Nachos don’t often get a lot of love in the leftover department. Ironically, nachos are what I turn to when I want to get rid of leftovers; but when left contemplating what to do with leftover nachos I was drawing a blank. Migas and chilaquiles immediately sprung to mind, as did simply reheating them.
But there’s more you can do with leftover nachos than you might think! Their very construction and diversity of ingredients can make reusing them a challenge; one with delicious results should you choose to accept!
- Two Types of Nachos
- Nachos and their Various Delicious Toppings
- Nacho Chilaquiles
- Migas with Leftover Nachos
- Nacho Frittata
- Enchilada Hot Dish
- Leftover Nacho Quesadillas or Burritos
- Baked Potatoes with Leftover Nacho Toppings
- Leftover Nacho Soup
- Leftover Nacho Salad
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Two Types of Nachos
Before we dive into what you can do with leftover nachos, let’s consider the type of nachos first.
Nachos with Liquid Nacho Cheese
Of course, you’ve got your nachos that are drenched in liquid nacho cheese. Unfortunately once that liquid gold is applied, the crispness of the tortilla chips declines pretty rapidly. Because of this, reheating isn’t a great option for these style of nachos. But you can reuse these leftover nachos for pretty much anything else on this list!
Nachos with Baked on Shredded Cheese
Then you’ve got your baked on cheese-pull-worthy nachos. Over time they don’t tend to get as soggy as those tortilla chips straight up drenched in liquid nacho cheese. The baked on cheese nachos are admittedly more versatile, fairing better should you opt for reheating.
Nachos and their Various Delicious Toppings
Nachos can range from minimalist - just cheese - to fully loaded. We’re talking meat, beans, pickled jalapenos, black olives, sour cream, etc. Plain cheese-covered nachos are the easiest to work with because you don’t have to take into consideration the reheating (or not) of other ingredients. Fully loaded nachos on the other hand, come with a few considerations to contemplate. But we’ll address those considerations with each leftover nacho suggestion. Let’s go!
What to Do with Leftover Nachos
Simply attempting to reheat leftover nachos is the obvious way to go, and why not? I love this writeup from Pantry and Larder on how to reheat nachos. Four reheating options - microwave, oven, air fryer, and skillet - are tested and examined. I completely agree that reheating leftover nachos in the oven is the way to go, with a lower temperature (300 degrees Fahrenheit) reheat that aids in revitalizing soggy nachos.
The runner up for me is using the air fryer, especially if you want quick and crispy reheated nachos.
I personally avoid reheating nachos drenched in liquid nacho cheese this way, but it ultimately depends on the overall sogginess of the tortilla chips. Maybe there are a few lost causes that you can simply pick out and toss before reheating.
Nachos with baked on shredded cheese work the best for reheating. If you’re reheating nachos loaded with toppings, here are a few suggestions.
- Do your best to remove all toppings.
- Spread out the tortilla chips in a single layer, trying to avoid any overlapping. You want the tortilla chips exposed to the heat as much as possible.
- Once the chips have been reheated, you can add the toppings back on (or not if you’d rather leave them off). Whether you reheat the toppings or not before re-adding them to your nachos depends on your personal preference.
- Warm toppings - shredded chicken or pork and ground beef can be quickly reheated on the stovetop, then added back to the nachos.
- Cold toppings - pickled jalapenos and black olives can be added back on after the chips have been reheated.
- Add new toppings - adding new, fresh toppings is a great way to give reheated leftover nachos new life.
Chilaquiles make for one amazing breakfast. And if you have leftover nachos to use anyways, it’s kismet! Chilaquiles are essentially corn tortilla pieces that are fried, cooked in salsa, and sprinkled with cheese. They are commonly served with over-easy eggs to top. Swapping in leftover nachos is a fantastic substitute in lieu of using freshly fried corn tortillas.
Here are a few recipes to check out.
- Tabasco Nacho Chilaquiles - Enchilada sauce, salsa, and a few choice spices transform leftover nachos into a fantastic breakfast made complete with sunny side up eggs.
- Nacho Regret Chilaquiles - Perfect for feeding a crowd and are so good no one will ever know they were made from leftovers!
Migas with Leftover Nachos
Migas differ from chilaquiles in that they are traditionally made with short strips of fried tortilla, while chilaquiles use what are essentially tortilla chips. They are essentially scrambled eggs with chips, whereas chilaquiles feature fried eggs atop those chips. But if you’ve got leftover nachos to use, do it!
To make migas with leftover nachos, all you really need to do is toss them into your scrambled eggs towards the end of the cook. Note: If the leftover chips are soggy, you will want to reheat them first.
Here are a few recipes to try.
- Leftover Tortilla Chip Migas - While this recipe just refers to leftover chips, you can absolutely use leftover nachos in this tasty recipe.
- Tex-Mex Migas - Perfect if you want your migas loaded! If you’re using loaded nachos anyways, you can incorporate those ingredients in this recipe.
What can’t you turn into a frittata! This is a migas-adjacent idea, except instead of scrambled eggs, you’d bake the leftover nachos into a frittata.
Here’s a great recipe.
- Leftover Nachos Frittata - This is an excellent basic recipe that you could easily tweak to include whatever leftover toppings you’d like to include.
Enchilada Hot Dish
The casserole - or hot dish as it’s called around these parts - is a leftover-friendly staple. Especially for nachos because it doesn't matter if the chips are crispy. This is 100% a soggy chip friendly recipe. Like the frittata, what can’t you turn into a casserole?
Here are a few recipes.
- Pork Enchilada Hot Dish - From yours truly! Instead of using tortillas here, use layers of leftover nachos. It’s super tasty and is a truly comforting dish.
- Nacho Casserole - While this recipe doesn’t specifically call for leftover nachos, I swap out the crushed tortilla chips for an equivalent amount.
Leftover Nacho Quesadillas or Burritos
I love how easy this option is! It’s like putting potato chips on a sandwich. Sometimes leftover nachos make the perfect filler for quesadillas or burritos.
For quesadillas, I crumble the leftover chips into smaller pieces then spread evenly over half of a large tortilla, then add more shredded cheese before folding and cooking. You don’t have to reheat the nachos first, but if you want more of a crunch, reheat first.
For burritos, I like to put down a protein like shredded chicken or pinto beans, then add a layer of leftover nachos, toppings included. Then I like to top it off with some cheese or add some sour cream. Then roll that beast up and enjoy!
Baked Potatoes with Leftover Nacho Toppings
You might be one of those people who just aren’t interested in repurposing the leftover tortilla chips. And that’s fair. They just aren’t as good the second time around as they were when they were served up piping hot and fresh. But if you do want to salvage the toppings, using them to garnish a baked potato is the way to go!
Pick off those tasty toppings from those leftover nachos and put them on top of a piping hot baked potato. Beans, taco meat, and jalapenos all belong! And why not add more cheese (shredded or liquid nacho cheese) while you’re at it?
Leftover Nacho Soup
When in doubt, make soup! Leftover nachos can be “dissolved” into soups or used as a garnish.
Here are some recipes.
- Iron Chef Stephanie Izard’s Next Day Tortilla Soup - This recipe is so stupid easy and delicous. It’s bascially leftover nachos plus chicken stock and whatever else you’d like to add to dress it up. A winner for sure.
- Leftover Nacho Soup - If you really want to hide those leftover nachos and transform them, this boldly flavored soup is the way to go!
Leftover Nacho Salad
Why not just add leftover nachos to a salad? Similar idea to making a Doritos Taco Salad. It’s an easy way to repurpose those leftovers. When I make leftover nacho salad I don’t usually bother reheating the chips as I don’t mind if they are a little soggy, but you can absolutely reheat them if you’d prefer. I almost always leave the toppings on as they add flavor to the salad, but you can remove them if you'd prefer.
Here’s a simple recipe.
- Leftover Nacho Salad - The perfect solution for transforming leftover nachos into something semi-healthy! Adding greens really perks leftover nachos up.
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There you have it! Some fantastic ideas for repurposing those leftover nachos. If you have an idea or recipe to share for leftover nachos, please do share below!