This Pile of Trashcan Nachos is Not Yo Average Plate of Melty Cheese and Chips

My husband has the completely normal sweet tooth. I, on the otherhand, have what he lovingly refers to as a grease tooth. Keep your cookies and candies, I’ll take the chips, and fries, and the cheese. The hotter and meltier on that cheese, the better, please!

One of my favorite guiltiest indulgences is nachos. This is not the plate of tortilla chips and cheddar cheese nuked until crispy of our youth. These are grown up nachos. These are my trashcan nachos, and they come piled high with all the meat, beans, peppers, and, of course, cheese.

trashcan nachos avocado

These are light, gooey, crispy nachos. These are big and bad on flavor like any nacho worth its weight in salsa should be, but they are leaner and lighter.

Fully loaded, these nachos don’t skimp. I start with blue corn tortilla chips. These tend to be sturdier and don’t get mushy when they cook (read: I don’t need as many). I get an organic variety that’s unsalted.

turkey nachos

Then, we fill ’em with fiber. Fresh bell peppers, juicy Roma tomatoes, and creamy black beans get tossed across the chips. Each bite is more filling than a chip and cheese, plus, it’s one of those easy, sneaky ways to add some extra veggies to my day.

We really trim the fat by using ground turkey instead of ground beef. I season the turkey the same as I would any other taco meat – green chilis, sauteed onions, cumin, coriander, ancho chili powder. You can season yours however you like!

trashcan nachos recipe

And then here’s where you can get in trouble – the cheese. Who doesn’t want their nachos so buried under cheese that you forget what else is there? For the love, it’s a nacho after all! But this is where moderation is key. If you give in a little and don’t pour cups of cheese, you can still have the nachos. Instead of emptying a bag of that pre-shredded gnarly psuedo cheddar cheese that never melts up the way I like, I get a really nice Monterrey Jack cheese. Great flavor, awesome melting capabilities, and it tends to be a little lower in fat and calories than other cheeses. Stick to just a couple of ounces and it totally satisfies my grease tooth!

trashcan nachos baked

Trashcan Turkey and Black Bean Nachos
serves 2; 440 calories


2 oz. blue corn tortilla chips (lowest sodium possible)
1/2 cup ground and seasoned lean turkey
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup black beans (if canned, drain and rinse)
2 oz. grated Monterrey Jack cheese


1. Brown and season the turkey; set aside. While that cooks, chop and prepare the vegetables and other toppings.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread foil or parchment across a baking sheet.

3. Make a single layer of chips on the baking sheet, then top with all of the ingredients, finishing with these cheese.

4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and melts. Remove and serve immediately with avocado, jalapenos, or salsa.


trashcan nachos

The trick with these is not to microwave. No nuked chips and cheese – we put these in the oven! For cozy movie nights in, football games, parties, or just lazy afternoons, these nachos are the move! We bake them so everything stays crispy and the cheese melts just right. Spread them out over a cookie sheet – we actually know people who used an upside down trashcan lid (thus the name) – and let the hungry crowd gather ’round!

Have you looked at nachos elsewhere? We know you’ve eaten them, because we have, too! Taco Bell is the lesser of the evils, with their Nachos BellGrande weighing in at 780 calories, 40 grams of fat, and 1270 milligrams of sodium. Nothing was as bad as TGI Friday’s though! Their Loaded Skillet Chip Nachos have 1520 calories, 100 grams of fat, and 4100 milligrams of sodium. The side of stroke, heart disease, and dehydration comes free! Loaded with lean turkey, black beans, tomatoes, peppers and even some cheese, ours make a meal for 440 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 333 milligrams of sodium.

trashcan nachos

Finish off these nachos with some Tex-Mex must-haves:

Chunky Guacamole with Serrano Peppers

Roasted Tomatillo and Pineapple Salsa

Creamy Feta Cilantro Lime Dressing

See more good eats in our 13 Yummiest Recipes of 2024

Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke. Special thanks to Brynnan Norris.

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