Smoked Nachos

The year was 1943, and a group of Americans straggled into the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico, after closing time. The chef had left, but the maitre d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, topped some tostadas with jalapeños and cheese and melted it under the broiler. A classic was born. His legacy lives on, and I bet he’d admire the smoked nachos created by our Project Smoke TV fire wrangler and Barbecue University alum Rob Baas. Rob starts with slow-smoked brisket, which he combines with the usual array of tortilla chips, black beans, jalapeños and grated cheese. A blast of hot wood smoke melts the cheese, taking these nachos over the top.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Method: Hot-smoking

Prep time: 20 minutes

Smoking time: 12 to 15 minutes

Fuel: Hickory, or hardwood of your choice—enough for 15 minutes of smoking

Gear: Perforated grill skillet, 10-inch cast-iron skillet, or 10-inch metal pie plate

Shop: My personal preference goes to fresh jalapeños, but pickled peppers punch up the flavor with vinegar.

What else: I call for shredded smoked brisket. Alternatively, use jerk chicken, smoked turkey, pulled pork, or smoked tofu for a vegetarian version.


8 cups tortilla chips

2 cups shredded smoked brisket or chicken

1 can (15 ounces) black beans (preferably organic and low-sodium), drained well in a colander, rinsed, and drained again

12 ounces finely grated mixed cheeses (like cheddar, smoked cheddar, Jack, and/or pepper Jack; about 3 cups)

4 fresh jalapeño peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise, or 1/3 cup drained pickled jalapeño slices

4 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced crosswise

2 to 4 tbsp of your favourite hot sauce (I like Cholula) or barbecue sauce

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 275°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.
  2. Loosely arrange one third of the tortilla chips in the grill skillet. Sprinkle one third of the shredded brisket, beans, cheese, jalapeños and scallions on top. Shake on hot sauce. Add a second layer of these ingredients, followed by a third.
  3. Place the skillet with the nachos in your smoker and smoke until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the cilantro on top, if using, and dig in. Yes—you eat the nachos right out of the skillet, so be careful not to burn your fingers on the rim.

Smoked Nachos on the Grill

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400°F). Place the nachos pan on the grate away from the heat and toss the wood chips on the coals. Indirect-grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 5 minutes.

Excerpted from Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright ©2016. Photographs by Matthew Benson.


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About the Author

Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen

By: Liz Bruckner Ask Steven Raichlen, world-renowned grilling and smoking authority, the keys to his career longevity, and he shortlists two contributing factors: passion and zeal. A French literature major in college, the bestselling author and host of Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke; Primal Grill and Le Maitre Du Grill, won a Thomas J Watson Foundation […]

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