It’s game time and you want to make something special and fun for your family. You think a nacho bar is perfect, but all you can think to add is your go-to Rotel and Velveeta queso. This year go all out for yourself and for your family with interesting new nacho toppings.
The best nacho topping for any nacho bar has a variety of flavors and textures. Classic chips and cheese are staple toppings that we all know and love, but even that can be spiced up. To make the best nacho bar, try a twist on classic chips with a new flavor and add a new ingredient like hemp hearts.
Every now and again, a new ingredient can surprise you and become your new favorite. If you think you know all the toppings you could possibly use I challenge you to try one of the ingredients on this list.
If you have nowhere to start we’ve got ideas for you and everyone in the family. Take a look at this list below and find something to add to your nacho bar this weekend.
What Toppings do You Put on Nachos?
When choosing toppings for nachos add acid, salt, fat, and spice. Acidic onions, salty bacon, and fatty olives are less common options that add big flavor. Swap out usual toppings for endless possibilities, even the cheese and chips can be optional.
Below you’ll find a list of 15 ingredients for your nacho bar starting with the classics. But even the classics have room for improvement. For example, have you tried using different color tortilla chips or adding stuffed poblano peppers to your plate?
You have your classics, but there’s always room to change it up. When you want to add something new try a new ingredient that adds flavor, fun, and nutrition. You can even choose something that has all three.
Before you set up your nacho bar ask yourself: how far are you willing to go? You could set out classic nachos, but you could also come up with a creative new theme. This gives your family variety and adds to the fun.
So if you’re stuck inside Super Bowl Sunday with a limited number of guests (your kids) at least your nachos can have endless possibilities.
Here’s the 15 best toppings for nachos:
- Sour Cream
- Fresh Greens
- Scallions or Green Onions
- Salsa or Pico De Gallo
- Eggs and Bacon
- Hemp Hearts
If you feel like you’ve tried all the popular nacho toppings take a look at some of the more exciting and new ingredients you can try.
Tortilla chips are such a big deal that even the Washington Post had to rank the best. So while we know you can’t make nachos without chips, we had to mention them on our list.
If you’re only reaching for the original yellow or white corn tortilla chip you might need to try something new. The best nacho bars will have just as much variety when it comes to chips as other toppings.
To really add a pop of color and flavor add red, green, or black and blue tortilla chips. Have fun and create a black and blue theme nacho bar. Use your favorite team’s colors if your nachos are for the big game.
Nachos have their own dedicated cheese, deemed the “nacho cheese.” The name is proof of how important cheese is to this dish. The funny truth is nacho cheese doesn’t have anything to do with nachos, and in most cases, it’s not even real cheese.
So we added cheese and melty queso to this list because you have so many more options than classic nacho cheese.
You can choose to add a pile of shredded cheese and a melted queso dip so you have variety. However, be sure when you choose a cheese that it melts to perfection.
The best cheese for nachos are:
- Pepper Jack
- Monterey Jack
- Cream Cheese
Don’t forget you can get creative with cheese and use it as more than a dip for chips. Cream cheese, for example, tastes great with peppers like jalapenos and poblanos. If you love cheese and no one’s allergic, go straight for the fondue fountain option.
As creative as a fountain can be an exceptional nacho bar is sure to include everyone. Add a vegan nacho cheese made with cashews or a plant-based queso dip for more options.
To round out your dairy options in your nacho bar you’ll need to add sour cream. The topping adds a bit of cool tanginess to your naturally savory and acidic ingredients.
If you’re counting calories or want to add some light options try fat-free or lite sour cream. You can also substitute sour cream for greek yogurt or low-fat plain yogurt.
If you’re going big and making this a major meal add lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken. Sliced lean steak or pulled pork can make a nacho snack bar a full-on dinner party.
Feel free to pull out the crockpot and make a dish worthy of being savored. Pulled pork only gets more tender as it sits in the pot during dinner. You can even make whatever protein you choose into a chili.
For vegans and vegetarians, choose a plant-based ground “meat” option or substitute with cauliflower. You may not have to choose a substitute at all, simply put out enough toppings, so the meat won’t be missed.
The age-old question of whether or not you want black beans or pinto won’t haunt you if you choose both. However, a nacho bar with beans included is a well-rounded treat.
Beans are versatile and anyone in the family that doesn’t eat meat will enjoy this classic just as much as the ones that do. If you really want to cause a stir go for refried beans and make the choice even harder.
With all the decadent flavors on nachos, you’ll need something to brighten and freshen up your plate. Sure, there will always be one person who won’t want a single green thing on their plate. However, some greens are made for nachos, like cilantro or lettuce.
We won’t dare start a war over cilantro here (seriously though, how can you not love cilantro?).
Don’t stop at the obvious lettuce or cilantro choice, don’t even stop with green vegetables. A fresh shredded red cabbage will add more color and give you something interesting and crunchy on the plate. If iceberg lettuce feels too plain, opt for spinach or arugula to spice things up.
Scallions or Green Onions
Speaking of green things on the plate green onions, scallions, chives, and even white onions add acidity and interest to your nachos. Onions are a staple in Mexican food and taste great with cilantro. You don’t need a particular onion, use your favorite.
Jalapeno peppers add the right amount of spice and are a perfect topping for nachos. However, you need to try all peppers for nachos.
Choose a variety of fresh and pickled peppers and make a whole pepper themed nacho bar. You can add habaneros, serranoes, mini sweet bell peppers, or stuffed poblanos to your spread.
Slice the peppers or fill them with cheese and lean ground beef. Stuffed peppers make great bowls for dipping nacho chips.
Salsa or Pico de Gallo
Every salsa is different and they’re all different from pico de gallo. Try a variety of colors and spices as dips with chips alone.
The difference between salsa and pico de gallo is that the fresh ingredients in pico are never blended or cooked. Also known as salsa fresca, pico de gallo is made with tomatoes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos, and lime.
Make your own and talk about the different salsas and hot sauces you put out at your nacho bar.
Avocado is another cool and fatty ingredient that helps with the acid and heat in Mexican food. The avocado is mostly used for guacamole, but don’t overlook the beauty of the option to add sliced or chopped avocado to the top of your plate.
Olives also bring fat to the nacho bar, but this element also brings in saltiness. Black olives are the most popular for nacho bars because the mild flavor blends well with the other ingredients.
If you want to try something new add kalamata olives for a stronger saltier taste on your nachos.
Cauliflower is a low carb option that also makes a good substitute for meat. You can make a cheesy spicy dish with cauliflower as the base with no need for chips. Cauliflower nachos hold flavor and big ingredients well making it a great main dish.
If you are looking for a side to your nachos try our Mexican hemp heart cauliflower rice recipe.
While there may not seem like a lot of room for fruit at a nacho bar we’ll remind you that avocado and tomatoes are both fruits. Then we’ll kindly start another debate about when to use pineapple as a topping.
This citrusy fruit works amazingly with Mexican food. In fact, the el pastor taco loves a good pineapple. If you’ve got pork on your nacho bar you may want to add a few slices of pineapple to shake things up.
But that’s not all you can do with fruit. If you need dessert, cinnamon nacho chips and fruit salsa is perfect for a nacho bar. Fruit gives you an appetizer, dessert, and dinner all in one spread.
Bacon bits are an amazing topping to add to your nachos as a final touch. But the most interesting way to use bacon on nachos is to create a breakfast theme. Bacon and egg nachos are a great idea. If you can add dessert to your nacho bar, why not add nachos to your next breakfast or brunch.
Our favorite topping above all others is hemp hearts. It adds nuttiness and protein to your nachos. They have healthy benefits to go along with amazing flavor.
A simple sprinkle to your final dish and you can claim your nachos as a health dish. After all, hemp hearts add essential omega fatty acids and vitamins.
In all honesty, if you choose some of the more healthy nacho ideas on this list hemp hearts work with every one of them.
Summary: The Best Nacho Toppings
The best nacho fixings are toppings you can add to any type of nacho. That makes hemp hearts the best topping you can choose. Whether you have eggs and bacon or black and blue chips, hemp hearts will taste great as a topping on your nacho bar.
When you choose your nacho toppings be sure to add salt, fat, acid, and spice. Use the list of our 15 toppings to mix and match until you find the perfect balance of flavors.
As long as you choose variety for the different diets you’ll be catering to you can’t lose. Because the more toppings the merrier when it comes to a build your own nacho bar.
Now that you have all the ideas you need. Pick up some hemp hearts in a store near you so you can add the final ingredient to your perfect pile of nachos.