Deliciously hot and crispy, these chicken nachos are layered with lots of mildly spicy, south-of-the-border ingredients. Loaded with chunks of lime-marinated grilled chicken, black beans, gooey cheddar cheese and my easy homemade fire roasted tomato salsa, these nachos are a zesty and colorful appetizer to gather around the table with and share!
A Deliciously Fired Up Appetizer
My hubby and I have been known to gleefully usher in a weekend evening at our local favorite Mexican restaurant with a big, hot and crispy platter of our favorite loaded nachos and a couple of ice-cold margaritas.
It's a beloved and fun way for us to sort of “reward” ourselves after a long and productive week every now and again.
When we're craving some spicy food with lots of flavor, lots of cheesy goodness, and a fair amount of decadence we can partake in together, having that sizzling skillet plopped down on the table in front of us is a real treat, one that hits the spot perfectly.
Here's the thing about nachos: they're actually super easy to make at home, and layer up with all of your favorite ingredients, ready in no time!
And while we really love beef or even steak nachos, we also like to shake things up from time to time by substituting chicken instead.
Tender chunks of spiced, lime-marinated grilled chicken are absolutely scrumptious in nachos, and when I go this route I also like to sprinkle in some black beans for texture, some extra-sharp yellow cheddar and some jack cheese for zippy flavor. I also spoon some of my super easy and mildly spicy fire roasted tomato salsa over top.
All that's left for the perfect plate of nachos is a tasty and fresh garnish of avocado and cilantro, perhaps a few jalapeno slices and some lime wedges!
How to Make Chicken Nachos with a Homemade Salsa
When making my chicken nachos from scratch, I typically will start by marinating my chicken breast tenderloins (my preferred type of chicken for these nachos) for a few minutes.
While the chicken marinates, I'll whirl up the fire roasted tomato salsa in my food processor by using organic canned fire roasted tomatoes, fresh cilantro, garlic and a hint of lime juice. And because homemade salsa truly is very easy to make, it's a rare occasion that I actually buy prepared salsa at the store.
All these fresh little additions to homemade chicken nachos make such a difference in the flavor, they by far beat any nachos we ever get at a restaurant. 😉
Here's a glance at how I prep my chicken nachos with fire roasted tomato salsa: (or just jump to the full recipe below...)
- To get started, I marinate the chicken breast tenderloins; and while the chicken marinates, I use my food processor to prepare my quick, fire roasted tomato salsa and set that aside.
- I grill the chicken breast tenderloins for a few moment on a grill pan, then slice them into small pieces.
- To assemble and finish the chicken nachos, I preheat the oven to 350°, place a piece of foil or parchment paper onto either a large cast-iron skillet or even a small baking sheet, scatter on a layer of tortilla chips followed by a light layer of cheese, next the chicken, then black beans and some more cheese, and bake for a few minutes until hot and gooey.
- I finish the nachos off by spooning over top some of my fire roasted tomato salsa, scattering over some diced avocado and any additional toppings I like, and then serving straight out of the skillet or baking sheet.
Chicken Nachos with Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 572 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Chicken Nachos Ingredients:
- 1 pound chicken breast tenders
- Avocado oil
- Black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Corn tortilla chips (about 8 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grated jack cheese
- 1/3 cup black beans
- 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup diced avocado
- 1/2 jalapeno, sliced
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Lime wedges, if desired
- Sour cream (optional)
Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Ingredients:
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced, fire roasted tomatoes, drained of excess juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup (packed) cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- Pinch of Salt
- Pinch of Black pepper
- Place the chicken in a bowl, and drizzle over about 2 tablespoons of the oil; sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt and black pepper, along with the cumin, smoked paprika, granulated garlic, chili powder, plus the lime juice; toss together to combine, and set aside for a few minutes while you prep your salsa.
- To prepare your fire roasted tomato salsa, add the drained, diced fire roasted tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor, along with the lime juice, the cilantro leaves, the garlic, and the salt and pepper, and pulse the mixture for a few moments until it is to your desired texture, fairly smooth yet with still some bite; set aside until ready to top the nachos.
- To prepare the chicken, place a grill pan or even a saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the tenders (working in batches, if necessary); grill/sear on the first side for about 4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked though; allow it to rest before slicing or dicing.
- To assemble the chicken nachos, preheat your oven to 350°, and line a cast-iron skillet or medium baking sheet with some foil or parchment paper.
- Add the tortilla chips to the skillet or baking sheet, forming a relatively single layer; sprinkle over the chips about 1/3 of each of the two cheeses, then evenly scatter over the sliced or diced chicken, the black beans, and the diced red onion.
- Sprinkle over the remainder of the two cheeses, so that things as well covered, and place into the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted.
- To finish the nachos, spoon over top a generous amount of the fire roasted tomato salsa, as well as the diced avocado and the sliced jalapeno; finish with a flourish of cilantro leaves and tuck in a couple of lime wedges, and serve while hot, with sour cream, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Chicken Nachos with Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa:
- Juicy chicken tenderloins, quick to grill: Chicken tenderloins are typically sold in packages next to the skinless, boneless breasts. Tenderloins are those little pieces that originally come attached to the breasts before being removed and sold separately. Using about a pound of chicken tenderloins will suffice, and when they're marinated and grilled up, they have a super tender and juicy texture.
- Simple homemade salsa for the win: For the most delicious and flavorful nachos, I can't stress enough how prepping the simple salsa from scratch will make a difference in the flavor. However, if you're really pressed for time and want to totally short-cut things, you can certainly use your favorite good-quality prepared, store-bought salsa.
- Crispy tortilla chips: When it comes to the tortilla corn chips you use, opt for ones that are about a medium thickness. If you go too thin, they'll break too easily being loaded up with so many toppings; and yet, if you go too thick, it'll almost be too much chip. If you can find chips that are just thick enough to handle all the toppings, opt for those.
- Fresh flavors at the end: Sprinkling on some fresh cilantro leaves as a garnish will lend lots of great flavor. Also, some diced avocado and sliced jalapenos are nice, so is tucking in a few lime wedges in case you'd like a bit of extra “zing” from from the juice squeezed over top.