Weeknight Cooking

Chicken Dinner Nachos Are a Very Good Reason to Have Nachos for Dinner

August 10, 2018

Whether I’m stuck in a dinner rut and need an escape plan, looking for easy weekend entertaining, or am just craving lots and lots of cheese, nachos are always the answer. They’re an effortless, accessible, and extra-cheesy way to get food on the table in lightning speed. Plus it’s easy to customize them to a whole variety of tastes.

Dinner nachos typically include whatever leftovers I’ve got in the fridge, like grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, or excess chili, piled high over tortilla chips and covered with a handful (or three) of shredded cheddar cheese. Pop the tray into the oven to broil until hot and bubbly. If I’m entertaining, I fill the dinner table with every hot sauce and salsa I have for a makeshift toppings bar. (It creates the illusion that this was, in fact, a well-planned meal.)

But, as easy as it can be to freestyle nachos in the oven, I want to break free of my hot kitchen and into the comfort of the outdoors. That’s right, it’s time to take nachos al fresco.

Fire up the grill. Photo by Jenny Haung

A roll of aluminum foil (and a grill) is all you need. Simply scatter your chips onto a piece of foil, cover with cheese, then fold it into a pouch. Add those leftover proteins and vegetables to transition the dish from appetizer to main meal. Or, you can use that blazing hot grill to make something new, like like I did for my Grilled Chicken Nachos. Whichever path you choose, here are a few helpful tips.

Make sure your foil pouch is sealed.

Since your heat source is coming from the bottom, rather than the top (like a broiler), you need to really seal your packet. I find the best way is to put your ingredients in the middle of the foil sheet, then bring two opposite sides of the foil together to meet over top of the nacho pile and roll them down over the top. Then, roll the two open sides of the foil up.

Layering is essential.

I start with a thin base layer of chips, then cheese, some toppings (in this case grilled chicken) and finish with a little more cheese. It helps the chicken stick to the chips, guaranteeing the perfect bite every time.

Want a little extra heat?

Permission to peek.

Since everyone’s grill runs a bit differently, it’s crucial to take a quick look inside the pouch to ensure your cheese is fully melted. If it’s not, just pinch the foil pouch back together and place it on the grill for a few more minutes.

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However you top your finished nachos is completely up to you. I like to set guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, hot sauce, or sour cream on the table and let everyone garnish their own. Yes, because it’s fun and interactive. And, yes, because it’s less work for me. I also encourage everyone to eat straight from the pouch. It’s fun and interactive and means less dishes. But, let’s keep those little secrets between us.

What's your favorite nacho topping? Share riffs and recipes in the comments below!

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)