Baked homemade tortilla chips smothered in a smoky salsa chicken, hearty beans, and all the best fixin’s, this shredded Chicken Nachos recipe does double duty as either a tasty appetizer or satisfying entrée.
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Why You’ll Love This Homemade Nachos Recipe
- Incredibly Versatile. While this recipe is delicious as is, you can adapt it however you see fit. You could use the shredded chicken and beans as a tasty filling for burritos (see Vegetarian Burritos for inspo), add them to quesadillas, or serve them with rice for a spin on a Chipotle Bowl. Or swap the chips for Sweet Potato Fries or Air Fryer French Fries for Mexican nacho fries. YUM!
- Family-Friendly Dinner. Who doesn’t love the idea of chips for dinner? Kids and adults alike will rejoice at the thought of having nachos, and they won’t suspect that they’re loaded with nutritious ingredients. Plus, this recipe is quick (the prep work is only 10 minutes), making it ideal for a last-minute meal (just like my Taco Pasta).
- Exceptionally Delicious. Don’t let the simplicity or bland nachos of days past fool you, these chicken nachos are a masterpiece of textures and flavors! The shredded chicken is fall-apart tender, the flavor of the salsa with the spices is outstanding, and the creamy pinto beans blended with the cheese are pure pleasure.
5 Star Review
“I have made this soooo many times now. I always double because my family just can’t get enough. Super flavorful.”— Theresa —
How to Make Chicken Nachos
- Chicken. Tender, succulent, spice-infused chicken is the crown jewel of these nachos. You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs.
- Salsa. Adds flavor and moisture to the chicken mixture. You can use any store-bought salsa you enjoy.
- Spices. A blend of cumin, chipotle chili pepper, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It’s earthy, spicy, and full of rich flavor.
- Pinto Beans. Cooked in the same liquid as the chicken, salsa, and spices, the beans become incredibly creamy and flavorful. The beans add filling fiber and protein to the nachos.
- Tortilla Chips. Homemade tortilla chips are incredibly simple to make, healthier than store-bought, and equally as delicious. All it takes are corn tortillas, cooking spray, and salt. Easy peasy!
- Cook the Chicken. Watch as it absorbs all those delicious flavors!
- Shred the Chicken. Add the pinto beans.
- Cut the Tortillas. I cut mine into 6 wedges.
- Bake the Chips. Let them cool.
- Broil the Nachos. Top the chips with the chicken mixture and cheese, then broil for a few minutes. Remove the chips from the oven and add any other desired toppings. DIG IN!
The Best Chicken Nachos Toppings
What to put on your nachos is a personal preference, but here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Avocado. Sliced avocado is wonderful, but adding some homemade guacamole would be next-level scrumptious.
- Cilantro. Fresh and delicious!
- Jalapeno. Dial up the heat with some sliced jalapeno!
- Sour Cream. You can also use Greek yogurt for your cool and creamy element.
- Salsa. Use whichever kind you most enjoy.
- Onions. Try Quick Pickled Onions for a briny twist.
- Pico de Gallo. Pico de gallo or sliced cherry tomatoes would be delightful.
- Queso. For the cheese lovers! A drizzle of Vegan Queso would be tasty.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover nachos in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days. If possible, store the toppings separately from the tortilla chips.
- To Reheat. Rewarm nachos on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F. Use fresh chips if possible.
- To Freeze. Freeze the chicken mixture only in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. You can also freeze any unused corn tortillas.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the chicken mixture as directed (through Step 2). Refrigerate the mixture in an airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe. You can also bake the chips up to 1 day in advance. Store them in a ziptop bag at room temperature.
What to Serve with Chicken Nachos
Serve your Mexican chicken nachos with any of your favorite Mexican-inspired side dishes. Here are a few ideas.
- Corn Dip. A side of Mexican Corn Dip would be delish!
- Margarita. We can’t forget a margarita! This Spicy Margarita and Skinny Margarita are perfect and refreshing.
- Veggies. To make these nachos an even more nutritious meal, pair them with a side of Air Fryer Cauliflower or Grilled Corn.
- Salad. Grilled Corn Salad and Black Bean Corn Salad are tasty side dishes for these nachos.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. Ideal for making these chicken nachos.
- Saucepan. My go-to tool for making shredded chicken on the stovetop.
- Instant Read Thermometer. You’ll know exactly when your chicken is done cooking with this handy tool.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Pile Those Toppings High. While the chips and chicken mixture are quite scrumptious on their own, the toppings are the true stars of these chicken nachos. The world (aka the nachos) is your oyster! See my favorite toppings listed in the blog post above for ideas.
- Don’t Let the Chips Burn! Keep a close eye on your homemade tortilla chips, as things can escalate quickly. When you see them turn golden, go ahead and remove them.
- Spread the Love. When adding your chicken mixture and cheese to the chips, try your best to spread them evenly amongst all the chips. Not only do we want every chip to be as tasty as the rest, but big globs of the chicken mixture could cause the chips to become soggy.
For the Chicken:
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 (16-ounce) jar prepared salsa choose mild, medium or spicy, depending upon your heat preference
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper 1 teaspoon will have more of a kick
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can low sodium pinto beans rinsed and drained
For the Baked Tortilla Chips (or swap your favorite store bought tortilla chips):
- 8 yellow corn tortillas
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces Mexican blend cheese
- Other desired nacho fixin’s: chopped green onions, sliced black olives, sliced jalapenos, cilantro, diced avocados, diced fresh tomatoes, nonfat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Place the chicken, salsa, cumin, chipotle chili, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine, then bring to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot, then simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (it should reach 165°F on an instant read thermometer). Halfway through, use a large spoon to turn the chicken over and spoon some of the salsa mixture over the top.
- With two forks, shred the chicken on a cutting board (or directly in the pot). Stir it back into the salsa mixture. Stir in the pinto beans. Let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often, until hot and slightly thickened.
- Bake the chips: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges (I cut mine in half, then slice each half into three evenly sized wedges), then arrange in a single layer on two ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake for 6 minutes, then with tongs (or quickly and carefully with your fingers), flip the chips. Lightly coat with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Rotate the pans between the top and bottom racks, then bake the chips an additional 6 to 9 minutes, until they are just beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool. Turn the oven to broil.
- Arrange the cooled tortilla chips on an oven-proof serving platter or pile all of them onto a single baking sheet. Spoon the chicken and bean mixture over the chips. Sprinkle with cheese, then place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, then sprinkle with any additional desired nacho toppings. Enjoy immediately.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover nachos in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days. If possible, store the toppings separately from the tortilla chips. Store the tortilla chips in an airtight storage container at room temperature.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm nachos on a baking sheet in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze the chicken mixture only in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. You can also freeze any unused corn tortillas.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We love topping our nachos with a Mexican blend cheese, but you could also use cheddar, Monterey Jack, or make chicken nachos with queso. Use a cheese that melts easily.
Pile the leftover chicken mixture onto a bed of lettuce or rice. Add your favorite toppings, then crumble the leftover tortilla chips over the top. Or, take some chilaquiles inspo and add a fried egg.
Only have leftover chips? Use them for any of your favorite dips. I recommend serving them with this 7 Layer Taco Dip, Chicken Enchilada Dip, salsa, queso, or guacamole.
If you’d like to add a few extra veggies to your nachos, try adding diced red or green bell peppers before baking.