Chicken Nachos that are quick and easy, made with 10-minute shredded honey lime salsa verde chicken and all your favorite toppings!
This Chicken Nachos recipe is the ultimate crowd-pleasing appetizer or easy enough for weeknight dinner – on your table in less than 30 minutes! The sweet, tangy, ridiculously flavorful pairing of Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, pickled jalapenos and mandatory melty cheese create the best Chicken Nachos of your life with minimal prep and high reward. The chicken is easy to make in minutes with rotisserie chicken and all the toppings can be prepped ahead for easy assembly, or use store-bought. This Chicken Nacho recipe is endlessly adaptable (variations included) for a lazy yet sumptuous dish that will have everyone coming back for more.
Make game night, movie night, family night, etc. more delicious with your favorite Mexican appetizers! Along with these Chicken Nachos, try Nachos Supreme, Mexican Street Corn Dip, and Carne Asada Fries.
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HOW TO MAKE chicken NACHOS VIDEO
WHY you’ll love this chicken NACHOs RECIPE
Over 15 years ago, I devoured the best Chicken Nachos of my life (until now) drizzled with salsa verde, sour cream and punctuated with plenty of lime. I’ve drooled over them ever since. Inspired by those tasty morsels, I bring you this Chicken Nacho recipe made with Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken! Here’s why you’ll be obsessed like me:
Shredded Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken makes the BEST nachos. The shredded chicken is based on my chicken enchiladas and crockpot shredded chicken of the same name with hundreds of rave reviews. The chicken is stand-on-its-own fabulous in all its tangy, sweet and spicy glory and so good these nachos could be eaten with just chicken and cheese. Of course, we are always extra at our house and still love piling on the toppings.
The shredded chicken takes less than 10 minutes to make. The Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken is made with shredded rotisserie chicken tossed with salsa verde, honey, lime, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir to coat the chicken and in minutes you’ll be diving into mouthwatering flavor fireworks!
Every bite is loaded. The chips, cheese and beans are layered in two rounds for even distribution. Just try and find a chip that’s plain!
The Chicken Nachos are baked for easy cheesy stacks of yum. While I’m obsessed with my Ground Beef Nachos with nacho cheese sauce, baking nachos with shredded cheese make them so extra easy! You can also make individual snack plates and microwave anytime those cheesy cravings strike.
This Chicken Nacho recipe is flexible – including shortcuts. Use your favorite shredded chicken (variations included), toppings, and even make a nacho bar. Make the nachos from scratch or use shortcut store bought pico de gallo and guacamole.
The nachos are so easy to whip up for a tasty snack, lunch or dinner! While we can all agree Chicken Nachos are the ultimate shareable appetizer, party food, movie food, game night food and big game food – they are easy enough for weeknights or a mid-morning or midnight snack of one.
Chicken Nachos ingredients
The ingredients for Chicken Nachos can be divided into four parts:
1. Chips: Tortilla chips for the win!
2. Cheese: Nachos without cheese are just chips and chicken! My favorite is Monterrey Jack Cheese in this pairing, but you can use your favorite.
3. Juicy shredded chicken: I am a huge fan of Salsa Verde Chicken for the best nachos but any shredded or even chopped Mexican chicken will work. I’ve included variations below.
4. Toppings: Beans, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream, pico de gallo or tomatoes add that zesty freshness that makes the taste buds sing!
WHAT ARE THE BEST CHIPS FOR NACHOS?
Chips can make or break your nachos. Thin chips can quickly turn soggy and limp and/or break when you lift them. Instead, look for the thickest tortilla chips you can find. These will be the sturdiest and won’t get soggy as quickly.
I recommend checking your bakery section for chips that were fried in-house or locally. These are typically made from tortillas which make the sturdiest chips. I have also had success with La Fortaleza Tortilla Chips, pictured in this recipe. They are sold at Costco in two 3-pound bags for less than $9.
WHAT IS the best cheese for nachos?
Technically, you can use any good melting cheese for nachos such as cheddar, Colby, pepper Jack, Monterrey Jack and even mozzarella. I prefer Monterey Jack in this Chicken Nachos recipe because it pairs beautifully with the honey lime salsa verde flavor profile; cheddar is too overpowering. Monterey Jack also has a similar buttery flavor to mozzarella but melts without becoming greasy.
No matter which cheese you choose, make sure to shred the cheese yourself, even if you want Mexican style cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses are coating in anti-clumping chemicals which prevents the strands from clumping together in the bag – this also prevents the cheese from melting as well – it also doesn’t taste as good.
So, instead of picking up a bag of Mexican cheese, make your own of half freshly grated cheddar and half freshly grated Monterey Jack.
What IS the best chicken for nachos?
The best chicken for nachos is juicy shredded chicken that is a showstopper all on its own like this Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken, Crockpot Mexican Shredded Chicken, Chicken Tinga or Shortcut Mexican Chicken. Generally, shredded chicken is ideal because it doesn’t dry out as easily when baked.
For this Chicken Nacho recipe, I highly recommend the shredded Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken made with rotisserie chicken. It’s tangy, sweet and spicy and seasoned with a caravan of spices for unforgettable flavor – and it’s so easy to make!
Ingredients for shredded chicken
- Shredded chicken: Use three cups of shredded chicken. I recommend using rotisserie chicken because it is a combination of succulent dark and light meat. You can also make your own shredded chicken with chicken breasts or thighs (see how to below).
- Lime juice: Fresh is best but bottled will work just fine.
- Honey: The sweetness of the honey balances out the tangy lime juice and salsa verde. Use mild, everyday clover honey.
- Salsa verde: You can use your favorite store-bought salsa verde, or you can make it yourself.
- Spices: The chicken is seasoned with chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and chipotle powder/ground chipotle pepper.
What if I don’t have chipotle pepper?
I suggest you stock chipotle chili powder – it is smoked and dried jalapenos ground into a powder. It adds a sublime smoky heat instead of just pure heat. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, then you can add a pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. You will need much less because cayenne pepper is much spicier. I would start with less and add more to taste.
how to make your own shredded chicken
Making your own shredded chicken is easy in just 3 steps!
Step 1: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet with a lid over medium-high heat.
Step 2: Add 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts pounded thin and cook 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.
Step 3: Flip chicken over and add 2 cups chicken broth. Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, then flip chicken over and continue to cook 5-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked though and tender enough to shred. You may need to add more chicken broth if it is already absorbed when you flip your chicken over.
- Shredded Mexican Chicken (Crockpot): simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for chicken that’s dripping with flavor and SO tender.
- Chicken Tinga: speedy shredded rotisserie chicken tossed in a saucy, smoky, spicy tomato chipotle sauce.
- Mexican Shredded Chicken: shortcut chicken with robust fiesta seasonings made with rotisserie chicken.
- Cilantro Lime Chicken: zesty, tangy and citrusy.
- Chipotle Chicken: smoky, robust and spicy.
- Chili Lime Chicken: smoky, robust and tangy.
BEEF AND PORK variations
You may use the same technique of baking these nachos and swap the shredded chicken for any of the following beef or pork recipes:
- Mexican Shredded Beef: spoon tender braised beef (in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot) with a caravan of rich, earthy, fiesta seasonings, punchy salsa, tangy green chilies, savory beef broth and smoky liquid smoke.
- Beef Barbacoa (Crockpot): crazy juicy beef slow cooked until melt-in-your-mouth tender infused with a tangy, chipotle sauce. Barbacoa Beef is known for its intense flavor and perfect balance of chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano and lime juice.
- Beef Birria: an explosion of complex earthy, smoky, savory, slightly spicy, juicy, addictiveness in each and every saucy bite. The beef is stewed until fall apart juicy tender in a from scratch rich broth made from chilies, onions, garlic, tomatoes and toasted spices including peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon.
- Carne Asada: is the quintessential Mexican steak marinated in orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce and a splash of liquid smoke then spice rubbed with cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and onion. It’s juicy, flavorful and crazy good.
- Carnitas (Crockpot): juicy pork smothered in a dynamic fiesta spice rub then slow cooked with orange juice and lime juice then finished in the oven to create glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends.
- Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork: a Cafe Rio Copycat that’s juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth with the perfect balance of saucy sweet heat.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TOPPINGS FOR NACHOS?
These Chicken Nachos are tasty with just chips, shredded chicken and cheese because the chicken is so fabulous, but they are further elevated with TOPPINGS!
You can load your nachos with as little or as many toppings as you like but the intoxicating symphony created by black beans, silky sour cream, freshy guacamole, zesty pico de gallo and spicy pickled jalapenos make it exponentially more delicious. I’ve also included a recipe for optional salsa verde crema if you really are here to play.
ESSENTIAL NACHO TOPPINGS
- Sour Cream: The bright refreshing, silky creaminess of sour cream compliments and cuts through the richness of the nachos and marries all of the flavors and textures together – a must for any nachos!
- Salsa Verde Crema: If you want to elevate the nachos even further, use Salsa Verde Crema instead of plain sour cream. It’s simple to make by whisking sour cream, salsa verde, lime juice and chipotle pepper together – so simple and so good.
- Guacamole: You can’t beat guacamole’s lusciously creamy, tangy, salty freshness. You have three options when it comes to guacamole: 1) go simple by picking up store-bought in the deli section; 2) mash avocados with lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper or 3) go all out with my favorite guacamole recipe made with avocados, lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, red onions, and juicy tomatoes.
- Pico de gallo: This is a fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness. You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought usually found in the deli section. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Beans: Black beans for their hearty earthiness, or you may use pinto or warmed and seasoned refried beans.
- Jalapenos: Pickled jalapenos are preferred over fresh due to their fabulous pickled tang. Bonus, pickled jalapenos are also easier to use – simply open the can, drain and add! I particularly love these sweet and spicy pickled jalapeños from Trader Joes. They are similar to candied jalapenos but a little less sweet AKA perfection.
NACHO TOPPING SUBSTITUTions and variations
Remember these are YOUR nachos, make them any way you want!
- Greek yogurt: This is a great creamy alternative to sour cream if you are trying to save some calories.
- Tomatoes: Quartered cherry tomatoes or seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes can be used if you skip the pico de gallo. Combine the tomatoes with some fresh cilantro.
- Avocados: Chopped avocados are the easiest avocado option. Toss them with a splash of lime juice and some freshly cracked salt and pepper.
- Hot Sauce: Spice up your loaded nachos with hot sauce instead of jalapenos.
- Green onions: If you skip the pico de gallo, consider adding green onions for their mild onion-y flavor.
- Black olives: For the olive lover! They add a salty bite with black olives.
- Pickle onions: These are tangy, punchy fantastic and so easy to make at home. Use my super simple pickled red onions recipe and they’ll be ready in 30 minutes!
- Radishes: Thinly sliced radishes add a spicy, zesty, crispy crunch.
- Corn: Use sweet drained canned corn or corn straight off of the cob. You can also grill or char the corn like I do in my corn salsa for a tantalizing charred smokiness.
- Salsa: Add an extra layer of flavor and texture with salsa such as black bean corn salsa, avocado salsa, charred corn salsa, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa.
- Cotija cheese: Consider a layer of Cotija for a salty finish. Cotija is known as “Mexican Parmesan” because it is wonderfully salty, hard, and crumbly. It is traditionally found with the specialty cheeses and should be readily available. You may also use queso fresco.
- Mangos: I know it might sound odd, but I love mangos on my nachos, the sweet and spicy combo is intoxicating.
HOW TO MAKE chicken NACHOS
These Shredded Chicken Nachos can be on your table in less than 30 minutes star to finish! Let’s take a closer look at how easy they are to make with step-by-step photos or you can watch the HOW TO MAKE Video in the recipe card (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Season chicken. In a nonstick skillet, whisk together salsa verde, honey, lime and seasonings. Add the chicken, turn to coat and warm through. Set aside for the chicken to soak up all the flavor while you prep your toppings.
- Step 2: Assemble. Spread half the tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with half of the seasoned chicken, half of the black beans and half of the cheese; repeat.
- Step 3: Bake. Bake the nachos until the cheese is completely melted about 8-10 minutes.
- Step 4: Add toppings: Top with desired toppings such as sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives and green onions. Serve immediately.
HOW TO MAKE chicken NACHOS in the microwave
Instead of baking the Shredded Chicken Nachos, you can make a plate for one or two people and microwave instead. Here’s how to make nachos in the microwave:
1. Spread one layer of chips on a microwave safe plate.
2. Top with chicken, beans, then cheese.
3. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the cheese is completely melted, dig in!
tips for the best chicken nachos recipe
Use sturdy chips. Set yourself up for success and use the thickest, sturdiest chips you can find.
Control the spice level. Only use ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper for the shredded chicken if you love heat! If you aren’t sure, you can start with less, combine with the chicken and add more to taste. Remember, the flavor of the chicken will be diluted and won’t taste as strong when divided between the chips, cheese and toppings.
Use more or less honey. The honey balances out the heat so if you choose to make the chicken less spicy, start with only 3 tablespoons honey. You can add more to taste after it’s all combined if you still want it sweeter.
Drain the chicken. Use tongs or drain the chicken in a colander so it’s not wet when added to the chips otherwise the chips will become soggy more quickly.
Have all the toppings ready when the nachos come out of the oven. This will keep the cheese warm and gooey. You can prep some of the toppings while the nachos are baking, but you may want to prep some of them ahead of time if making pico and guacamole from scratch.
Shortcuts: For the guacamole, use store-bought or simply season mashed avocados with lime juice, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. For the pico de gallo, use store-bought.
Shortcut shredded chicken: I like to shred Costco rotisserie chicken into 3-cup portions and freeze it for later; then it’s easy to pull out any time!
Eat nachos immediately. The cheese does not stay soft and stringy for very long. Only pop the nachos in the oven when everyone’s ready to chow down and all the toppings are prepped.
Prep ingredients ahead of time but don’t assemble. The chicken shouldn’t be piled on top of the chips early because it can make the chips soggy. Instead, you can prep all of the ingredients but keep them separate.
Scale the recipe. Whether you’re looking for an easy lunch or for serving a party of 30, this Chicken Nachos recipe can easily be scaled up or down by using the sliding scale next to the servings in the recipe card. You can also keep the chicken and cheese separate for individual microwaved plates.
HOW TO SERVE chicken NACHOS
If you know your nacho eaters don’t like all the same toppings, create a nacho toppings bar! You can also let everyone create their own from-scratch microwave nachos by serving everything separately – this also works well if people are eating at different times.
meal prep FOR EASY ASSEMBLY
This Chicken Nacho recipe is best served fresh out of the oven – but don’t let that stress you out! You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time and bake when ready. If you want to keep the prep extra easy, top your nachos with store-bought ingredients (pico de gallo, guacamole, etc.).
Chicken: Can be seasoned with the salsa verde mixture up to 2 days ahead of time. Reheat gently on the stove or microwave before using.
Toppings: Shred the cheese and prep all of the toppings up to 2 days ahead of time. Drain the pico of any excess moisture and serve at room temperature. The guacamole will keep well for up to a day without changing color very much – just make sure to store in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation. Bring to room temperature before serving.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVER NACHOS?
Leftover nachos are good for up to 3 days but they will no longer be crunchy.
The best Chicken Nachos are freshly assembled nachos boasting the crunchiest chips and gooey cheese; leftover nachos inevitably turn soggy with the toppings. While many people detest leftover nachos, I think of them more like chilaquiles, and don’t mind them at all – you just can’t think of them as nachos! If you are a chilaquiles fan, consider adding some additional salsa verde to your reheated leftover nachos and topping with a fried egg like in this chilaquiles recipe.
Another alternative is to keep all the ingredients separate and create a nacho bar. Use any leftovers to remake the nachos, or use the fixings in taquitos, flautas, tacos, burritos, etc.
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HONEY LIME SALSA VERDE CHICKEN (SEE NOTES FOR OPTIONS)
- 3 cups packed shredded chicken (I love rotisserie)
- 1/2 cup mild salsa verde
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3-4 tablespoons honey (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 14 ounces thick/sturdy tortilla chips
- 12 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (3 packed cups)
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
SALSA VERDE CREAM SAUCE (optional)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup salsa verde
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4-3/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- Sour cream (if not use above)
- Pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes and cilantro
- Sliced olives
- Pickled jalapenos
- See post for tons more ideas!
- Chicken: Whisk all of the Salsa Verde Chicken ingredients together (except chicken) in a large nonstick skillet. Add the chicken, stir to coat and warm through. Remove from heat and set aside while you prep the toppings.
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Whisk all of the Salsa Verde Cream Sauce ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside. Prep all of the toppings so you can quickly assemble the nachos as soon as they come out of the oven.
- Assemble: Spread half the tortilla chips in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Top with half of the seasoned chicken, half of the black beans and half of the cheese; repeat.
- Bake: Bake at 350 degrees F until the cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes.
- Toppings: Just before serving, drizzle with salsa verde and garnish with desired toppings.
TOPPINGS BAR OPTION
- If you know your nacho eaters don’t all like the same toppings, create a nacho toppings bar. You can even let everyone create their own from-scratch nachos and micorwave them separately.
Jen’s expert tips:
- Chicken variations: Crockpot Mexican Shredded Chicken, Chicken Tinga or Shortcut Mexican Chicken. Generally, shredded chicken is ideal because it doesn’t dry out as easily when baked. You can also swap I your favorite beef or pork such as Mexican Shredded Beef, Beef Barbacoa, Beef Birria, Carne Asada, Carnitas or Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork.
- Chips: Use the thickest tortilla chips you can find. I recommend checking your bakery section for chips that were fried in-house or locally. I have also had success with La Fortaleza Tortilla Chips, pictured in this recipe. They are sold at Costco in two 3-pound bags.
- Chipotle chili powder: Adds a sublime smoky heat instead of just pure heat. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, add a pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper – start with less and add to taste.
- Use more or less honey: The honey balances out the heat so if you choose to make the chicken less spicy, start with only 3 tablespoons honey. You can add more to taste after it’s all combined if you still want it sweeter.
- Cheese: Shred the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses are coating in anti-clumping chemicals which prevents the strands from clumping together in the bag – this also prevents the cheese from melting as well – it also doesn’t taste as good.
- Shortcuts: Use store-bought guacamole or shortcut guacamole by mashing avocados with lime juice, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. For the pico de gallo, use store-bought.
- Microwave nachos for individual servings: Spread one layer of chips on a microwave safe plate, top with chicken, beans, then cheese, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the cheese is completely melted, dig in!
- Meal prep: The Honey Lime Salsa Verde chicken can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days ahead of time. Gently reheat before using. The toppings can also all be prepped ahead of time.
- Scale the recipe: This recipe can easily be scaled up or down by using the sliding scale next to the servings in the recipe card.
- Storage: Leftover nachos are good for up to 3 days but they will no longer be crunchy. If you are a chilaquiles fan, consider adding some additional salsa verde to your reheated leftover nachos and topping with a fried egg like in this chilaquiles recipe.
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