiles and some of the excellent prepared salsas that you can get these days. In fact, I like the brand I linked to in this recipe, Green Mountain, just as much as what I made from scratch almost every day growing up (my job in our family was chief salsa maker). That said, like I mentioned, one can use any salsa with nachos. I just prefer the cooked tomato type with this particular dish.

  • Christine Naugle

    I currently live in NorthWest NC, in the town that Andy Griffith based Mayberry. We have a large Mexican population and one very good Mexican restaurant. Here, I’ve had the best Nachos I have ever had in my life and I’ve had them in the California, Arizona and Texas.

    It’s definitely not ‘classic’ Tex Mex Nachos (purists beware) but I have to share my favorite:

    It is their shrimp nachos… They use a really creamy blend of Mexican cheeses -it’s almost milky in color but a really strong flavor! Fresh shrimp swiming in spicy cheese on a mountain of hot homemade tortilla chips… with grilled veggies, jalepenos, a huge side of guacamole and a gollup of something they call rancheros salsa. soo yummy!

    So, if they sell Mexican cheese in your area, look for the kind that says “melting” cheese on the package -the texture and flavor is nice and yummy!

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