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I must confess, I’ve never tried the Taco Bell Nacho Fries. So when I tell you this healthier version is better than the real deal, know that’s coming from a place of serious authority.
Jokes aside, I can say these healthier nacho fries have significantly fewer calories and an option to boost the protein. The souped up version of these fries, for example, has 31 grams of protein if you use the cheese dipping sauce!
Ingredients for Nacho Fries
The fries on their own are super simple. All you’ll need is 2-3 potatoes, a dab of olive oil, and some spices. Here’s a quick rundown of the spices:
- Chili Powder
- Garlic and Onion Powder
You can also add a bit of black pepper if you’d like a bit more kick.
Beyond the basics, these nacho fries use two specialty ingredients you’ll be familiar with if you’ve tried my potatoes au gratin or chorizo dip recipes—cheddar powder and collagen powder. While both ingredients are optional, adding them could be a great way to boost the flavor and protein of your nacho fries.
What is Cheddar Powder?
Cheddar powder is essentially dehydrated cheddar cheese that can be reconstituted to make cheese sauces like you see with the cheese dipping sauce or used as a dry seasoning on fries or popcorn. I love the stuff and use it in all kinds of recipes on my blog.
You might be able to find this ingredient in some stores, but I order mine from Amazon. I have both products I use on my Amazon shopping list, if you’re interested.
What is Collagen Powder?
Collagen is a structural protein and is known for supporting for hair, skin, nail, and joint health. In supplement form, collagen peptides are a tasteless powder (in most cases) that provide 20 grams of protein per serving. Or at least the Bowmar Nutrition Collagen Peptides I used for this recipe provide 20 grams per serving.
In the case of these nacho fries, the collagen is certainly easily omitted. If you’re on a higher protein diet and want to have these fries on their own without another protein source, it could be a great option!
How to Cut Potatoes for Fries
I’ve pulled the photos and brief rundown of how I like to cut potatoes for fries directly from my Wingstop Fries recipe.
If you cut almost to the bottom of the potato, it will hold together while you cut the remaining slices. Then you can easily finish cutting them all the way through.
Once you’ve cut the potato vertically, split the potato in half (2-3 layers per side) and place the middle of the potato face down. You can see the outside of the potato facing up in the photo above. Then it’s as easy as slicing from one end to the other to create thin strips. And that’s it—fries.
To Soak or Not to Soak
Unlike my Wingstop Fries recipe, these nacho fries call for soaking the potatoes before cooking. I’m undecided if this step is 100% necessary, but it does create crispier fries since some of starch can break down while soaking.
If you’re in a time crunch, you can skip this step. But if you want the crispiest oil-free or minimal oil nacho fries you can get, soak them in warm water for 20-30 minutes after slicing.
Final Recipe Notes
Just to reiterate, in case you skipped through the sections above (shame), the cheddar powder and collagen are optional additions. Though I’d highly encourage the cheddar powder addition, especially for the cheese dipping sauce.
On your cooking method, I used my 5.8qt Simple Living Products air fryer. If you’re using a smaller air fryer, you may want to shake the fries a few times during frying or cooking multiple batches. And similar to ovens, different air fryers may affect cooking time. Check on your fries periodically to avoid burning.
Okay, get to frying! Be sure to let me know how your nacho fries turn out. Take a photo of your creation and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff. Or you can join my free Facebook group and share it with the Proton Party.
Copycat Taco Bell Nacho Fries
Wash and dry the potatoes before cutting them vertically 4-5 times without cutting all the way through the potato.
Cut all the way through in the center of the potato and flip cut side down.
Slice from top to bottom to cut thin fries.
Add the sliced potatoes to a large bowl and cover in warm water. Let the potatoes soak for 15-20 minutes before draining and patting dry.
Add the fries to an air fryer or on a wire rack over a baking sheet in oven and fry/bake for about 15 minutes at 400F.
While the fries cook, mix the spices, cheddar powder, and optional collagen in a small bowl.
After the fries have cooked, add them back to the large bowl and toss with the olive oil before adding the spice blend. Toss/stir well to evenly coat the fries.
Add the fries back to the air fryer or oven for another 4-6 minutes until crispy. Be careful not to burn them if you add the cheddar powder and/or collagen.
Mix the cheese dip ingredients together and serve with warm fries. Enjoy!
Nutrition info for different versions and with or without cheese dip (totals are for both servings):
- Fries only without collagen: 427 calories, 12g protein, 74g carbs, 11g fat
- Fries and cheese dip without collagen: 597 calories, 26g protein, 84g carbs, 19g fat
- Fries only with collagen: 499 calories, 30g protein, 74g carbs, 11g fat
- Fries with collagen and cheese dip: 741 calories, 62g protein, 84g carbs, 19g fat
More Healthy Appetizers You Might Like
Sticking with the Tex-Mex theme, my low carb taco bites are perfect for parties or even meal prep.
And if you’re an avid air fryer, my simple bean and cheese air fryer taquitos are sure to tickle your fancy.