Every reasonable adult of a certain age, lifestyle, and nightly energy level, at one point or another, shares a common feeling: the urge to eat chips for dinner. Thanks to these Crock Pot Healthy Nachos, chips for dinner is 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 smoky crock pot salsa chicken, hearty beans, and all the best fixin’s, this healthy nacho recipe does double duty as either a tasty appetizer or satisfying entrée.
This post is sponsored by Sargento.
Plus, since today is Cinco de Mayo, you’d be completely justified in making a double batch, one for the appetizer and one for the main event.
The ‘Chopped’ Healthy Nachos Challenge
This healthy nachos recipe was inspired by a pal that often keeps me company while I cook: the Food Network. I spend hours in my kitchen, and although I enjoy listening to podcasts during the day (top picks: Planet Money and This American Life), by the time evening rolls around, I prefer the friendly background noise of the TV.
One of the shows I watch most often is Chopped, a challenge-style show where chefs are given a mystery basket of mismatched ingredients and must use them to prepare a restaurant-worthy dish. I’m consistently impressed by the creativity of these chefs, and I also credit the show with teaching me to identify lesser-known ingredients on restaurant menus (squab and cactus pears, I’m looking at you).
A few weeks ago, Sargento® cheese, a company that is headquartered in my home state of Wisconsin, emailed to tell me about a “Chopped at Home” series they are sponsoring in partnership with the Food Network. Like the chefs on the show, participants are given a mystery basket list of ingredients and are challenged to create a dish. This month’s mystery basket theme is Mexican, a category of cuisine near and dear to my heart (and stomach). When Sargento asked me to participate in the challenge, I was all in, and these fully loaded healthy nachos are the result!
The Mexican mystery basket challenge ingredients included chicken thighs, salsa verde (or poblano peppers), corn tortillas, and Sargento Shreds 4-Cheese Mexican. I couldn’t have asked for a friendlier combo. I picked up the ingredients at Pick ‘N Save (my local Roundy’s-affiliated grocery store) then set to work to create my recipe.
Chicken thighs are my favorite meat for making crock pot meals, so I tossed them in my slow cooker along with the salsa verde, extra smoky spices, and pinto beans. The prep work took less than 10 minutes, the chicken was fall-apart tender, and the flavor of the salsa with the spices was outstanding. I could not stop “quality testing” the chicken the whole time I was shredding it!
The crock pot chicken-bean filling is ultra versatile and would be ideal for stuffing tacos or burritos, or tasty served simply with rice. I, however, had another mystery basket ingredient to use: corn tortillas. Cue homemade baked tortilla chips.
How to Make Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips
Here’s the step-by-step to making homemade baked tortilla chips:
- cut flour or corn tortillas into wedges
- sprinkle with salt
BOOM. You’re ready to healthy nacho your way to the finale. Why haven’t I been doing this for ages?
Once I had the crock pot chicken + chips healthy nacho base in place, it was time to smother it with all the best fixin’s, the most essential of which is cheese. I’m usually a firm advocate for grating your own cheese directly from the block, because most brands of pre-shredded cheese I’ve tried lack flavor and don’t melt smoothly. Sargento is the one exception. Because Sargento Shredded Cheese is always cut from blocks of 100% real, natural cheese, it melts beautifully, whether I’m using it to top my One Pan Chili Mac and Cheese, add creaminess and body to my Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup, or in today’s case, to smother my healthy nachos in cheesy goodness. I topped these healthy nachos with a generous heap of the Sargento Shreds 4-Cheese Mexican, along with a few of my other nacho favorites like jalapeno and avocado.
In a final ode to Chopped, which challenges chefs to complete their recipes in record time, I set a stopwatch for myself while I was prepping the ingredients. In fewer than 10 minutes, I had these healthy nachos in the crock pot and cooking. Could I be ready for my Food Network debut?
Feliz Cinco de Mayo mis amigos!
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
Crock Pot Healthy Nachos
For the crock pot chicken:
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3/4 cup salsa verde choose mild, medium or spicy, depending upon your heat preference—I used medium
- 1 small poblano pepper seeded and diced (optional for extra heat)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 can low sodium pinto beans, (14.5 ounces) rinsed and drained
For the baked tortilla chips:
- 8 yellow corn tortillas
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican Blend
- Other desired nacho fixin's: chopped green onions, sliced black olives, sliced jalapenos, cilantro, diced avocados, diced fresh tomatoes, sour cream
- In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place the chicken thighs, then sprinkle with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt. Add the poblano (if using), then pour the salsa verde over the top. Coved and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 5-6 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Once the chicken is tender, use two forks to shred it in the slow cooker. Stir in the pinto beans. Cover and let cook on high for 30 minutes to warm the beans while you prepare the tortilla chips.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut each tortilla into 6 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 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.
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I’m sharing this post in partnership with Sargento. As always, all opinions are my own and thanks so much for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue providing high quality content to you! For more inspiration, check out the Sargento Pinterest page or visit http://www.sargento.com/Shredded for more information.