8 ratings

'Healthy' 12-Layer Nachos

Arthur Bovino


When I think snacks, I think nachos. And when I think nachos I think about all the horrible nachos I've eaten over the years. You always get what ends up being a platter of chips with a smattering of toppings centered on top that disappears way too quickly. It's a ploy to get you to eat a bunch of nasty chips. Stuff it. I don't want your stinkin' chips. I want some real nachos!

So what are real nachos? A full distribution of toppings per each nacho. Fully-dressed individual nachos that are layered with each flavor so that you don't miss out on anything. It's nachos as meal really — there's so much stuff on each one that you could probably be satisfied by dinner eating just six of them.

Want to use canned refried beans? Go ahead, just don't skimp on five-minute stuff, man: simple salsa, chips, and guac. Then layer the chips, bean, steak, Cheddar, salsa, guacamole, crema, tomato, onion, spring onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Heck, you could even argue that these are healthy. Think about it. Nachos that are baked, not fried; raw vegetables... it's almost a diet. Layer it high and proud.

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  • Homemade tortilla chips (always corn!)
  • Simple salsa
  • Guacamole
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • Canola or vegeable oil
  • One 15-ounce can refried beans
  • 1 ½ pound skirt steak
  • 2 dried red chiles, pounded to powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • Shredded Cheddar
  • Dollop of crema
  • 2 tomatoes, minced
  • Spring onion, minced
  • Cotija, crumbled
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly-sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chiffonaded


Make chips, salsa and guac. I'll catch hell for this, but sometimes you have to cut a few corners: refried beans from a can doctored up is a quick fix. Sauté 1 minced onion in oil. When translucent, stir in the refried beans and add a half cup of the salsa. Simmer.

Cut the steak into 2 or 3 pieces so that they'll fit in your pan. Crush the dried red peppers with salt in a coffee grinder or a molcajete. Coat the steak evenly with the rub on both sides. Heat a pan with oil, cook the steak for 2 minutes on high, flip, repeat, remove and let rest. Then slice in thin strips.

To assemble the dish, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. And remember, it's about even distribution, order of layering for structure, and height. The more evenly and completely coverd, and the higher done, the better. Maximum flavor. If you have to take 2 bites out of it, then that's a nacho worth eating. Spoon a layer of refried beans over each nacho. Place a strip of steak on each chip, then completely sprinkle each chip with Cheddar. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees to melt for 2 minutes then remove. You can fold over the crunchy bits of Cheddar from the pan back onto the chips. Then it's about structured layering and what will stick.

To serve, layer the chips, beans, steak, Cheddar, warm salsa, guac, onion, tomato, crema, cotija, jalapeño, and cilantro. Repeat until done. 6 of these will fill you up nicely.