Best Nachos of All Time

When Andrew Zimmern isn't circling the globe for his hit TV show Bizarre Foods, he's home cooking for his wife and 11-year-old son, Noah. "I serve this dish all the time at house parties, both for adults and for kids," Zimmern says. "My son grew up eating spicy foods: Kids are more adventurous than we give them credit for. These super- sophisticated nachos are built with several components, all made from scratch and delicious on their own. When served together, they will blow your mind. I wouldn't ask you to go through all of this work if you couldn't use these elements in other dishes: The queso fundido makes a great dip; the seven-pepper salsa is a great rub for steaks, pork, or chicken; the tomatillo and avocado salsa is superb spooned over grilled fish, shrimp, or lobster. You get the drift." Reprinted from ¡Buenos Nachos! by Gina Hamadey. Copyright © 2016 by W&P Design. Published by Dovetail

Best Nachos of All Time
Photo: © W&P Design
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
4 to 6 servings


Seven-Pepper Salsa

  • 5 dried ancho chiles

  • 3 dried pasilla negre chiles

  • 1 poblano pepper

  • 2 jalapeño peppers

  • 1 habanero pepper

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

  • 3 dried arbol chiles

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed, toasted and ground

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Kosher salt

  • 1⁄2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • 1 large Hass avocado, halved and pitted

  • 6 small tomatillos (about 9 ounces), husks removed, rinsed, and quartered

  • 2 jalapeños, seeded

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, packed

  • 2 green onions

  • 1 small garlic clove

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

  • Kosher salt 

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Queso Fundido

  • 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cups Seven-Pepper Salsa

  • 8 ounces queso Oaxaca or fresh mozzarella, grated (2 cups)

  • 8 ounces (2 cups) grated Monterey Jack cheese


  • 8 to 10 ounces tortilla chips (1 medium bag)

  • 1 cup Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa, or more as needed

  • 1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves

  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

  • 1⁄2 cup finely chopped red onion

  • 1 cup sliced canned black olives

  • 1⁄2 cup grated cotija cheese

  • 2 limes, quartered, for serving


Make the Seven Pepper Salsa

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the ancho and pasilla negre chiles. Leave the chiles in the water for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cutting board. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange the poblano, jalapeño, habanero, and red peppers on the baking sheet and broil about 4 inches from the heat, turning frequently, until charred all over (remove the peppers as they are blackened and transfer to a bowl; the smaller ones will be done first). When all of the peppers are charred, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and seed them.

  3. While the peppers steam, place the tomatoes, cut-side down, on the same baking sheet and broil until charred all over, about 5 to 7 minutes. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and core them.

  4. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the arbol chiles and toast until fragrant, about 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to a cutting board and when the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds.

  5. In a food processor, combine the roasted peppers, reconstituted chiles, toasted arbol chiles, cumin, garlic, and lime juice. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt, add the cilantro, and pulse until combined. Set aside 2 cups and refrigerate the remainder until ready to use.

Make the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the avocado, tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro, green onions, and garlic and process for about 10 seconds, or until creamy but still chunky.

  2. Transfer the salsa to a medium bowl, stir in the lime juice, orange juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill well.

Make the Queso Fundido

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the chorizo into the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

  2. Add the Seven-Pepper Salsa, lower the heat to medium, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until any liquid evaporates, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cheeses and stir for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until all of the cheese has melted.

Make the Nachos

  1. Scatter the chips on a serving platter. Ladle about half of the queso fundido over the chips. Spoon a cup or more of the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa around the pile wherever the queso didn't land.

  2. Sprinkle with the cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and olives. Sprinkle the cotija cheese over the top. Serve with lime wedges.

Make Ahead

The Seven Pepper Salsa will taste its best after resting for a day or so, so feel free to make it ahead of time.


If a spicier Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa is preferred, leave the jalapeño seeds intact. It is best served within 4 hours; it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Before using, stir to redistribute.

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