Every reasonable adult, at one point or another, experiences the urge to eat chips for dinner. Thanks to these healthy Chicken Nachos, it’s not only appropriate, it’s a meal you can feel good serving to your family, bringing to a party with friends, or enjoying in a quiet moment of triumph alone on your couch.
Baked homemade tortilla chips smothered in a smoky salsa chicken, hearty beans, and all the best fixin’s, this shredded chicken nacho recipe does double duty as either a tasty appetizer or satisfying entrée.
- The prep work for these easy nachos is all of 10 minutes.
- The shredded chicken is fall-apart tender.
- The flavor of the salsa with the spices is outstanding. I could not stop “quality testing” the chicken the whole time I was shredding it.
While there’s something especially playful about enjoying the chicken and bean mixture atop a grand pile of cheesy chips, this recipe is ultra versatile.
- Use the shredded chicken and beans as a tasty filling for burritos (see these Vegetarian Burritos for inspo).
- Grill it between tortillas for quesadillas.
- Serve it with rice for a spin on a Chipotle Bowl.
- Smother baked Sweet Potato Fries or Air Fryer French Fries for Mexican nacho fries. YUM!
I’ve even taken to doubling the salsa chicken and beans, then freezing it into separate portions for dinner on demand.
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
To keep these spicy chicken nachos healthy, I swapped fried store-bought tortilla chips for simple homemade baked tortilla chips.
If you prefer, you can certainly use your favorite store-bought chips—my sister even suggested chicken nachos with Doritos for the ultimate throwback.
What to Put on Your Nachos
What to put on your nachos is personal preference.
Cheese is a must. From there, add your protein of choice (chicken and beans for this recipe), followed by fresh elements like pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, and jalapeno slices. Finish the nachos up with creamy additions such as sour cream and this Best Guacamole Recipe.
- Chicken. Tender, succulent, spice-infused chicken is the crown jewel of these nachos. Chicken is packed with protein and vitamins, making it a healthy addition.
- 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!
- Simmer the chicken, salsa, spices, and water together until the chicken is cooked through.
- Shred the chicken, then add the pinto beans.
- Cut the tortillas into wedges.
- Bake the chips. Remove them from the oven to cool.
- Place the chips on a baking sheet and top them with the chicken and bean mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top and broil for a few minutes. Remove the chips from the oven and add any other desired toppings. DIG IN!
- 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.
- Queso. You can’t go wrong with a side of my Vegan Queso.
- Corn Dip. A side of Mexican Corn Dip would be delish!
- Margarita. We can’t forget a margarita! This Spicy Margarita or 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 healthy 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.
See, Mom. Chips for dinner can be healthy after all!
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.
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. You could also top your finished nachos with Pickled Onions.
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 degrees 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 degrees 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 degrees 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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