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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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ren May 19, 2009 at 8:04 PM

In Austin, we’re fortunate enough to have access to humanely raised, pastured pork. Most farmers are happy to sell you as much fat as you’d like :-)

To render, just trim away any meat and place in a Dutch oven with a bit of filtered water and put in a 200 degree oven for 2 or 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Filter through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, allow to cool, then refrigerate for up to a month or so.

Ren’s last blog post..Fix the Food Chain


Kelly the Kitchen Kop May 19, 2009 at 8:06 PM

I’m making these for dinner tomorrow (today) with homemade guacamole! I’ll try making homemade from your other post soon, but I have some organic corn tortillas for now – I hope I have enough – my family will love these!

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..20 Health Benefits of Real Butter – Real Food Wednesday


TurtleMama May 20, 2009 at 4:24 AM

Its 8am here and even though its not breakfast food… my mouth is watering. Those look really yummy!! I will def. have to make those one of these days.


FoodRenegade May 20, 2009 at 5:41 AM

You said before that we could both die and go to the same food heaven. I think you were right!

I haven’t eaten nachos in a long while b/c I’ve been going *mostly* grain free. That said, I do splurge on occasion.

I’d probably add jalepenos, sour cream, and guacamole to my nachos. And, I’d be sure to pile it up the messy way. (Half the fun is watching the ingredients spill off one chip and onto the other!)

Thanks for sharing this.

(AKA FoodRenegade)


cheeseslave May 20, 2009 at 6:20 AM

Food Renegade –

I’m totally with you on the jalapenos, guac and sour cream. We didn’t have any of those things in the house last night (I had cream but didn’t take the time to let it sour) so we did naked nachos. Still yummy, but I agree — fully loaded is best!


Betty May 20, 2009 at 6:44 AM

This recipe looks delicious. I think I will make it today sice we had tacos last night and there are some leftovers. Thanks for sharing!!

Betty’s last blog post..Saucy Salad Bowl


Local Nourishment May 20, 2009 at 8:09 AM

What is that ripply brown thing your nachos are sitting on? Is that some kind of baking mat?

We love nachos, too. We’re tenderfeet here, so we like non-spicy ingredients. But I’d rather eat a plate of nachos than a taco any day of the week!

Local Nourishment’s last blog post..Real Foodies, help me fix this gizzard dish!


Charity Grace May 20, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Since you are on the topic of corn, I have a question. Two people in my family have corn allergies. As I’ve mulled this over, I wondered: might they tolerate organic corn? Could it be that commercial corn products are such a far cry from acutal, real corn that they are reacting to all the strange stuff, not the corn itself? Does anyone have any experience with this? I would love to be able to serve nachos again. :)

Charity Grace’s last blog post..Steel Cut Oats in Bulk


Jessie May 20, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Well, I now have the ingredients ready to do make the tortillas – need to find the right kind of fat. I’m looking forward to it!


Erin May 20, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Woohoo….cannot wait until my organic field corn is done soaking! Thanks for another great post!!


Fred May 21, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Great post.
All I keep in mind is that it is becoming more difficult to eat GMO-free food and it’s a shame. Soon, health-oriented consumers will no longer have the choice between genetically engineered food and GMO-free food.
Did you know for example that 100% of sugar beets produced in North America are GMO (55% of total sugar source)? So basically, we have no choice but to eat GM ingredients if the food is sweetened with sugar beets. Unbelievably, the FDA does not require manufacturers to specify that the sugar they use is GM.
This is the reason why I eat mostly organic and kosher occasionally.


Emily June 8, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Thank you for this post! I made these nachos from your homemade tortilla recipe a few nights ago. We dipped them in some tomato soup. They were absolutely fantastic. I think that I could have probably gotten by with using only 1/2 cup of coconut oil for the frying. I am going to try that next time since the oil is a bit expensive. Wish I could find some good lard.


cheeseslave June 8, 2009 at 1:08 PM

Hi, Emily, I’m so glad it turned out well for you! I don’t have a good local source of lard either. There sure is a growing market for lard in our community of slow foodies!


OliviaScott July 16, 2011 at 12:35 PM

I am going to try this with sprouted corn tortillas! they are store bought but good for you! thanks for this :)


LeahS July 20, 2011 at 9:00 AM

oh my goodness. I swoon for those nachos.


Helen April 26, 2012 at 6:53 AM

What about Xochitl? I love the hot and spicy ones for nachos, and the are 100% GMO free


Erika April 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

You never cease to amaze me…….


Kalena April 8, 2013 at 12:41 PM

I’ve been baking chips for years now — cut corn torillas into strips, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, baking sheet at 400F. You need to flip ‘em over once to make sure they’re really crispy, but they are honestly better than anything labeled as “baked” in the store. They taste like “real” chips (and for me, I enjoy much less mess and fat than the fried versions).


Rebecca September 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM

what a good idea, gonna try this tomorrow!


Britany December 4, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Hi! Like everyone else I’m loving the nachos. I am new to this whole lard expedition but I am loving it!! Quick question my lard foams up while frying any ideas as to why? I’ve changed the temp … still foams. Help!


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