Healthy Nachos with Homemade Tortilla Chips

by Ann Marie Michaels on May 19, 2009

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I grew up in Texas. Nachos are one of my very favorite foods. Unfortunately, most (all?) tortilla chips you buy at the store are very bad for you.

What makes them so bad? Well, most tortilla chips are made from genetically modified corn. On top of that, they’re usually fried in oils that are also made from GM crops: non-organic corn and soybean oil. Click here to read the 65 health risks related to GM foods.

Even if you buy organic tortilla chips, the organic oils they fry the chips in are unhealthy. Vegetable oil, sunflower oil and safflower oils are typically rancid (hello, free radicals).

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find organic non-GMO tortilla chips fried in lard, palm oil, or coconut oil? But it’s not possible (at least I haven’t found them). So I’ve started making my own homemade tortilla chips. They’re easy to make, delicious, very healthy, and they make the best nachos.

If you like, you can use storebought corn tortillas. Just make sure they are organic. Caveat: they are not anywhere near as good as homemade.

Here are is my three-part recipe for making homemade tortillas:

Homemade Corn Tortillas – Part One: How to Soak Corn for Masa
Homemade Corn Tortillas – Part Two: How to Make the Masa
Homemade Corn Tortillas – Part Three: How to Make Tortillas

I don’t have a good source of inexpensive lard so I have been using expeller pressed coconut oil. Coconut oil is very good for you. Expeller pressed coconut oil does not have a coconut taste, so I prefer to use it for frying. Of course, if you have a good source of lard (not hydrogentated, from sustainably raised pigs not fed GM crops or given antibiotics and hormones), feel free to use lard.

I typically make nachos from leftovers. Leftover beans, ground beef, roast chicken or duck. Nachos, like risotto or quiche or stew, are a good meal to make when you have leftovers you want to get rid of (including the tortillas).

I also like to make nachos “stacked”, instead of the messy way — spread out all over the cookie sheet. For one thing, it’s easier to clean up. It’s also lower in carbs since you eat fewer chips.

Healthy Nachos with Homemade Tortilla Chips

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Makes 32 tortilla chips


Large cast iron saucepan
Paper towel, parchment paper or butcher paper (optional — you can also use a cooling rack on a cookie sheet)


Corn tortillas, homemade or organic storebought (8)
Expeller pressed coconut oil or good quality lard (1 cup) — where to buy coconut oil
Sea salt — where to buy sea salt


3. When the oil is hot enough, slide in the tortilla quarters. You can test the oil by tossing in a tiny crumb of tortilla. If bubbles form all around, it’s ready. Just make sure it’s not so hot that it’s smoking. If it starts to smoke, turn it down.

4. Fry the tortilla pieces for 1-2 minutes on each side. You can tell when they are ready by picking them up with your tongs and pressing them against the bottom of the pan. If they stay crisp and don’t bend when you push, they are ready.

5. Remove the tortilla chips with your tongs and lay them on paper towel, parchment or butcher paper, or on a cooling rack set on a cookie sheet. While they are still hot, sprinkle on both sides with sea salt. You don’t need much — just a small pinch on each side will do.

Healthy Nachos

Serves 4


Homemade corn tortillas (recipe above)
8 ounces organic, preferably raw cheddar cheese, grated
Leftover roast chicken, or cooked ground beef or pork
Leftover black beans or pinto beans

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the tortilla chips on a cookie sheet.

3. Put a small amount of beans and then meat on the chips.

4. Top with grated cheese.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

6. Serve with any or all of the following: lacto-fermented salsa, organic sour cream, fresh guacamole.

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