How to Make Low-Carb Nachos

Ideas and Recipes for Making Low-Carb Nachos

low-carb nachos
Vegetable chips are a great substitute for tortialla chips when making low-carb nachos. Photo © Laura Dolson

I get a hankering for nachos from time to time -- that combination of the salty chips, cheese, spicy salsa, yummy guacamole, cilantro, sour cream and maybe some refried beans or ground meat. Obviously the chips are the problem here. The issue is similar to pizza - the nacho toppings are low-carb, but what to use as the base? I've tried a lot of different things over the years, and these are the things I find work best for low-carb nachos.

Baked Cheese Chips

You can make crisp chips out of almost kind of fairly hard cheese that has ability to melt. (Monterey Jack is not quite hard enough.) Check out how to make ​Oven-Baked Cheese Crisps. I have heard of someone making a really large one and cutting it into triangle shapes, but I have never tried this, so I don't know how difficult it is. The only trouble with the cheese chips is that they are so filling that you can't eat many.

Fried or Baked Vegetable Chips

Of course, we always think of substituting non-starchy vegetables for starchy foods, and nachos are no exception.

  • Fried Vegetable Chips - I have made three kinds of fried vegetable chips: eggplant, zucchini/other summer squash, and celeric (celery root). They aren't anywhere near as crispy as corn chips, but tasty and serviceable. You can fry either eggplant or zucchini using the method I outline in How to Make Celariac Chips. The mandolin or other slicer is very helpful (I would say essential for most people) to get them thin, and evenly cut. Be sure that the oil is hot enough, especially with the eggplant (300 - 325 degrees F.) because eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, and the hotter the oil the less greasy they will be (be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point). To be honest, I haven't tried the celery root with nachos, but I think they should work fine.
  • Oven-Baked Vegetable Chips - To me, baked chips are actually trickier to make, and even less crisp, but also less greasy - just be sure to lightly oil them so they don't stick. I find lining the baking pan with parchment or a silicon mat works best. Eggplant can be done in 1/4-inch slices in a 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes (flip halfway through). If they are still soggy even though they are brown, turn off the oven and let them dry out for awhile. Zucchini has so much water in it that the slices must be done on a low oven for a long time so that they can partially dehydrate before starting to brown -- about 225 degrees F for 1-2 hours, depending on how juicy they are.
  • Dehydrated Vegetable Chips - This is a method I have not tried, but I hear that zucchini and other vegetable get crispy when you dry them out in a food dehydrator.  This is something I've thought about experimenting with, but have not yet gotten around to getting a food dehydrator.

Broiled Vegetables

Some vegetables don't make good chips, but they are still good for nachos, and this method is much quicker than making chips. Small-medium Bell peppers can be split into the size you like and baked for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then sprinkle with cheese and put under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and the peppers are slightly charred.

It might not be to everyone's taste, but I actually like cabbage with nacho toppings. Tear pieces of cabbage, sprinkle with cheese, and broil until cheese is bubbly and there's a little char on the edges of the cabbage.

Fried Tofu

If you like tofu, you can fry Tofu Chips, melt cheese over them in the oven or microwave, and dress up with your favorite nacho fixings.

Low-Carb Tortillas

I haven't tried this as I'm gluten intolerant, but I have heard of frying low-carb tortillas, then cutting into chip-sized triangles.

Pork Rinds

Pork rinds are another low-carb options that many people like to put their nacho toppings on.

Recipes for Toppings

Any of these recipes are good accompaniments for nachos.

And, of course, don't forget the Sugar-Free Margaritas (with or without the tequila)!

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