Thai Basil Chicken Nachos
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This Thai Basil Chicken Nachos is easy to make, and the perfect fusion party appetizer for Thai food and nachos lovers! Spicy and garlicky Thai basil chicken, jalapeño peppers, and plenty of melty cheeses get piled high onto tortilla chips and baked to crispy, spicy, and cheesy fusion nachos perfection!
It’s nachos time, friends! 💃
A few years ago for Cinco de Mayo, I did a fusion Indian and Mexican nachos masterpiece – these Chicken Tikka Nachos! This year, I’ve got a spectacular Thai and Mexican fusion nachos dish for you all – these mind-blowing and oober delicious Thai Basil Chicken Nachos!! 🤩
If you love spicy Thai holy basil chicken, and you love nachos, you are definitely going to want to make these for your next party or Cinco de Mayo celebration.
- Spicy and garlicky Thai basil chicken
- Tangy pickled jalapeño peppers
- Two types of cheeses: sharp cheddar for a hint of tang and Monterey Jack for oozy-melty cheesy goodness!
- …and all of it is combined into one EPIC nachos dish that is sooo EXTRA! 🤩
Top it off with some chopped fresh coriander for a burst of freshness, and serve with cooling sour cream, guacamole, and my favorite sweet and juicy mango salsa to compliment all the salty and spicy flavors!
I guarantee that everyone is going to go crazy over this beautiful plate of nachos because they are DAMN tasty and SO GOOD!
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s incredibly flavorful with garlicky, spicy, and savory-sweet notes! It tastes like you’re enjoying a Thai stir-fried holy basil dish, but in nachos form!
- Using shredded chicken as opposed to ground chicken helps keep the chicken glued to the nachos. There are no bits of ground meat rolling off when you pull up a piece.
- Layering the ingredients in two batches when assembling the nachos ensures that no tortilla chip is left dry or devoid of any topping or cheese.
- You can enjoy it as a party appetizer, game day snack, or even as a meal!
- Chilies: I used a combination of red and green Bird’s Eye chilies as well as some tiny but fiery HOT Thai Prik Kee Nu green chilies for heat. Feel free to use as many or as few as you like depending on your heat level preference. I also used a mild large red chili (not pictured) for color. It’s similar to red bell pepper in terms of heat level, but you can leave it out if you wish.
- Asian Red Shallots: Or you can use red onion, regular shallots, or even yellow onion too.
- Stir-fry Sauce: A salty and sweet Pad Kra Pow sauce made with a combination of oyster sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, and a dash of sugar.
- Shredded Cooked Chicken: I seasoned some chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and used the method for my Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts to bake them in the oven. But you could also use store-bought shredded rotisserie chicken (without the skin) to save time. Or use any leftover cooked shredded chicken that’s not heavily seasoned that you happen to have in your fridge or freezer.
- Thai Holy Basil Leaves: Also knowns as spicy basil, hot basil, or ‘bai gaprow’ in Thai. This magical herb has a unique peppery flavor, and is the star of a Thai basil chicken stir-fry. Look for it at an Asian or Thai grocery store. You’re welcome to use Thai sweet basil leaves if you prefer. But if Thai basils aren’t easily available to you, substitute with Italian basil.
- Mango Salsa: A delicious and refreshing topping to go with the spicy and salty nachos! I’ve included the recipe for it in the recipe card below, but you can check out my Easy Mango Salsa post for more detailed instructions with pictures.
- Tortilla Chips: I recommend using lightly salted corn tortilla chips.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese & Monterey Jack Cheese: I highly recommend buying blocks of cheese and grating it home yourself. It’ll melt much better than the pre-shredded cheese in the bags. The latter have anti-caking agents and preservatives to prevent the cheese from clumping up in the bags, and unfortunately this makes it more difficult for it to melt properly.
- Optional toppings: Feel free to add pickled jalapeños for more heat, banana peppers, finely chopped bell pepper, or any other nacho toppings or peppers you like.
- To serve: Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) to finish, and serve with the mango salsa, sour cream, guacamole (either store-bought or homemade).
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Basil Chicken Nachos
1. Make the Thai Basil Chicken. Smash the garlic and chilies in a mortar and pestle until you get a coarse paste. Then stir-fry the garlic chili paste with the shallots, chicken, and pad kra pow sauce in a large wok or deep heavy bottomed frying pan. Toss through holy basil at the end, then remove from heat.
2. Make the Mango Salsa. Simply toss together all the ingredients for the salsa in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve with the nachos.
3. Assemble the nachos. Use a large ovenproof plate, large cast iron skillet, round cake pan, shallow baking dish, or a parchment paper lined baking tray (for easier cleanup).
Layer half of the tortilla chips, half of the Thai basil chicken, any nachos toppings you’d like to add (I used pickled jalapeños), and half of the Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses. Then repeat the layers with the remaining half of the ingredients.
4. Bake in a preheated oven (times and temperature are in the recipe card below) until the cheeses have nicely melted.
5. Serve! Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve immediately with the sweet and juicy mango salsa, and some sour cream and guacamole if you like!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Make the Thai Basil Chicken ahead to save time. You can make it up to two days in advance. Store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge once cool. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes to take the chill off before assembling and baking the nachos.
- Make the Mango Salsa ahead. You can make it in the morning if serving in the evening and store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. While it’ll keep for up to two days, I recommend making it on the day of serving the nachos for best flavor, texture, and freshness.
While you can make the Thai basil chicken and mango salsa ahead, I highly recommend assembling and baking the nachos just before serving. Nachos always taste best straight from the oven while everything is hot, and nice and crispy. The longer the nachos are sitting after taking it out of the oven, the soggier they will get.
Unfortunately, even reheating in the oven will not bring back the same level of freshness and crispness that these nachos have when they first come out of the oven. I recommend assembling and baking just before serving.
You should bake the nachos because broiling only heats the nachos from the top-down. Baking the nachos ensures that the nachos will get heated from the sides, top, and bottom. Also, it’s easier to burn the nachos when you broil instead of bake them. Hence, slow and steady baking for nachos is the better, safer, and also tastier option.
- Make it gluten-free. Use a gluten-free oyster sauce, light soy sauce, and sweet dark soy sauce for the Thai basil chicken. Also make sure that your fish sauce is GF certified.
- Use a different protein. Cooked shredded pork, beef, or turkey would all work. If using turkey, don’t use the skin. If using leftover cooked and shredded meat, make sure it isn’t heavily seasoned. There’s plenty of flavor for it to take on when making the Thai basil stir-fry.
- Make it vegetarian/vegan. For the chicken, you can use a plant-based shredded meat, shredded king oyster or oyster mushrooms, or canned (and drained) jackfruit instead. For best texture, I recommend shredding and browning the mushrooms or jackfruit a little in the wok/pan first before making and adding it to the Thai basil stir-fry. Also, replace the fish sauce with more light soy sauce and use a vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce for the Thai basil stir-fry.
- Use different cheeses: Pepper jack, mozzarella, or even broken up pieces of muenster cheese slices would taste fantastic in these nachos!
More Cinco de Mayo Recipes
- Chicken Tikka Nachos
- Loaded Street Corn Salad
- Thai Sweet Basil Roasted Tomato Salsa
- Spicy Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Or browse the entire Mexican and Party Food & Snacks recipes collections.
More Thai and Thai-inspired Appetizers
- Easy Spicy Thai Shrimp Cakes
- Spicy Thai Basil Wontons
- Or browse the entire Thai and Thai Appetizers recipes collections.
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Thai Basil Chicken Nachos
Spicy and garlicky Thai basil chicken, jalapeño peppers, and plenty of melty cheeses get piled high onto tortilla chips and baked to crispy, spicy, and cheesy fusion nachos perfection!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Thai-inspired
For the Thai Basil Chicken:
- 8 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 2–8 Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 2–8 Green Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot green chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 2–6 Prik Kee Nu Green Chili (optional), to taste – roughly chopped
- 1 Large Red Chili – deseeded if desired, thinly sliced at an angle
- 4 Asian Red Shallots – peeled and finely chopped (or use 1/3 of a medium red onion)
- 3 TBLS + 1 TSP Oyster Sauce
- ¾ TBLS Light Soy Sauce
- ¾ TBLS Fish Sauce
- 2 TSP Sweet Dark Soy Sauce
- 1.5 TSP White Sugar
- 2.5 cups (about 14 ounces / 400 grams) cooked and shredded boneless and skinless Chicken Breasts (see notes)
- 1.5 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves – washed and pat-dried
For the Mango Salsa:
- ½ cup diced fresh Mango
- ¼ Red Onion – finely chopped
- ½ small Garden Tomato – deseeded and finely chopped
- 1.5 TBLS freshly squeezed Lime Juice, to taste
- 1.5 TBLS chopped fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
To Assemble the Thai Basil Chicken Nachos:
- 7 ounces / 200 grams Lightly Salted Corn Tortilla Chips
- 1 & ¼ cups freshly grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 & ¼ cups freshly grated Monterey Jack Cheese
- Optional Toppings: Pickled jalapeños, banana peppers, finely chopped bell pepper (any color), etc.
- To Serve: Chopped fresh coriander, Mango salsa, sour cream, guacamole (store-bought or homemade)
For the Thai Basil Chicken:
- Prepare the fresh ingredients: Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic, Bird’s Eye red and chilies, and green Prik Kee Nu chilies into a coarse paste and set aside. Thinly slice the large red chili at an angle, and finely chop the shallots. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and pat-dry.
- Make the sauce: Combine the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, and white sugar in a small measuring cup. Mix until evenly combined, then set aside.
- Make the Thai Basil Chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and stir-fry for a minute until slightly softened. Then add the garlic chili paste and sliced large red chili, and stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cooked shredded chicken and pour the sauce on top. Toss for 1 minute until combined well and everything is fully coated in the sauce. Stir through the holy basil leaves and switch off the heat. Set aside until ready to assemble the nachos. If not using immediately, cool quickly then transfer to a sealed airtight container and store in the fridge.
For the Mango Salsa:
- Combine everything in a small bowl and toss together until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To Assemble the Thai Basil Chicken Nachos:
- Prep: Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Assemble the layers: Spread half of the tortilla chips evenly on a large ovenproof plate (or a large cast iron skillet, round cake pan, shallow baking dish, or on a parchment paper lined baking tray for easier cleanup). Top the tortilla chips evenly with half of the Thai basil chicken, half of the pickled jalapeños (or any other toppings you’re using), half of the sharp cheddar cheese, and half of Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining tortilla chips, Thai basil chicken, pickled jalapeños, and sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
- Bake: Bake until the cheese has melted – about 8-10 minutes.
- Serve: Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve with the mango salsa, sour cream, and guacamole if desired.
- Shredded cooked chicken: I seasoned some chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and used the method for these Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts before shredding them. But you could also use store-bought shredded rotisserie chicken (without the skin) to save time, or any leftover cooked shredded chicken that you have on hand that’s not heavily seasoned.
- Mortar & pestle: If you don’t own one, just finely chop the garlic and chilies instead.
- Thai holy basil leaves: Look for this peppery herb in a Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket. You can use Thai sweet basil if you prefer, or even Italian basil if unavailable.
- Make ahead: You can make the Thai basil chicken up to two days in advance and store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before assembling the nachos to take the chill off. The mango salsa can be made in the morning on the day of serving the nachos, and stored in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. While it’ll keep for two days in the fridge, the taste and texture will be best on the day of making it.
- Can these nachos be reheated? Unfortunately, even reheating in the oven will not bring back the same level of freshness and crispness that these nachos have when they first come out of the oven. I recommend assembling and baking just before serving.
- See ‘Variations’ section in the post above for tips on making this gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan, and other protein options.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 511
- Sugar: 10.9g
- Sodium: 992mg
- Fat: 24.6g
- Saturated Fat: 10.3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 11.7g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 42.4g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 31.8g
- Cholesterol: 92.9mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.