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With crunchy corn tortilla chips, crispy-edged pulled pork, and plenty of melted cheese, Pulled Pork Nachos are irresistible. It's easy to whip up a batch of nachos, right? They're almost always good, but there are a couple of secrets to making an extraordinary batch every time.
Nachos are all about balance. You want to get the chip-to-cheese-to-pork proportion just right. Too much cheese with not enough chips and you have a gooey mess, too many chips and not enough cheese or toppings is even more disappointing. The great news is it's an easy to remember 1:1:1 ratio. So if you use 8 ounces of chips, use 8 ounces of meat, and 8 ounces of grated cheese. Then be sure to layer them correctly, more on that below.
Ingredients You Need to Make Pulled Pork Nachos
- Corn Tortilla Chips: Thick chips are sturdier and work best for nachos.
- Cheese: Monterey Jack cheese or a mix of Jack and mild or sharp cheddar cheese.
- Pulled Pork: Leftover Mexican pulled pork (pork carnitas) is ideal. Or use Chicken Carnitas for a lighter option.
- Oil: A little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil for crisping up the pulled pork in a skillet.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: to season pork to taste
- Fresh Cilantro: Optional - omit if you don't like cilantro. Sliced green onions are a good substitute.
- Avocado: Sliced avocado or mashed and mixed with Pico de Gallo and fresh lime juice to make easy Salsa Guacamole.
- Salsa: I recommend Pico de Gallo.
- Sour Cream: Your favorite brand.
- Jalapeño: thinly sliced fresh or pickled jalapeño
- Lime: Serve slices for squeezing (optional).
The Secret to Ultra-Crispy Tortilla Chips
Here's the secret to perfectly crispy chips: bake them before adding the toppings. Even if they're pretty crispy straight out of the bag, a short stint in the oven will evaporate any moisture they my have absorbed and give them a freshly-cooked level of crispiness. Bake the chips for just 5 minutes, then assemble your nachos. You'll see that it makes a world of difference.
How to Layer Nachos
Once your chips are hot and crisp, here is the best way to layer your sheet pan nachos and the 3 steps to perfect nachos every time:
- Create an even layer of tortilla chips (overlapping, but not stacked)
- Sprinkle on a layer of cheese, then pulled pork, then another layer of cheese. So top your hot chips with ½ of the shredded cheese, followed by pulled pork, and finish with the remaining cheese.
- Bake 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese has melted and serve hot!
Use your favorite pulled pork for this recipe, but I recommend my Mexican pulled pork (carnitas). It's a snap to make with boneless pork butt / pork shoulder in your slow cooker and freezes well so you can always have it on hand.
But no matter what variety you use, be sure it's warm with crispy edges before layering it onto the nachos. Nobody wants cold chunks of meat. Crisping the pork up quickly in a skillet is a great thing to do while your chips are in the oven during the first 5 minutes. (Same goes for making these irresistible Carne Asada Nachos.)
How to Serve
Pulled pork will keep up to 4 days in your refrigerator and up to 3 months in your freezer. It freezes beautifully and makes a great building block for quick and easy meals.
For the best melty cheese, shred it yourself and use cheese that melts well, like Monterey Jack (and/or pepper Jack) or cheddar cheese. Though pre-shredded cheese is convenient, it's typically coated with potato starch and/or cellulose powder which inhibits smooth melting.
Start with an even layer of corn tortilla chips, with chips overlapping, but not stacked. Top with a layer of cheese, then meat, then a second layer of cheese. Serve with your favorite toppings.
The key to crispy nachos is to pre-bake the chips for 5 minutes before topping them with cheese. And take care to not use watery toppings (like some salsas) that can seep moisture into the chips.
How to Make Pulled Pork Nachos
Spread corn tortilla chips into an even, overlapping layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 375˚F for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile warm and crisp bite size pieces of pulled pork in hot olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top hot chips first with ½ of the cheese, then the pulled pork pieces and finish with remaining cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until cheese has melted. Serve hot with desired toppings.
Pulled Pork Nachos
- 8 ounces pulled pork ideally this Carnitas / Mexican pulled pork leftover or just made
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 8 ounces tortilla chips ideally thick and sturdy
- 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese or a mix of Jack and cheddar
- thinly sliced jalapeño fresh or pickled, to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro to taste
- Pico de Gallo to taste
- guacamole to taste
- sour cream to taste
- lime wedges for serving, optional
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Shred or cut pulled pork into bite-size pieces.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add pork; cook and stir until heated through and slightly crisped, 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Spread chips onto a quarter sheet pan in a single layer with chips overlapping, but not stacked. Bake 5 minutes until lightly crisp and fragrant.
- Top hot chips evenly in 3 layers: ½ of cheese, followed by pulled pork pieces, finishing with remaining cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until cheese has melted.
- Serve hot, topped with jalapeño slices, lime wedges, cilantro (optional), and pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream on the side.
- Note that preparation time does not include making Pico de Gallo or guacamole from scratch, but I recommend that you do! 🙂
- It's worth it to shred your own cheese. Skip the bagged stuff that's coated in potato starch or cellulose powder as it doesn't melt well.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of shredded cheese. I've seen recipes with much less than I suggest and up to twice as much - the amount is definitely subjective. I encourage you to make these your own!