Dumpster Fire Nachos

These restaurant style beef nachos are a great way to celebrate all trash fires in life: with chips, seasoned beef, cheese, and more. Topping it all off is a green fire sauce to burn your tongue about as bad as the year has burned you. 

Posts on this website contain affiliate links. Purchases made through these links provide a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

restaurant style beef nachos in a cast iron skillet topped with cheese, tomatoes, guacamole and more

I originally wrote this post in December of 2016 as my small way of coping with that year (three guesses why). Now I’m returning to it on the heels of the U.S. election season 2020 to 1) update this recipe to make it even better and 2) to remind 2016 Sarah, that sweet summer child, that while life is still indeed a dumpster fire we do have the power to change it.

I don’t often get political on this site – you’re here for food and I know that. But if you’ve stumbled upon this before voting please let me remind you of the need to go out and vote. Be the change you want to see in the world, vote, and let’s all work together to create a better future.

Life doesn’t have to be hot garbage. Even if we do love to eat it. Now back to food!

Taste and Texture

Crunchy chips, smooth refried beans, savory beef, melty cheese, tart sour cream, creamy guacamole, fiery jalapeño sauce. If you’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant, or even Taco Hell you likely know what nachos taste like.

These are the best restaurant style beef nachos – they have that familiar taste with an awesome sauce to melt your face right off.

The difference between lazy nachos and amazing restaurant style beef nachos

Do you ever glance at a recipe, grab whatever ingredients are easiest to find and then throw it together? I’m calling you out. This is exactly how you get mediocre nachos. With slightly more effort, you can have your guests going from, “It’s good  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” to “OMG – did you get this at a restaurant?”

Here’s how to do it.

Get really good chips. Not tostitos. Not the store brand equivalent. Those are for movie theater style nachos. Believe it or not, Safeway actually makes some good in-house chips that are usually located near the deli or bakery. If you have a favorite local restaurant, call them up and see if they will sell you some chips. Most places do, and they’re fantastic. They have a short shelf life, though, so get them within 1-2 days of making this recipe.

Make homemade refried beans or jazz up some canned refried beans. I have a recipe for Instant Pot Charro Beans that make the most amazing refried beans. All you need is a masher and a warm skillet – drop big spoonfuls in the pan, mash a few, and cook a few minutes to thicken.

You can also add more flavor to the canned variety. Keep a jar of bacon grease around and add a couple spoonfuls to the beans while they warm up in a small saucepan. It will also make them a little thinner, which is great for recipes like this in which you want the chips to pull apart easily.

Use fresh melty cheese, not the kind that comes pre-shredded in a bag. Those bags use an anti-caking agent which will keep your cheese from melting nicely. Buy a block and shred it yourself. It is 100% worth the effort.

Invest in some cool kitchen items. These aren’t totally necessary, but they will make your life a little easier and make the final recipe look more polished.

I used these cast iron skillets with wooden bases, which are pretty solid cast iron skillets regardless of recipe. I’ve seared steaks in them, cooked and served fajitas, and used them to cook veggies on the grill.

A cookie scoop will give you those perfect circles of sour cream and guacamole and a condiment bottle will create that perfect drizzle.

Other Nacho or Tex-Mex Recipes

If you like this recipe you might also like my other Tex-Mex faves:

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

a finger pulling out a chip on nachos
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
restaurant style beef nachos in a cast iron skillet topped with cheese, tomatoes, guacamole and more

Dumpster Fire Nachos

Dumpster fire nachos are a great way to celebrate all trash fires in life: with chips, seasoned beef, cheese, and more. Topping it all off is a green fire sauce to burn your tongue about as bad as the year has burned you.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 48 servings 1x



Fire sauce:

  • 1 lb jalapeños
  • 18 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste


  • 1 lb tortilla chips (approximate)
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo (approximate)
  • sour cream


Fire Sauce:

  1. Set oven to broil, and place the jalapeños on a sheet pan. Broil 10-12 minutes, flipping once or twice to get all sides blistered. Immediately remove them to a mixing bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Steam for 10 minutes.
  2. Broil the garlic 4-5 minutes, or until fragrant and not browned.
  3. Remove the skins from the jalapeños (the more they blister and steam the easier they are to peel), discard the stems and either 1: remove ALL seeds for a mild sauce 2: remove seeds from half of them for a moderately spicy sauce or 3: keep all the seeds for a very spicy sauce.
  4. Place the jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, salt, vinegar and tequila in a high powered blender and blend while slowly pouring the oil in a steady stream. Continue blending for another 30 seconds or until the sauce is smooth and no lumps remain.
    1. If using a food processor and stick blender, process the jalapeños, garlic and cilantro first then transfer it to a narrow container (take out soup containers, mason jar, giant cup, anything that will just fit the mouth of your stick blender). Add the salt, vinegar and tequila and start blending. With the blender still in the cup, gently pour in the oil on top and continue blending with the stick touching the bottom of your container, slightly pulling it up every few seconds to suck in more oil. You’ll know it’s done when the sauce is smooth and emulsified.
  5. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and store it in the fridge (I like using condiment bottles).


  1. Peel and pit the avocados, place them in a bowl and mash with a potato masher to your desired consistency. Add the pico de gallo, garlic powder, lemon or lime juice, stir and then add salt to taste. Set aside with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed to the surface.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Warm the refried beans in a small saucepan set to medium-low.
  3. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, drain it, return the beef to the skillet and then season with 1 1/2 TB taco seasoning. Pour in 1/2 cup water, stir and simmer 20 minutes on low.
  4. Spread out your chips on a large sheet pan or individual cast iron skillets (I used 4 of these skillets). Top with spoonfuls of the beans and seasoned ground beef, then cover it all with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the chips are lightly browned and the cheese is melty.
  5. Using a spoon or my favorite, a cookie scoop, drop 1 spoonful of sour cream and two of the guacamole on each skillet. Garnish with pico de gallo and a healthy drizzle of the fire sauce. Enjoy warm.



  • cast iron skillet OR sheet pan
  • mixing bowl
  • plastic wrap
  • small saucepan
  • large skillet
  • high powered blender OR combo food processor and stick blender
  • cookie scoop (optional)
  • condiment bottle (optional)

Serves 4 as an entree or 8 as an appetizer. See post for tips on things like jazzing up canned refried beans, picking out chips and optional toppings.

  • Author: Sarah | Away from the Box
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Oven/Stove
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex

Keywords: sheet pan nachos, dumpster fire nachos, spicy nachos

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.