A homemade healthy beef nachos recipe with baked tortilla chips and all the fixins! Here’s a hearty portion of your favorite appetizer for only 374 calories!
Consider these something you didn’t know you needed, but now will never be able to live without. Sort of the way of all nachos, though. I seem to consistently forget how much I love a good cheesy pile of nachos — and instead order fajitas (what’s my deal with fajitas?) — and then someone in my life will go and order nachos on a Friday night, and all of a sudden…
Everyone else will have moved on and I’ll be left staring at the cheesy bits left behind on the plate, nodding my head as if to decide that OK, yes, I’m ready to forsake every other food for the rest of my life…for nachos.
There’s just one snag. Nachos aren’t the lightest. Once in a while? Great. Once a week? Well…
If we don’t cut a few calorie corners, that stack of chips, cheese, beef, and sour cream starts adding up. And then we find ourselves at Target wondering why the jeans with the soft elastic waistband is exclusively maternity.
My tips for lightening up nachos:
1. Bake your own chips.
Whole wheat tortillas can range in calories from 80 all the way up to 300. La Tortilla Factory makes a low carb, high fiber tortilla for only 80 calories per 8-inch tortilla. Based on calories alone, you’d be hard pressed to beat that.
2. Cut back on cheese.
Of course cheese is essential to nachos, but when you’ve got lots of other toppings — like spiced ground beef, tomatoes, sour cream, and black olives — you don’t need to rely on tons of cheese to feel satisfied flavor-wise. Also, remember that grating a block of cheese yourself is ideal!
3. Use half the beef…and add more veggies.
I love seasoned ground beef nachos, but I can get by with a lot less of it if I cook it with chopped mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. The finely chopped veggies mimic the texture of the crumbled beef and cooking them in the pan alongside the beef allows them to pick up all of the same flavors. All the volume with roughly half the calories.
4. Swap low-fat sour cream for full-fat.
Because I take nachos very, very seriously, I’ve offered you 2 baking options: 1 where you spread out your chips on 2 baking sheets, top them more precisely, and then bake. This method gives you a crisper chip. The second method is a messier pile, where you layer the chips, then the beef, then the cheese, and repeat once more. The merits of this style is that it’s a little more fun and you achieve a kind of smothered nacho effect. Do what makes you happy!
When it comes to toppings, I always choose the classics: sliced jalapeño, black olives, sour cream, and chopped tomatoes. I prefer the freshness of chopped tomatoes to jarred salsa, but if you want to go with something prepared for the sake of ease, try store-bought pico de gallo.
For just 374 calories per serving, I’m giving nachos the green light to be an anytime food. This is either really good or really bad and I can’t tell right now because they’re in front of me so I’m delirious.
Loaded Healthy Nachos with Beef and Homemade Tortilla Chips
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces button mushrooms finely chopped
- ½ large red onion finely chopped
- ½ large bell pepper any color, finely chopped
- 8 ounces 93% ground beef
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup canned tomato sauce ½ of an 8-ounce can
- 4 8- inch whole grain tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory Low Carb High Fiber Tortillas Made with Whole Wheat
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated (1 cup)
- 2 cups grape tomatoes chopped
- ¼ cup light sour cream I like Daisy brand
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- ½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper sliced (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into 8 triangles and spread them evenly among 2 baking sheets. Spray with cooking oil, season liberally with salt, and bake until crisp and light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Check the chips at 5 minutes to ensure they don’t burn and remember that you will be baking them more when you melt the cheese later, so you don’t want them too brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the chips cool and harden on a wire cooling rack while you make the beef. Keep the oven on.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and stir to coat the beef and veggies. Add the tomato sauce, stir well to combine, and bring the pan to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the flavors have had a chance to blend and intensify, about 10 minutes.
- Baking method 1: If you want to layer your nachos: Scatter half of the chips on the baking sheet, spoon half of the beef mixture over the top, followed by half of the cheese. Add the remaining half of the chips, followed by the rest of beef, and finish by sprinkling evenly with the remaining half of the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, black olives, fresh cilantro, and sliced jalapeno, and serve!
- Baking method 2: If you want to spread them out (to maintain crispy chips): spread the chips among the two baking sheets evenly. Spoon the beef mixture among the chips, trying to spoon beef onto each chip. Don’t worry if some falls on the baking sheets. Sprinkle the cheese evenly among the chips. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, black olives, fresh cilantro, and sliced jalapeno, and serve!
Oh, nachos–I’d eat them every day if I could. I love making my own tortilla chips–helps me feel a little less guilty about the amount of chips and salsa I consume.
A month or two ago, I was in a spell where I craved them every day! This was my solution! haha
Last week I had a fierce craving for nachos, a craving so fierce that I substituted ground turkey for beef because I needed the nachos IMMEDIATELY. These nachos look fabulous with all their fresh toppings and melty cheese. I totally appreciate the health-ifying of nachos. Someone had to do it!
YES ground turkey is perfect too! You can never go wrong with nachos, honestly :)
I have an even better tip for the sour cream! Swap it with plain, non-fat greek yogurt. You get a bit of protein and it tastes almost the same.
I am a fellow nacho lover and am a big believer in making my own tortilla chips. I have experimented and experimented to get the right size, texture and taste and I like to use taco size (I think they are 6 inch?) corn tortillas that were freshly made. I get mine from Trader Joe’s but a lot of mainstream grocery stores have a non national brand that tastes like it was sourced locally.
I either use cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil and I squeeze on some lime juice sometimes as well. I drizzle the oil and salt them in a bowl though because spraying cooking spray on the pan can give it a sticky residue.
Finally to get the right crunchiness I’ve found cooking them at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes and then raising the temp to 425 for 5-10 minutes helps remove the moisture from the middle without burning the outside and give it a great crunch just like a fried chip.
Love these tips! I’m trying them next time! Thanks Karissa!! The lime addition sounds so good
Andie marvelous photography and nice recipe. I always find it amazing that black Olives go well with Nachos like this.
Andie…If I was stranded on a desert Island and only one food….NACHOS!! Love the fact your pictures are “real” your cookie sheet is a actual one, not brand new for photos sake.Another reason I love your blog, ITS TOTALLY REAL, LIKE YOU!!
Really nice of you to say, Pam! Thank youuu!
Love this and great tips!! I mean seriously, could that picture look any more delicious (she says as she drools on the keyboard).
I like to use a whole wheat pita for “chips” because I can open up the pita and get twice as many chips…all about quantity of chips!
Totally going to try these this weekend! It will be a good change of pace from the greek nachos I seem to be devouring lately…feta, tomato, cucumber, lemon, red onion….is it wrong to just eat that by the spoonful?! :)
i feel like nachos should be a once-a-week event. preferably with a cold beer and a lime. and like… everyone has their own plate.
Yeah, but how many calories do the margaritas add? ;o)
The pictures looks so nice! The foods are so yummy and delicious! Thanks for sharing this great recipe
I bet these made with ground chicken seasoned with Penzey’s Bold Taco seasoning would be the bomb!
Its not healthy for me to be reading this food blog when I’m almost 7 months pregnant and crave everything you post! THESE LOOK TOO DELICIOUS… Not Fair!
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Special diet, i like it. I use salt and black pepper and lemon juice,very delicous, beneficial for digestion. You can try,
This blog is my inspiration for healthy recopies. Thanks a lot !!
There is no mention of when to use the chopped tomatoes, I had yo go by the photos. This looks great though, can’t wait to try them
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