If you’ve got a savory craving, a pan of homemade nachos could be just the ticket. While nachos are a staple on Super Bowl Sunday, they’re also a great way to surprise Dad on Father’s Day.
Whether you’re making nachos for a special occasion or just because they sound delicious, you want them to turn out well. We gathered the top tips we could find for foolproof homemade nachos. Say goodbye to soggy chips, and hello to layers of hot, cheesy crunchiness.
Tips for Homemade Nachos: Choose Your Chips Wisely
Chips are the foundation of your nachos. You need a strong foundation. There’s no sense in topping light, thin chips with lots of heavy fixings. Those chips will crumble under the weight of your toppings before they get to your mouth.
Instead, use sturdy chips that can hold meat, cheese, beans, guacamole and sour cream, along with any other toppings you choose. In fact, Chef Chris Shepherd (winner of a James Beard award) only uses triangular chips; he insists the crunch factor isn’t as strong with round chips. We don’t have strong feelings about the shape of our chips, but we agree there’s no substitute for sturdy chips.
Tips for Homemade Nachos: Double the Cheese, and Shred It Yourself
You could top your chips with shredded cheese, or you could top your chips with cheese sauce. Why not do both?
Bon Appétit cautions against using pre-shredded cheese, and we echo their concerns. Pre-shredded cheese comes in limited varieties. It includes cellulose to keep it from clumping, but cellulose also inhibits melting. Shred your own cheese for best results.
What type of cheese should you choose? Whether you’re shredding it directly onto your chips or adding it to cheese sauce, Cheddar is always a winner. Chef Chris Shepherd suggests Colby cheese, and Bon Appétit votes for Monterey Jack. Feel free to mix it up according to your personal tastes.
Finally, cheese sauce shouldn’t come from a jar or a block of imitation cheese. Whip up a roux, and then add cheese. It’s the same technique used in making macaroni and cheese from scratch. You’ll just pour it over chips instead of pasta.
Tips for Homemade Nachos: Keep the Hot Toppings Hot and the Cold Toppings Cold
Even the sturdiest chips will start to get soggy under a pile of guacamole and sour cream. Wait to add cold toppings until it’s time to eat. Some of the best nacho toppings -- like guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro -- are best served in separate bowls, rather than dolloped on top. Guests can add as much as they like to their own nachos.
Chef Chris Shepherd recommends an ingredient we’ve never tried before on nachos: pickled hominy. Hominy is maize, a variety of corn. Shepherd insists that a handful of pickled hominy sprinkled over the top of your nachos adds a bright, acidic zing. We’re willing to give it a shot.
Tips for Homemade Nachos: Layering Is Key
If you’ve been making nachos with a single layer, you’re going to love this tip on how to layer nachos. Top your chips with cheese, meat, beans, hominy, and any other hot ingredients — and then start over again! Add a second layer of chips and toppings. For an extra cheesy crunch, finish with another layer of chips and cheese. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it.
Tips for Homemade Nachos: Get Baked
Yes, you can drizzle cheese sauce over chips, and then top them with all the fixings. We think baking nachos in the oven is a superior method. Baking nachos ensures all the hot toppings stay hot, the cheese melts, and the chips are crispy.
One final tip — and it might be the most important of all: Spread a sheet of aluminum foil over your baking sheet before starting that first layer of chips. After indulging in a glorious spread of hot, cheesy crunchiness, you’ll love how easy it is to clean up.