The Most Important Quality In Nacho Chips, According To An Expert

So many times, when you see the word "quality," particularly when there's any chance someone's trying to sell you something, you interpret it as a euphemism for "high-priced" in the same way that Ina Garten uses the word "good." While quality can imply merit, the word is also defined by Merriam-Webster in a more neutral fashion as "a peculiar and essential character" or "an inherent feature" and this is what we're concerned with here. Not which brand of tortilla chips is the most expensive or prestigious, but which chips are best suited for use in nachos. To this end, Mashed spoke with Rick Martinez, the chef who authored "Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from my Kitchen in Mexico."

Martinez did give a shoutout to "less-processed corn chip[s]," particularly ones that are less likely to be mass-produced, as he feels that these may "use better corn and have better flavor." While these are certainly good qualities to have (note how we used the word in this sentence), especially if you'll be eating the chips on their own, he also pointed out another attribute that is necessary for chips used for building nachos. No matter the price or the brand, you should look for nacho chips that, as per Martinez' recommendation, are "slightly thicker and will hold up to a mountain of toppings." Rachael Ray concurs, as she, too, feels that thin chips have no place in nachos.

These chips may be the sturdiest

While Rick Martinez didn't name any names as to preferred brands, we did a little research of our own regarding grocery store tortilla chips. Santitas and Mission may not be boutique brands, but they do have a reputation for being thick and sturdy. So they'll likely work quite well as a base for nachos. Neither one is what you might call amazingly flavorful, but what with cheese, beans, beef, jalapeños, and whatever other nacho toppings you've piled on, who's going to notice how the chips taste?

If you really want a thick, sturdy chip, though, your best bet might be going the DIY route. Homemade tortilla chips (here's our recipe) are super-easy to make. All you need to do is cut a bunch of corn tortillas (or flour ones, for dessert nachos) into chip-shaped wedges and coat them with a thin layer of oil. Sprinkle them with salt as well as any other desired seasonings such as garlic or chili powder, then bake them until they're crunchy and just a little bit brown. Once they've cooled down, let the nacho-stacking commence.