Nacho Bell Grande: A Family Tradition


 A Family Tradition

My mom has been making Nacho Bell Grande as long as I can remember. 

Nacho Bell Grande is not just a dish - it’s an experience. It’s an initiation into the family. When my husband and I were dating, his first time meeting my family was over Nacho Bell Grande. Most of my close friends have all experienced it at one point or another. It’s something we all request (beg) my mom to make for big family gatherings. It’s the perfect dish for celebrations and for cultivating community around the table.

This recipe has been somewhat of a family secret up to this point. (I got permission from my mom/the family to share it with you. I just didn’t think it was right to keep the goodness to ourselves.)

The thing I love the most about this dish is that it is served family style, and you literally have to share and interact with the food together. It’s served in one or two (or 3 depending on the size of the group) large serving dishes. Smaller bowls full of tortilla chips are spaced between everyone, and when it’s time to eat, everyone digs in. You pick your own corner of the dish and go to town. 


INGREDIENTS: (In order of assembly)

This recipe makes one large serving dish, enough for 2-4 people. Can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd! Like any good family recipe, the quantities and ratios are more like guidelines than hard rules. Add more or less of things depending on what you like! You can’t mess this recipe up, so just go for it!

  • Ground Beef (1 pound per 2-4 people)

  • Taco Seasoning (1 pack per pound of beef)

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (1 large bag)

  • Refried Beans (1 can)

  • Yellow Queso (1 jar)

  • Sour Cream (8oz)

  • (More shredded cheddar cheese)

  • Green Onions (thinly sliced) (1 bunch)

  • Diced Tomatoes (or Pico de Gallo) (1 1/2 cups)

  • (Even more shredded cheddar cheese)

  • Romaine Lettuce (1 1/2 cup shredded)

  • Cilantro (1 bunch chopped) 

  • Tortilla Chips (1-2 large bags)



You can prepare a lot of these ingredients ahead of time, but you’ll want to wait to actually assemble everything until the very last minute when you’re ready to eat!

Prepare the pico de gallo first, as it gets better the longer it sits! (If you don’t like onions, just use diced tomatoes instead.) Begin warming the refried beans and the queso in separate pots (don’t forget to stir them from time to time!). While those are warming up, cook the ground beef. Once all of the beef has browned, remove the grease from the pan and add taco seasoning. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of water until all of the meat is evenly coated with the seasoning. Chop up or shred any of the remaining ingredients (cilantro, green onions, lettuce), and put the tortilla chips in bowls to spread around the table. I like to have one bowl per two people, depending on the size of your bowls. The key is making sure everyone has easy access to the chips. 

Once everything is prepped, it’s helpful to line up all of the ingredients in order of assembly (see ingredient list). This isn’t necessary, it just helps to make sure you’re going in the right order and you don’t have to waste time wandering around the kitchen to find what you need. (I’m all about efficiency!) When all of your guests have arrived and are ready to eat, assemble your Nacho Bell Grande on a large serving platter (or two or 3). The flatter the serving platter the better! Layer each of the ingredients (in list order), beginning with a layer of ground beef, one on top of the other. You want to make sure you spread everything out well enough to where everyone gets all of the ingredients in each bite!

Pro-tip: Add a bit of water to the sour cream and the refried beans to thin them out just enough to spread easily! Also, make sure to ladle the melted queso all the way to the edge of the serving platter! 

A couple of notes:

Sometimes I like to make guacamole as a side that people can scoop onto their corner if they’d like! I don’t put it all over the dish solely because it won’t keep well if you have food leftover. (PS You’ll most likely have food left over - this dish is very filling!)

Get everyone involved: Have each person bring one of the topping ingredients! You’ll probably want to take care of the meat, cheese, and refried beans (which can all be made ahead of time and kept warm in crock pots), but then have everyone else bring the toppings! You can also put your guests to work chopping and stirring! (I love giving my guests a more hands-on experience - such a fun bonding opportunity!)