These Chili Cheese Nachos are topped with an easy homemade beef chili, cheddar cheese sauce, and toasted corn. It’s the ultimate game day snack!
Truth be told, there is never a bad time for nachos. Whether it’s game day, a movie night with friends, or when you need a fun dinner for two, a platter of nachos is always the right answer!
That’s why I can’t get enough of these Chili Cheese Nachos.
Adding scoops of chili on top of a platter of tortilla chips is the best way to mix up the weekly dinner plan or to make Sunday night football that much more exciting. Just like my Sheet Pan Spicy Nachos, these chili beef nachos feature tortilla chips covered in cheese, beans, and a few classic nacho toppings. The major difference, however, is that this recipe is a true meal.
Every tortilla chip is layered with a few goodies, like:
- Homemade beef chili
- Cheddar cheese sauce
- Toasted corn
- Jalapeno slices
The bites are packed with that smoky, beefy flavor that comes from a classic chili recipe but are just as fun to eat and crowd-pleasing as any regular platter of nachos. One try and these cheesy chili nachos are sure to become a staple in your house!
Ingredients you need
This appetizer begins with a homemade chili and ends with a few classic nacho toppings. This is what you need to put it together:
- Ground beef - The homemade chili is beefy and meaty thanks to ground beef. Use an 80/20 lean ground beef for less grease and fat or replace the beef with ground turkey for a lighter option. Pulled chicken is really tasty in chili too, as proven in my White Chicken Chili recipe.
- Onion, garlic, and red bell pepper - For a baseline of savory flavor and texture.
- Tomato paste - For a more concentrated tomato flavor (compared to crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce).
- All purpose flour - The flour will thicken the chili and help give it that scoopable consistency. Feel free to swap the all purpose flour for a gluten free flour instead.
- Beans - Kidney, pinto, black beans, chickpeas, or a combination of the four are all great choices.
- Green chilies - For some heat! Feel free to leave them out if you don’t like spicy chili.
- Beef broth - Bone broth, vegetable broth, or water work as well.
- Spices - Chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. That’s it!
- Cheese - The nachos are finished with a creamy cheese sauce made from shredded cheddar cheese and milk. Want to give it more of a bite? Use shredded Pepper Jack cheese instead.
- Tortilla chips - Or use Doritos for heaps of extra flavor.
- Nacho toppings - I topped the chili nachos with jalapeno slices, corn kernels, and cilantro, but feel free to use what you like. Scroll to the Variations section for even more ideas.
How to make beef chili
You shouldn’t have any trouble making the star of the show here: a foolproof beef chili recipe. It takes about 30 minutes to make and comes together in 1 pot:
Step 1: To begin making the chili, saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Step 2: Add the beef and saute until it’s browned all over.
Step 3: Season the beef with the spices, then stir in the tomato paste and flour.
Step 4: To finish, add in the beans, green chilies, and broth. Stir, then cover the pot with a lid and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes.
How to make chili cheese nachos
This epic game day snack is ready to be assembled as soon as your homemade chili is ready:
Step 1: Use a non-stick skillet to toast the corn kernels while you wait for the chili to simmer. You’ll know they’re done when the kernels have some browning on both sides.
Step 2: Right before assembly, make the cheese sauce. Heat the milk in a small saucepan, then stir in the cheese until it melts.
Step 3: Lay the chips on a large platter and top with scoops of chili. Pour the melted cheese on top, then add the toasted corn, jalapenos, and cilantro. Enjoy!
- Vegetarian chili cheese nachos - Simply omit the ground beef and replace the beef broth with vegetable broth to make vegetarian chili nachos. Alternatively, top the nachos with this hearty Three Bean Vegetarian Chili.
- Instead of beef - Make the chili with ground turkey, ground chicken, roasted beef brisket, pulled pork, vegetarian ground “beef”, or extra beans.
- Nacho topping ideas - Pico de gallo, guacamole, red salsa, salsa verde, mango jalapeno salsa, avocado, pickled jalapeno slices, pickled red onion, radishes, sour cream, cilantro, diced tomatoes, or green onion.
Frequently asked questions
How do you prevent chili nachos from becoming soggy?
First, use hearty, thick-cut tortilla chips. These will hold up much better than the thinner varieties once topped with chili.
Second, the beef chili has a thick texture, which means there should be very little excess liquid that settles on the bottom of the tray. Try not to add extra liquid while you’re cooking the chili to keep it at that scoopable consistency.
Are chili nachos spicy?
Yes, there’s a mild to medium amount of heat in the nachos because the chili is made with green chilies and topped with jalapenos. If you don’t like spicy food, omit the green chilies and jalapenos. Using only 1 teaspoon of chili powder should lower the heat as well.
Can you make the chili ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can make the beef chili 1 week ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for later or even freeze the batch. Reheat it in a pot on the stove, then top it on the nachos when it’s heated through.
Want more game day appetizer recipes?
- Grilled Eggplant Tacos
- Dry-Rubbed Chicken Wings
- Instant Pot Spare Ribs
- Baked Onion Rings
- Sriracha Mayo Deviled Eggs
Chili Cheese Nachos
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 can kidney or pinto beans
- 4 oz can green chilis
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 bag tortilla chips
- 1 jalapeño sliced
- 1 cup corn toasted
- fresh cilantro
- Heat oil in a medium heavy pot like a dutch oven or cast iron. When oil is hot add onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until soft. Add in beef and sauté until browned (about 10-12 minutes)
- Season beef with chili, paprika salt and pepper. Stir in tomato paste and flour.
- Finally add the beans, green chilies and broth. Stir well, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- When ready to build the nachos spread tortilla chips in a large platter. Set aside
- Using a non-stick skillet toast the corn kernels. Note; you can use fresh or canned but with no liquids. No oil is needed. Toast for 2-3 minutes until you get some browning.
- *This step must be done just prior to serving the nachos* In a small pot heat the milk until it bubbles. Stir in the cheese until melted (30-45 seconds).
- Top tortilla chips with chili, then melted cheese. Top with toasted corn, jalapeño slices and fresh cilantro.