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Jerk chicken nachos


Jerk Chicken Nachos, with nacho cheese recipe adapted from Serious Eats.


For the jerk chicken:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (tender stems are fine)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 C yellow onion, diced
  • 1 C green onion, chopped
  • 2 habanero peppers, stemmed
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  •  juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tsp ground allspice

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese—NOT grated! You will grate it, but don’t buy pre-grated. 
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 12-oz cans evaporated milk
  • 4 tsp hot sauce 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced

~2 Bags tortilla chips, whatever toppings you like for your nachos. (This is a large recipe, you can half everything if needed.)


  • Place all the ingredients for the marinade in the jar of a blender and blend until it makes a fairly homogenous paste. 

making jerk marinade

  • Coat the chicken thighs in the marinade in a non-reactive bowl and allow to soak while you preheat your grill and prepare your preferred nacho toppings. 
  • Preheat your grill, and set it up for direct-heat cooking. This is a recipe where charcoal really is best, but if you only have gas it’s better than not making it at all!
  • Cook the chicken on the grill, turning as needed. You want some charring on the marinade-y, sticky-outy bits. 
  • Monitor the temperature with your Thermapen ONE, and remove each piece after it crosses the 175°F (79°C) mark. 

Temping jerk chicken thighs

  • Keep the chicken in a bowl, covered, while you prepare the cheese sauce. This rest won’t hurt a thing!
  • Grate the cheese and toss it with the cornstarch and cumin in a large saucepan.
  • Add 2 cups of the evaporated milk and the hot sauce start cooking it over medium-low heat, whisking until melted, bubbly, and thickened. 
  • Add diced jalapeño. 

Making nacho cheese

  • If the cheese is too thick, thin it with more of the evaporated milk. It will thicken and set up more as it sits. 
  • Cut the chicken into 1/2″ cubes.
  • Layer your chips, cheese, and other nacho ingredients, generously topping with chicken. 
  • Serve your nachos and watch them disappear!

Nachos being eaten


I really do recommend making the nacho cheese after you’ve grilled the chicken. Keep the chicken covered in a bowl and it will still be hot and juicy when it comes time to top the nachos. The cheese comes together in only a few minutes. Prep your other toppings while the chicken marinates.