The most perfect sheet pan nachos with easy slow cooker pulled beef for game day or fun Friday night!
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A story about the girls’ first nacho experience
A couple of summers ago my girls had their first experience with a big pile of loaded nachos! We live in a little beach town, and each summer we pick one weekend to play “tourist” – we ride the trolley, go to the touristy shops and attractions, play at the busier beach instead of the quieter beach, and also enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. That year, one of the girls asked what “nachos” were on the appetizer menu, so we decided to give them the experience! These nachos were no ordinary nachos, with plain corn chips and fake cheese. They were loaded with real pulled barbeque beef, green onions, peppers, crispy fried jalepenos, super yummy aoili and guacamole – the works!
A new fun weekend at-home nacho idea!
My kids just adored the family style way of getting to eat the nachos at that restaurant, and they talked about it for days! Every so often my middle one would reminisce about those nachos, and asked if we could try to make them at home. How could I say no to that?! We get a half grass-fed cow each year, and I just happened to have a brisket that I hadn’t decided what to do with yet. We slow cooked the brisket in my taco seasoning mix, let the girls dress up some nachos on a big sheet tray, and a new fun weekend dinner treat was born!
The Method :: Preparing the Beef and Sauce
The ingredients for the pulled beef is very simple. Your favorite taco seasoning mix and an easily whisked sauce – that’s it! The beef cut is really up to you on this one. Any cut of beef roast or brisket will do. (And really you could do a pan of ground beef taco meat if you don’t happen to have a roast around.). I keep a jar of my own taco season blend in my cupboard, so the prep for the beef goes really fast. Over the years, I have discovered that tripling that taco season mix into a jar works best for me, so feel free to do that and enjoy having taco seasoning already made up a lot longer!
The Method :: The Slow Cooked Pulled Beef
Once you season your beef roast with a generous amount of your favorite taco seasoning, take the time to sear the sides. The crust on the meat gives amazing flavor, and that extra 5-10 minutes of prep is so worth it. You get to tuck the seared beef into the slow cooker for the rest of the time anyway so take your time and get a nice flavorful sear on your beef! You’ll slow cook the beef roast for 8-10 hours on low, and boy oh boy will it just fall apart after that. Perfect for pulling apart with a couple of forks for your sheet pan nachos! Whisk some of the juices from the slow cooker with a starch of choice and you have a delicious sauce to mix in with your shredded beef for the nachos.
The Method :: The Sheet Pan Nachos
And now we get to do the fun part! If you want to get the kids involved, prepare a “topping bar” type set up so that they can sprinkle toppings onto the sheet pan nachos to their little heart’s desire! Such a fun way for kids to try new veggies like finely chopped peppers – they make the nachos so pretty and get super sweet once cooked! I like to get the cheese onto the chips first, and then let the girls do the rest. You can let them sprinkle a little extra cheese on top after they get the toppings on too.
A note on the chips and cheese brands
Because I know that there will be questions on chips and cheese brands! I do get the organic tortilla chips from Costco, but there are so many decent brands out there now! Get the best you can afford – this is an every once and a while fun dinner! I also use the manchego cheese from Costco, but any cheese that you love will work. My oldest and I do better on sheep’s milk cheeses so we use manchego which is also super melty!
Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter to sear the beef
- 2-3 pounds grassfed beef brisket or roast I have found any beef roast cut works!
- 3-4 tbsp of taco season mix divided (I use my own taco season blend. I keep a jar of a triple batch of the seasoning in my pantry, so it is easy to use!)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp coconut sugar honey, maple syrup, or sugar works here – it cuts the acid in the tomato paste.
- ½ – 1 cup beef broth chicken broth or water would be fine if that is all you have – I also happen to think swapping some of the liquid for a good beer or red wine tastes amazing
- 1 large onion sliced into strips
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- Sea salt/pepper to taste
- Tortilla chips of choice
- Cheese of choice if using
- Nacho toppings of choice
- 1 tsp starch of choice *you may not need this if you are using a taco seasoning mix that already has starch or flour in it – this is to thicken the sauce. You can use potato starch, GMO free corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot.
- Warm a skillet over high heat with the olive oil and butter while you season the beef. Pat dry your beef roast and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of taco season ON EACH SIDE of the beef, rubbing it into the beef on each side. (Total of 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning on the beef roast – if your roast is on the bigger side, you might use a bit more than 2 tablespoons)
- Put the seasoned beef roast in the hot oil to sear. LEAVE the beef in the skillet for a few minutes until a nice crust forms – if the beef is sticking when you pull it up that means it might need a bit longer. If it pulls away from the pan easily, you’ve made a nice crust on the beef! Turn the beef roast to the other side to sear for a few minutes.
- While the beef roast is searing you can whisk the sauce. Put 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning into a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomato paste, coconut sugar, and broth and whisk to combine until smooth.
- Put the whisked sauce, sliced onion, and minced garlic into the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the seared beef. I like to put the beef into the sauce, then turn it over so that it is coated on both sides. Put the lid on your slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove the cooked beef to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Strain out about a cup of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk a teaspoon of potato starch into the liquid – this will make a thicker sauce for the beef. Mix the shredded beef with the thickened sauce – you can use as much of the sauce as you want to your desired consistency, and you can make more if you want it saucier!
- To make the sheet pan nachos, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line your sheet pan with tortilla chips. Sprinkle the cheese, then the shredded beef, and then the toppings of your choice. You can sprinkle extra cheese on the top if you want!
- Bake the sheet pan tacos in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with green onion, fresh herbs, sour cream – whatever you like!