When it comes to Tex-Mex appetizers, it doesn't get tastier (or heartier) than Steak Fajita Nachos. In fact, this appetizer is so satisfying, you can totally get away with calling it dinner.
Three crunchy layers of tortilla chips come fully loaded with tender bites of marinated flank steak, chopped peppers and onions, and melty Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese. Top it off with a dollop of sour cream and a heaping scoop of guacamole for a crowd-pleasing win at any party or any dinner table!
HOW TO MAKE STEAK FAJITA NACHOS
Before we begin with the "how-to," let it be known, there is no better use for leftover steak or chicken fajitas than these delicious Fajita Nachos! If you already have the protein on hand, skip on ahead to step 5!
- Make the Marinade and Add the Beef -Add all of the marinade ingredients to a mixing bowl and use a fork to whisk and combine. Add the steak to a gallon-sized zip-top bag and pour over the marinade. Seal tightly and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
- Prep the Beef - Pat it dry, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook the Steak - Add oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about 12 minutes, flipping the beef about half-way through the cook time.
- Rest and Cut - Allow the steak to rest 10 minutes. Cut against the grain into thin slices, then cut it into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.
- Cook the Fajita Veggies - Return the skillet pan to medium heat and add a drizzle of oil, followed by the sliced onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly softened.
- Assemble the Nachos - Add a layer of tortilla chips to a large, clean skillet (or a sheet pan). Then, top with a third of the beef, veggies, and cheese. Repeat these layers in that exact order 2 more times.
- Bake - Place the nachos in a 375° oven for 10-14 minutes, or until all of the cheese is melted. Top with any other desired toppings and enjoy!
FAJITA NACHOS INGREDIENTS
The ingredients for Fajita Nachos can be broken down into 4 main categories:
- The Marinade (optional)
- The Steak
- Fajita Veggies
- The Base (i.e., Tortilla Chips and Cheese)
The recipe begins with a marinade for the beef. It is simple and easy to make and houses a select few ingredients with fresh, bold flavors. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble, and it is absolutely worth planning ahead and the small amount of effort it takes to whip up!
It consists mostly of fresh lime juice, cilantro, jalapeños, onion, garlic, oil, and ground cumin.
DO I HAVE TO MARINADE THE BEEF?
No. Although the marinade will lend some seriously delicious, flavorful Tex-Mex vibes to the flank steak, you do not have to marinate it before cooking.
THE FLANK STEAK
Flank steak is our beef of choice for Fajita Nachos, as it has a ton of beefy flavor and it's easy to cook indoors, in a skillet! One thing you'll want to keep in mind when selecting your beef from the grocery store is that thicker flank steaks take longer to cook. Purchase a flank steak no more than ¾" in thickness.
If you can only find a thicker flank steak, do not fret. You'll find a solution in the recipe notes, calling for extended cook time and a small stint in the oven!
Want to amp up the Mexican restaurant experience at home? Throw some fajita veggies in the pan! These veggies cook up quick and easy, and you'll want to have peppers and onions on hand. For a colorful combination, use a mix of red and green bell peppers, as well as a white (or yellow) onion.
THE BASE = CHIPS AND CHEESE
And, now for the foundation in which all nachos were built upon -- chips and cheese. The base of Fajita Nachos is no time for dinky, thin tortilla chips. Oh, no. This is the time for a good, sturdy tortilla chips. Our favorite brand is On The Border -- the chips are large and sturdy enough not to break under the weight of the toppings. We also found that the salt content on these chips is just right!
Want to go the extra mile? Make your own tortilla chips!
The cheese for these nachos is the tried-and-true Tex-Mex combo of shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. Taking the time to grate your own cheese always pays off, but if you're in a pinch, feel free to grab a bag (or maybe two) of good quality, pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese.
MORE TOPPING IDEAS!
Last, but not least, extra toppings! If you really want to deck out a skillet of piled-high nachos, consider adding any of the following ingredients to the list!
- Salsa (Red or Green)
- Sour Cream
- Pico de Gallo
- Pickled Jalapeños
- Taco Sauce
- Chopped Cilantro
CAN I USE CHICKEN INSTEAD?
Yes! If you'd like to use chicken instead of beef, you can sub in boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can use the same marinade and seasoning for the chicken, however, you will need to adjust the cooking method slightly. See below!
FOR CHICKEN NACHOS
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Once the oil has come to temperature, add the chicken and cook it for 4 minutes. Turn each thigh and cook for 3-4 minutes more, or until fully cooked through. Do not overcrowd the pan, cooking in batches if necessary.
- Allow to rest 5-10 minutes, then slice the chicken as thin as possible (cutting against the grain) and set it aside.
5 MORE TEX-MEX APPETIZERS YOU’LL LOVE
Steak Fajita Nachos is a hearty Tex-Mex appetizer with three crunchy layers of tortilla chips come fully loaded with tender bites of marinated flank steak, chopped peppers and onions, and melty Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese.
- ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 6-8 limes
- 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems (about 1 bunch of cilantro)
- 2 jalapeños roughly chopped (seeds intact)
- ½ white onion roughly chopped
- 5 large cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt + 1 ½ teaspoon, separated
- 1 tablespoon black pepper + 1 teaspoon, separated
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup canola or avocado oil + 5 tablespoons, separated
- 2 pounds flank steak (about ¾" in thickness)
- ½ white onion cut into ¼" strips
- ½ red bell pepper cut into ¼" strips
- ½ green bell pepper cut into ¼" strips
- 1 (13-18 ounce) bag of tortilla chips (thick, sturdy chips work better than thin chips for this recipe)
- 1 ½ cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cup freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese
- Optional toppings for serving: salsa, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, pickled jalapeños, or chopped cilantro
Add the lime juice, cilantro, jalapeños, white onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin, as well as a ¼ cup of water to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle in a ¼ cup of oil, whisking with the tines of a fork to combine.
Place the steak in a gallon-sized ziptop bag, pour over the marinade, and seal tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
Remove the steak from the bag and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub all over to adhere, and set aside until ready to use.
Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large, skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Once the oil has come to temperature, cook the flank steak for about 12-14 minutes, turning it about half-way through. See notes below if your flank steak is thicker than ¾".
Allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Then, slice the beef as thin as possible, first cutting against the grain, then cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and have ready a large, clean skillet (or a rimmed sheet pan).
Add a single layer of tortilla chips to the skillet and scatter about a third of the beef, a third of the veggies, and a third of each cheese evenly across the top of the chips. Repeat in this order 2 more times.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10-14 minutes, until all of the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven, add any other desired toppings, serve, and enjoy!
The thickness of the steak matters. If your flank steak is thicker than ¾", it will very likely be close rare if you use the indicated cook times. Thinner flank steaks work best for this recipe, but if you cannot find one, there is a fix:
If the flank steak is between 1 to 1 ¼" thick (before searing the steak) preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Cook the flank steak as indicated in the recipe card. Then, transfer it to a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how "done" you like your beef.