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Weeknight Cooking: Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso

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Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

Nachos are a go-to weeknight dinner in our home when the day has been a bit more crazy than usual. What’s not to like? Nachos are quick and easy – a few vegetables and perhaps a bit of protein tossed in a hot skillet, all topped with a bit of cheese, and you’re good to go. They’re positively craveable. The trouble is that nachos can tip into unhealthy territory pretty quick. And, if you’re on a low-sodium diet, that can be even more challenging. What’s the trick into keeping them out of the junk food category? Flavor!

Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

Key to Flavor

I have a family member who requires a low-sodium diet. As a result, we learned early on that the key to satisfaction without salt is to amp up the flavor in other ways – zesty warm spices, tangy citrus notes, and a nice balance of sweet and heat. One of my favorite ways to give food a little zip is to use Creole seasoning. I use it on chicken thighs, pork chops, turkey tenderloin, and seafood. See, I was born in Georgia, but I spent my entire elementary school-age experience in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Growing up in Louisiana had a huge impact on my palate. Mama didn’t know many people when she moved there, so she set out to explore her new home via local cookbooks. This set me on a path to understanding and learning about different foods. I grew up with our family attending and hosting crawfish and fresh-from-the-Gulf shrimp boils. Mama also 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.

Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso on

 Spice it Up!

In honor of February and Heart Health Month, I’ve partnered with Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Cuisine to celebrate its brand new No Salt Seasoning Blend and created a recipe for Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso. Often when I make nachos, I simply sprinkle the cheese on top of the chips and pop them in the oven. What takes nachos over the top? Queso! In this recipe for Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso, I double down on the bold Creole flavor by sautéing the sweet onion, earthy poblano pepper, and tender shrimp with the Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend and using a heaping tablespoon in the creamy queso sauce.

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. Consequently, 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? (I generally keep a bag of frozen sustainable wild American shrimp in the freezer. They defrost quickly and are great for a quick weeknight supper such as these nachos.) I sprinkle the Creole-spiced shrimp and vegetables on top of the chips, then pour over the Creole-spiked queso.

Creole Nachos with Creamy Queso

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You could stop there, and simply eat them straight off the baking sheet, but let’s give these nachos a little Creole-inspired lagniappe of sliced sweet peppers, jalapeno, and scallions. Pop them in the oven just long enough to heat things up all the way through. Then, just before serving scatter over a handful of freshly picked cilantro leaves. Oh-so-good!

And, by using Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend, reduced sodium chips (you could use reduced sodium baked chips, too), low fat milk,  Monterey Jack, a low-sodium cheese, lots of vegetables, and a judicious amount of shrimp – you’ve got a heart-healthy weeknight supper in about 20 minutes.

To try Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend – and all their other great spices, marinades, and seasoning blends – visit  Readers, friends, and fans can use the code VIRGINIAFREE15 for Free Shipping on purchases over $15! 

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis


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 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Cajun, Creole, Quick, Southern, Weeknight
Servings: 6
Author: Virginia Willis


  • 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.

              Disclaimer: When there’s an appropriate mutually beneficial opportunity I partner for sponsored blog posts. In full disclosure, I was provided product to work with by Tony Chachere’s for recipe development and compensated for this blog post and its social media promotion. 

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              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.

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