Mexican Face-Off: Naming the Differences Between Nachos and Tacos

For once in your entire life, you have probably heard about nachos and tacos as well as their reputation.

However, not everyone knows how to distinguish them so that they can avoid embarrassing mistakes and confusion while making a menu choice.

Without further ado, let’s dig deeper into the differences between nachos vs tacos. Stay with us till the end of the article to discover more about some special and delicious recipes.


Taco is a popular Mexican dish made up of wheat tortillas that are topped with a filling. The tortilla is then folded around the filling and consumed with one hand.

The Spanish word “taco” means wedge, wad, plug in the Mexican tradition. Like how this meaning suggests, the taco also retains its wedge shape after all these times.

Tacos can be filled with a variety of foods, including beef, pig, chicken, fish, beans, vegetables, and cheese. The toppings also include vegetables like lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and chiles. They are often served with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.

Traditional Mexican beef tacos are assembled with marinated sliced or shredded beef on soft corn tortillas. Yet, there are several variations of tacos depending on the filling and the way tacos are served.

Some popular kinds are taco al pastor with thin pork steaks and adobo seasoning, tacos de Camarones with shrimp filling, tacos de Pescado with fish filling, and tacos de lengua as known as beef tongue tacos.


Nachos are a Mexican regional dish from northern Mexico. This dish consists of heated tortilla chips or totopos coated in melted cheese (or a cheese-based sauce) and is typically served as a snack or appetizer.

They can be topped with a variety of toppings, including cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, and occasionally lettuce. Other ingredients can be included in more sophisticated versions of the meal, making these substantial enough to serve as a full course.

One popular version of nachos consists of a quartered and fried tostada with a layer of refried beans or various meats, a layer of shredded cheese or nacho cheese, and habanero hot sauce.

Barbeque (in which the cheese is substituted with barbecue sauce) and poutine nachos (in which cheddar cheese is replaced with cheese curds and gravy) are two other variations that are widely loved.

Despite the use of non-traditional ingredients, these variations are still considered nachos.

What’s the Difference?


The taco’s origins can be traced back to the Spaniards’ invasion of Mexico. According to anthropological research, the oldest form of tacos is packed with little fish and was a staple of indigenous peoples in the Valley of Mexico’s lake region. Currently, tacos are a popular sort of antojitos, or Mexican street food, that has gained worldwide popularity.

Nachos originated in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1940, at the Victory Club, when a guest asked if Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya could bring her and three other women a different snack than usual, he added melted cheese and pickled jalapeno onto a fried corn tortilla, making the first nachos recorded in the culinary history.

Food ingredients

These two dishes are somehow similar because both have 2 versions: simple or fancy.

Nachos can be enjoyed with only liquid cheese or garnished with other toppings like meat and chilies. Likewise, a tortilla and meat would be enough to assemble a taco.

Yet, the beauty of tacos is that you can put anything on them. Hence, you can follow the recipe and add beans, coriander, onions, avocado, or customize your own tacos with your favorite ingredients.

When nachos get filled with different toppings like meat and cheese, it may resemble the mini version of tacos being overwhelmed in the topping. Yet, from the overview of the two dishes above, the distinction is clear.


While nachos are crisp chips made from smaller (usually triangle-shaped) corn tortillas, tacos are made with a whole, round tortilla (used to wrap other foods).

Nachos can be fun finger food, no matter what kind of topping they come with. Meanwhile, tacos are generally much bigger. Yet, the way tacos are folded can conveniently allow people to hold and enjoy this dish.

With the clear distinction between nachos and tacos, let’s learn how to make these dishes so that you can bring both to your family.

How to take nacho chips?

You can simply buy a bag of nacho chips and enjoy it with the liquid cheese, or you can go a step further and make the best homemade nachos.

They are versatile and quick to make. Homemade ones contain all your needed nutrients, for you can add anything from protein, carbs, veggies, and extra cheese. They can also be tailored to suit a solo diner or a snack for a group gathering.

If this piques your interest, follow our step-by-step guide to make nachos at home, and you will never go back to the store-bought option.

What to prepare

Nacho chips: You can cut a corn tortilla into wedges and fry them at home or have a bag of nacho chips for convenience’s sake.

A lot of cheese: Crumbly cotija or queso fresco gives the best Mexican taste.

All other toppings you like: The best toppings are guacamole, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, diced onions and tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

Step-by-step guide

1. Preparation before assembling: Shred your cheese, brown the meat, refry the beans, and make salsa sauce in advance. If you want to make your own chips, fry them until they are golden brown and crispy.

2. Get yours ready: Bake nachos on quarter sheet pans or an oven-safe tray. You can bake the chips with cheese and top them with the beef and bean mixture. This means they can go straight from the oven to the table, and everyone can customize their nachos to their liking.

How to make tacos?

Below is the recipe for a delicious ground beef taco, yet, you can substitute the beef with any meat of your choice. Your taco will be delicious nevertheless.

Things to prepare

1. Tortillas.

2. Lean ground beef

3. Meat seasoning: chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano, pepper, and garlic

4. Tomato sauce

5. Toppings of your choice: The toppings we recommend are shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced onions, avocado, and sour cream.

Step-by-step guide

1. Cook your meat: Marinate your meat with all the seasoning, let it sit for a while, and brown it in a saucepan. Afterward, add tomato sauce and water to the cooked meat and let this simmer until all the water is evaporated. You will be left with saucy meat.

2. Warm the taco shell: You can heat the shell in the oven. Pay attention to the direction of the package.

3. Assemble the taco: Spoon 2 tablespoons of taco meat into hard taco shells or small soft tortillas. For a regular 6-inch flour tortilla, 2 tablespoons of meat are the best portion. Top the taco with any of your favorite taco ingredients, and you are done.

What are the healthiest nachos?

This is a question that has been debated for years, but we believe we have the answer. The healthiest nachos are those made with whole-grain tortilla chips, black beans, salsa, and avocado.

Whole grain tortilla chips are a good source of fiber, which can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Black beans are a good source of protein and fiber, both of which can help to keep you feeling energized throughout the day.

Salsa is a great source of antioxidants, which can help to protect your body from harmful toxins. And avocado is a good source of healthy fats, which can help to improve your overall health.

How many carbs are in a nacho?

On average, a single serving of nachos contains around 30 grams of carbohydrates. This can be a lot for some people, especially if they are trying to follow a low-carb diet.

If you are looking for a lower-carb option, you can try making your nachos with homemade tortilla chips or using a different type of cheese.

Why is cheese on top of the nachos bad for your weight loss goals?

Cheese is high in calories and it can be difficult to burn off. This means that if you are trying to lose weight, it is best to avoid eating foods that are high in cheese.

However, if you do enjoy cheese and want to include it in your diet, try choosing low-fat or fat-free varieties.

Does eating fried corn tortilla chips really make you gain weight?

Not necessarily. While fried tortilla chips are high in fat and calories, they are not necessarily unhealthy. In fact, they can be a great source of protein and fiber.

If you are trying to lose weight, however, it is best to limit your consumption of fried foods. Instead, try opting for healthier alternatives like baked tortilla chips or homemade tortilla chips.

Which one tastes better, tacos or nachos?

This is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer tacos because they are made with soft tortillas and are typically filled with spicy ingredients.

Nachos, on the other hand, are made with crunchy tortilla chips and are typically topped with melted cheese and sour cream.


The above list is roughly everything you need to distinguish between nachos vs tacos. Don’t forget to apply our recipes and valuable tips to enjoy these delicious treats at home with your family. Promise that you won’t ever regret it later.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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