Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.
A platter of nachos covered in molten gooey cheese or a portion of tortilla chips loaded with refried beans, ground beef, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. These mouthwatering dishes are available at many Tex-Mex restaurants across the US. But what happens if you’ve got allergies or are following a specific diet? What allergens do nachos contain?
Nachos potentially contain gluten, dairy, and soy. No restaurants guarantee that their nachos are gluten-free because of cross-contamination. However, you can choose nachos without cheese or sour cream if you are allergic to dairy. The safest choice is baked corn chips with guacamole or salsa.
Nachos may seem like a straightforward dish to enjoy as a snack or appetizer. However, this simple meal can be full of ingredients that will spark off allergies, with potentially devastating results. We’ve got you covered with the ultimate Nachos Allergy Guide.
The Ultimate Nachos Allergy Guide
This allergy guide lists the most popular Tex-Mex restaurants in the US that serve nachos and tortilla chips as menu items. The tables below list all the menu items, with the dish’s allergens indicated by a checkmark.
Many restaurants don’t supply information on allergens, making it difficult for people with allergies, intolerances, and other conditions or lifestyle choices. There is often hidden soy and gluten in dishes (such as in the marinade or frying oil), and no restaurant can confirm that there will be no cross-contamination.
You will notice that nachos are a challenge primarily to those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk and those with severe gluten allergies.
The dairy challenge applies to vegans, who will struggle to find a plate of nachos without the cheese. Ideally, they should order a plate of tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. Fans of the keto or LCHF diet will avoid nachos because tortilla chips are a carbohydrate.
Nachos Allergy Guide: Taco Bell
Taco Bell remains America’s favorite Tex-Mex restaurant: there are more than 6500 branches of Taco Bell worldwide.
In terms of nachos, only the Nacho chips at Taco Bell are suitable for those with dairy allergies or intolerance or those who follow a vegan lifestyle, as the others contain cheese.
Because of cross-contamination in the fryer, all the nachos and chips have trace amounts of gluten, despite being made with corn flour. Their cheese sauce also contains gluten. Taco Bell’s guidelines suggest that people with celiac disease avoid their food.
Although Taco Bell is known for using coconut oil, some frying uses soybean oil, which can lead to soy allergies.
|Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce||✔||✔||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Chipotle
Chipotle focuses on fresh food and looks to environmentally sustainable options as well. For instance, they only use naturally raised beef and pork.
Chipotle does not use trans fats, fish, shellfish, eggs, mustard, peanuts and tree nuts, or sesame in their food. They have a detailed explanation of which allergens are in which menu items, which makes it an easy place to find suitable food.
A nachos bowl or plate isn’t on the menu at Chipotle, but you can mix and match items to create a bowl that suits your diet.
Their two tortilla chips variants, Chips and Guacamole, and Chips and Salsa, do not contain any allergens. However, the restaurant notes that there may be slight gluten contamination since the kitchens work with wheat tortillas. Unless you are severely allergic, you should be able to eat the nachos at Chipotle.
|Chips and Guacamole||Trace|
|Chips and Salsa||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Baja Fresh
Baja Fresh, a casual Tex-Mex fast-food franchise, lists Nachos as one of the favorite menu items on their list of farm-fresh items. Several variations of nachos are available; however, all contain dairy, so those with lactose allergies and intolerance and those on a vegan diet should avoid them.
Some options also contain gluten and soy in the steak and chicken marinades. However, their frying oil is canola-based, not soy.
Note that there is no dedicated fryer for corn chips and tacos, so there can be cross-contamination.
|Nachos: Cheese & Black Beans||Trace||✔|
|Nachos: Cheese & Pinto Beans||Trace||✔|
|Nachos: Carnitas & Black Beans||Trace||✔|
|Nachos: Carnitas & Pinto Beans||Trace||✔|
|Nachos: Chicken & Black Beans||✔||✔||✔|
|Nachos: Chicken & Pinto Beans||✔||✔||✔|
|Nachos: Steak & Black Beans||✔||✔||✔|
|Nachos: Steak & Pinto Beans||✔||✔||✔|
|Nachos: Shrimp & Black Beans||Trace||✔||Shellfish|
|Nachos: Shrimp & Pinto Beans||Trace||✔||Shellfish|
|Nachos: Roasted Veggies & Black Beans||Trace||✔|
|Nachos: Roasted Veggies & Pinto Beans||Trace||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Qdoba
Qdoba has over 600 branches, all of which focus on Mission-style burritos. They have nachos on the menu, served with their secret three-cheese queso. Did you know it took 47 tries to get the perfect queso combination?
Their menu is mainly customizable, where you begin with an entrée (e.g., tortilla chips, rice, burrito), add a protein, and then pile up additional flavors. Their nachos contain the following allergens.
Although the tortilla chips are corn-based, they are fried in a shared fryer with wheat products and soybean oil.
Nachos Allergy Guide: Moe’s Southwest Grill
With their quirky menu, crazy names for items, and excellent ingredients, Moe’s Southwest Grill is a favorite among TexMex fans.
Moe’s food does not contain the following allergens: shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, or sesame.
For those allergic to soy, Moe’s fry all of their food in highly refined soybean oil, which still contains traces of soy.
Because the kitchens work with wheat items, there may be gluten cross-contamination.
The Nachos come plain with queso, but you can build your own bowl according to your dietary requirements – a couple of unexpected allergens appear below.
|Fried Corn Chips||Trace||Trace|
|Queso for Nachos||✔|
|Salsa For Nachos|
|Ground Beef for Nachos||✔|
|Tofu for Nachos||✔|
|Black beans for Nachos||✔|
|Chipotle Ranch Dressing||✔||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: On The Border
A true Texan Tex-Mex restaurant, On The Border, started in Dallas and is popular in the southern US.
There are several kinds of nachos on their starter menu, most of which contain dairy and trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination. They are also all fried in trans-fat-free soybean oil.
|Chips and Salsa||Trace||Trace|
|Grande Fajita Nachos Beef||Trace||✔||Trace|
|Grande Fajita Nachos Chicken||Trace||✔||Trace|
|Grande Bean & Cheese Nachos||Trace||✔||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: El Pollo Loco
Unlike the other all=American Tex-Mex restaurants, El Pollo Loco was home-grown in Mexico. El Pollo Loco (the crazy chicken) is famous for its spicy grilled chicken, which you can have served in a burrito, salad, or entrée.
El Pollo Loco highlights that they cannot guarantee the absence of allergens, although they give a list of items they recommend as gluten-free (including the tortilla chips and nachos). Still, because of the possibility of cross-contamination, they list wheat among the possible allergens in their food, along with eggs, fish, milk, nuts, shellfish, and soy.
This restaurant also uses soy oil as a frying medium.
|Chips and Salsa||Trace||Trace|
|Chicken Nachos Combo||Trace||✔||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Wahoo’s Fish Tacos was inspired by the cuisines of Mexico, Brazil, Hawaii, and Asia. The multicultural menu also includes nachos, which you can tailor with your choice of protein. The proteins are listed below as they contain potential allergens, particularly soy from the cooking oil.
A shared fryer means possible gluten cross-contamination.
|Mild Grilled Fish||✔||✔|
|Spicy Grilled Fish||✔||✔||✔|
|Mild Grilled Chicken||✔|
|Spicy Grilled Chicken||✔||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Chevys Fresh Mex
This popular restaurant has the atmosphere of a Mexican cantina, complete with a mechanical tortilla maker.
All Chevys food is made from scratch with fresh ingredients and contains no peanuts, tree nuts, or soy. However, no information is provided about their food’s potential allergens.
|Chips and Salsa||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Chuy’s
Chuy’s focuses on the regional cuisine of Southern Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. They pride themselves on their hand-rolled tortillas, which are fresh every day.
Note that all their meat items are marinated in beer, which contains wheat, so they are unsuitable for those with gluten allergies or celiac disease. Their food is also fried in soybean oil.
There is also the possibility of cross-contamination in the deep fryer, although some outlets have a dedicated chip fryer.
Chuy’s is not very allergy-friendly and does not have indications on their menu of dishes that contain allergens. They do indicate vegetarian meals, however.
|Chips and Salsa||Trace||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Del Taco
This pocket-friendly establishment has been around since the 1960s and sells American-style and traditional Mexican tacos.
As with most restaurants, Del Taco warns of the possibility of cross-contamination in their kitchens, as there are no allergy-specific preparation areas.
|Chips and Queso Dip||✔|
|Chips and House-made Guacamole|
|Queso Loaded Nachos (Beef)||✔||✔||✔|
|Queso Loaded Nachos (Carne Asada)||✔||✔||✔|
|Queso Loaded Nachos (Chicken)||✔||✔||✔|
|Three-layer Queso Nachos||✔||✔||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Chili’s
With over 1000 locations, Chili’s has come a long way from the chili cook-off that inspired the restaurant. The vast menu includes Tex-Mex cuisine and other American favorites like burgers, subs, and ribs.
Their fryers are filled with refined soybean oil, which the FDA does not consider allergenic.
The restaurant does have a gluten-free menu, but with the disclaimer that the kitchen also processes items containing gluten. None of the dishes below include eggs, peanuts, or tree nuts.
|Chips and Salsa||Trace||Trace|
|Chips and Guacamole||Trace||Trace|
|Classic Nachos with Beef||✔||✔||Trace|
|Classic Nachos with Chicken||✔||✔||Trace|
Nachos Allergy Guide: El Torito
El Torito has been going since the 1950s, consistently producing tasty – and fiery – Mexican food with a modern twist.
The restaurant doesn’t indicate which menu items contain allergens, but each location will be happy to accommodate your dietary needs.
|Tortilla Chips and Queso Dip||✔|
|Nachos Supremos with Chicken||✔||✔||✔|
|Nachos Supremos with Beef||✔||✔||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Taco Cabana
A popular restaurant in and around Texas, Taco Cabana’s casual vibe will appeal to those who want to relax with family and friends.
As always, take care with cross-contamination – many gluten-free consumers have found that the chips are not entirely gluten-free. Most of their Nachos also contain dairy.
|Chips & Queso||Trace||✔|
|Chips & Guacamole||Trace|
|Bean & Cheese Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Mixed Fajita Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Steak Fajita Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Chicken Fajita Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Kicin’ Grande Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Beyond Meat Nachos||Trace||✔|
|Shredded Chicken Nachos||Trace||✔|
Nachos Allergy Guide: Pappasito’s Cantina
The Tex-Mex branch of Pappa’s, Pappasito’s, is well-known for its tortilla chips and guacamole, which they prepare at the table.
They take their gluten-free customers seriously and have a separate gluten-free menu. Some locations have dedicated gluten-free preparation areas and label dishes gluten-free as they come out of the kitchen.
Although the standard tortilla chips are not gluten-free, you can request uncontaminated corn chips.
Staff at Pappasito’s are very aware of food allergies and take their customers’ requests seriously. However, they only have a gluten-free menu, not information on other allergies.
|Baked Corn Chips with Salsa|
|Baked Corn Chips with Guacamole||✔|
|Beef Fajita Nachos||✔||✔|
|Chicken Fajita Nachos||✔||✔|
Where You Can Find Non-Allergenic Nachos
Ordering nachos at a restaurant is a challenge for anybody suffering from allergies. While most restaurants state explicitly that they don’t use eggs and peanuts, most use soybean oil as a frying medium.
Another issue is that restaurants use a shared fryer for all foods, which means cross-contamination – even if items don’t contain gluten, they will be tainted with trace amounts after frying.
Nachos also contain cheese, sour cream, and queso sauce, making them unsuitable for those with dairy allergies.
Unless a restaurant can show dedicated preparation and frying areas, it is best to steer clear of nachos and make your own at home.