Whether you’re in need of a speedy, mostly hands off dinner for a busy weeknight or want something fun to serve at your next game day gathering, this short and sweet recipe for BBQ Chicken Nachos is what you’ve been looking for. Made with just 8 simple ingredients in all of 20 minutes, these sheet pan chicken nachos deliver big flavor without any fuss.
Why This Chicken Nacho Recipe Works
I don’t know about you, but this time of year is CRAZY in the Ayesh household. Between school, after-school activities, planning for the upcoming holidays, and watching football season unfold, it seems that hustling and bustling is the only way we move these days.
Now that the clocks have fallen back and the days are getting darker even earlier, my personal gas tank is usually teetering around empty by the time I walk through the door at 6:30 or 7, and easy dinners are the name of the game.
This incredibly delicious and super satisfying BBQ chicken nachos recipe has become a beacon of hope when I’m too pooped to prep. Why, you ask? Well, because it’s:
- Quick & Easy - It takes a maximum of 10 active minutes to prep these barbecue nachos for the oven, and only 10 more minutes to get them perfectly melty. Prepare yourself for some epic cheese pulls!
- Made With Only 8 Ingredients - Most of them are staples in our house, so a filling dinner is never far from reach.
- Easily Customizable - Swap out the meat, cheese, BBQ sauce, and toppings as needed to make this BBQ nacho recipe work for you and your family.
- Kid-Friendly - I earn major “Cool Mom” points every time I serve these loaded chicken nachos for dinner. At the end of a tiring day, that’s enough to make me smile.
Ingredients & Substitutions
As promised, you only need a few simple ingredients to get these BBQ pulled chicken nachos on the table. Here’s what to grab:
- Cooked & Shredded Chicken Breasts - Use up leftovers from dinners earlier in the week, grab a rotisserie chicken for a store-bought solution, or use my speedy air fryer chicken breast recipe to cook some up on the fly.
- Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce - There are a lot of bottled barbecue sauces on the market these days, but I’m forever partial to good ol’ Sweet Baby Ray’s. It has the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors that I crave.
- Tortilla Chips - Any tortilla chips will do, but I suggest reaching for slightly thicker options so they’ll hold up under the glorious weight of all the amazing toppings you’re about to load them up with.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese - For a lovely bit of tang against the sweetness of the bbq sauce. Feel free to swap in your favorite melty cheese (or cheese blend).
- Green Onions - For color and flavor. I like to use both the green and white parts to get the best of both worlds.
- Red Onion - For even more allium goodness. Feel free to soak the cut onions in cool water for about 10-15 minutes to pull out some of their bite, then drain and towel them off before using.
- Cilantro - For a little herbaceous freshness. If you’re not a fan, feel free to swap in parsley or omit it.
- Cotija Cheese - A shower of crumbly, salty white cheese makes these homemade barbecue chicken nachos look and taste like what we’d get at a restaurant. Queso fresco or finely crumbled feta can also be used, or feel free to swap in a milder white cheese like mozzarella or Monterey Jack if you have picky palates to contend with.
Homemade Vs Premade BBQ Sauce
While I’m all for scratch cooking when there’s time, I don’t feel the least bit bad about taking shortcuts that’ll save my sanity. Premade BBQ sauce is something I keep on hand at all times because it means I can whip up a batch of these pulled bbq chicken nachos, my bbq roasted cauliflower, or bbq smashed potatoes at the drop of a hat.
In addition to a short and simple ingredient list, this bbq chicken nacho recipe also requires only the most basic kitchen equipment. Here’s what to grab:
- Sheet Pan - I recommend using one with a lip around the edge to keep your nacho masterpiece from sliding to its doom.
- Parchment Paper - While this is an optional addition to the lineup, it makes cleanup a snap. Less scrubbing = happy me.
- Chef’s Knife & Cutting Board - For prepping a few veggies.
- Cheese Grater - Grating your own cheese for nachos is a MUST. Use the large holes to speed up the process!
How To Make Sheet Pan Nachos
This bbq chicken nacho recipe comes together in less time than it takes to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom. Here’s how to make it:
Step 1: Dress Chicken. In a mixing bowl combine the bbq sauce and the shredded chicken, set aside.
Step 2: Assemble In Layers. On a sheet tray, spread out the chips and top with ½ the cheese, ½ the chicken. Then repeat with the remaining cheese and chicken.
Step 3: Bake. Place into an oven at 400 degrees and cook the nachos until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Garnish & Serve. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining toppings and an extra drizzle of bbq sauce, and dig in. I hope you enjoy!
While I love this quick and simple bbq nachos recipe, there are lots of opportunities for you to customize it to your liking. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Swap the meat. Try using pulled pork or shredded brisket in place of the chicken. Grilled chicken nachos are also an option! Just chop the meat into bite-sized pieces first.
- Vegan BBQ Nachos. Swap in vegan baked beans, chopped roasted BBQ cauliflower, pulled and roasted mushrooms, or your favorite plant-based meat alternative in place of the chicken.
- Try BBQ Totchos. If corn is a no-no, toasted tater tots make for a killer replacement for tortilla chips.
- Get creative with extra BBQ nacho toppings like:
- Bacon Bits
- Green Olives
- Sour Cream, Crema Mexicana, or Greek Yogurt
FAQs & Tips
How do you make nachos so they don’t get soggy? Make sure you’re not adding too much sauce to the chicken. You want it to be flavorful, but not soupy. Also, make sure you eat them while they’re still hot.
Should you do nachos in the oven or on the grill? I like to do mine on a sheet pan so I can make enough for the whole family, so the oven works best for me. If you have a large enough cast-iron skillet, feel free to use the grill instead!
What temperature should nachos be cooked at? I suggest 400F. It’s hot enough to melt the cheese and warm the chicken through quickly, but not so scorching hot that the chips get burnt on the edges.
- To store leftover nachos: Nachos are best eaten right when they’re made. I suggest keeping everything separate so you can bake up a fresh batch whenever the craving strikes. However, if you have leftovers, you can cover them and put them in the fridge for a day or two.
- To reheat leftover nachos: Use a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake them at 400F for about 10 minutes to heat them through. Alternatively, consider using the leftovers to turn into migas since the chips won’t be as crispy no matter what you do.
- Line your sheet pan with parchment for easy cleanup. When you’re done, toss the parchment and give the pan a quick once over with soap and water.
- Make sure to spread out your chips in one layer. If you’ve ever eaten nachos at a sub-par establishment, I’d bet they made the mistake of piling a bunch of chips on the bottom so only the top ones get all the nacho goodness. Don’t be like the sub-par establishment. Work in batches if you’re feeding a crowd! Every chip should have at least a little topping on it.
- Grate your own cheese. Resist the urge to grab a bag of pre-shredded the cheese. The starches they use to keep the shreds from clumping into a big mess in the bag make it so the shreds don’t melt quite as well as they should.
These loaded nachos with chicken are excellent all year round, but I particularly love serving them as an:
- Easy weeknight dinner
- Movie night treat
- Game day appetizer
- Part of a larger buffet
They pair well with large groups, kids, picky eaters, cold beers, sparkling wine, and soda pop. 😉
More Tasty Game Day Appetizers
- Tacos in a Bag (Walking Tacos!)
- Mexican Corn Dip
- Corn and Chile Salsa
- Air Fried Artichoke Hearts
- Mozzarella Bruschetta
BBQ Chicken Nachos
- 1 sheet tray
- 2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded (use my air fryer chicken breast recipe if you need to cook some for this recipe!)
- 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ
- 3-4 cups tortilla chips
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 green onions diced
- ¼ red onion finely diced
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- ½ cup cotija cheese crumbled
- In a mixing bowl combine the bbq sauce and the shredded chicken, set aside.
- On a sheet tray, spread out the chips and top with ½ the cheese, ½ the chicken. Then repeat with the remaining cheese and chicken.
- Place into an oven at 400 degrees and cook the nachos until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and top with the remaining toppings and an extra drizzle of bbq sauce.