Are You Making Nachos the Right Way?

The trick is in the layers.

Are you making nachos the right way? At first, the question seems absurd. Is there one way to make nachos? Which nachos are we talking about anyway: Three-cheese nachos? Southwestern nachos? Sicilian nachos? No-guilt beefy nachos? That recipe for Mexican street corn nachos that went viral on TikTok? Or maybe any of the dozens of other nacho variations?

While there are many unanswered questions, one hard and fast rule has emerged: Nachos should be plated in layers instead of being a pile of chips with everything else thrown on top.

Why Layering Nachos Makes for a Perfect Plate

We’ve all suffered through a poorly made plate of nachos where only the very top has all the toppings, with a lot of sad, naked chips underneath that only get the scraps of toppings that fall off. There is a great deal of heated debate about this on social media. “It’s an abomination!” wrote this Redditor. “A disproportionate mountain of sadness.”

How to Layer Nachos

Use a longer pan, such as a sheet pan, and begin with a layer of chips, then a layer of toppings, then more chips, and so on. But be careful not to use too many goopy toppings. Some people claim that layering with too many ingredients creates soggy chips on the bottom, another no-no. If soggy chips are a no-go for you, try making a nacho dip with chips on the side.

Where Did Nachos Come From?

Super-loaded nachos weren’t always the norm. The original nacho recipe consisted solely of tortilla chips, pickled jalapeños, and Colby cheese. In fact, the dish has a surprising origin story.

The birthplace of nachos is the town of Piedras Negras, Mexico—very close to the U.S. military base in Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1943, a group of military wives stopped for dinner in Piedras Negras, but they found all the restaurants closed. A guy named Ignacio Anaya, a maître d’ at the old Victory Club—whose nickname was Nacho—took pity on the ladies and decided to cook them something with whatever ingredients he had in the kitchen. Nacho fried some tortilla chips, covered them with shredded Colby cheese (an American cheese) and sliced, pickled jalapeños, then popped the whole thing into the oven. Then he served the cheesy, crunchy, peppery goodness, calling it “Nachos Especiales.” It was an instant hit.

As time went on, nachos were introduced to the American masses and inventive cooks added more and more layers to the dish: ground meat, other shredded cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, black olives, beans, corn, and more. As more ingredients were added, the layering of nachos became more important.

Nacho Recipes
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