Nacho bars are great for pot-lucks or buffets, large groups, and is also great for last-minute dinners. It’s easy to bake, which gives you more time for socializing. Each person can grab and make their own bowl and adjust it with what they like. And since the nachos are made in a tray lined with aluminum, clean up is a breeze. Bonus points – it’s a budget meal!
The Set Up
This is one of most favorite meals because they’re budget AND group friendly, can be made in a pinch, and can be adjusted based on different dietary restrictions and likes. Plus, when I was in college, these were my GO TO. I made these nachos all the time, and loved making them for friends during study groups.
And really, what’s not to like about nachos?!?!
Presenting, the heap of chips…..
We make our nachos by tossing chips and cheese onto a tin-foiled lined pan. Meg and I use regular Mexican blend cheese for our nachos, because we like the flavor, we don’t feel the need to have Velveeta cheese on our nachos. Using regular cheese is just as amazing and is easier for a last-minute nacho bar. If you use regular cheese instead of Velveeta cheese, just keep in mind that regular shredded cheese will harden up after melting, so you’ll want to take your nachos out of the oven right before you eat them. Otherwise, don’t stress it. We’ve eaten the nachos once the cheese has firmed up, and still amazing.
The Key Players in a Nacho Bar
You’ll need a big bag of chips. For our family of 5, we use a full bag and have enough for leftovers. I love Trader Joe’s chips. I also found a new brand that I’m crazy about supporting, Sieste. The chips are really crunchy and light, and have such a crisp and clean flavor. Meg and I are huge fans. Though I haven’t tried making nachos with them yet, it’s on my to-do list, if I can ever save a bag for dinner…we usually eat straight through the bag too quickly! Also, we LOVE the Trader Joe’s street corn. It’s spicy and covered with a creamy sauce that’s perfect for nachos. If you don’t have this, then regular corn (canned or fresh) still adds a great dimension.
Gather whatever toppings you like. Some of our favorites for a nacho bar are:
- Black beans
- Wild rice
- Sour bream
- Chopped tomatoes
- Green onions
- Chopped lettuce
- Hatch chilies
Also, if we have any left-over meat from the night before, I can chop it up and include it in the nacho bar.
Side note – cilantro! Are you team cilantro or not? Cilantro is a versatile herb that people hate or love. Surprisingly enough, did you know that if you don’t like Cilantro it might be because of your taste buds?! So, if you don’t like Cilantro, it might not be your fault. Blame Your Taste Buds, by the New York Times, explores why some people hate Cilantro.
Setting the Scene:
Our chips and cheese get added in layers. One layer of chips, next layer of cheese and beans (if using). Then, repeat. Another layer of chips, cheese, and beans. Then repeat! I usually do 3 to 4 layers. Then, I lightly cover with an aluminum foil tent. The foil on top will help prevent the chips from browning, which is super important.
Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Check the done-ness around 30 minutes, and see if the cheese has melted enough. Since the nachos are made in layers, it can take a bit longer for the inner cheese layers to melt, but I typically find that 30 minutes at 350 works.
Now, set up the nacho bar. I place all the toppings in a small jars and line them up counter. Everyone can grab a plate and pile on their toppings! See that?! Super easy, cheap, and yummy. My fav.
Equipment and Ingredients Used for a Nacho Bar
- Sheet pan
- Aluminum foil
- Small bowls for toppings. I found these bowls on Amazon and look how cute they are! I love multipurpose white bowls.
- Chips – any kind of tortilla-esque chip will work! I usually just get these 365 chips, but I really want to try making nachos with these Sieste chips!
- I use two small bags of cheese – because no one ever said too much cheese! I like the shredded Mexican cheese.
- Olives. How many cans you go through?! We usually go through 2 cans a batch of nachos.
- Green chilies because why not?!
- Salsa. While I love fresh salsa, this Whole Foods brand is pretty dang good.
- Sour Cream and guacamole. I always forget these toppings, but they’re so flavorful on top.
- Rice. I love adding Spanish rice to my nachos because it adds texture and a flavorful kick.
- Cilantro – a must for any nacho bar! You can chop it if you like. But die-hard cilantro fans like me, we just eat it straight.
Enjoy and if you have any nacho bar favorites, let us know in the comments!!
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- Half Sheet Pan
- Aluminum Foil
- 1 bag Tortilla Chips
- 2 bags Mexican Shredded Cheese
- red onions
- sour cream
- Turn oven onto 350 fahrenheit
- Line half-sheet with tinfoil
- Do first layer of chips, then top with cheese.
- Repeat layers.
- Top with tin foil and put into the oven.
- Check after 30 minutes. If done, remove.
- Plate and add toppings!