Build your own Nacho Bar for an easy appetizer or main dish any night of the week, but especially on game day or a special movie night. With a base of tortilla chips and cheese, you can provide a variety of nacho toppings, including taco meat, chicken, refried beans, sliced black olives, and more.
A Nacho Party is super fun to host with amazing food that’s super easy to prepare and easy on the wallet. Be sure to include lots of yummy nacho toppings, like homemade pico de gallo, easy guacamole, and chopped fresh cilantro. Any leftovers can be assembled like our Six-Layer Nachos and frozen for a later date!
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I love a good party. And I love good eats. When the two come together — with as little work and mess as possible — I am beyond happy. Serving a nacho bar is ideal for a Super Bowl party or a backyard movie night.
Or any night when you need a little comfort food. This fits the bill!
A step up from chips and salsa, a nacho bar allows folks a fun DIY appetizer while they wait for the main event or with plenty of proteins, nachos can make a full meal. Serve lots of hot chips and cheese or a nacho cheese sauce, allowing diners to add their favorite toppings.
Why Make This
It’s easy. A Nacho Bar is a really simple way to serve a crowd, especially when you’ve got a lot of nacho toppings for folks to choose from. You can keep hot ingredients ready in crock pots and slow cookers so a lot can be made ahead of time.
It’s delicious. Nothing says, “YUM” like chips and queso of many kinds. You can add as many other toppings as you like for a nacho bar party that can’t be beat! It’s a perfect meal plan for picky eaters.
It’s affordable. Since you don’t need to load up on a lot of pricey proteins, you can keep the cost of a Nacho Bar pretty low. Shop your kitchen and use what you have on hand for toppings, and watch for a chip sale at the store. This is a great budget-friendly meal kids love.
Remember you can freeze cheese that you won’t use right away. Package shredded or crumbled cheeses in portion sizes so you can whip up recipes in a matter of minutes.
Here’s what you’ll need for your Nacho Bar:
tortilla chips – Chips are the base of nachos. To keep your nacho bar interesting, offer a few different types or colors of chips. Blue corn and white corn chips look striking together. Air Fryer Tortilla Chips will take it over the top!
cheese – You’ll need a good melting cheese for nachos, such as cheddar or Monterey jack. Our Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip, similar to a nacho cheese dip, is a great option as well. If you have a favorite queso recipe, definitely include it.
Taco Meat – Ground beef or ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning is an easy protein to add to your Nacho Bar. You can also include Grilled Chicken Strips, Pulled Pork, or Shredded Beef. Barbacoa is a fun addition as well.
beans – Beans, such as pinto beans, black beans, or refried beans canned beans are great on nachos. Remember you can cook dried beans quickly in the instant pot to save time and money over canned.
salsa – Salsa is super easy to make yourself or buy your favorite jarred varieties.
extra nacho toppings – Loaded nachos call for some yummy toppings that will really level up your nacho bar. Include avocado or guacamole, sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapeno, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Here are some fun combinations to consider:
Chicken Nachos: serve chips and Monterey jack cheese with shredded chicken, chopped green chiles, white beans, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Chili Cheese Nachos: serve chips, cheddar cheese, and hot chili
BBQ Nachos: serve chips, cheese, pulled pork, and barbeque sauce
Here’s how to make nachos in a DIY Nacho Bar:
Assemble your baking dishes. You can make individual plates of chips and melted cheese using pie plates or other small baking dishes so each person can have his own nachos plate. Or you can make Sheetpan Nachos to feed many people at once.
You can broil the chips until the cheese is melted for a quick dish or bake the pan for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350, or until the cheese is melted. You can also heat the plates in the air fryer.
(For easier cleanup, you can line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil or use disposable pie plates.)
Serve the hot chips and cheese, allowing diners to add their favorite toppings.
Any tortilla chip is good for nachos, but having a mix of types is fun, such as white corn, blue corn, lime chips, Nacho Cheese Doritos, or even black bean chips.
In addition to chips and melted cheese, a nacho bar will also include cooked meats, beans, and other taco toppings, like chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, and avocado.
Allot ¼ to ⅓ pounds of meat per person. If you will have more than one kind of meat, the lower amount should suffice.
Nachos are a finger food, so consider offering side dishes that can be eaten with your hands as well, such as taquitos, fruit skewers, cornbread muffins, or chicken wings. This makes for easier serving and fewer dishes to wash.
Since a nacho bar usually features Mexican foods, serve desserts that feature Mexican dessert flavors, such as cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate. Our Snowball Cookies (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes) are a perfect touch as well as our Easy Cinnamon Twists that resemble churros. Add a shot of Kahlua to our Cocoa Brownies for a tasty treat.
Store leftover nacho toppings in separate, covered containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Freeze meats, beans, and shredded cheese for longer storage. Cooked nachos can be repurposed in this Lawnmower Taco Casserole Recipe. (Add to a chip layer.)
More Nacho Bar Ideas & Nacho Topping Ideas
- 16 oz tortilla chips
- 1 lb cheddar cheese (shredded)
Optional nacho toppings
- 1 batch Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip hot
- 1 lb Taco Meat hot
- 2 cup hot cooked beans, such as pinto, black, or refried beans canned beans can also be used
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 avocado or guacamole
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1 tomato seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno sliced
- fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Divide the tortilla chips among four pie plates. Top with cheese.16 oz tortilla chips, 1 lb cheddar cheese (shredded)
- Add whatever toppings you like that can be heated, such as cheese dip, meat, and beans. Top with additional shredded cheese if you like. Place in oven until cheese is melted. You can also heat the plates in the air fryer.1 batch Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip, 1 lb Taco Meat, 2 cup hot cooked beans, such as pinto, black, or refried beans
- Serve with cold nacho toppings.1 cup salsa, 1 avocado, ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup sliced black olives, 2 green onions, 1 tomato, 1 jalapeno, fresh cilantro (chopped)
This post was originally published on May 30, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.