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.

platter of healthy chicken nachos with shredded chicken and queso

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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.
a sheet pan of smothered easy chicken nachos with queso

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.

I’ve even taken to doubling the salsa chicken and beans, then freezing it into separate portions for dinner on demand.

spicy chicken nachos with queso

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.


The Ingredients

  • 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.

A Note on Spice

Know that if you use the full amount of chipotle chili pepper listed in this recipe, these will be fairly spicy chicken nachos. Dial it back or omit it for less heat.

  • 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!

Market Swap

If you prefer, you can swap the homemade chips for your favorite store-bought tortilla chips.

The Directions

easy chicken cooking for chicken nachos
  1. Simmer the chicken, salsa, spices, and water together until the chicken is cooked through.
chicken nacho topping
  1. Shred the chicken, then add the pinto beans.
Tortillas cut into triangles on a cutting board
  1. Cut the tortillas into wedges.
baked tortilla chips on a sheet pan
  1. Bake the chips. Remove them from the oven to cool.
Uncooked nachos on a baking sheet
  1. 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!
ultimate chicken nachos recipe

Storage Tips

  • 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.

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Baking Sheets

Whether it’s making nachos, baking cookies, or trying my one-pan meals, these high-quality baking sheets are up to the task.

platter of healthy chicken nachos with shredded chicken and queso

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Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

See, Mom. Chips for dinner can be healthy after all!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Cheese for Making Nachos?

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.

How Can I Use Leftover Nachos?

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.

What Vegetables Can I Add to My Nachos?

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.

platter of healthy chicken nachos with shredded chicken and queso

Chicken Nachos

5 from 5 votes
Easy shredded chicken nachos with homemade chips and all of your favorite toppings! Healthy chicken nachos for dinner or a party appetizer!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

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

FOR TOPPING:

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4) without additional toppingsCalories: 522kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 50gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 117mgPotassium: 1284mgFiber: 11gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 939IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 643mgIron: 4mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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21 Comments

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  1. Oh, Erin, how perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration! Can’t wait to make! Thanks for posting! Ole!

  2. How fun to have a Chopped style challenge! Your dish would definitely win ;) I’m so all about this giant and delicious plate of nachos. This is what I want for dinner!

  3. Usually every Friday night I get a craving for either chips and salsa or fries for dinner. Since I didn’t have any chips for Cinco de Mayo last night I see no reason why I shouldn’t eat these awesome nachos for dinner tonight! I love how easy they are to make!

  4. Just made this tonight & it was so good!! The chicken & beans could be used to make so many different dishes too.5 stars

    1. YAY Jill! I’m so glad you enjoyed the nachos. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this nice review!

  5. So delicious! This is now my husband’s favorite dish to eat. I adjusted it & made it in the instant pot. Only took about 20 min! We will definitely be making this often.5 stars

    1. How did you adjust this receipt  for the instant pot!? 
      I’m new to the instant pot game would love some help 

      1. I actually made this in the instant pot! First I mixed the seasoning and put some on each side of the chicken then I used the saute mode to brown the chicken thighs. After about 5 min or less of sauteing them I poured the salsa on top of it and put the beans in and set it on high pressure for 20 minutes. Natural released. Delish!

  6. Made this on Friday for dinner and it was truly delicious. I did end up brushing the tortillas with avocado oil because I wanted the salt to stick. I meant to also toss with lime juice, but totally forgot. Topped ours with yogurt instead of sour cream, pickled red onion, jalapenos, and avocado. The best part about the homemade tortillas, is that when they get softer from juices they don’t fall apart, they just kind of turn back to their original tortilla shape.

    What a fun dinner idea, thanks!5 stars

  7. I have made this soooo many times now. I always double because my family just can’t get enough. Super flavorful. I haven’t done the homemade chips yet. I buy really good restaurant style chips and it’s delicious. This is great to make for a crowd because the flavors appeal to most. Toppings everyone can adjust to their liking.5 stars

    1. Hi Jamie, this recipe has recently been updated from the original one that was posted back in 2016.