The Ultimate Loaded Nachos Platter

The Ultimate Loaded Nachos Platter: My homemade meat sauce takes this dish to a whole other level. It's the perfect game day treat!

I think of loaded nachos as the quintessential comfort food. We live for them around here, and I’ve developed a recipe for what I think is The Ultimate Loaded Nachos Platter. This isn’t necessarily the fastest meal to pull together, but the wait is well worth it! (And if you make the meat sauce in advance, it really doesn’t take long at all to assemble.)

The meat sauce is a crucial component to the Ultimate Nachos. It’s actually a recipe for beef tacos, but we always have leftovers when I make tacos, and that means… The Ultimate Loaded Nachos for dinner the next evening!!!

To make this meat sauce, you start by sautéing onions and garlic and then adding the seasonings (no MSG packets here!!) THEN you add the meat.

While the meat is marinating and getting happy, you’ll want to shred some cheese. (This is key!) You don’t need a fancy food processor. A minion (or small child) and a box grater will do the trick. I use Organic Valley’s raw milk Cheddar, which I always keep in the house. It’s great sliced up with apples and crackers too.

Drain a can of black beans, chop some tomatoes and cilantro. I like roma tomatoes in the wintertime. I think they have the most flavor when tomatoes are out of season. In the summertime, I use whatever is fresh from the garden or farmer’s market. Make sure to squeeze out the seeds and any excess juices that will make your chips soggy.

When the meat sauce is ready, you can start assembling the nachos. For this, you want a large pan — NOT a plate. If you pile everything in a heap on a plate, then there are all sorts of chips on the bottom that don’t get coated in the nacho goodness.

Spread your chips out in an even layer on a pan. (Sometimes I make individual plates for each person — that works too.) Then spread the meat sauce evenly over the chips. Go easy here, folks! Squelch the urge to go really heavy on the meat. If you use too much, the chips are hard to pick up and will get soggy. Then top the meat with the black beans, and spread cheese generously over all that.

Now it’s ready to pop in the oven. Don’t get antsy and use the microwave. The microwave doesn’t heat your cheese evenly, and you end up with some that’s not cooked and some that is baked on so hard that you need a chisel to break the chips apart. It only takes about 10-15 minutes in the oven because the meat is already warm. You’re just melting the cheese here.

(Of course, you can do this with cold meat that was left over from a previous meal; just allow more time in the oven.)

You can top your nachos with whatever you like. We used tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Oh yeah! And cilantro! I adore fresh cilantro. Some people hate it, though, so you can save it out and serve it separately for people to add as they wish.

You can also thrown some sliced jalapeño peppers on there. Sliced black olives are good too. The trick here is to spread everything out evenly across all the nachos. Don’t pile it all in a big heap in the middle — then the nachos on the sides won’t get the benefit of the yummy toppings, and the ones in the middle will get all soggy.

Again, go easy with the toppings. You’re better off making 2 or 3 pans of nachos and spreading the meat and toppings sparingly rather than piling it all into one pan. Of course, if you like your toppings heavy, you can always use a fork. I’ll never tell.

How about you? Are nachos a favorite meal in your house? Try these, and tell me if these aren’t the Ultimate Nachos!

Ultimate Nachos Recipe

Author: Jo-Lynne Shane
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Serves: 8


  • a large bag of your favorite corn chips (I recommend organic. Just say no to GMO!)

Meat Sauce:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease (I recommend bacon)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cupstrained tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth


  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained
  • 8 oz cheddar and/or monterey jack cheeses, shredded
  • 1/2 cup diced and seeded fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • optional: 1/4 cup sliced jalepeno peppers and 1/4 cup sliced black olives


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the minced onion and sauté until soft and starting to brown.
  3. Add the garlic and stir around for just about 30 seconds. Careful, garlic burns quickly.
  4. Stir in the seasonings and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
  5. Crumble the ground beef into the pan, mixing occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until it’s totally cooked and there’s no pink left.
  6. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes, until it’s nice and thick and happy.
  7. Taste it and adjust your seasonings.
  8. While the meat is cooking, prepare your toppings and spread corn chips evenly in a single layer on a large baking sheet. You can get two good sized pans out of this recipe.
  9. Spread the meat sauce sparingly over the chips.
  10. Top with black beans.
  11. Sprinkle shredded cheese generously on top of the meat and chips.
  12. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese is evenly melted.
  13. Remove from the oven and add your toppings. Space them out evenly across the entire pan.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

Join The Conversation

16 Responses

  1. where, oh where, do you find glass jar tomatoes? i feel as though i’ve scoured the entire middle of south carolina with zero success. we always stop at the mexican place and ask for a couple bags of chips and cups of salsa when we do nachos, because hard as i try i cannot buy or make a salsa that tastes as good as restaurant kind. not even pioneer woman’s. and store bagged chips have that… preservativey chip crunch to them, whereas restaurant ones are so FRESH!

    1. They carry those Bionature ones at Whole Foods and some specialty stores. Or you can order on Amazon. Love the idea of getting chips at the mexican restaurant. I usually use the organic blue ones but had the TJ ones for this post.

  2. I love nachos, and will definitely be making this recipe. Thanks so much for showing me how I can cook my favorite food!

  3. I thought I was the only one who defended nachos! Glad to see I’m in good company. 🙂 We are mostly vegetarian, so I make a very similar concoction with black beans in place of beef, but otherwise made almost identical nachos. Sometimes I change it up and use organic blue corn taco shells, which my kids go wild over, or tostados if I’m in the mood to sweep up the half of the shells that end up on the floor.

    I generally use cubed avocado, but am a fan of the Wholly Guac. The 100 calorie packs are perfect for school lunches.

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