Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos

Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos

Is there anything more satisfying than a loaded tray of Tex-Mex nachos eaten straight out of a hot oven? These Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos are a long way from the bare-boned nachos of your childhood – you know, the one with chips covered in microwaved queso dip from a jar?

They’re super-deluxe nachos, substantial enough for a meal on their own. We’d even argue they’re healthy-ish! Laden with our Mexican Ground-Beef Taco Base, a blend of Mexican cheese, then topped with chopped fresh vegetables – think diced tomatoes, roasted corn, thinly sliced radishes, jalapeño, black beans and red onion – these Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos make a star-of-the-show appetizer (or meal) for any party and are sure to dazzle your guests!

Can I substitute another protein for the ground beef?

If you’re like me, you prefer to use ground beef for your nachos. Ground beef is not only delicious, but also readily available, inexpensive, easy and quick to prepare. That said, feel free to substitute other proteins, such as shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover slow cooker shredded pork. If you go this route, sauté the chicken or pork with the onion and seasonings as indicated in the recipe, adding an extra tablespoon of vegetable oil to the sauté pan (the chicken and pork will be drier than the ground beef, which produces more fat).

Protein Options for Nachos

  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Turkey
  • Shredded Chicken
  • Shredded Pork
  • Steak

Are these Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos hard to make?

These nachos are so easy to make, they just require a bit of up-front organization and prep-work. Once you’ve assembled all the ingredients, the recipe comes together in under an hour.  The ground beef taco base only takes about 20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering on low heat, you can cut up and shred the toppings. The nachos themselves only cook for 15 minutes in the oven.

What should I cook them on?

We LOVE sheet pan nachos! Everything is layered onto a sheet pan, and cooked evenly. Grab and go for the taking.

We are so excited about our new Great Jones ‘Holy Sheet.’ It’s cute, it’s functional and it’s sturdy. It’s being called ‘the best sheet pan,’ according to kitchen pros. Even better? It’s $25. Trust us when we say you need to buy this trendy sheet pan now.

Tips for making Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos

The Flavor

Sauté the diced onion and jalapeño with all the dried seasoning before adding the beef for a mouth-watering flavor base. The flavor of dried spices “blooms” better when sautéed before adding the beef. Add the ground beef and sprinkle an additional ½ tsp. of kosher salt on the beef.

Make sure you’re using CHILI powder and not CHILE powder. That’s one mistake I won’t make again! Chile powder is nothing but dehydrated chilis and quite hot; chili powder is a blend of dried chiles and other spices. Check the ingredients on your spice bottle to be sure. We like the Morton & Basset Chili Powder best.

The Protein

Look for 90% fat ground beef. Too much fat spoils the flavor of the nachos and makes them greasy. If you can’t find 90%, drain off the excess fat after sautéing the beef. We haven’t tried this yet, but we’re betting you can also

Use a meat chopper to break apart the ground beef. If you’re a big fan of ground beef or turkey, you need this tool in your house.


Add your liquids last and don’t forget the vinegar! Some kind of acid is a critical element to any dish, whether you use vinegar, citrus, tomato, wine or something else. Without enough acidic flavor in your dish, it’ll taste flat and heavy. An acidic element such as the cider vinegar and half cup of tomato sauce this recipe calls for adds just enough “oomph” to brighten and enhance the flavors of this dish.

The Veggies

Soak the sliced radishes, red onion, and fresh jalapeño slices in cold water for 15 minutes. Many people don’t like the burning after-taste of raw onions and radishes. Soaking them in cold water with a dash of salt eliminates the sharp edge to these vegetables. Add half a cup of vinegar, lemon or lime juice to the water for a delightful, pickled flavor. Likewise, soaking raw jalapeño slices will turn down the heat in chiles.

Sprinkle some of your fresh toppings on the nachos before they cook. This one is optional. The only ingredients that need to go in the oven are the beef, beans, and cheese. We like to cook some of the diced onions and tomatoes and reserve the rest to sprinkle on the nachos fresh after they come out of the oven. Adding nuances of flavor and textures to a dish is always a great idea!

More tips for making Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos

Don’t forget to line your baking sheet with wax or parchment paper for an easy clean up. ‘Nuff said, right? No one wants to spend hours over the sink scrubbing cooking residue off a pan. If you don’t have any of these liners, use a good cooking spray.

Don’t forget to buy a sturdy tortilla chip! Nothing is more annoying than soggy nachos or, even worse, chips that fall apart when you pick them up!

Big fan of Mexican food like us? Then you MUST get a copy of Cook’s Illustrated Mexican Favorites! This Special Collector’s 2019 Edition is our Bible for cooking all kinds of fabulous Mexican dishes! These Nachos were inspired by their Ground Beef Tacos recipe!

Best Ever Ground Beef Nachos

January 30, 2020
: 4
: 30 min
: 35 min
: 1 hr 5 min
: Easy


  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 2 jalapeños, one diced for cooking, the other reserved for topping
  • 2 tbsp. Chili powder (not Chile Powder)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 lb. 90 percent lean ground meat
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • Toppings: (pick as many or as few as you want):
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kernels from one ear of corn
  • ½ cup diced or thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 thinly sliced jalapeño or one small can diced jalapeño
  • Shredded Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheese (at least 2 cups, we recommend shredding yourself for flavor. Pre-packaged shredded cheese has far less flavor.)
  • Diced cherry tomatoes
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Step 1 Heat skillet over medium heat and add vegetable oil.
  • Step 2 Heat until shimmering.
  • Step 3 Add onion and diced jalapeño (omit the jalapeño if you do not like a bit of spice). Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and cook until fragrant, no longer than a minute.
  • Step 5 Stir in ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon or meat chooper until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle meat with another ½ tsp. kosher salt. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, and sugar and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 6 Taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Step 7 While the meat is simmering, prep your toppings & shred the cheese. Place toppings in small bowls or on a large cutting board.
  • Step 8 Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax or parchment paper or foil.
  • Step 9 Spread a thick layer of tortilla chips on the bottom.
  • Step 10 Then layer on the ground beef, beans, corn, half of the red onion, tomatoes, and jalapeño.
  • Step 11 Add the shredded cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is starting to turn a golden brown.
  • Step 12 Sprinkle the remaining fresh topping ingredients over the nachos and serve immediately with small plates and plenty of napkins!