Why A Nacho Expert Suggests The 2-Layer Sheet Pan Technique

A platter of sheet-pan nachos is perhaps one of the most satisfying meals out there. Salty, crisp tortilla chips act as a perfect flavor conduit for molten cheese, piquant jalapeños, perfectly balanced salsa, creamy guac, tangy sour cream, and countless other toppings. When many home cooks attempt this seemingly simple dish, however, they expect a perfect nacho platter but are often left with cold, topping-less, flaccid chips and a less-than-satisfying eating experience. In an exclusive interview, Rick Martinez, chef and cookbook author of "Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from my Kitchen in Mexico," told us how to avoid this classic nacho mistake.

Martinez says the major misstep most people are taking with their nachos is stacking them too high. He told Mashed, "You don't want too many layers because the broiler is only going to heat the top. If there are five layers below, they are going to cool off and get soggy." While you may be tempted to just dump some chips in a bowl and pile the toppings on before sticking it in the microwave, or to make a quick dinner by stacking up the layers under your broiler, this will be your nachos' downfall. According to Martinez, it's "better to prep multiple pans of two-layer nachos than to make a nacho lasagna that you have to eat with a fork."

Aim for flat, even layers

Not only does the dreaded nacho lasagna lead to soggy, lukewarm chips, but evenly distributing toppings between more than two layers is practically impossible. Either you'll spread too much on the bottom layers, leaving your top layers barren, or not enough toppings will work their way down to the lower chips.

Instead, Rick Martinez offers this simple advice for sheet-pan nachos: "One even layer of chips, one thinnish layer of hot toppings, repeat." Hot toppings will be all the bits that you want the broiler to hit: cheese (of course), beef, chicken, black beans, refried pinto beans, and a few jalapeños, for instance. Save the cold nacho toppings like guacamole, salsa, and sour cream until the nachos are fresh out of the oven. You can either add those bits directly to the top of the platter, or you can keep them on the side so they don't seep through the chips and make the whole dish soggy.