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Cheesy Loaded Air Fryer Nachos (with Chicken or Vegetarian)

Mouth watering Air Fryer Nachos recipe is incredibly simple to make with less than 5 minutes of cooking time. Your friends and family will absolutely rave about the amazing results! Make it vegetarian or with chicken.

air fryer basket with loaded cheesy nachos

A game day, party, get together, snack or even light dinner right here – NACHOS!! Flexible and great way to use up leftovers. you really don’t even need to measure. This is one of those dishes that you don’t have to worry about getting the measurements just right.

Who doesn’t love nachos? Salty crispy chips, melted cheese, flavorful meat, healthy beans, tangy sour cream, spicy jalapeños and creamy guacamole. Can’t get better than this, right? How about making them in our favorite air fryer and now we are talking Ultimate Nachos!!!

When it comes to game day eats, nachos makes a perfect game day food.

Nachos in Oven vs Air fryer

We have been making nachos in the oven as long as I remember, until I made in this recipe. Few differences-

1. Air fryer makes a small batch nachos recipe —> perfect for a family snack or when you have an assortment of appetizers for your party.

2. Cooks in just 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Easier clean up if using a foil or parchment paper then there is no clean up!

There are various approaches in making loaded nachos in an air fryer:

  1. Assembling, cooking and serving directly in the air fryer basket (easiest).
  2. Lining the basket with foil / parchment paper and then assembling the nachos inside and serving from the foil/parchment.
  3. Using an oven safe plate or low rimmed pan for assembly, cooking and serving. We have opted for this method for a better presentation and came with a brilliant hack when dealing with the hot air fryer.

Air fryer Nachos

  • Saves time
  • Customizable
  • Easy clean up
  • Ready in less than 10 minutes
  • Made with chicken or without meat / vegetarian
  • Easy to make

Main Ingredients in nachos

Chips – Corn tortilla chips

Chicken taco meat (optional) – A simple yet super flavorful stir fried ground chicken recipe which is made in a skillet with a really delicious (and popular) homemade chicken taco seasoning.

Beans – We love nachos made with black beans. Used canned for convenience.

Cheese – Shredded Mexican blend

Toppings – Salsa, Sour cream, Avocados and Jalapenos.

ingredients needed to make nachos in air fryer.

Method

There is no right way or wrong way of making nachos. Simply layer ingredients that you love on top of tortilla chips, bake, top and serve.

Step-1: Make taco meat if using.

Step-2: Layer tortilla chips, meat, black beans, salsa and cheese in an oven safe plate/pan that fits in your air fryer.

Step-3: Cook for 2 to 3 minutes in a 330°F, until cheese melts (yeah, it cooks fast!).

Step-4: Top with your favorite toppings (we love loaded nachos) and dig in.

Expert tips

How to make the foil sling? Take a aluminium foil about 20-inch in length, fold it four times horizontally to get a long, thick sling.

Tortilla chips – Use you favorite brand, but we recommend not going for the thinner kind. You want some heft to hold up to the topping when eating.

What dish can I bake this in? I use the base of a 9-inch spring form pan which fit perfect in my Instant Vortex 6-quart air fryer. If you are using a smaller air fryer or don’t own a spring form pan, then use any other metal safe pan with a low rim or simply assemble loaded nachos in the air fryer basket itself.

Cheese – Some of the best cheese for nachos are :

  • Mexican blend
  • Cheddar
  • Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack (my personal favorite)
  • Colby
  • Mozzarella (not recommended to use on its own, but great as a combo)
  • Any combination of the above

Grate your own cheese, if possible – Pre shredded packaged cheeses are convenient, but they usually have some anti clumping agents that helps it stay seperate. However, this inhibits the cheese from melting into a creamier texture. So, grating your own cheese for the best ooey-gooey goodness!

Layer well – We don’t want any “naked” chips. Make sure that all ingredients are evenly distributed so that every chip has a delicious mouth feel.

Layer up – Layer up to 2 to 3 layers of chips with lots of cheese.

Toppings:

Nacho toppings can be generally divided into two categories – added before and after baking.

Topping to add before baking –

  • Any cooked meat like ground chicken, beef, shredded beef, pork
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Beans
  • Salsa
  • Corn
  • Jalapenos

Topping to add after baking –

  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Avocado

If you love this recipe, then you may be interested in these other delicious Mexican-inspired recipes:

Don’t have an air fryer?

Here are oven baking instructions – Simply load up nachos in a baking sheet, baking pan or cast iron skillet, bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle toppings and serve easy flavorful nachos.

Want to make them healthier?

  1. Use homemade air fried tortilla chips instead of the packaged ones
  2. Use low fat cheese or reduce the quantity.
  3. Skip sour cream or use low fat.

How to make air fryer tortilla chips?

  1. Cut corn tortillas into triangles.
  2. Spray both sides with a coating of non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
  4. Air fry at 350 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (they will continue to crisp up).

Picky eaters – If you are not sure about your guests or have picky eaters at home, then air fryer nachos is the perfect appetizer or snack. Make nachos with only chips, meat, beans and cheese and serve with topping on the side in separate bowls. Let your friends or family choose whatever they please.

Leftovers – We love leftovers in most cases, unfortuantely it doesn’t hold well for nachos. Nachos is one of those dishes that needs to be enjoyed right away otherwise the chips get soggy and looses its crispiness. However, this cheesy chicken nachos is a small batch recipe since it is made in the air fryer when compared to the large sheet pan nachos.

Possible variations

Instead of ground chicken/salsa use

Or try these sauces to top instead:

Substitutions

Salsa – Use canned, fresh, refrigerated salsa, pico de gallo or chopped diced tomatoes.

Jalapenos – Use pickled instead of fresh

How to Make Ahead?

If you’d like the chicken filling can be made 3 to 4 days in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.

How to make with foil or parchment paper?

Because the air fryer needs to be pre heated before adding the nachos, you need to make sure that you form your aluminum foil (or parchment paper) lining by inserting it into the basket before removing it. This will give you a pre-formed tray that allows you to drop in the nachos when your air fryer is hot and ready.

Take a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and press it down into your air fryer basket. Make sure it goes up at least 2 sides of your air fryer or give it flaps. Take the aluminum foil/parchment back out of the air fryer but keeps its shape.

How to double the recipe?

If you want to double this recipe, we recommend cooking in two batches . It’s best to keep the chips in two layers, so that it stays crisp yet perfect to serve.

air fryer basket with black bean nachos topped with sour cream.

Frequently asked questions

Can you reheat nachos in air fryer?

Absolutely! Cook your nachos in a preheated 320 degree air fryer for 2-3 minutes. This helps heating the nachos evenly without drying out the cheese.

Is it safe to put cheese in an air fryer?

Cheesy dishes work perfectly well in the air fryer, since it melts in a fraction of the time. However, make sure that cheese is not placed directly in the air fryer basket, since it might begin to burn.

Can I put aluminum foil in an air fryer?

Yes, Aluminum foil or Parchment paper can be used in an air fryer, but it should only go in the basket.

Can you put metal in an air fryer?

You can use any oven safe dish in the Air fryer, whether it is made of glass, ceramic, metal or silicone.

Nacho cheese sauce vs Shredded cheese – Nachos are amazing with both shredded cheeses or nacho cheese sauce (here is a delicious recipe from The Cookie Rookie), but don’t use both. If using cheese sauce, air fry the chips for couple of minutes to warm up, top with meat, beans and then top with cheese sauce.

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes: Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Burger and Chicken Parm.

Yield: 4 servings

Cheesy Loaded Air Fryer Nachos (with Chicken or Vegetarian)

air fryer basket with cheesy nachos

Loaded Air Fryer Nachos are the quickest and most flavorful cheesy snack or party appetizer that needs less than 5 minutes of cooking time. An all time favorite air fryer appetizer recipe that can be made vegetarian or with chicken.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes

Ingredients

Toppings

  • Diced Avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos, sliced

Items Used

Instructions

1. Choose an 8 or 9 inch oven safe (low rimmed) metal pan / plate. Place half the tortilla chips in a single layer, top with half the chicken (if using), black beans and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla chips, chicken (if using), black beans and cheese.

2. Pre heat air fryer 330°F for 3 minutes. When hot, gently place the prepared pan/plate using a foil sling (refer notes to make one / refer video). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese melts.

3. Carefully remove pan/plate using the sling and place on a rack. Top with all the nacho toppings and dig in!

Make nachos directly in the air fryer basket

Simply arrange nachos inside the basket, cook until cheese melts, top with toppings and serve directly from basket.

To use a foil / parchment paper instead of pan/plate

Take a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and press it down into your (not hot) air fryer basket. Make sure it goes up at least 2 sides of your air fryer or give it flaps. Take the aluminum foil/parchment back out of the air fryer but keeps its shape.

Pre heat air fryer and assemble nachos in the shaped foil/parchment basket. When hot, gently drop the prepared basket (holding on both sides) into the air fryer basket. Cook and gently remove the paper/foil basket out and finish with toppings and serve.

Notes

How to make the foil sling? Take a aluminum foil about 20-inch in length, fold it four times horizontally to get a long, thick sling.

What dish can I bake this in? I use the base of a 9-inch spring form pan which fit perfect in my Instant Vortex 6-quart air fryer. If you are using a smaller air fryer or don’t own a spring form pan, then use any other metal safe pan with a low rim or simply assemble loaded nachos in the air fryer basket itself.

How to make with foil or parchment paper?

Because the air fryer needs to be pre heated before adding the nachos, you need to make sure that you form your aluminum foil (or parchment paper) lining by inserting it into the basket before removing it. This will give you a pre-formed tray that allows you to drop in the nachos when your air fryer is hot and ready.

Take a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and press it down into your air fryer basket. Make sure it goes up at least 2 sides of your air fryer or give it flaps. Take the aluminum foil/parchment back out of the air fryer but keeps its shape.

Substitutions

Salsa – Use canned, fresh, refrigerated salsa, pico de gallo or chopped diced tomatoes.

Jalapenos – Use pickled instead of fresh

Tortilla chips – Use you favorite brand, but we recommend not going for the thinner kind. You want some heft to hold up to the topping when eating.

Cheese – Some of the best cheese for nachos are :

  • Mexican blend
  • Cheddar
  • Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack (my personal favorite)
  • Colby
  • Mozzarella (not recommended to use on its own, but great as a combo)
  • Any combination of the above


Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 546mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 27g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. The information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com, although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health and ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate.

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