Wait, Are Nachos Actually Salad?

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We believe it’s our duty (and our honor) here at MyRecipes to ask the hard hitting questions. Last week, we published an article that challenged everything we thought we knew about lasagna. “Is it actually a casserole?” we dared to ask about the beloved Italian dish. 

Our answer? Lasagna is absolutely a casserole. 

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

This prompted another conversation—one that has proved a bit more divisive among our staffers: Are nachos actually salad? 

After much discussion, we’ve (kind of) come to a consensus. But we need you to weigh in on this, dear readers, because it’s tearing us apart. 

What Is Salad?

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Merriam-Webster lists three definitions for the word “salad.” Here they are, in their entirety:

  1. any of various usually cold dishes, such as: a: raw greens (such as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing. b: small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (such as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin
  2. a green vegetable or herb grown for salad 
  3. a usually incongruous mixture 

While the word tends to bring to mind a pile of lettuce and other vegetables topped with dressing, we can’t forget that potato salad and chicken salad exist. There really is no limit to what one can put on or in a salad. Some folks (especially Southerners) might even argue that marshmallows are an acceptable ingredient. 

We’re going to accept definition No. 3 (the one about the incongruous mixture) as our official stance on salads. 

Also worth noting: Salads—excluding the controversial hand salad—are eaten with a fork and topped with some sort of dressing. 

Salad Recipes

  • Peach-Fennel Salad with Pecorino
  • Everything Bagel Salad
  • Grilled Steak Salad with Potatoes and Pickled Red Onion
  • Classic Potato Salad
  • Caprese Pasta Salad

What Are Nachos?

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Here’s what our good friend Merriam-Webster has to say about the word “nacho:” 

a tortilla chip topped with melted cheese and often additional savory toppings (such as hot peppers or refried beans)

Interestingly, the dictionary definition is for the singular “nacho” and not the plural “nachos.” While you certainly can eat one nacho, would you? A tortilla chip topped with cheese is definitely not a salad—but our debate is focused on the dish as a whole, not its components. 

Nachos are often, but not always, considered a finger food. Dressing is not involved in the nacho-making process. Before you start typing out your argument, remember: Cheese, sour cream, and salsa are all toppings.

Nachos Recipes

  • Quick and Easy Nachos
  • Sheet Pan Nachos with Chorizo and Refried Beans
  • Borscht Nachos
  • Keto Nachos
  • Super Crispy Chicken Skin Nachos

Are Nachos Actually Salad?

Yes, nachos are salad. But just barely. By the skin of their teeth.

Our final decision is based on the loosest definition of “salad” we could find. Nachos consist of a hodgepodge of ingredients on a plate. So do salads. Therefore, nachos are salads. 

Be sure to check back soon to read our thoughts on gazpacho: soup or smoothie?

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