If the game itself doesn’t lead to enough arguments, you can be sure to get people squawking with a plate of nachos. Everyone has their own opinion on what kind of toppings to use and how to arrange them. J. Kenji López-Alt and Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful, duked it out a couple years ago, with Kenji defending individually topped nachos and Dan trumpeting the piled variety.
Truth be told, both kinds of nachos are delicious. We’ve got plenty of recipes for both, from piled-style pepperoni pizza supreme nachos to individual Texas-style nachos. We’ve even got a few unusual nacho variations to try—think naan and wontons instead of chips. Whichever side of the nacho debate you’re on, you’re bound to find something you like for the big game. And if you’re having a little trouble deciding, you can always play around with our state-of-the-art, interactive, totally nonjudgmental custom nacho recipe generator!
Team Dan (Piled Nachos)
If you like your nachos piled, it doesn’t get much better than this. We load the chips with as many toppings as they can handle: cheese, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and more. Double layering the chips ensures no bite is without toppings, and thinning the refried beans out with water keeps them from drying out.
At first glance this dish, covered in chili, cheese, refried beans, and other toppings, looks just like any other nacho recipe. But take a closer look and you’ll realize the secret—it’s totally vegan, thanks to our supercreamy vegan nacho cheese sauce, spicy vegan refried beans, and hearty vegetarian chili. You can use store-bought chips, but homemade ones stay crispier longer.
These nachos start with a simple chile verde made with roasted chilies and tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chicken thighs. We keep the heat going with a jalapeño-spiked pepper-Jack cheese sauce. All that heat needs something to cool it down, so we also top the nachos with a refreshing avocado salsa.
These nachos pack all the flavors of pizza supreme: spicy pepperoni, sweet peppers, onion, black olives, and mozzarella. Normal tomato sauce would make the chips too soggy, so instead we use a mixture of chopped cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, and oregano. If you want some extra spice, finish the nachos with pickled jalapeños before serving.
Chicken and beef are more common nacho toppings than seafood, but here we mix things up by topping our nachos with lime-marinated shrimp. We complement the shrimp with a bright tomatillo-jalapeño-cilantro salsa, half of which gets baked with the nachos; the other goes on at the end for freshness. For cheese, we go with Monterey Jack—its mild flavor works well with the shrimp.
Speaking of unconventional toppings, the blue and Brie cheese in this recipe are not what you’d expect to find on nachos. The Brie melts beautifully, and the blue cheese adds tons of flavor. We also top these meatless nachos with mushrooms, spinach, and red onion.
Team Kenji (Individual Nachos)
Individual nachos have one undeniable thing going for them: tradition. The first nachos were made of individual chips topped with cheese and sliced pickled jalapeños. That’s all there is to traditional Texas nachos, but if you’re willing to break with authenticity, consider adding refried beans or sour cream.
Sort of like mini-tostadas, these nachos are topped with chicken tinga, grated cheese, guacamole, and sliced radish. Any melting cheese is fine, but I’m partial to pepper jack. If your tinga is on the juicy side, you’ll want to drain it before topping off the chips, so that they don’t get soggy.
In a nod to tacos al pastor, these nachos start with a combination of pineapple and bacon. We tried a few cheeses and found brie was the surprise winner—its nutty funk works with the smoky-sweet pineapple and bacon. After cooking the nachos, we finish them with sliced red jalapeños, charred salsa verde, cilantro, and a simple chipotle-orange sauce.
Who says nachos have to be made with chips? Here we use crunchy tater tots instead. You can top totchos however you’d like—this recipe calls for cheese sauce, chorizo, salsa, and a variety of fresh vegetables. As with our normal loaded nachos, make sure to assemble the ingredients in two layers for even coverage.
The crispy naan isn’t the only thing that’s unorthodox about these nachos—they also don’t have any cheese. You won’t miss it, though, because they get tons of flavor from mint chutney, mango salsa, crunchy roasted chickpeas, Greek yogurt, and ground lamb. The chutney is made with jalapeños and lime juice for a little traditional nacho flavor.
Our last nacho variation trades tortilla chips for fried wonton chips. We top the wontons with lots of Korean-inspired toppings: bulgogi-style steak, caramelized kimchi, gochujang-spiked cheese sauce, and lime sour cream. The steak is marinated with Asian (or Bosc) pear, which makes it extra tender.
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