Creole Shrimp Nachos

Loaded Creole Shrimp Nachos

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Creole Nachos with Creamy Queso

Nachos are quick and easy, a great supper when you’re feeling lazy on the weekend or just want fun finger food. The trouble is they’re usually deep-fried chips covered in cheese and topped with sour cream. Vegetables are an afterthought. It’s a fat bomb. Make it a  festive indulgent supper loaded with flavor, not fat. Read on for more of my Loaded Creole Shrimp Nachos recipe makeover!

Creole Seasoning

Flavor is Key

Food has to taste good, healthy or not. When you take out the elements of sugar, salt, and fat you have to put flavor in somewhere else! The key to satisfaction without these flavor enhancers is to amp up the taste profile in other ways – zesty warm spices, tangy citrus notes, sharp acidity, and a nice balance of sweetness and heat.

I keep a handful of seasoning blends in my pantry, both homemade and store-bought. One of my favorite ways to give food a little zip is to use Creole seasoning. I spent my entire elementary school-age experience in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Growing up there had a huge impact on my palate.

I grew up with crawfish boils and shrimp boils. Mama cooked different kinds of gumbo, jambalaya, etouffée, and red beans and rice. More often than not this had her reaching for a container of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning. Now, Tony’s makes a No-Salt Seasoning blend that’s always in my pantry. (I prefer the no-salt so I can control the sodium content.)

Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

Spice it Up!

When we cook with flavor and spices, we eat less! Research shows that eating foods high in umami and capsaicin, the chemical compound in chili peppers enhances appetite and increased satiety, or fullness. Spices have been shown in studies to make you feel fuller, reduce appetite, burn more calories, and even aid digestion.

Other spice blends I keep on hand include the Middle Easter blends za’atar and baharat which allow me to transform ordinary ground turkey into a homemade zesty pita wrap. Indian garam masala magically turns plain chickpeas into an aromatic stew. My friend and colleague Jean-Paul Bourgeois makes a great spice collection including a Chorizo Tomato that I LOVE on pork chops.

It’s all about flavor. Who wants sad food? Nobody!

Check out my video below on Instagram for more info on flavor — and a chicken recipe with big, bold flavors.





Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

How to Make Nachos

The key to nacho toppings is that all the bits of goodness are the right size for the chips. The onion and poblano are diced and I use small shrimp instead of larger shrimp so they’ll fit on top. You could use larger shrimp and dice them, but why pay more for larger shrimp that you then have to chop? (Head over here for info on wild vs farmed shrimp and why it’s important to buy sustainable seafood.)

Top the shrimp and queso with jalapeno, scallions, and cilantro leaves. Oh-so-good! And, by using the No Salt Seasoning Blend, baked chips, reduced fat milk, low-sodium cheese, lots of vegetables, and shrimp – you’ve got a crave-quashing healthy-ish weeknight supper in about 20 minutes.

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Virginia Willis


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In full disclosure, in 2018 this post was commissioned by Tony Chachere’s for recipe development and social media promotion. The post was updated in 2023 without additional compensation – Tony’s is always in my cupboard! 

Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso

With butter, oil, cheese, and milk these nachos are certainly not rabbit food, but they are better for you than traditional nachos -- and still so good!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Cajun, Creole, Quick, Southern, Weeknight
Servings: 6


  • 6 ounces baked tortilla chips (about ½ of a 12 ounce bag)
  • nonstick spray
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1 poblano pepper cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 pound shrimp 40/60 count peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend, or your favorite Creole blend divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour or chickpea flour
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 8 ounces grated part skim Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves


Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking sheet, aluminum foil, or parchment. Sprinkle over the chips in one layer; set aside.

    Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick spray. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

      Meanwhile, place the shrimp in a bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over the Creole Seasoning and stir to combine.

        Add the seasoned shrimp to the onion-pepper mixture and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

          Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until foaming. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. Simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and Creole seasoning; stir to combine.

            Once the queso is ready, evenly scatter the shrimp, onions, and peppers over the tortilla chips. Pour the warm queso over the chips and shrimp mixture. Top with chopped scallions, jalapeno, and sweet red pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook just until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter over cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.




              Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

              Virginia Willis

              Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

              This Post Has One Comment

              1. Lori McLain

                These backs look heads above the others! I love the Tony’s no salt version for the seasoning! Great plate of good👍🤗❤️

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