This economical, small 1.5 qt. slow cooker is perfect for dips and small batches. It has a removable, dishwasher safe stoneware insert. The "warm" setting is perfect for keep queso at the perfect temperature for easy dipping. This holds a single batch of queso. Click below for a larger model.
I use this little beauty without the lid when I serve queso on my coffee table where I don't have easy access to electricity.
I use these white Corningware ramekins for serving salsa and guacamole.
These value-priced bowls are a good size for prepping and serving smaller amounts of toppings like cilantro and green onions.
A nacho buffet is an easy, crowd-pleasing menu for Game Day parties, Cinco de Mayo, or any party for that matter. It starts with a delicious nacho cheese sauce to drizzle over tortilla chips. Guests can choose from a variety of toppings so they can customize their nachos according to their preferences.
Better than oven nachos. This is so much easier than baking a big pan of nachos to serve at a party. The oven-baked kind has to be eaten immediately, because they cool down quickly once they're out of the oven, and the melted cheese soon is cold, hard, and unappealing. But, if you keep nacho cheese sauce warm (in a slow cooker or fondue pot), you don't have to worry about serving the nachos immediately. These make-your-own nachos can be enjoyed over the course of an hour or two, making them a perfect option for watching a sports game or a party that may go on for an extended time.
Everyone gets their favorite combo. Another benefit of allowing everyone to top their own nachos with their favorite ingredients is that you don't have to worry about allergies, dislikes (like cilantro haters), or tolerance for spice and heat. Everyone can have them "their way".
Pot luck option. You can provide all of the nacho ingredients yourself, or, you can provide the nacho sauce and let guests bring the toppings and chips. This is an easy pot luck menu, if you prefer to go that route.
In this post, I'll show you a typical nacho buffet spread at my house. I'll give you lots of topping options. You can choose to buy all of the toppings or make some or all of them from scratch--it's up to you. Another bonus: everything can be prepped ahead including the nacho sauce! That makes for a stress free party. Yay.
Below is a typical Make-Your-Own Nachos spread at my house. At this Game Day gathering, I put everything on the coffee table so people could fill and refill their plates with nachos while we watched the game on TV. Easy and yummy! The nacho sauce stayed warm in a fondue pot.
I put out plates and bowls, so guests can either spread chips on a plate and add nacho sauce and toppings, or they can make a bowl of nacho dip with whatever add-ins they like.
It's all about the QUESO! The most essential ingredient is a big batch of queso. My easy, yummy recipe can be made on the stove top or in a slow cooker. A single batch makes 4 cups; you can double or triple it depending on how many people you are feeding. I plan on approx. 1/2 cup per person, give-or-take depending on how much other food will be served.
If queso sits out uncovered for an extended period of time, it may become too thick. Keep a can of evaporated milk on hand to whisk in (1-2 tablespoons at a time) for thinning, if necessary.
Queso and Nacho Sauce Recipe here
Here are the other toppings included on my nacho buffet:
Prep ahead for no last-minute party stress! Everything but the guacomole can be made a day ahead, if desired. I like to prep in bowls that have lids so they can stack compactly in the fridge and look nice going directly to the table for serving.
view on Amazon: 16-oz Corningware bowls with lids; 6-oz bowls with lids
Make it a meal! If you'd like the nacho buffet to be a heartier meal rather than just for snacking, consider offering one or more of these delicious meats. These all can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. If serving for an extended time, keep reheated meats warm in a slow cooker, fondue pot, or use warming trays. If you want to keep more than one kind of meat warm in the same slow cooker, try this hack (it works!).
Fresh Salsa options. These are great additions to the topping selections, too.
Make-Ahead Party Drinks. These both go great with a nacho menu.
Nachos for dessert, too! Fruit salad is the salsa to these sweetened cinnamon tortilla chips. It's a fun addition to the nacho theme of the party. (recipe here)
2 ways to keep nacho sauce warm.
1. A small crock pot. If electricity is easily available near the buffet, a slow cooker works great. I have two smallish ones. A 1.5 qt. mini crock pot holds 1 batch of nacho sauce. The 3 qt. holds a double batch of sauce.
view on Amazon: 3-quart slow cooker (hold double batch of queso); my mini 1.5 qt. slow cooker (pictured below, holds a single batch of queso)
2. A fondue pot. This is what I use to keep my queso warm when I'm serving it on the coffee table so I can avoid stretching electrical cords across the room. Of course, I mean a non-electric fondue pot; the kind that uses a Sterno can for heat.
view on Amazon: fondue pot (I use this fondue pot without the lid); more fondue pot options
Nacho party on-the-go! You can make the queso sauce and toppings ahead and take them with you to serve somewhere else--even at an outdoor picnic. Take along a crock pot for reheating the queso if you'll have electricity available; if not, use a fondue pot.
Below, I put the prepped toppings and queso in deli containers and took them to my sons' company, Less Annoying CRM, for the employees to enjoy for a snacking. Rather than heating up all of the queso and serving it to everyone at once, they stored everything in the fridge and heated up individual portions of queso in 20-30 seconds in the microwave for snacking throughout the day at work. Winner!
view on Amazon: plastic deli containers
It's so easy to throw a Nacho Party, and you will be very popular if you do! This menu is always a crowd pleaser.
Make it a Yummy day!
You'll find more Buffet Party menus and recipes in these popular posts:
Make queso sauce to serve right away or refrigerate and reheat later. 1 batch of sauce makes 4 cups. Plan on approx. 1/2 cup per person, give-or-take depending on how much other food is being served.
For serving, keep queso sauce warm in a small slow cooker or fondue pot. If queso sits out uncovered for an extended period of time, it may become too thick. Keep a can of evaporated milk on hand to whisk in (1-2 tablespoons at a time) for thinning, if necessary.
All topping ingredients (except guacamole) may be prepped a day ahead and refrigerated in small serving bowls. That way they can go directly from the fridge to the serving table.
Meats may be made ahead and frozen, if desired. If serving for an extended time, keep reheated meats warm in a slow cooker, fondue pot, or use warming trays.
Fill a napkin-lined basket or large bowl with tortilla chips.
Potluck suggestion: You provide the queso sauce and let guests bring the chips and toppings. Easy and fun!