Beef Nachos – Once Upon a Chef

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Get ready for game day or spice up weeknight dinners by whipping up a batch of cheesy beef nachos, piled high for maximum deliciousness.

beef nachos on sheet pan with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream

In every family, there’s that one dish that disappears as soon as it hits the table, and in my house, that dish is undoubtedly these cheesy beef nachos. The recipe combines perfectly-seasoned beef with the freshness of homemade salsa, all piled high on a crunchy bed of tortilla chips smothered in gooey, melted cheese. For those who enjoy a bit of heat, jalapeño slices bring a welcome kick, while sour cream and guacamole on the side make the dish truly decadent. Whether you’re rallying your team on game day or shaking up the routine with a fun weeknight meal, these beef nachos promise to be the highlight. And the cherry on top? You can whip them up in just 40 minutes.

Table of Contents

What You’ll Need To Make Beef Nachos

beef nacho ingredients.

Find the printable recipe with exact measurements below.

  • Jalapeño peppers, scallions, garlic, fresh cilantro, lime, and tomatoes: Create an easy, fresh salsa to serve alongside the nachos.
  • Yellow onion and garlic: Form the aromatic base of the ground beef.
  • Ground beef: 90-93% lean ground beef is ideal offering a balance of flavor while minimizing excessive fat.
  • Chili powder, dried oregano, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper: Aromatic seasonings that give the beef a bold and spicy flavor.
  • Tomato paste: Thickens the sauce and intensifies the ground beef’s flavor.
  • Tortilla chips: Provide a crunchy base for the nachos.
  • Mexican blend cheese: A mix of 4 cheeses including Monterey Jack and cheddar. It melts beautifully to top the nachos with gooey cheesy goodness.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Salsa

In a small bowl, add the jalapeño pepper, scallions, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and set aside.

jalapeño pepper, scallions, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and tomatoes in small bowl

Stir to combine.

jalapeño pepper, scallions, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and tomatoes combined

Step 2: Make the Spicy Beef

Heat the oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more; do not brown.

diced onions cooking in skillet

Add the beef, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

beef, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomato paste in skillet with onions and garlic

Increase the heat to medium high and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

browned ground beef mixture

Step 3: Assemble the Nachos

Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread half of the chips in an even layer.

1/2 of tortilla chips on parchment lined baking sheet

Sprinkle half of beef mixture over the chips.

1/2 of beef mixture spread over chips on baking sheet

Cover evenly with 2 cups of the cheese and half of the jalapeño slices.

2 cups cheese and half of jalapeño spread over beef mixture

Repeat with the remaining chips, beef mixture, cheese, and jalapeños.

remaining chips, beef, cheese, and jalapeño spread over first layer

Bake until cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes.

nachos after baking

Remove the nachos from oven and serve them right on the baking sheet with the salsa and optional garnishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can nachos be made ahead of time?

Nachos are best enjoyed fresh from the oven to maintain the crispiness of the chips and the gooey melt of the cheese. However, you can prepare the spicy beef and homemade salsa a day ahead of time, storing them in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, simply assemble the nachos with your prepped ingredients and bake.

Can I substitute the beef with another protein?

Yes! While the savory flavor of beef is classic for nachos, you can easily substitute it with ground turkey or chicken. You might also enjoy my chicken nachos, made with store-bought rotisserie chicken.

How can I keep my nachos from getting soggy?

This particular recipe was developed to prevent soggy nachos by not overloading them with too many wet ingredients. To ensure they remain crispy, the homemade salsa (and optional sides of sour cream or guacamole) should be served on the side rather than on top of the nachos.

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Beef Nachos

Get ready for game day or spice up weeknight dinners by whipping up a batch of cheesy beef nachos, piled high for maximum deliciousness.

Ingredients

Quick Salsa

  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño peppers, from 1 pepper (seeded; see note)
  • 2 scallions, light and dark green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes (about ¾ pound), cored and diced

Spicy Beef

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound 90 to 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Nachos

  • 1 (10-oz) bag tortilla chips
  • 1 pound (16 oz) shredded Mexican blend cheese (4 cups)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced into rounds (optional)

For Serving (Optional)

  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Homemade or store-bought guacamole

Instructions

For the Quick Salsa

  1. In a small bowl, add the jalapeño pepper, scallions, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and set aside.

For the Spicy Beef

  1. Heat the oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more; do not brown. Add the beef, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

For the Nachos

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread half of the chips in an even layer; sprinkle half of beef mixture over the chips and cover evenly with 2 cups of the cheese and half of the jalapeño slices. Repeat with the remaining chips, beef mixture, cheese, and jalapeños. Bake until cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the nachos from oven and serve them right on the baking sheet with the salsa and optional garnishes.
  2. Note: When handling jalapeño peppers, avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands well afterward.
  3. Make-Ahead Instructions: Nachos are best enjoyed fresh from the oven to maintain the crispiness of the chips and the gooey melt of the cheese. However, you can prepare the spicy beef and homemade salsa a day ahead of time, storing them in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, simply assemble the nachos with your prepped ingredients and bake.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 770
  • Fat: 53 g
  • Saturated fat: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Sodium: 759 mg
  • Cholesterol: 125 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you’re following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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