ATK Kids

How to Engineer a Perfect Nacho Bite

No more bald spots. No more overloaded soggy spots. Make nachos that deliver maximum toppings and crunch in every bite.

Published Feb. 8, 2023.

When nachos are good, they are so, so good. 

But sometimes, youre confronted with a combination of greasy meat, a soggy layer of chips, dried-out beans, and—the horror—a barren chip wasteland at the bottom of the dish that saw not a speck of cheese. 

We at ATK Kids feel passionately that nachos should be well-constructed. (We even chatted with an architect about their take on nacho construction on our podcast Mystery Recipe.) 

When developing a nacho recipe for our latest cookbook, Kids Can Cook Anything, we wanted to ensure that the textural integrity of our nachos remained intact.

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We start with a solid base of crunchy tortilla chips. Then, we add a layer of sturdy refried beans—they catch extra liquid from the next layer of seasoned ground beef and keep the chips below them from getting too soggy. Finally, a layer of shredded cheese over top melts in the oven and helps the next layer stick. 

Repeat that layering with chips, beans, beef, and cheese, and you’re left with crunchy, salty tortilla chips swathed in blankets of gooey, melty cheese and tender spiced beef and beans perfectly nestled into the curve of the chips.

That’s right: the key to a perfectly balanced nacho is layering your chips and toppings multiple times—so basically, a nacho lasagna.

Chips, beans, beef, cheese; chips, beans, beef, cheese; chips, beans, beef, cheese. Got it?

Serve the nachos with salsa, pickled jalapeños, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, and/or sour cream.


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You can find that recipe and many more snacks, meals, and desserts that are perfect for kids 8 and up to make in Kids Can Cook Anything!


Kids Can Cook Anything!

Spark family fun in the kitchen with the new cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen Kids—Kids Can Cook Anything! This bright, accessible book features impressive but kid-friendly recipes, plus how-tos, and links to 20 videos exploring kitchen techniques!

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