How Many Ways Can You Make Nachos?

Updated on March 20, 2018
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Who Did This?

Some foods have a long history–years, centuries, even millennia; spanning the globe and undergoing numerous iterations. And then, there’s the nacho, a simple food with a simple story. Here’s how it all began.

Once upon a time, Ignacio Anaya (or Nacho, as he was known to his family and friends) was maitre d’ at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico. One day, in 1943, a few officers’ wives from Fort Duncan Air Base traveled across the border for a day of shopping and sightseeing; that evening they arrived at the Club for a bite to eat, and so according to Anaya’s son:

He said ‘Let me go quick and fix something for you.’ He went into the kitchen, picked up tostadas,’ grated some cheese on them–Wisconsin cheese, the round one–and put them under the Salamander (a broiling unit that quickly browns the top of foods). He pulled them out after a couple minutes, all melted, and put on a slice of jalapeno.”He called the snack Nacho’s Especiales.

In 1954 that concept of tortillas with melted cheese and jalapenos hopped across the border to Eagle Pass, Texas. The ladies of the Church of the Redeemer published "St Anne's Cookbook" which documented the original recipe.

After that, the scent gets cold. Perhaps that cookbook by the Ladies of the Church of the Redeemer was a best-seller? We pick up the trail once again in San Antonio, Texas, a distance of about 140 miles from Eagle Pass. This is where Carmen Salas lived with her parents. We are told that she learned of nachos there, and carried memories of that dish with her when she wed and moved to Los Angeles in 1959. Carmen Rocha (her married name) became a waitress at the El Cholo Restaurant. And according to the L.A. Times:

For a special treat Rocha sometimes went into the kitchen and made her customers an order of nachos, an item not included on the menu. She followed a recipe she learned in San Antonio, where she grew up, layering tortilla wedges, shredded cheddar cheese and slices of jalapeno pepper, warming the dish in the oven. Before long she had requests from all over the dining room and her nachos were added to the menu.

Another legion of fans claims that the fame of nachos spread not in Los Angeles, but at a 1976 Texas Rangers game at Arlington Stadium. Two years later Howard Cosell sang their praises during a Monday Night Football telecast.

As they say, the rest is history.

I'll give you a basic recipe, and then let's explore and see how many different variations on a theme exist out there in Google land.

Recipes in this Article

  • The Original Nachos Recipe
  • Buffalo Chicken
  • Mexican street corn
  • Pulled pork
  • Greek
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Doritos
  • Irish
  • Jalapeno shrimp
  • Black bean

The Original Nacho Recipe

The recipe is adapted from a 1969 interview with Ignacio Anaya. The nachos that are made today are a pile of chips heaped with ingredients; this original version is beauty in simplicity.

Ingredients (makes 12 wafers)

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded longhorn cheese, about 3 ounces by weight
  • 1 Tbs Canola Oil
  • 12 Pickled Jalapeño Slices


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Brush the oil on both sides of each tortilla, cut each into quarters, and bake them in a 350ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They will turn a darker brown, but do not let them burn.
  3. Shred the cheese and distribute it among the tortilla triangles. Place a slice of Jalapeño on each.
  4. Bake the triangles in a 350ºF oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Alternately, you can place them under the broiler for a minute or so. Keep a close watch so that they do not burn.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

There is no doubt that Buffalo chicken holds a place of its own when we list regional tastes that have gone viral. Everyone recognizes the name and loves the flavor. How could we not put it on a chip as done here with these Buffalo Chicken nachos?

Mexican Street Corn Nachos

Mexican sweet corn has so many amazing flavors. First, of course, there's the sweet corn, but then you have the butter, mayo, crumbled cotija (or feta), cilantro, chili powder and lime juice. It's a mouth-explosion of flavor. Could anyone be brave enough to put that on a chip? Well, Kevin did, and here is his recipe for Mexican Street Corn Nachos.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Pulled pork is a guilty pleasure of mine. Those crispy bits on the edge, the succulent juicy strands of meat from the interior—greasy, sweet, buttery pork. Don't make a pulled pork simply for the sake of this recipe. But do plan ahead and save some so that you can make these nachos from the blog CrunchyCreamySweet.

Greek Nachos

MarlaMeredith blogs about fashion, beauty, travel, lifestyle, and (lucky for us) food. Her recipe for Greek nachos replaces the tortilla chip with pita chips. When I make this I use ground turkey instead of ground lamb but make this to suit your own tastes. The tzatziki sauce and fresh tomatoes are a must.

Pizza Nachos

Andrea is a former restauranteur and shares her wonderful recipes with us on her blog TaylorMadeMarket. Her recipe for pizza nachos starts with marinara and a creamy garlic sauce. Toss on cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and then, the sky's the limit. Adapt this recipe to include all the flavors you love on a pizza.

Chicken Doritos Nachos

I still haven't quite figured out what the staff of Shared do; they are located in Ottawa and magically (my word) make things go viral, like this recipe for Chicken Doritos nachos.

Be warned, Doritos are addictive; these nachos are addictive. Don't blame me if you can't stop.

Irish Nachos

Despite the famine of the mid 19th century, we still associate potatoes with Ireland. DinnerAtTheZoo has turned the love of potato chips and traditional baked potato toppings into a great Irish nacho.

Jalapeno Shrimp Nachos

The shrimp are briny and sweet, the jalapenos spicy, and the queso and Monterey jack cheeses are rich and creamy. WillCookforSmiles puts them all together perfectly for us in these shrimp nachos.

Black Bean Nachos

Last but not least are these vegetarian-friendly black bean nachos from Olena and her iFoodreal blog. Olena is originally from the Ukraine but now lives on the West Coast. Her nachos are invitingly colorful and tasty.

So, Have I Intrigued You?

Which nacho recipe will you try?

See results

© 2018 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, hello again. Yes, sometimes "less is more."

      I do enjoy telling stories with my food articles. I feel that it helps create memories far better than simply presenting a list of ingredients and instructions.

      Halloumi cheese is amazing stuff. Cheese that can be grilled!

      I have one book. If you look at the biography on my profile page you will see the title and how to obtain a copy. Thank you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 weeks ago from london

      In some ways, creativity is like working with words. We see or hear something and feel a strong desire to embellish it. Sometimes, like nachos, it may be better or different or worse. I rather like the original, though.

      You tell a great story as usual. You have books out, right?

      An amazing array of dishes! I like the black beans and the Greek nachos are close to the Greek salad, which I love. Add two pieces of Halloumi cheese.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey, I'm so happy to hear from you today. I agree--when making nachos, there's something for everybody. If you use soy-cheese you could probably even make these vegan (although I didn't suggest that in the article).

      I wish we lived next door to each other. We could test-try so many fun foods together (...although we'd probably gain 100 pounds).

      Thanks so much for your comments!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Who doesn't like nachos? These photos are mouth-watering. I'll order the pizza or black bean nachos please. Enjoyed the history about nachos very much. A delicious hub indeed!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you make me happy in being my friend, and being you. FYI, I am working on an article all about oats/oatmeal. But it's not how to cook oatmeal (LOL) or even what to put on top of it to make it taste good (or even passable). There are so many things you can do with those healthy oats. Stay tuned.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I had to come back and read the comments. You have great friends. I will get back I hope with Navajo and Hopi terms and gossip/read that verbal history. You make me happy in remembering my childhood food.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, other than the original recipe, I think you can see that cheese is just one factor in the creation of nachos, and doesn't have to be the star of the show. I'm looking forward to doing the Mexican street corn nachos when corn is available at the Farmers Markets the Shrimp/Jalapeno are calling to me.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 6 weeks ago from Brazil

      Linda, what I want to know is how to get drool off my keyboard. LOL

      It has been ages since I've had nachos. I need to correct that. I like the idea that these also have different types of cheese.

      The cheese here is rather plain tasting.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 6 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Actually, sometimes I add black olive slices to them.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, it sounds like you are staying true to the original concept. Are you SURE you don't want to branch out a little? Throw caution to the wind.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I am drooling!

      I am of the belief that there is no such thing as bad nachos. I aim to prove that point whenever the opportunity presents itself. :) Thanks for the recipes.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 6 weeks ago from Central Florida

      I love nachos, but for me, the simpler the better. I often cover tortilla chips or pita chips with cheddar cheese, nuke the dish for a minute, than add plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) to the melted goodness.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, it's like the two best things in the universe all in one happy plate, right? Hope I haven't destroyed your diet. Thanks for stopping by.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 6 weeks ago from USA

      Pizza nachos! Why not?!? You have me very interested and hungry.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, when I wrote this article I only had in mind the food we have for the past 70 years or so called "nachos". I recognize that fry bread could certainly be a part of that story.

      Perhaps I should do another that goes back in time to the origins of the tortilla, flat bread, fry bread and the use of maize. We still have so much to learn and share. Thank you for your input, your insight, and your friendship.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I am astonished and amazed. I cannot find the Hopi or Navajo fry bread original names I will ask my friends. Soft bread at first and then later "chips" for the left over corn meal and lamb kind of "Mole".

      I must say that with this it was "Indian" corn meal ground in a Matate'. Going back at least 700 years. We have found Matate going back to maybe the time of Christ here in the Southwest.

      So I read this wonderful article and go hungry. We will do the whole thing of three tomorrow.

      Please do not consider me rude - shocked is all. But not by you.

      By the lack of online attribution. Thurman Jushangava's family will help.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Wesman, you and I are in complete agreement. Nachos require REAL cheese, not something processed from tofu or nutritional yeast flakes. I love Mexican food (...and Italian, and Thai. Oh heck, I just love food).

      Thanks for commenting. I hope you stop by again soon. I've at least 300 more food-related articles for you to peruse.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Kristina, I haven't tried them (yet) but I agree, they look so good. I'm waiting for Farmers Market fresh corn. Yum. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 weeks ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Well I don't think I've ever heard a story of the history of the dish, but now I'm that much smarter.

      Hey, I live in Texas, and about half my meals are more or less Mexican inspired. I'll take those nachos any way that isn't vegan. Thanks!

    • Kristina Hearn profile image

      Kristina Hearn 6 weeks ago from Iowa

      These all look delicious! I'm a fan of Mexican street corn, so I will definitely be trying it nacho style!