Carne Asada Nachos are the perfect game-day appetizer made in a sheet pan and loaded with juicy bites of carne asada steak, melted cheese, and all your favorite nacho toppings.
Even better, they come out perfect if you know a few special secrets for making them.
Carne Asada Nachos Recipe
We love all things Mexican-inspired in this house.
And, we love all things meat-inspired, as well.
That makes all-sheet pan nacho platters loaded with steak a big hit with my hungry family.
Serve nachos as an appetizer for a big game or as a quick and easy weeknight meal.
The tortilla chips are on the bottom, then melted cheese, and the marinated and seared carne asada steak is on top.
Last but not least, add on all the veggies and toppings that your family prefers.
All that’s left is to dig in immediately! Yes, carne asada nachos are THAT easy.
Carne asada nachos recipe ingredients
- Carne asada steak: You can use any steak that is very thinly sliced, such as sirloin, skirt, flank, etc.
- Sturdy tortilla chips: My favorite brands of sturdy tortilla chips are Tostitos, Santitas, Mission, and On the Border chips.
- Cheddar, Colby Jack cheese, or Mexican blend.
- Scallions, sliced, both white and green parts:
- Nacho toppings: Chopped cilantro, chopped cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped avocado, sour cream, plus any other nacho topping you enjoy.
Carne Asada Marinade
- Orange juice
- Soy sauce: I prefer low-sodium soy sauce
- Juice and zest of a lime
- Spices: Ground cumin, garlic
- Yellow or white onion: Or substitute 1 Tbs. dehydrated onion flakes or 1 tsp. onion powder.
- Cilantro: Like any fresh herb, the more you chop or mince it, the stronger it becomes. For every cut that you make, more of the cilantro’s essence (oil) is released, increasing its intensity and flavor.
How to Make Carne Asada Nachos
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a gallon freezer bag. Place the bag into a mixing bowl.
Slice the steak against the grain into 1/2-inch slices, then slice those into 1/2-inch pieces.
Transfer the meat to the bag of prepared marinade; press out the air and seal the bag securely.
Massage the bag to assimilate the marinade with the meat.
When marinating the meat in the freezer bag, be sure to place it into a large mixing bowl and into the fridge to marinate.
If there happens to be a hole in the bag, this keeps all the marinade in the bowl instead of leaking all over the fridge.
Place the bowl of meat and marinade into the fridge.
Allow the meat to marinate for at least 3-4 hours, but preferably 8-12 hours for the best flavor, if time allows.
Once the meat has marinated for 8-12 hours, it’s time to prepare the nachos.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the steak and onions from the marinade, placing it into a fine-mesh colander over a bowl.
Strain well, discarding the marinade.
Transfer the meat to a large platter; pat the meat dry with lots of paper towels.
It’s important to remove the moisture from the meat to sear nicely when it hits the hot oil in the skillet.
Meanwhile, add a good drizzle of olive oil in a large heavy-duty skillet.
I like to use my 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the beef and onions, cooking for 4-5 minutes until nicely browned and cooked throughout.
Be sure to add the meat in batches to the skillet so you don’t overcrowd the beef.
Remove the browned meat to a plate while you work on the next batch.
If you crowd the skillet with too much meat, you will notice that the meat steams instead of caramelizing.
This is because the heat from the pan cannot circulate properly around the meat.
Shred the block of cheese using your favorite grater or a food processor.
Place the chips in an even layer over a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (for easy cleanup)
Sprinkle the chips with cheese.
Bake the chips and cheese on the center oven rack for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and the chips are fragrant.
This way, the melted cheese acts like a “glue” to hold the meat and toppings to the chips.
Making it easier to lift them from the baking sheet without all the toppings falling off.
It will also make them crisper in texture, and this helps prevent your nachos from getting soggy as they wait for you to enjoy them.
Immediately top the melted cheese with the warm, cooked beef.
Sprinkle with chopped scallions, tomatoes, and avocado; garnish with sour cream.
Tip: Use your kitchen shears to chop scallions and make short work of them, and you can do the entire bundle at once, too!
Once you place the meat and toppings onto the cheese and tortilla chip layer, it is time to serve the nachos IMMEDIATELY.
Nachos aren’t a dish you can make ahead.
What meat goes with best with nachos?
My family prefers sliced steak when I’m serving nachos, but you can also use cooked ground beef (or any cooked and crumbled meat, such as ground bison or venison) or shredded chicken.
Pulled pork is also delicious for nachos!
When making nachos, no matter which meat you choose, it must be fully cooked when you assemble them.
What makes carne asada nachos chewy?
Make sure the carne asada meat is very thin and also cut into small pieces so that it is easy to bite into and enjoy.
Meat that is too thick and in too large of pieces can make for a chewy nacho experience. It’s never a good thing!
Do you put meat or cheese first on nachos?
I always put the cheese onto the tortilla chips first to provide a barrier between the chips and the toppings (including the meat), helping to keep the tortilla chips from getting soggy.
And, once the cheese melts, it makes a great “glue” for the remaining nachos toppings that follow, helping to keep them on your tortilla chips better.
How do you layer nachos so they don’t get soggy?
I like to put a layer of melted cheese between my tortilla chips and the meat and nacho toppings to act as a “shield.”
Spread the tortilla chips over a rimmed baking sheet, then top them with shredded cheese.
Place the baking sheet into a preheated 400 degree F. oven and bake for 2-3 minutes or just until the cheese has melted nicely.
NOW is the time to add the meat and the toppings!
What is the secret to crispy nachos?
The secret to crispy nachos is serving them immediately after they come out of the oven before the toppings have time to rest and absorb into the tortilla chips.
Once the chips absorb the meat juices or any moisture from the toppings, they soften and are no longer crispy.
Baking the chips with the cheese before adding the meat layer helps to make the nachos crisper in texture, as well.
Should nachos have thick or thin chips?
When I make nachos, I make sure to use good, sturdy chips.
Thin tortilla chips with steak, cheese, and toppings wind up breaking apart, making your nacho-eating experience frustrating.
My favorite brands of what I consider to be classified as “sturdy tortilla chips” are Tostitos, Santitas, Mission, and On the Border chips.
I even use tortillas for nachos sometimes, like in these Sizzle Steak Nachos.
Can nachos be made ahead of time?
Nachos cannot be made in advance because the chips on the bottom layer can become soggy pretty quickly.
However, all the separate components of the nachos can be made beforehand so that all that remains to do just before serving is the assembly itself, which comes together very quickly – yay!
What to serve with carne asada nachos
I like to serve black bean salad with corn when we are having carne asada nachos. It’s a delicious side dish and also makes a delicious topping for nachos.
Oddly enough, my family likes it when I serve taco meat party pinwheels at nacho night at our house. I guess the more finger food for them, the better!
My guys also like it when I serve a warm dip when we have nachos. Instant Pot Ground Meat Nacho Dip is full of ground beef (use your favorite ground meat), salsa, black beans, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar.
And who can skip an easy Mexican rice recipe?!
More favorite Mexican recipes
For a festive and easy weeknight dinner your family will enjoy, give sizzle steak nachos a try. These nachos also make a great party appetizer.
We are in love with our air fryer oven! Air fryer cheesy bacon poppers are a cinch to cook up for the fam and you can make them in a flash since there’s no bacon-wrapping involved – the bacon is right in the filling.
This easy Taco Tater Tot Casserole has also become a family favorite as of late. It has all the taco punch with a classic tater tot!
Carne Asada Nachos
Meat and Marinade
- 1 lb. carne asada steak, may use any steak that is very thinly sliced, such as sirloin, skirt, flank, etc.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 3 Tbs. soy sauce
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 small yellow or white onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
- 10 oz. sturdy tortilla chips
- 8 oz. Colby Jack or cheddar cheese, use your favorite Mexican-style cheese
- 6 scallions, sliced, both white and green parts
- 2-3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1-2 nicely ripened avocado, diced
- Sour cream for garnish, plus any other nacho toppings you prefer
Marinate the Meat
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a gallon freezer bag; place the bag into a mixing bowl.
- Slice the steak against the grain into 1/2-inch slices, then slice those into 1/2-inch pieces; transfer the meat to the bag of prepared marinade; press out the air and seal the bag securely.
- Massage the bag to assimilate the marinade with the meat; place the bowl of meat and marinade into the fridge. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 3-4 hours, but preferably 8-12 hours for the best flavor, if time allows.
Prepare the Nachos
- Once the meat has marinated for 8-12 hours, it's time to prepare the nachos. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the steak from the marinade, placing it into a fine-mesh colander over a bowl. Strain the marinade from the meat and discard. Pat the meat dry with lots of paper towels.
- In a large heavy-duty skillet (I like to use my 12-inch cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat, add a good drizzle of olive oil; when the oil is nicely hot, add the beef, cooking for 4-5 minutes just until nicely browned and cooked throughout. **Add the meat in batches, so you don't overcrowd you skillet, removing the browned meat to a plate while you work on the next batch.
- Place the chips in an even layer over a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).
- Use your favorite hand grater or a food processor to shred the cheese; sprinkle the cheese over the chips spread out on the baking pan.
- Bake the chips and cheese on the center oven rack for 3-5 minutes, or just until the cheese is very nicely melted and the chips are fragrant.
- Immediately top the melted cheese with the warm, cooked beef; sprinkle with chopped scallions, tomatoes, and avocado; garnish with sour cream. Serve at once.