Cilantro Lime Chicken Nachos

April 22, 2020 Updated: April 22, 2020

When my husband is out of town and I need an easy meal that I know the kids will like, this is my go-to recipe. Not only does it come together fast, but it can be customized to each person’s preference. “Tyler, here’s your corner of the pan without beans. Adelyn, extra tomatoes? Be my guest! Clay, you want only cheese? Sure. Not fighting battles tonight.” Load these nachos with as many veggies or toppings as you want and enjoy! —Polly

Makes 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
  • 1 (13-ounce) bag tortilla chips
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings: Diced avocado, salsa, chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, black beans, sour cream, shredded lettuce, etc.

Slow Cooker Instructions

Make it now:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cilantro, salsa, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165 degrees F internally.)
  4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred it or chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  5. Position the top oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil (or line one pan and work in two batches).
  6. Spread half the tortilla chips over each prepared pan. Top the chips with the shredded chicken, dividing it evenly, then sprinkle each pan evenly with 2 cups of the cheese.
  7. Broil the nachos, one pan at a time, for 2–3 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
  8. Top the nachos as desired and serve immediately.

Freeze for later:

Follow step 1. Place the marinade and the chicken in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. Place the cheese in a quart-size freezer bag. Seal and freeze alongside the chicken.

Prepare from frozen:

Note: You will need to have chips and your favorite toppings on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Transfer the chicken and marinade to the slow cooker. Follow steps 3 through 8.

Instant Pot Instructions

Make it now:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cilantro, salsa, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken in the 6-quart Instant Pot and pour the sauce over the top.
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or register 165 degrees F internally.)
  4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred it or chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  5. Position the top oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil (or line one pan and work in two batches).
  6. Spread half the tortilla chips over each prepared pan. Top the chips with the shredded chicken, dividing it evenly, then sprinkle each pan evenly with 2 cups of the cheese.
  7. Broil the nachos, one pan at a time, for 2–3 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
  8. Top the nachos as desired and serve immediately.

Freeze for later: 

Follow step 1. Place the marinade and the chicken in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container (do not stack the chicken breasts in the bag/container; instead, place them side by side). Seal and freeze. Place the cheese in a quart-size freezer bag. Seal and freeze alongside the chicken.

Prepare from frozen:

Note: You will need to have chips and your favorite toppings on hand to complete this meal. Thaw the cheese. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook for 15–20 minutes. Follow steps 4 through 8.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “From Freezer to Cooker.” Copyright 2020 by Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.