Ree Drummond’s Lightened-up Nachos Are a ‘Different Kind of Amazing’

TL;DR: 

  • Ree Drummond’s Lightened-up Nachos are a variation of her Loaded Nachos. 
  • The Food Network star uses baked tortilla chips and less cheese. 
  • She serves the Lightened-up Nachos with avocado salsa.
Ree Drummond, who has a recipe for Lightened-up Nachos, is interviewed at a Pioneer Woman Magazine event
Ree Drummond | Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Pioneer Woman Magazine

Ree Drummond’s Lightened-up Nachos may not be her Loaded Nachos but they still have all the hallmarks of the original. The lighter Pioneer Woman dish has chips (Drummond bakes her own), plenty of toppings, and, of course, cheese. Plus, the Food Network star serves the nachos with “simple” avocado salsa. 

Baked tortilla chips are the base of Ree Drummond’s Lightened-Up Nachos

Drummond’s lighter nachos start the same way as her regular nachos, with chips. Except, in this instance, she uses baked chips instead of fried. And, although Drummond has kitchen shortcuts, she opts to skip storebought tortilla chips in favor of homemade. 

“These are going to be baked,” she said during an episode of The Pioneer Woman, “because normal nachos are made with tortilla chips which are unapologetically fried and that’s why they’re so darn amazing.”

“But that doesn’t mean that these won’t be amazing too,” she added, saying “they’ll just be kind of a different kind of amazing.

As she explained, she cuts corn tortillas into small wedges and sprays them with oil. “I’m going to put them into a bowl, I’m going to break ‘em apart and then just spray them with olive oil cooking spray,” she said, calling it the “best way” to get a “light coating of oil on the tortillas.” 

Drummond doesn’t bake them just yet. Before they go in the oven she seasons the tortillas with ranch dressing mix. 

The toppings are similar to Loaded Nachos

Sure, they’re Drummond’s lighter nachos. But as she admitted on her cooking show, they’re “basically just loaded nachos.” 

The Super Easy! cookbook author tops them with canned corn and black beans. As she told viewers from the Lodge where The Pioneer Woman is filmed, she makes sure to drain off the liquid. 

Next up is cheese. “These nachos do have cheese, because you basically can’t make nachos without cheese, but not very much,” she said. “For me, this is like a drop in the bucket of the amount of cheese I usually use for nachos,” she added as she sprinkled pepper jack over the chips. 

Explaining her choice of cheese, she said pepper jack’s creamy and a “little bit more flavorful than a lot of cheeses.” Plus, “If you don’t just completely cover everything with cheese,” she added, “you can celebrate the ingredients that are underneath.” 

Finally, Drummond’s Lightened-up Nachos go back in the oven so the cheese can melt. 

The Pioneer Woman serves a ‘simple’ avocado salsa on the side

“You’ve got to have some kind of salsa to serve with nachos,” Drummond said on The Pioneer Woman. Her pick? A “really simple avocado salsa” made with tomatoes, onion, lime, cumin, salt, pepper, and herbs.

While assembling the salsa Drummond explained lots of cilantro is a must-have in salsa or pico de gallo. “When I first started making salsa and pico de gallo it took me a long time to realize you have to add basically as much cilantro as you have tomatoes and other ingredients,” she said. 

Drummond combines all of the ingredients together in a bowl with a “barely ripe” avocado and the salsa’s done. 

Get the full recipe from Food Network.

RELATED: Ree Drummond: 5 Quick Cinco De Mayo Recipes From the Pioneer Woman