Why Aren’t You Making Nachos on the Grill?

Camp Mess Nachos
Courtesy Emma Frisch / Ten Speed Press

One of the most communal foods known to man, nachos are far more than the sum of their parts. With crusty slopes and savory layers that offer something for everyone (cheese fans, spice hounds…), you don’t need a camping outing to enjoy nachos—but one will probably make ‘em better.


“I crammed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and all manner of fixings onto sheets of foil and melted, toasted, and roasted the whole shebang over low-burning coals,” Emma Frisch says of the first time she made this rendition at Firelight Camps, the glamping operation of which she is the cofounder and culinary director, in the pristine Finger Lakes of Ithaca, NY. Now, she’s captured the glory of the dish and campfire grilling in her new book Feast by Firelight: Simple Recipes for Camping, Cabins, and the Great Outdoors.

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Read on, and bring a little bit of that Firelight magic into your next camping trip or backyard gathering—we guarantee that happy hands will be at the ready to scoop up those melty, piquant bits before you can crack open your beer.

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Recipe reprinted from Feast by Firelight: Simple Recipes for Camping, Cabins, and the Great Outdoors with permission from Emma Frisch / Ten Speed Press.

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Prep time

5 minutes min.

Cook time

5 minutes min.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 extra-large handfuls corn tortilla chips
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup store-bought corn salsa (or make your own)
  • 2⁄3 cup pickled red onions or store-bought jalapeño pickles
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced green onions, hot sauce, and plain yogurt or sour cream for topping (optional)
Fire the grill to medium heat, or let the campfire burn low so the coals are red and glowing at medium heat. Position the grill grate six inches above the coals.
Put four 12-inch sheets of aluminum foil on a flat surface and grease with the olive oil. Place a generous handful of tortilla chips in the center of each foil sheet. Divide the black beans, salsa, and pickled onions evenly over each pile of chips. Sprinkle 1⁄4 cup of the cheese over each serving.
Fold up two sides of the foil to meet in the middle and fold the edges over each other to seal the top. Then fold the two open ends of the foil to seal the packet. Place the foil packets over direct heat and cook for about five minutes. Open the packets carefully to allow steam to escape. If the cheese is not melted, return to the heat for a few minutes more before digging in.
Serve the nachos directly from the foil—fewer plates to clean—and top with green onions, hot sauce, and a dollop of yogurt, if desired. Demolish these—leftovers don’t keep well.
Note: If you’re not making this campside or at the grill, you can  preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or dish with aluminum foil and assemble the nachos as directed. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.