bbq chicken nachos
Easy Eats

BBQ Chicken Nachos

It’s no secret that Tex-Mex is way up there on my (and Betsy’s) list of favorite cuisines. I mean how can you go wrong? It’s spicy and cheesy and generally quick to make. Sometimes though I get a bit bored with the standard stuff (Betsy doesn’t). I’ve made some other types of nachos in the past but this is a new twist on them.

I really loved the BBQ sauce I made for this recipe. I’m not a huge fan of really ketchup-heavy BBQ sauces which means I generally don’t like store bought BBQ sauces (except for a few that I think are really good like Sweet Baby Ray’s). You could make this recipe really easy just by using your favorite store-bought sauce, but making your own BBQ can be really fun.

bbq chicken nachos

BBQ Chicken Nachos

Just a moment please...

Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Add the BBQ chicken to tortilla chips with some cheese and BBQ chicken nachos are born.


2 pounds (approx) chicken.  I used chicken breasts for this version which are probably the easiest.
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces smoked gouda, shredded
red onion, sliced
Cilantro, sliced
Optional stuff:  sour cream, serrano peppers, avocado, hot sauce, salsa
BBQ Sauce:
1 onion, grated
1 serrano pepper, diced (or jalapeno)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon neutral oil
2/3 Cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons molasses
1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 Cup bourbon (optional)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
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1) To make the BBQ sauce, grate the onion over the big holes in a box grater.  Also, dice the pepper and garlic.

2) Add oil to medium saucepan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the onions, peppers, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until soft.

3) Add other BBQ ingredients and simmer on low until thick.  Adjust to your tastes.

4) Meanwhile, poach chicken in lightly simmering water for 15 minutes until cooked through and tender.

5) Remove chicken from water and let cool.  Then use two forks to shred the chicken.

6) Add the shredded chicken to the BBQ sauce and combine well.

7) Cover a baking sheet (or 2) with tortilla chips.  Then top with the BBQ chicken mixture.  Top with shredded cheese and sliced red onions.

8) Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted, probably 15 minutes.

9) Top with any addtional toppings and serve immediately!

Making the Sauce

The nice thing about making your own barbecue sauce is that you can, well, make it your own! I honestly make it a bit different every time but it usually has most of these guys in it. Not pictured below is some molasses that I decided to toss in at the last minute.


Make it your own people.

Prepping the veggies. One trick to help your sauce stay relatively smooth without having to blend or process it is to grate your onion instead of chop it. The grating makes it almost dissolve in the sauce and flavor it really nicely and evenly. Plus, grating it is actually easier than chopping it anyway.

I still chopped up my serrano and garlic as normal though.



Start by adding the oil to a medium saucepan and once it’s hot, add the onions, pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft, then add all the other sauce ingredients.

Stir this all together and let it start to simmer and cook down over medium-low heat. It doesn’t need to be really thick. It won’t be as sugary or thick as some bottle sauces that you see, but there’s a lot of flavor going on in there. If you want it thicker you can cook it down until it reaches a consistency that you like or add a bit more ketchup or brown sugar which will thicken it up as well.

I simmered mine for probably 10-15 minutes.

bbq sauce

I like mine on the vinegary side.

The Chicken

The easiest way to cook the chicken for this dish is just to poach it in some softly simmering water. Get a big pot of water boiling and add a few pinches of salt. Once it’s simmering, add the chicken and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

The good news about poaching chicken like this is that it’s basically impossible to overcook it. It’ll be nice and tender no matter what. Once it’s done, let the chicken cool for a bit before trying to handle it.

poached chicken

Perfectly poached.

The BBQ Chicken

Get a fork and use it to pull apart the chicken, shredding it to pieces. Then add all that shredded chicken straight into your BBQ sauce. Stir it all together and you have a big pot of deliciousness.

bbq chicken

All mixed together.

As an aside, this chicken could be used for a number of things besides nachos (which is good because you’ll probably have leftovers). You could make a BBQ chicken sandwich with it, or a quesadilla, or a pizza… you get the idea.

If you’re making nachos though, just spread out a bunch of tortilla chips on a sheet pan and fork on a good amount of the BBQ chicken.

making nachos

You probably know this part.

Next, add the shredded cheese. I used a combination of mozzarella and smoked gouda. The gouda works awesomely with the BBQ Chicken. I also sprinkled on some diced red onions to give it some bite.

cheese and onions

Simple really.

Since the chicken is already cooked, just bake these guys at 350 degrees until the cheese melts. Should take about 15 minutes. Then sprinkle on some chopped cilantro and any other toppings you fancy.

finished nachos


Betsy and I ate these without any toppings other than the cilantro actually and I thought they were really good but probably could have been even better with some hot sauce or maybe some diced avocado.

At the end of the day, this is a really flexible dish that is almost guaranteed to make some really good nachos. Do me a favor though and at least try to whip up some of your own BBQ sauce. You won’t be disappointed and might never go back to the bottled stuff.

11 comments on “BBQ Chicken Nachos

  1. Mr. Nick Macheesmo, sir, that looks SO good. I'm drooling. This is definitely going on the dinner menu for Chez Leanne this week. That sauce …. oh my…. how do you think it would be with ribs?

  2. I stumbled across your blog the other day and love it!

    I tried making the BBQ chicken nachos tonight and they turned out great! I made some adjustments to the BBQ sauce recipe based on another recipe I had. (Similar to yours, but it also included a tiny bit of yellow mustard, a little bit of liquid smoke and some Coke/Pepsi as a sugar component.)

    This recipe is going in my "keeper" file! Thanks for posting it and inspiring me to cook for a change!

  3. These look awesome, I think i'll have to make some soon.

    If you want to kick them up to the next level, I'd plank grill them! If you're not familiar with the technique, soak a food-safe cedar plank in water (or…beer!) for at least 30 minutes before you start cooking. Place nachos on the plank, place plank on a grill that is medium heat (an oven would probably work too, though not as well). Nachos will emerge even more smoky and delicious.

  4. I made these last night. They were delicious! Next time, I am going to use a little less brown sugar and make sure it is unpacked. It made a massive amount of shredded chicken which I love. Leftovers!

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