How many calories in a plate of Nachos from a restaurant?

Nachos are a popular appetizer or snack found on many restaurant menus. But with layers of tortilla chips, cheese, beans, salsa, guacamole, and more, they can also pack a lot of calories. So how many calories are actually in a typical plate of nachos when dining out?

What are Nachos?

Nachos consist of tortilla chips covered in melted cheese and a variety of toppings. While recipes can vary, most restaurant nachos include:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Melted cheese like cheddar, Monterey jack, queso, etc.
  • Beans – usually refried pinto beans or black beans
  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Olives
  • Scallions
  • Seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken (in some recipes)

The basic components are the tortilla chips and melted cheese. The other ingredients are added on top to create layers of flavors and textures.

Calories in Key Nacho Ingredients

To determine how many calories are in a typical plate of nachos, we need to look at the calorie content of each key ingredient:

Tortilla Chips

As the base of nachos, tortilla chips contribute a significant amount of calories:

  • 1 ounce of tortilla chips = Approximately 140 calories
  • A typical plate of nachos may contain 4-8 ounces of chips


Cheese is the other major component of nachos. Different types provide different calorie amounts:

  • Cheddar – 114 calories per 1 ounce shredded
  • Monterey Jack – 104 calories per 1 ounce shredded
  • Queso – 123 calories per 1 ounce

A typical plate of nachos may contain 2-4 ounces of cheese.


  • Refried beans = approximately 100 calories per 1/2 cup
  • Black beans = approximately 115 calories per 1/2 cup

Bean toppings add protein and fiber to nachos. A typical plate may have around 1/2 cup of beans.


  • 1/4 cup of salsa = approximately 15-20 calories

Salsa adds flavor without too many calories. A serving of nachos might have around 1/4 cup of salsa.


  • 2 tablespoons of guacamole = approximately 50 calories

While guacamole adds nutrients like healthy fats, it does come with additional calories. A typical serving of nachos may have 2-4 tablespoons of guac.

Sour Cream

  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream = approximately 60 calories

Sour cream is another higher calorie topping. There is often around 2-4 tablespoons used on a plate of nachos.


  • 1 jalapeño pepper = approximately 4 calories

Jalapeños add spicy heat without too many extra calories. A plate may have around 1-2 jalapeño slices.

Other Toppings

Some other toppings and their calorie amounts:

  • 2 tablespoons diced tomatoes = approximately 10 calories
  • 1/4 cup shredded lettuce = 5 calories
  • 10-15 olives = 25-50 calories
  • 2 tablespoons scallions = 5 calories

These extras add only small amounts of calories per serving. A plate may have around 2-4 tablespoons total of these other toppings combined.

Total Calories in a Serving of Nachos

Given the calorie counts for individual ingredients, we can estimate the total calorie content of a standard restaurant plate of nachos:

Ingredient Amount Calories
Tortilla chips ~6 oz ~840
Cheddar cheese ~3 oz ~342
Refried beans ~1/2 cup ~100
Salsa ~1/4 cup ~20
Guacamole ~3 Tbsp ~75
Sour cream ~3 Tbsp ~90
Jalapeño ~1 pepper ~4
Other toppings ~3 Tbsp ~20
Total Calories ~1491

On average, a typical plate of nachos from a restaurant contains approximately 1491 calories. This will vary some based on portion sizes and specific ingredients used in a recipe.

Factors That Increase Nachos Calories

There are some factors that can significantly increase the calorie count in an order of nachos:

  • Larger portion size – Many restaurants serve huge plates of nachos as an appetizer meant for sharing. The larger the portion, the more calories it will contain.
  • Extra meat – Some recipes add beef or chicken, which provides additional calories. Shredded beef may have around 150 calories per 1/2 cup.
  • Extra cheese – Loading up on extra cheese like queso adds more calories. An additional 1-2 ounces of cheese is 100-200 more calories.
  • More high-calorie toppings – More sour cream, guacamole, etc. piles on the calories.
  • Deep-fried chips – Some restaurants use freshly fried tortilla chips instead of lower calorie baked chips.

Ordering nachos as an individual meal versus an appetizer for sharing will also increase the calorie count.

Lower Calorie Options

There are some ways to reduce the calorie count if you want a lighter version of nachos:

  • Order a small or half portion
  • Use salsa instead of sour cream or guacamole for added flavor
  • Ask for extra veggies like tomatoes, peppers, or scallions instead of meat or extra cheese
  • See if baked tortilla chips are available instead of fried
  • Skip the beans, cheese, and meat to make “nachos” primarily out of veggie toppings

Building your nachos from the lower calorie ingredients can help cut the total down significantly.

Healthier Nacho Alternatives

If you want a healthier take on nachos, consider these alternative recipes:

Baked Nachos

Baked nachos use oven-baked tortilla chips instead of fried. Build them with plenty of veggies, a sprinkle of cheese, turkey meat, and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Nacho Power Bowls

Construct a nacho “bowl” on a base of lettuce, brown rice, beans, lean protein, salsa, and guacamole. Skip the tortilla chips to cut carbs and calories.

Skinny Pork Nachos

Top baked pita chips with pulled pork, black bean salsa, pickled onions, jalapeños, and non-fat Greek yogurt for a lighter spin.

Loaded Nacho Sweet Potatoes

For a vegetarian meal, load up baked sweet potato halves with black beans, corn, salsa, guacamole, and just a sprinkle of cheese.

The Bottom Line

A full plate of loaded restaurant nachos can weigh in anywhere from 1,000 – 2,000 calories, depending on the serving size and toppings used. Items like tortilla chips, cheese, beans, guacamole, and sour cream can quickly drive up the calorie count.

If you want a lighter appetizer or meal, customize your nachos with more veggies, less cheese, and healthier toppings like salsa. Or explore alternative recipes using baked chips, lettuce wraps, sweet potatoes, or other veggies instead of deep fried tortilla chips.

Knowing the typical calorie amounts in nachos can help you make informed choices and balance your meal if you want to watch your calorie intake.

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