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The Craziest Way to Serve Nachos to a Crowd

The Craziest Way to Serve Nachos to a Crowd


If there is one total truth when it comes to party food, it is that presentation is everything. Nachos on a platter? Meh. A gargantuan serving of homemade nachos built on a trashcan lid? Super incredible awesome nacho cheese sauce. The novelty of trashcan lid nachos knows no bounds and not your average nacho platter recipe. And if you need to serve nachos to a crowd, or just feed a crowd, a trashcan lid is totally the way to do it. You can pick all your favorite nacho toppings to put on this recipe: ground beef, refried beans, black beans, green onion pico de gallo, black olives, jalapeno peppers, green chilies, red onions, hot sauce, cilantro or more. Customize this great appetizer to your crowd’s particular tastes and personal preference.

With it being a big game Superbowl kind of weekend, you can put this easy recipe option under your cap to think about. This trashcan lid easy nacho recipe will serve 8-10 people, so there will be plenty to go around as a perfect game day food! As a bonus, this recipe is also gluten-free if that is a concern. For a few other ideas for apps and decorations for the day, be sure to see my Superbowl party posts.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Also a great appetizer to serve that will be a huge hit. And for more Cinco de Mayo ideas, see my Cinco de Mayo posts.

Or maybe what you’re REALLY looking for is a nacho bar idea? Have you covered there, too. Check out my Walking Taco Bar.

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Thoughts on Tortilla Chips

There are literally dozens of corn tortilla chips to choose from when you go to the grocery store, but you’re going to want to pick a sturdy tortilla chip that’s good quality. These loaded nachos weigh down those chips and you don’t want them breaking under the onslaught. You’ll just end up spending the money you might have saved on cheap tortilla chips on napkins instead. The best chips are a bit thicker and personally I like the scoop shaped ones as they hold lots more nacho toppings on their way to my mouth. Round tortilla chips and triangle shaped ones are both ok as long as they are thick!

How to make stale tortilla chips crispy again. If you’re like me and sometimes use loaded nacho night as an excuse to clean ingredients out of your fridge and pantry, know you can totally use up that half full bag of stale chips if you want. Spread a layer of tortilla chips on a sheet pan and put them in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Your stale chips will be crispy and nacho-ready again.

Preparing Your Trashcan Lid for Homemade Nachos

Food safety comes first, y’all. It’s kind of common sense, but I’m going to say it anyway. USE A BRAND NEW TRASHCAN LID. We’re going for novelty, not food poisoning. Just like everything else in my life, I ordered my trashcan lid with Amazon Prime. Shopping in my jammies rocks. Here is the one I bought.

But feel free to hunt through the hardware stores; they sell them there, too. When you order, make sure you are buying a size lid that will fit in your oven. It’s the little details, I know. But you’re going to have to put the lid in there so the cheese melts.

Next, you have the option to perform surgery on your lid (or not.) Removing the handle from the lid will make it lay flat, but if you’re not that industrious, you can just as easily stabilize your lid on top of a bowl after it comes out of the oven. You’ll need fewer trivets for the hot pan that way, too.


Before you put a single nacho in your trashcan lid, WASH IT. And then just to make double sure it’s a clean eating surface, cover the trashcan lid in aluminum foil. The foil is aa great way to help with clean up. I can’t imagine it’s fun to scrape cooked on cheese off one of these lids. Now you’re ready to make the hit of the party and the best homemade nachos ever!


Trashcan Lid Homemade Nacho Recipe

Don’t be scared of the ingredient list here, it’s mostly fresh seasonings to make a taco meat ground beef to go on the nachos. We made ours half beef half chicken, but you can double one or the other to cover the whole nacho plate if you want. Want all beef nachos? Go for it! Just use 2 lbs of ground beef and half an onion instead of one. And if you want to skip the trashcan lid, and use a large baking sheet? Go for it.

Other notes on loaded nacho ingredients: this is supposed to be one of those easy appetizers, so you should be able to find everything at your local grocery store and it should come together without an extreme amount of prep work; I hate when party appetizers take long time. Store-bought ingredients take care or prep work. Buy pre-cooked shredded chicken. If you want, you can skip making the taco seasoning for the taco meat and buy premade taco seasoning. Buy pre-shredded cheese. Just make sure your ingredients are good quality, it makes a difference in the taste!

Nacho Base:

  • 1 extra large bag corn tortilla chips
  • 1.5 lbs cooked shredded chicken (or 2.5 lbs if not using ground beef)
  • 1 lb ground beef (or 2 lbs if not using chicken)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion (1/2 cup if not using chicken) 1 tablespoon olive oil

Taco seasoning (double if using 2 lbs ground beef and no chicken):

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Fresh Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Nacho Recipe as pictured used:

  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 can drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 can drained pickled jalepeno pepper slices
  • 1 bag shredded lettuce
  • 2 diced avocado
  • 2 diced tomatoes

Pick your favorite toppings to make it the best ever:

  • Pre-shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pre-shredded pepper jack cheese
  • Refried beans (heated)
  • Green onions (sliced)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Black olives (chopped)
  • Green chilies
  • Red onion (chopped)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • Hot sauce
  • Red bell pepper (chopped)
  • Cotija cheese (crumbled)
  • Pinto beans
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • Nacho cheese sauce
  • Sour cream
  • Corn
  • Guacamole
  • Red pepper

First thing, prepare your trashcan lid as described above. Cover it in foil for easy clean-up and food safety. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil and sauté onion until transparent. Add ground beef, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and garlic powder and brown until completely cooked through. Remove from stove and drain if there is any excess grease.

  • For chicken only homemade nachos: You have the option of putting the shredded chicken in a large skillet and adding the taco seasonings with a 1/4 cup of water and mixing together to heat the chicken through on medium-high heat. This will give that taco seasoning flavor to the chicken, but it’s optional, and personal preference.

While you’re browning the ground beef, you can quickly whip together the fresh cilantro sour cream sauce. Melt the cream cheese in a small bowl the microwave for 20 seconds or so. You just want it melted enough to where it will easily combine with the sour cream but not totally liquid. Add the sour cream, lime juice and chopped cilantro to the melted cream cheese. Stir together until thoroughly combined. To get a nice artistic drizzle when you put the sour cream sauce on the nachos, I recommend putting the sauce in a Ziploc bag first and cutting a corner off to pipe it on your nachos.

To start building your loaded nacho masterpiece, spread a layer of chips evenly over the trashcan lid. We’re going to put on all our hot items first. Add your shredded chicken and seasoned beef. Cover with whatever best cheese you decide to use, just make sure it’s plenty of cheese! (If use use a crumbly Mexican cheese like cotija, add it on with the cold items.) Pop in the oven for 6-10 minutes to melt all that cheesy goodness on top. Mmmm….melted cheese…

Don your oven mitts and remove your fancy nacho platter from the oven. Once it’s on the counter, add additional toppings: black beans, lettuce, diced avocado, tomatoes and fresh cilantro sour cream sauce…and whatever your idea of the best toppings are to make your nachos extra yummy. Dollops of sour cream and more than one kind of cheese? Or more melted cheese than recommended by the local heart doctor? Go for it. Great nachos are personal preference and can be made to please the taste buds of any picky eaters.


We made this batch of nachos for the first time a week or so before the game…and I have heard every single day this week how much the kids want to have it again Superbowl Sunday. I did serve a bowl of pico de gallo alongside the dish. I think they’re just better that way.


Here is my reluctant 6-year old model posing with the trashcan lid nachos just for a size comparison. Not as cute when he doesn’t cooperate, is he? Gotta say, though, the tray is pretty heavy; there are a few pounds of food piled on.

For your next football game day or large casual gathering, whip out your trashcan lids and get cooking on this easy nachos recipe! It’ll be the best thing ever and wow-factor of your next party! Just don’t forget a big plate (make sure they’re sturdy!) for each of your guests!

Paula Biggs

Owner at Frog Prince Paperie
Paula Biggs is a party planner, DIY crafter, and owner of Frog Prince Paperie, where you can find hundreds of party, craft and lifestyle ideas.


Thursday 11th of February 2016

This cracked me up! But you're totally right - there's no better way to serve nachos to a crowd! Thanks for linking up with Merry Monday :)


Thursday 11th of February 2016

This is so unique, but I can see that it would be perfect for a crowd -- better than the small tray I usually use. Thanks for the inspiration! :)


Wednesday 10th of February 2016

Looks soooooo delicious!

Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood

Wednesday 10th of February 2016

Shut up this is such a great idea. My mom used to make them on a pizza pan, but since there were no sides, she couldn't "stack" them. SO smart.

awesome sauce

Tuesday 9th of February 2016

Genius!! LOVED special sauce