Whether it's for Cinco de Mayo, game day, or your next Tex-Mex-inspired dinner, this DIY nacho bar is just what the doctor ordered.
It's a simple set up, requires limited cooking, and is a fun way to mix up your standard taco bar for Taco Tuesdays.
Begin your nacho bar table with some cute decorations. Seek out some cactus decorations, papel picado banners, and a few candles. Many can be found at party stores, your local hobby store, or online.
Clean cut, butcher or kraft paper makes a great base, and easy cleanup, for the nacho bar, but you can also use a simple or festive tablecloth. Just remember to fold under the edges of the butcher paper so nobody accidentally gets a paper cut. Ouch!
We recommend picking a color theme and sticking with it. You can go the festive route with bright pinks, oranges, and yellows, or a more subtle and neutral palette of light greens, browns, and pale pink (think about a cactus and its flower).
Make sure to have some signs for labeling what is in each dish. Especially, if you are hosting both meat-eaters and vegetarians, or those who are gluten free or dairy free. This will make things much easier when people start eating.
Try using a little easel—like the one pictured—or, if you have some leftover frames laying around, print up a sign and frame it.
Ideas for labeling your nacho bar:
- Nacho chips
- Spicy queso dip
- Mild queso dip
- Mushroom taco "meat"
- Taco meat
- Pulled pork
- Shredded chicken
- Sour cream
- Dairy-free cheese
- Shredded cheddar
- Mild salsa
- Hot salsa
Chips, Chips, More Chips!
Next, we need to think about food. There's a bunch of different ways you can go about creating your nacho bar, however, we believe it all starts with the chips.
Try offering up different kinds of tortilla chips, like blue or red corn chips, scoop chips, round chips, or regular tortilla chips. It's always fun to give your guests a few options.
If you have time and you're feeling adventurous, trying baking your own tortilla chips. If you're watching your calories you can still enjoy the fun by making low-calorie tortilla chips.
The next item to focus on is the queso dip, as it is a must for any nacho bar (we cheese-lovers may be biased). Since you won't be able to melt shredded cheese on everyone's plate of nachos, we recommend using hot queso dip to act as the base for all of the other toppings. Luckily, it's super easy to make and can be kept warm on the table in a small crock pot or fondue pot. The recipe below only uses two ingredients.
Chile Con Queso
- 2 pounds Velveeta cheese, cubed
- 1 can of Rotel tomatoes and chiles
Combine the cheese and Rotel in the fondue or slow cooker (or a bowl in the microwave) and heat on low until completely melted and combined.
Other Queso Dips
Variety of Proteins
It's important to offer a variety of proteins, both meat-based and vegetarian, in order to please all of your guests. These are the recipes you will need to make ahead of time. Then, on the day of the party, place them in small crock pots, chaffing dishes, or fondue pots to keep them hot. You can also use canned and preseasoned beans to save time.
- Taco meat
- Chipotle shredded chicken
- Pressure cooker pulled pork
- Black beans
- Instant Pot refried beans
Add a few salsas to the table as well. You can make a homemade restaurant-style salsa, some pico de gallo, or use the store-bought bottle variety. Having a variety of salsas—ranging between mild and spicy—will be a surefire delight for your guests who may or may not like a lot of heat to their food.
Lots of Toppings
Last, but surely not least, you want to offer plenty of toppings. This is the part where you can let your imagination run wild.
Freshly prepared guacamole is a must, but we suggest you also include:
- Shredded cheese
- Pickled jalapeño slices
- Sliced black olives
- Sour cream
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced red onion
- And corn salsa
Now, all you have to do is offer up plates, napkins, and forks and then start digging in.