How to Make Healthy Nachos

Once you learn how to make healthy nachos, you’ll never feel stuck or bored at dinner time again!

I may be a dietitian, but I get just as stressed about making dinner as the next person!

I can’t tell you how many times I had big plans to make a stew for dinner only to get home and realize … I just don’t have the energy. 

So how do you get dinner on the table that suits a variety of tastes, doesn’t take too much work, and is cheaper than takeout? My answer is nachos!

And while I don’t think every single meal needs to be “health food,” necessarily, I want you to feel good about your choices when you eat nachos!

So that’s why I put together these 4 easy tips for healthy nachos. Keep reading for a dietitian’s advice on how you can make nachos fit into a healthy meal, and get my favorite nacho recipe (and it’s a balanced meal, too!). 

Let’s get started!

healthy nachos in a skillet

Are Nachos Mexican?

Yes, nachos are actually Mexican! Since I’m a huge food history nerd, I wanted to read up about the history of nachos. I wasn’t sure if they were actually Mexican or more of an American invention.

Turns out, they’re Mexican!

The town of Piedras Negras in Coahuila, MX is the birthplace of nachos. And they hold an annual nacho festival to celebrate!

A maître d’hôtel named Ignacio (Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio) came up with the recipe on the spot when he had hungry customers but no cooks!

4 tips for healthy Nachos

So how can you eat nachos and still feel confident you ate a nourishing, healthy meal?

Turns out it’s not as difficult as it might seem!

You might think the combination of chips and cheese means nachos can’t be healthy, you can take some simple steps to add extra nutrition to your nachos!

Here are my 4 tips for healthy nachos:

  1. Choose healthier tortilla chips: Traditional style tortilla chips tend to be lower sodium than something like Tostitos. If you want bonus points, try baking your own chips from leftover tortillas!
  2. Add beans for extra fiber and protein: Beans can be a great way to add extra protein and fiber to your nachos. This will also make them more filling, and help manage your blood sugar. I love refried beans for nachos!
  3. Include a variety of veggie toppings: It’s easy to add extra vegetables to top off your nachos! Pickled jalapenos are the most traditional, but salsa is also a great choice (yes salsa is a vegetable). You can also try shredded lettuce or radish slices!
  4. Add a healthy fat like avocado: Avocado (or guacamole) make a great topping for nachos. And they’ll provide an extra dose of fiber and heart healthy fats!

By adding extra fiber, protein, or veggies to your nachos, you’ll make a more nutritionally complete meal. This is also a good strategy for staying full and managing your blood sugar!

You may also want to consider what portion sizes are right for you. My recipe below is a good starting point for a reasonable portion size for one meal. But this mary vary depending on your unique nutrition needs. 

How to Make Healthy Nachos Step by Step

I’ve included pictures of every step of the process so you can follow along!

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

ingredients to make healthy nachos

Step 2: Spread the tortilla chips in an even layer.

Add a dollop of refried beans on each chip.

recipe step 2: how to make healthy nachos

Step 3: Sprinkle cheese

recipe step 3 how to make healthy nachos

Step 4: Bake and top

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top with your favorite vegetables like pickled jalapenos, salsa, and diced avocado (optional).

how to make healthy nachos recipe


Below you’ll find my go-to recipe for easy, healthy nachos. 

A quick note on preparation: I’m picky about my nachos and I like each bite to have at least a little bit of beans. 

So I add a step to spread a bit of refried beans on each individual chip at the beginning of the recipe. You can be a little more casual about this step if you want!

How to Make Healthy Nachos

These healthy nachos are an easy skillet meal that's nutritionally balanced and perfectly customizable!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 1


  • 16-20 tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (like colby jack or queso quesadilla)
  • 1/3 cup refried beans
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the tortilla chips in an even, single layer in the cast iron skillet
  • Spread 1-2 teaspoons of refried beans on each chip
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the chips
  • Place the pickled jalapenos on top of the chips
  • Bake the nachos for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly
  • Top with salsa


When you make nachos this way, you’ll get a balanced meal! These nachos have about 40 g of carbohydrates (give or take) and 20 g of protein. This is a decent balance for a meal!

Plus with my recommended toppings, you’ll get 1/2 cups of vegetables. This is about ⅓ of your daily recommended vegetable servings!

Plus these nachos provide 8 g of fiber! 

A high fiber diet can help with cholesterol levels, as well as blood sugar (1). 

Want More Healthy Mexican Recipes?

If you need more healthy Mexican recipes, you’ve come to the right place! 

I’m a Latina dietitian and I’m all about helping Latinas enjoy their cultural foods while eating healthy meals. 

Ready to get started? Grab a copy of my free 1-week Mexican meal plan to get you started!


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