These lighter chicken nachos might have fewer calories, but they don’t sacrifice an ounce of flavor. They’re piled high with tortilla chips, delicious (and easy!) slow cooker Mexican shredded chicken, seasoned black beans, melted cheddar cheese, and all the fixins—for only 396 calories or 8 WW points!
You know how even mediocre pizza is still pretty good? Nachos don’t work like that. Good nachos are hard to come by. At their worst, the ratio of chips to cheese is off and the toppings aren’t evenly distributed, leaving half of the chips without even a shred of cheese. This is what creates those friendship-ending moments where one person picks up the single chip holding ALL the cheese and everyone at the table gasps and dies inside.
All of the best nachos are topped with some sort of Tex-Mex-style meat, or well-seasoned beans—or better yet, both! These toppings are key when it comes to making nachos that are a little lighter and healthier and yet still taste great. My rule of thumb is: the more flavorful the meat and/or beans, the less you need to rely on cheese to provide all the flavor and satisfaction (allowing you to use a little less). These chicken nachos prove that, with a completely delicious slow cooker Mexican shredded chicken and black beans. And the best news is, the recipe is almost laughably easy. All you need are 4 simple ingredients: boneless, skinless chicken breast, a can of black beans (rinsed and drained), a can of diced tomatoes (I always use Tuttorosso), and 1 packet of taco seasoning mix (I like McCormick 30% Less Sodium Taco Seasoning). Combine them in your slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. The chicken that emerges is full of flavor and so tender that it practically falls apart at the touch of a fork. The beans are soft and faintly spiced. You can even use the juicy, seasoned tomatoes (drained of the liquid) as a kind of salsa.
The only remaining ingredients are the tortilla chips and the corn. The rest is up to you: salsa, chopped avocado or guacamole, cilantro, red onion, pickled jalapeños, sour cream (or nonfat Greek yogurt to add creaminess and tang with fewer calories)…For chips, I almost always use Tostitos brand—either the Restaurant-Style (used in the photos) or the Bite Size (called for in the recipe). Since we’re trying to keep the nachos on the lighter side, I recommend using the bite size because 1 serving (1 ounce) is 24 chips—an amount that allows you the fun and satisfaction of many small bites.
Now it’s time to bake our chicken nachos. You have 2 options:
- Bake the nachos in a single layer using TWO baking sheets. This can help prevent sogginess.
- Layer them on ONE baking sheet. I’m partial to layering. To do this, spread half of the tortilla chips in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Then, evenly distribute half of the slow cooker shredded chicken, beans, some of the drained diced tomatoes, corn, and cheddar cheese. I love adding corn for a bit of sweetness. Repeat the layering with the rest of the chips and toppings.
Either way, bake until the cheese melts and the ends of the chips turn a light golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve them right from the pan, topped with whatever you like!
The Best Lighter Chicken Nachos
- 1 14.5- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 1.25- ounce packet taco seasoning mix I like [McCormick 30% Less Sodium Taco Seasoning Mix
- 1 15- ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn thawed
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 4 ounces
- 6 ounces Tostitos Bite Size Tortilla Chips 6 servings or about half of a standard size bag
- Optional toppings: salsa sour cream, avocado, scallions, black olives, pickled jalapeños)
- In the base of your slow cooker, combine the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Stir in the drained black beans. Nestle the chicken breasts in the tomatoes, spooning some over the top to cover them. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and use a fork to pull the chicken into smaller pieces or shreds. Use a slotted spoon or a fine mesh sieve to remove the beans and some of the diced tomatoes from the slow cooker and place them in a medium bowl. Discard the thinner liquid left behind. (Note: If you aren’t planning to use the meat right away, reserve ½ cup of the liquid to pour over the meat in a storage container to help keep it moist and flavorful in the refrigerator.)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Spread half of the tortilla chips in a single layer on the baking sheet, then evenly distribute half of the chicken, beans and tomatoes, corn, and cheddar cheese. Repeat the layering with the rest of the chips and toppings and bake until the cheese melts and the ends of the chips turn golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately with whatever toppings you like—salsa or fresh pico de gallo, avocado, chopped cilantro, red onion, pickled jalapeños, sour cream.