There is nothing more satisfying than dipping a sturdy and lightly salted tortilla chip into a bowl of hot melted cheese — double points if there are toppings like sour cream, ground beef, guacamole, and pico de gallo. But who am I kidding, it’s all about finding the best cheese for nachos that really matters, and the most optimal choices may surprise you.
If I'm being honest, the orange DayGlo nacho cheese found at stadiums, cafeterias, and carnivals is not really cheese I can get behind. OK, maybe it started off as cheese, but the preservatives and stabilizers render the cheese sauce a little... sad. And don’t get me started on the chips that fall apart mid-dip.
All of this is reason to make your own nachos, with cheese and toppings you choose. You’ll want to choose a cheese with great meltability, which is why crumbly feta and queso fresco are out. The best melters are cheddar, Monterey Jack, and American cheese, to name a few. If you do choose to make a cheese sauce, which is the best method to make nachos, you’ll want to melt your freshly grated cheese on low heat. There’s no rushing this process. You are making nachos.
Below are 10 types of cheese that will give you the best meltability, taste, and texture. The recipes below also showcase the best methods to use whatever cheese (or cheeses) you ultimately choose to include. And yes, you should definitely keep these nacho recipes on hand for the Super Bowl.
Cheddar reigns as one of the best cheeses to include in your nacho recipe. A young cheddar cheese (one that hasn't been aged) will have the best meltability due to its high moisture content. The beer braised steak nachos from A Better Happier St. Sebastian uses shredded cheddar cheese. Try a sharp cheddar for a bit of tang.
Put down the single slices of yellow American cheese you used to find in your lunchbox. These chorizo nachos with white queso sauce from The Kitchn uses white American cheese, which creates the silky sauce often seen at your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.
3. Monterey Jack
If you can't find white American cheese, try substituting Monterey Jack, a semi-soft cheese. How Sweet It Is nails this roasted green chili queso cheese dip.
4. Pepper Jack
Looking for a little extra spice? Try this loaded nacho recipe from What's Gaby Cooking featuring Pepper Jack cheese. Pepper Jack is similar to Monterey Jack with the addition of chili peppers, like jalapeños.
Nachos with stringy, melty mozzarella cheese are definitely a thing. This perfect microwave nachos recipe from I Am A Food Blog is not only delicious, but fast to prepare too.
6. Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is one of those cheeses that you either love or hate. If you've had less than a pleasant experience with it, this hot blue cheese dip from Big Girls Small Kitchen is sure to convert you.
7. Queso Quesadilla
One of the best melting cheeses is queso quesadilla, a nutty, semi-soft cheese that is featured in Averie Cooks' loaded guacamole nachos.
Tex-Mex meets Italian cuisine. These Italian-style nachos with a provolone cheese sauce, turkey Italian sausage, and roasted red peppers from Cooking For Keeps is a nice alternative.
9. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese makes a silky smooth and rich cheese sauce when combined with other cheeses like sharp cheddar. Try this queso cheese sauce recipe from A Spicy Perspective to see for yourself.
You'll never look at a block of Velveeta the same way after making Damn Delicious' beef queso dip, with salsa verde, green chiles, and Monterey Jack cheese.
For more cheesy food ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.