I don't know if there was ever a more game day party appetizer than loaded pulled pork nachos. And by loaded I mean this is a pulled pork nacho recipe that has EVERYTHING. An easy to make, homemade cheese sauce, bbq pulled pork (a great use for leftover pulled pork), and all of the toppings you could ever want. Put it all on some warm crispy tortilla chips and you've just gone to party appetizer heaven.
Nachos are always a huge party appetizer for a lot of reasons. Obviously, because they are delicious, but they are also easy to make, super adaptable and can be made any made to feed whatever size crowd you've got.
Plus they are the ultimate help yourself dish. Everyone can just dig right in. NOthing fancy, just the best kind of flavorful mess.
Why this is the best recipe.
Several things, but here's what really puts them over the top fo rme:
- You get a perfect bite. Nachos are all about getting the perfect bite. A delicate balance of crunchy chip, warm melty cheese sauce, a little pork and a little taste of all your toppings. And my technique for this is layering. A little chip, a little cheese sauce, a little pork and then repeat on top. This will greatly increase your chances of getting that perfect bite.
- It is easy. Use whatever kind of pulled pork is easiest. Use leftover pulled pork you have (I always have some frozen from previous meals), grab some ready made from the grocery store (this is one I have bought in a pinch and loved) or pick up some from your favorite bbq spot.Whatever you use, toss it with a little sweet bbq sauce on it, this will really compliment the sharp cheese sauce and the spicy toppings. Alternatively, you can make it (slow cooker recipe here, oven recipe here).
- It has a glorious homemade cheese sauce. am not a melty, stringy cheese person. That cheese pull on so many food pics is the epitome of grossness to me, but a velvety, smooth super sharp cheese sauce...HELL YES.
Here's what you need to make the nachos and the homemade cheese sauce:
- Tortilla chips. You want to go with a thicker, crispier chip so it will hold up for, and on to, all of the toppings.
- Pulled pork. This is a bbq pulled pork nachos recipe so you really want to make sure you mix a little bbq sauce into whatever pulled pork you use (your own, restaurant or grocery store). The added sweet and smoky flavor of a little bqq sauce really makes these exceptional.
- Cheddar cheese sauce. The cheese for this nacho recipe is made with a bechamel. Bechamel is flour and butter (a roux) and then whisking in warm milk and cooking until thickened and then folding in lots and lots of super sharp cheddar cheese and a touch of chili powder.
Loaded nacho toppings
Now for the best part of pulled pork nachos...the toppings baby! My gosh I could go on for like 20 paragraphs of all the amazing things I feel belong on nachos. But I won't, I will stick to my top favorites that are nacho classics and totally compliment the bbq pulled pork.
- Pickled red onions. First off, pickled anything goes well with bbq pulled pork. The subtle sweetness and acidity in pickled onions is the perfect balance to rich and fatty pork. These are my biggest suggestion to topping these nachos. And if you can't find them in a grocery store, they are beyond easy to make - here is a recipe.
- Pico de gallo. Not as wet as salsa, so a better option.
- hatch green chiles, the smoked ones in the can in the Latin aisle of your local grocery store
- sliced black olives
- lettuce (duh, now you can count this as a salad)
- serrano peppers
- Pickled jalapenos - the kind right out of the jar (those are the best ones)
- Raw red onion, finely diced. Adds a much different flavor
- Green onion
- lime. Just a little squeeze over the top adds a night bright touch.
How to make them.
They are not hard to make, I promise. My biggest tip is to just have all your nacho ingredients out and ready to go.
You begin by warming a single layer of chips in the oven on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet, This will help evaporate any moisture in the chips and crisp them up even further.
Then you layer some cheese on and then some pork. Put a second layer of chips on and cheese and pork. I usually go with two layers of the base before toppings. Sometimes I do three, and that's the best thing about nacho recipes, they are adaptable and can be made smaller or larger depending on your party size.
After all the layers you heart desires are complete, place them back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes longer to make sure all layers are hot and crispy.
Tips for success
AFter going through all of this, you're probably wondering, where are the things like sour cream, guacamole and salsa? Here's the thing about 'wet ' toppings, they are just that, WET. The will weigh down the crisp chips and make them soggy real quick. While these are absolute necessities for a loaded nachos recipe, I think they should be left on the side.
You and whoever else is lucky enough to enjoy your nachos can top their serving with all the salsa, sour cream and guace they want.
Pulled pork nachos are truly all about balance. Balance of flavors and balance of textures. And while I feel like balance of flavors is easy with using classic toppings, the balance of texture can be a struggle. So my top tip is to make sure to bake the chips first before creating layers with cheese and pork. Put all the chips you plan to use for all the layers on one (or two) cookie sheets and bake them for just about 10 minutes at 400. They will crisp up so nicely and hold all the ingredients so much better.
Other great appetizer ideas
- cast iron skillet or baking tray
- 12 oz tortilla chips one regular sized bag (not snack ize or huge size)
- 2 cups bbq pulled pork
For the cheese sauce
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups medium cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Pinch salt
- Shredded lettuce
- can of hatch green chilis
- Sliced black olives
- sliced fresh serrano peppers seeds removed if you prefer it milder
- sliced pickled jalapenos
- Finely chopped red onions
- Sliced green onions
To make the cheese sauce
- In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until a thick paste forms. Whisk for about 4 minutes until the roux is a bit colored and smells a little nutty, you want to cook the raw flour taste out of it, but you don't want to burn it. Whisk in the 2 cups of milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. You want the mixture to just bubble up, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese, a cup at a time, until it all melts and is totally smooth. Whisk in chili powder and a pinch of salt. Keep warm.
To make the nachos
- Heat the oven to 400.
- Warm the pork in the oven, a saucepan or the microwave.
- Lay half the chips in a single layer on a baking sheet or a cast iron pan. Only put enough chips on for a single layer. Throw them in the oven for about three minutes. Pull from the oven and spoon half the cheese sauce onto the chips. Layer the rest of the chips on top and put back in the oven for three more minutes. Pull out again and spoon the remaining cheese sauce on top. Put the pork on top and pop back in the oven just for like two more minutes and get the rest of the toppings ready. Pull out from the oven and top with everything EXCEPT the salsa, sour cream and guacamole.