These smoky grilled chicken nachos are thrown on the grill with lots of melty cheddar, to-die-for chipotle ranch and toppings galore. My faves are quick pico de gallo, guacamole and pickled onions. Perfect snack food!

Nachos for Friday is just what we all need! 

smoky grilled chicken nachos

These are so easy, so delicious, covered in all the toppings and perfect for a crowd or just… yourself! 

tortilla chips with cheese and chipotle ranch

I love a good weekend easy dinner. Eddie and I would call this one of my cop-out dinners. Like I just don’t feel like throwing some huge together, and maybe we aren’t super hungry or we would rather have a snacky dinner. So I make sheet pan nachos. 

But they aren’t on a sheet pan.

They’re on the grill! 

Why haven’t I been grilling nachos my entire life? Someone please tell me. Throw some chips on a pan, cover in cheese, then top with allllll the favorite things.

Also, ideal for game day!

quick guacamole

This isn’t necessarily a RECIPE per se. I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now. It’s more so a method, and I guess the chipotle ranch is the real recipe because it’s fantastic and a staple in my fridge.

Oh and the chicken!! I have to tell you about the chicken. 

P.S. doesn’t the nacho picture above give you a major microwaved-nachos vibe or what? Not that these are microwaved, but oh my gosh tortilla chips and cheese, microwaved, was my love language growing up,

Not going to lie, sometimes I’ll still do it. Maybe like once a year, when I’m desperate. It definitely tastes like 1995. 

melty cheddar chip nacho

Okay so the major secret to this smoky chicken is how I flavor it. It’s TOTALLY a cheater’s version of smoky chicken, but I’ve been doing it for years. 

I’ve made it this way for sheet pan nachos forever now and everyone always flips over how delicious it is. It could NOT be easier.

First, all you need is a rotisserie chicken! That’s it. No big deal. Keep it simple. 

Then, toss that with some smoky spices (paprika! cumin!) as well as a drop of liquid smoke. I find the liquid smoke in the spice aisle of my local grocery store and have it on hand at all times. If you want to make chicken or pork in the slow cooker, it’s also GREAT to use in there. Just remember that a drop or two is enough!

smoky grilled chicken nachos

So see? Total cheater’s version. It’s not real smoked chicken, even though we do have a smoker and love it. But this is the insanely easy way out. Try it! 

smoky grilled chicken nachos

The other toppings I deem necessary for any sort of nacho?

My quick pico.

Sour cream

All the guacamole!

Pickled onions for sure. 

And if I have it, crumbled cotija cheese to finish it all off. 

The nachos are SO easy. You can use a few layers of foil and throw them directly on the grill until warm and toasty. Or you can put the foil on a grill pan and do it that way! It’s messy and not pretty and that’s the best part about it. 

I drizzle everything with the chipotle ranch. Sometimes I even do a double drizzle – one right after the cheese, then another after the toppings. And use whatever you LOVE on top! Use as much guac or sour cream or salsa that you’d like. No rules here!

Finally, EAT UP.

smoky grilled chicken nachos

Smoky Grilled Chicken Nachos

Grilled Smoky Chicken Nachos with Chipotle Ranch

These smoky grilled chicken nachos are all made on the grill with lots of melty cheddar and toppings galore. Perfect snack food!
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  • 1 (11 ounce )bag tortilla chips
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 to 4 drops liquid smoke
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • pico de gallo or salsa, for serving
  • guacamole, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving
  • pickled onions, for serving
  • fresh cilantro, for serving
  • crumbled cotija cheese, for serving

chipotle ranch

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives or 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika


  • Preheat your grill to the highest setting. Lay down a double layer of foil - if you’d like, you can place it on a grill pan. If it’s not on a grill pan, create a lip around the foil by folding up the edges so the chips don’t slice off. Place the chips on top of the foil.
  • In a bowl, toss the chicken with the smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder and liquid smoke until it’s all coated.
  • Cover the chips all over with the grated cheese and chicken. I usually do half the cheese, then the chicken, then the rest of the cheese. If you really love the ranch, you can do a drizzle here!
  • Reduce the grill burners to medium. Place the foil or foil-covered grill pan of nachos directly on the grill. Close the lid and grill until the chips are warm and the cheese is all melted, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the foil or grill pan from the grill. Top with your favorite toppings - salsa or pico, guacamole, sour cream, pickled onions, etc. Drizzle all over with more chipotle ranch. Serve immediately!

chipotle ranch

  • Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until pureed and combined. Store in the fridge in a sealed container. This lasts for about a week! It makes a lot, so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you don’t think you’ll use it up. It’s great on tacos too or any other chicken and vegetables!

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smoky grilled chicken nachos

Make sure to have a lime-y beer or marg on the side!