Ground Beef For Nachos Recipe

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Whose idea was it to make nachos? Whoever it was, this simple and delicious invention is a favorite of many. Ground beef for nachos recipe is an easy way to spice up your next gathering or party. The best part about using ground beef for nachos is how cheap it is to make. And since it’s so easy, you can easily put together an impromptu meal that will leave a lasting impression on your guests.

HOMEMADE NACHOS WITH GROUND BEEF

A tray of these easy homemade nachos with ground beef makes a fun weeknight dinner or a festive party appetizer. Learn how to make nachos by just layering the chips, cheese, meat and jalapeños on a pan, and then popping them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Pile on your favorite toppings — such as tomatoes, sour cream, avocados, olives and cilantro — or let your guests customize their plates. A simple loaded nachos recipe is always welcome at the table!

Overhead shot of a hand reaching and picking up simple homemade nachos recipe on a tray

BEEF NACHOS RECIPE

There’s something so fun about a meal that you can eat with your hands! Homemade nachos are a favorite around here, since we can design our own plates to make them exactly how we want them. Set up a nacho bar — it’s a perfect dinner for picky eaters!

My youngest keeps his beef nachos simple with just the cheese, chips, meat and salsa, while the rest of us pile on the toppings. With zesty ground beef, two different types of melty, gooey cheese, and plenty of fresh ingredients like avocado, tomatoes, and green onions, it’s a delicious combination of flavors and textures. Best of all, the meal is quick, easy, and perfect for busy weeknights!

WHAT KIND OF CHEESE DO YOU PUT ON NACHOS?

You’ll find two different types of cheese on nachos: grated cheeses or a cheese sauce (typically made with Velveeta, like you find at ball stadiums and movie theaters). These homemade nachos call for real blocks of shredded cheese in any flavor combination that you prefer. I use half sharp cheddar (for its flavor and tang) and half Monterey Jack (for its oozy, melty texture). Other good options include Pepper Jack and Colby.

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Bowl of grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses

INGREDIENTS FOR HOMEMADE NACHOS

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a simple nachos recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Ground beef: adds a hearty, satisfying, and flavorful component to the nachos, which turns them into a main course rather than just a snack or side dish.
  • Onion: cooks with the ground beef for even more flavor.
  • Taco seasoning: use a packet of store-bought seasoning or make your own seasoning blend at home. If using the store-bought packets, follow the preparation instructions on your specific packet (they often call for water).
  • Tortilla chips: pick a thick, sturdy variety that can stand up to all of the toppings (not a thin and crispy version).
  • Grated cheese: I like a blend of both cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese, but you can substitute with Pepper Jack, American, Colby, or Colby Jack. Try sprinkling on some Mexican cheese like cotija or queso fresco!
  • Pickled jalapeños: for a little bit of heat! These are optional, so feel free to omit them for a more mild dish.
Baking sheet full of the best beef nachos recipe

HOW TO MAKE NACHOS IN OVEN

I’ll show you how to make nachos at home — it’s so darn easy! If you can brown some ground beef, you’re halfway there…

  1. Cook and stir the ground beef and onion in a skillet; drain off the fat.
  2. Add the taco seasoning (and water, if necessary); cook according to the instructions on the taco seasoning packet.
  3. Layer the nachos on a baking sheet, starting with half of the chips, then sprinkle with half of the cheese, half of the meat, and half of the jalapeños. Repeat the layers.
  4. Bake the nachos until the cheese melts. Take one bite and taste the flavorful combination!
Ground taco meat in a cast iron skillet
Process shot showing how to make homemade nachos with ground beef

HOW LONG TO BAKE NACHOS

Keep an eye on the nachos and pull them out when the cheese is melted and the edges start to brown slightly, about 10-15 minutes in a 425°F.

EASY GROUND BEEF NACHOS RECIPE

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

Seasoned ground beef is layered with tortilla chips and shredded cheese before they get toasty and melty. Then it’s topped with all of your favorite nacho fixin’s for an easy, delicious appetizer or meal.

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

I love nachos, in all forms. From the elaborate, restaurant-style versions with cheffy toppings, to the concession stand iterations with cheap chips and melted cheese sauce for dipping. But my favorite version is what I think of as dive bar nachos. You know, the ones that you order at your favorite watering hole to enjoy along side your drink of choice. This recipe is my ode to those.

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

The star of this nacho recipe is the seasoned ground beef. I made up my own seasoning mix that included chili powder, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne, but feel free to use any taco seasoning you might have on hand if you prefer.

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

In my opinion, the key to great nachos is warm tortilla chips. That’s why for this recipe I bake them in the oven along with some shredded cheese until they get nice and toasty. This one simple step will turn any tray of nachos from good to great.

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

All that’s left after that is to add your favorite nacho toppings. Pictured here are diced tomatoes, dollops of sour cream, chopped green onion, and diced avocado. Some of my other favorites include pickled jalapeños, sliced black olives, chopped fresh cilantro, and sliced radishes.

What do you like on your nachos?

Easy Ground Beef Nachos Recipe

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Yield:Serves 4 to 6 people as an appetizer; 2 to 3 as a main course

EASY GROUND BEEF NACHOS RECIPE

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 15 minutes

total time: 25 minutes

Seasoned ground beef is layered with tortilla chips and cheese before they get toasty and melty. Then it’s topped with all of your favorite nacho fixin’s for an easy, delicious appetizer or meal.PRINT

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • One bag tortilla chips
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded nacho or Mexican cheese blend
  • Toppings: diced tomato, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped green onion, pickled jalapeños, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400˚F.
  2. Meanwhile put a skillet over medium-high heat until hot; add the ground beef and all of the seasonings and cook, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned and there’s no more visible pink. Transfer the the ground beef to a bowl, leaving behind the rendered fat.
  3. Layer the tortilla chips, cooked ground beef, and shredded cheese on a sheet pan.*** Bake in the oven until the chips are toasted and the cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Finish assembling the nachos with your favorite nacho toppings. Serve!

NOTES

You can use whatever size sheet pan you want. Pictured here is a quarter sheet pan (9-by-13 inches) where I did a double layer of chips, cheese, and meat. For a half sheet pan (13-by-18 inches), a single layer will do.

LOADED GROUND BEEF NACHOS

THE BEST HOMEMADE NACHOS LOADED WITH JUICY GROUND BEEF, ALL-NATURAL NACHO CHEESE SAUCE AND ALL YOUR FAVORITE TOPPINGS!  YOU WILL START WITH ONE CHIP AND END WITH ZERO SELF-CONTROL. 😜

These craveable loaded nachos are the only recipe you’ll ever want – crispy, creamy, juicy, fresh – with the BEST ground beef and nacho sauce! They are the ultimate crowd-pleasing sharable comfort food that can be served as an appetizer, snack or full meal (perfect for Game Day)!  Best of all, this nacho recipe can be prepped ahead for easy assembly with endless variations.  What sets this beef nacho recipe apart is the addicting juicy ground beef blended with homemade taco seasoning, creamy refried beans, punchy salsa and tangy green chilies and the luxuriously creamy, punchy homemade nacho cheese sauce you’ll want to slather on everything – no bland, boring or dry nachos here!  Finish off your mouthwatering nachos supreme with sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, pickled jalapenos for the ultimate mouthwatering party food!

HOW TO MAKE NACHOS VIDEO

WHAT MAKES THIS THE BEST NACHO RECIPE?

Nachos have to be one of the most addicting comfort foods on the planet from their dig-right-in appeal to their mashup of flavors and textures in each crunchy, juicy, creamy bite.  So, as a nacho connoisseur, it was important for me to get this recipe right. 

I can confidently say homemade nachos do not get any more fabulous than this ground beef nacho recipe.  So, what does it take to make the best loaded nachos? It starts with creamy seasoned ground beef, homemade nacho cheese sauce and fresh toppings along with a few tips and tricks. Let’s take a closer look:

WHY THIS NACHO RECIPE WORKS:

The chips are never soggy.  By using a combination of sturdy tortilla chips and popping them in the oven for 5 minutes, we avoid the pitfalls of many soggy nacho recipes.

It uses homemade nacho cheese sauce instead of shredded cheese.  You just can’t beat shatteringly crispy chips laden with silky, creamy nacho sauce.  It’s 1000X better than baked nachos with all-too-often sad, rubbery shredded cheese.  

The nacho cheese sauce is made with natural ingredients. We may love nacho cheese sauce but we don’t love are processed cheeses.  Thankfully, my quick, easy homemade nacho cheese recipe is loaded with Monterrey and mozzarella cheese so it’s extra silky with a kick of sharp cheddar for flavor.  Sour cream keeps it extra silky and green chilies, pickled jalapenos and seasonings elevate it to the most flavorful nacho sauce you’ve ever tasted.

You’ll want to devour the ground beef on its own. I modified my favorite burrito filling to make this ground beef topping because it’s so good, I always end up eating it with a spoon – and now chips! It’s juicy, creamy, perfectly seasoned and the ideal spreadable consistency without making the nachos soggy.

The ground beef and refried beans are combined.  Too often homemade nachos are a haphazard mashup resulting in beans on one chip and beef on another; you’ll get one creamy bite, one juicy bite and one dry bite. By combining the ground beef and refried beans together along with sour cream and salsa, we’re rewarded with even distribution – no more dry beans, beef or bites!

The loaded nachos are layered for even distribution.  The chips, nacho cheese then ground beef are layered in two rounds to create the most incredible stacks of loaded cheesiness in every bite.  Just try and find a chip that’s plain!

The toppings complete the flavor bomb. You can’t have the best nachos without toppings!  These beef nachos are an intoxicating symphony of flavors and textures from the crunchy tortilla chips, silky nacho cheese, juicy chili ground beef, creamy refried beans and the quintessential toppings of tangy sour cream, fresh guacamole, zesty pico de gallo, spicy pickled jalapenos and salty olives. 

The nachos aren’t baked so everyone can make their own!  Instead of creating a big pile of nachos, you can let everyone make their own bowls with customizable toppings. This let’s everyone make their nachos supreme just how they like! It also makes for easier serving so everyone can sit back and relax while they watch the game instead of swarming one solo nacho platter.

The toppings are flexible – feel free to use shortcuts! While I highly advocate a combination of fresh and creamy toppings, you can use as many or as few as you wish!  You can make the toppings from scratch or use shortcut store bought nacho sauce, pico de gallo and guacamole.

These nachos are easy to make and can be prepped in advance. You can make the ground beef/refried bean mixture and the homemade nacho sauce days ahead of time and reheat when ready to assemble. The toppings can also be prepped and refrigerated one day ahead of time.

These homemade nachos can be eaten anytime, anywhere.  While we can all agree loaded nachos are a terrific anytime appetizer, party food, movie food, game night food and big game food, they can also be eaten as lunch or dinner!

side view of nacho recipe with ground beef, nacho cheese and toppings showing how to layer the chips

THE HISTORY OF NACHOS

Nachos were created in 1940 in the border city of Piedras Negras, in Coahuila, Mexico.  As the story goes, a group of American army wives stationed at a military base in Eagle Pass, Texas passed the Rio Grande for a shopping excursion.  They stopped in the Victory Club in Piedras outside business hours looking for a bite. 

All the cooks were off duty, but the maître d’hôtel, Ignacio Anaya, nicknamed “Nacho,” was determined to whip something up.  He quickly made an appetizer by topping fried corn tortilla chips with Colby cheese and pickled jalapeños and threw them in the oven.

The women raved about the dish and jokingly called them “Nacho’s special.” A short time later, the dish became a staple on the Victory Club menu, and soon every household in the region was making their very own “nachos.”  Eventually, Mr. Anaya moved to Eagle Pass, Texas and opened a restaurant called Nacho’s.

It wasn’t until 30 years layer in the 1970s that Frank Liberto, a businessman from Texas, introduced nachos to the American masses.   With the invention of emulsified cheese sauce and a pump, Liberto introduced ballpark nachos at a Texas Rangers baseball game in 1977 and later to football fans at a Dallas Cowboys game.  Nachos quickly became the must-have game snack at stadiums with movie theaters following closely behind.   

Today, you’ll find every type of nachos from bulgogi to jerk pork to cheesesteak. My favorite kind, however, remains these classic loaded nachos.   

WHAT ARE THE BEST CHIPS FOR LOADED NACHOS?

Chips can make or break your nachos.  Thin chips can quickly turn soggy and limp and/or break when you lift them.  Instead, look for the thickest tortilla chips you can find.  These will be the sturdiest and won’t get soggy as quickly. 

I recommend checking out your bakery section for chips that were fried in-house or locally.  These are typically made from tortillas which make the sturdiest chips.  I have also had success with La Fortaleza Tortilla Chips, pictured in this recipe.  They are sold at Costco in two 3-pound bags for less than $9.

showing how to serve homemade nacho recipe with ground beef by loading all of the toppings (sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives) on top of the ground beef and nacho cheese sauce

WHAT IS THE BEST BEEF FOR NACHOS?

I’ve elevated this beef nachos recipe with a juicy, creamy, perfectly seasoned ground beef and refried bean mixture that is stand alone spectacular.  It’s so addicting, I have to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful.  Plus, by combining the ground beef and refried beans, neither element dries out and it’s easier to distribute too!

The swoon worthy ground beef is packed with flavor from browning the meat with homemade taco seasoning, stirring in refried beans, salsa, and sour cream – drool.

 INGREDIENTS FOR THE GROUND BEEF

  • Ground beef:  The best ground beef to use for homemade nachos is 85%-93% lean. That means 85% is lean and 15% is fat.  The fat will give the ground beef juicy beefy flavor without all the dripping grease.  You will still want to drain the grease before adding the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Homemade taco seasoning:  The ground beef is seasoned with a delectable homemade taco seasoning consisting of chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  You are welcome to use more or less of any of the spices to make it your own.  You can also use homemade taco seasoning but I have not experimented with the amount needed.
  • Refried beans:  Adds an irresistible creaminess that is heavenly with the beef. You may also substitute with pinto beans or black beans, but the taco meat won’t be as creamy, cohesive and overall swoon worthy.
  • Salsa:  Adds liquid to blend the refried beans and ground beef together while also adding tons of flavor.  You can use mild or medium salsa and then adjust the cayenne pepper to taste.  I use medium salsa along with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper for a little kick.
  • Chopped green chiles: These come from a can and add a subtle tang to the loaded nachos.   Take care you choose MILD chopped green chiles because the hot can is HOT. Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot so you don’t have to worry about them making your beef spicy.  

BEST CHEESE FOR NACHOS: NACHO CHEESE VS SHREDDED CHEESE

When it comes to the best cheese for nachos, which should you use?  Shredded cheese or nacho cheese? I think it comes down to personal preference:

  • Nacho cheese:  My favorite cheese for nachos is hands down nacho cheese sauce. Its undeniable silky creaminess is far more palate pleasing than shredded cheese, in my opinion, it has tons more FLAVOR, doesn’t set as quickly and drapes over every chip with ease. 
  • Shredded cheese: I’m not saying you can’t use shredded cheese, but be aware that it sets more quickly so it has to be eaten pretty instantly to enjoy its ooey gooey appeal. 

WHAT MAKES THE BEST HOMEMADE NACHO CHEESE SAUCE?

My favorite nacho cheese to use in this recipe is queso blanco. You’ll love that it’s:

  • Made with three REAL cheeses without ANY Velveeta or American cheese!
  • SO luxuriously silky and creamy
  • SO flavorful from green chiles, jalapenos and spices
  • SO easy to make in just 5 minutes
  • Customizable with heat and add-ins
  • Most importantly, it doesn’t curdle, doesn’t get grainy, or harden, or split as it cools thanks to its special ingredients of evaporated milk, cornstarch and sour cream

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