The Absolute Best Type Of Cheese For Nachos

If you like both tortilla chips and cheese, chances are you like nachos too. All nacho recipes start out with those two ingredients, and from there you can customize them to your liking. Bobby Flay, for example, likes to make his sweet and sour with pickled onions or chiles and fresh Fresno or jalapeño peppers. Adding meat is always a popular option as well, and there are even different nontraditional styles, including Indian and Irish.

While there are plenty of interesting toppings that can elevate the flavor of your nachos, it's really the cheese that (literally) holds it all together. Without the right type of cheese, or worse, no cheese at all, your nachos just won't taste the same. Ever wonder why you don't normally see nachos made with cheeses like parmesan or feta? The answer has everything to do with taste, texture, and meltability. 

Take these factors into consideration when selecting cheese for your nachos and you'll have perfect results every time.

Certain cheeses don't do well in nachos

Hard cheeses like Parmesan and Pecorino work great in all sorts of pasta dishes, but for nachos, it's best to avoid them. According to The Kitchn, hard cheeses have a higher oil content, which prevents them from melting well. Since they're aged, they also have a sharper flavor, and as The Kitchn points out, too strong of a cheese can be overpowering in nachos. That also applies to cheeses like feta and bleu cheese that are known to be more pungent.

The best option instead is to use cheeses that melt well, ideally cheddar or Jack. Per Bon Appétit, you'll get even better results if you combine those with American cheese as well. Because it's processed, American cheese is incredibly easy to melt and doesn't separate or firm up as readily as "real" cheese does when it cools. If you're aiming for nacho cheese that's extra smooth, a highly meltable cheese or a combination of them is the way to go.

Should you use sliced or shredded cheese for nachos?

Cheese will taste the same way whether it's sliced or shredded, but it certainly won't melt the same way. Shredded cheese, according to The Kitchn, yields more favorable results when making nachos. Just make sure to grate the cheese yourself rather than buying the pre-packaged kind.

Though it might be more convenient, Taste of Home shares that cheese that comes already shredded is filled with all kinds of preservatives, including potato starch and natamycin. These additives are designed to prevent the shredded cheese from sticking together, but it also means when you try and melt it, it'll be more prone to clumping. That makes it a lot harder to achieve that velvety consistency you want in nacho cheese. 

If you're stuck choosing between sliced or pre-shredded cheese, therefore, you'll definitely want to pick the sliced. But if you have the option, always opt for grating your own cheese.