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What toppings do you put on nachos?

Nachos are a popular Tex-Mex appetizer or snack consisting of tortilla chips layered with melted cheese, meat, beans, salsa, guacamole, and other toppings. The toppings you put on nachos are really a matter of personal preference, as there are endless possibilities for customizing this dish to suit your tastes. Some key considerations when deciding what to put on your nachos include the types of cheese, meats, veggies, beans, and extras you want to use.

Types of Cheese

Cheese is the essential topping for any plate of nachos. Here are some of the most popular cheese options:

  • Cheddar – A classic melted cheese with a mild flavor that pairs well with nachos.
  • Monterey Jack – A white, semi-soft cheese with a light taste.
  • Queso Cheese – A Tex-Mex style melted cheese dip or sauce.
  • Pepper Jack – Spicy pepper infused Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Mozzarella – Ooey, gooey melted Italian cheese.
  • Mexican Blend – A mix of cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and queso.

The cheese brings everything together, so it’s important to choose a type (or mix of types) with the flavor profile you prefer. Aged cheddar and Monterey Jack are safe bets. Queso cheese sauce is a key ingredient for loaded nachos.

Meat Toppings

Adding some meat to your nachos provides extra heartiness, flavor, and protein. Good meat choices include:

  • Ground Beef – The most traditional nacho meat, ground beef is a readily available option.
  • Shredded Chicken – Cooked chicken breast or thigh meat shredded or chopped into small pieces.
  • Chorizo – A spicy Mexican sausage.
  • Carnitas – Braised or shredded pork.
  • Steak – Grilled strips of flavorful beef.
  • Bacon – Crispy, smoky bacon crumbles.
  • Pepperoni – Sliced pepperoni adds a pizza-inspired twist.

The seasonings you use to cook the meat will impact the overall flavor. Spicy Mexican-style options like chorizo, carnitas, or seasoned ground beef are especially tasty.

Veggie Toppings

Adding some fresh veggies on top of nachos brightens up the dish with color, crunch, extra nutrition, and a variety of flavors and textures. Good veggie mix-ins include:

  • Tomatoes – Diced or sliced tomatoes add bursts of freshness.
  • Onions – Chopped raw white, yellow, or red onions.
  • Jalapeños – Thinly sliced spicy jalapeño peppers.
  • Bell peppers – Chopped or sliced bell peppers of any color.
  • Olives – Sliced black or green olives.
  • Lettuce – Shredded lettuce like iceberg or romaine.
  • Radishes – Thinly sliced radishes add crisp, tart flavor.
  • Avocado – Diced or mashed avocado provides creaminess.
  • Corn – Grilled corn kernels add sweetness.

Pick and choose your favorite raw veggies to top your nachos in any combination.


Beans make for a fiber- and protein-packed nacho topping. Options like:

  • Refried Beans – Smooth, creamy refried pinto beans.
  • Black Beans – Nutty, lightly seasoned black beans.
  • Pinto Beans – Whole or mashed pinto beans.
  • Red Kidney Beans – Kidney beans bring color and texture.

Beans pair especially well with cheese, meats like chorizo or carnitas, salsa, and guacamole on nachos.

Salsa & Guacamole

What nachos would be complete without salsa and guacamole?

  • Salsa – Tomato-based Mexican salsa comes in mild, medium, or spicy heat levels. It adds a tasty, fresh flavor. Try red or green salsa.
  • Guacamole – Creamy mashed avocados seasoned with lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and spices make the perfect nacho dip.

Salsa and guac not only add flavor, but also help bring all the toppings together. Drizzle, spoon, or dip – salsa and guac tie everything together.

Extra Toppings

To take your nachos to the next level, consider these “extras”:

  • Pickled Jalapeños – For an extra kick of heat and crunch.
  • Pico de Gallo – Fresh salsa with tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime.
  • Hot Sauce – Spicy buffalo, habanero, or chipotle hot sauce drizzled on top.
  • Cilantro – Fresh, chopped cilantro adds herbaceous flavor.
  • Lime Juice – A squeeze of fresh lime juice over the nachos.
  • Sour Cream – Cool and creamy, nice when drizzled over meaty nachos.
  • Queso Fresco – Soft Mexican cheese crumbled on top.

Get creative and customize your nachos just how you like them! Now that your mouth is watering, it’s time to start building your perfect plate of loaded nachos.

How to Build Ultimate Nachos

Now that you know all the delicious topping possibilities, here is a step-by-step guide to building epic nachos:

  1. Start with the chips. Cover a baking sheet or oven-safe plate with tortilla chips in an even layer.
  2. Add beans. Spread refried, black, or pinto beans evenly over the chips.
  3. Add meat. Sprinkle cooked ground beef, shredded chicken, chorizo, etc. over the beans and chips.
  4. Add cheese. Layer shredded cheese(s) over all of the ingredients so that it will melt.
  5. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes at 350°F.
  6. Remove from oven and top with all desired toppings: salsa, guacamole, veggies, olives, etc.
  7. Eat right away while the nachos are hot and loaded!

The layering allows every chip to get a perfect bite loaded with toppings. Bake just until the cheese is melted to keep the chips and toppings from getting soggy. Then pile on all your favorite toppings.


When making nachos, let your preferences and cravings guide you in choosing toppings. Melted cheese holds everything together, while meats, beans, veggies, salsa, and guacamole round out the flavors. There are so many possibilities, from classic ground beef and cheddar to barbecue chicken and pepper jack to chorizo and black bean nachos. The key is layering chips, cheese, and fillings so every bite pops with your customized mix of flavors and textures. Now get creative with the toppings and dig into some amazing nachos!