Smoked Beef Brisket Nachos (perfect for leftover brisket)

4.58 from 7 votes
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These Award-Winning Smoked Beef Brisket Nachos are the perfect way to use up leftover brisket! Easy to make and crowd friendly, these are sure to become your new favorite appetizer!

 For the perfect Brisket recipe, click here

Brisket Nachos made with leftover smoked beef brisket

Update: This recipe was the grand prize winning recipe in the original Traeger Grills Meat Madness Competition in 2015. It’s that good!

This recipe for Smoked Brisket Nachos originally came about on a fluke. We had a freak snowstorm (yes, it’s a freak incident when it happens in Portland), leaving us unable to leave our house for days. One of these years the city will invest in a snow plow so the streets can be drivable with a couple measly inches of snow.

Having lived in our fair share of blizzards and storms, we knew to just stay put and ride it out and just eat all the things.

What to eat during a Portland Snowpocalypse.
Since our neighborhood doesn’t have snow plow service this little guy decided plow us out the old fashioned way…. with a plastic lawn mower and lots of will power.

Unable to go to the store, we came up with this recipe using only what we had in the fridge and pantry. We originally called it our pantry purge nachos. And thank the lords that we had just smoked a brisket, because we had plenty to use as a base for these incredible and irresistible brisket nachos!

Smoked Brisket Nachos- A great way to use leftover smoked brisket

These nachos are more than simply chips with layers of cheese and meat.

Oh yes, my friends. These are no wimpy nachos!

We use leftover brisket to make a thick, rich, concentrated chili, and use that chili to make spicy, cheesy, and indulgent nachos.

A big platter of Brisket Nachos

To be clear, we didn’t make this brisket chili. This is more rich and concentrated. Something perfect to pour over thick corn chips and then top with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions, more spicy jalapeños, guacamole and sour cream. Incidentally, this is the kind of chili that would be awesome to pour over a hot dog (if you’re into that sort of thing!).

The chili is everything — Thick, rich, spicy, and full of intense flavor.

Though the original recipe was a pantry purge, we decided it was good enough to write down, and make over and over and…! Basically, this is a recipe that needed to be shared with the world. And incidentally it was good enough to win the grand prize in the Traeger Meat Madness Recipe competition.

Chili is the secret to the Best Brisket Nachos

The key to the over the top indulgence level of these nachos is the intoxicatingly delicious chili. To make the chili:

  • Heat up 1-tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron pot (or saucepan) and add chopped onions. Cook until soft, then add chopped leftover brisket and chopped jalapeño. Let that warm up.
  • Add beer and let it come to a simmer (about 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol reduce).
  • Then add coffee, tomato sauce, tomato paste, pinto beans, green chilies, and all the spices, and mix well.
  • Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the chili thickens, and the flavors are well combined and you’re happy with the flavor. Adjust seasonings to your preference. This is all about finding a richness and flavor you like!
Rich and hearty chili

Once you have the chili, use it to layer your brisket nachos.

You can assemble your nachos on a sheet pan and heat up in the oven, or layer it in a cast iron skillet and heat it up directly on the grill or in the oven.

You and your friends are going to go crazy for these nachos!

Wine Pairing

You’d think on a cold snow day, cooped up inside, with the fire roaring, I’d be drinking a hearty red wine. Nope. I drank rosé.

A cold, crisp, rosé.

Wine Pairing for Nachos

These Brisket Nachos have a combination of spicy, smoky, meaty as well as all the fresh toppings. Serving it with a dry red wine would have accentuated the heat and it would have made for a very unpleasant experience.

I prefer something refreshing, and cooling. Something to cleanse and refresh my palate, yet have enough flavor and umph to stand up to the flavors of the spicy chili with smoky brisket and salty corn chips.

Enter rosé!

Rosé is refreshing with bright red berry aromas and flavors. I recommend one with just a touch (smallllll touch) of sweetness, helping to offset the heat from the chili. The bold flavors and cooling effect were exactly what I was looking for. I tend to go with Rosado from Spain, ideally made from Garnacha grapes. You want one with big fruit flavors to stand up to this dish (stay away from the lighter Provençal style rosé for this).

Or you could just be like hubby and opt for a cold PBR.

More recipes with leftover brisket 

Leftover Smoked Beef Brisket

Brisket Nachos Recipe (using leftover Smoked Brisket)

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Brisket Nachos
4.58 from 7 votes

Smoked Beef Brisket Nachos

Brisket Nachos are the perfect use for leftover smoked beef brisket. Create a rich chili out of leftover brisket and use that chili to make indulgent, spicy, cheesy, nachos.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people


To make the Chili:

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cups leftover smoked beef brisket, roughly chopped into small cubes, We love Snake River Farms Briskets
  • 1 medium jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced
  • 1 cup beer (we used a mild IPA)
  • ¼ cup coffee, whatever may be leftover in your pot from your morning brew
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 small chipotle peppers in adobo from a can, finely diced , (You can use just 1 if you’re sensitive to heat. These can be very spicy)
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon canned diced green chili
  • 1 tablespoon chili seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Nachos, including optional nacho toppings:

  • Thick corn chips, (they need to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of the toppings)
  • brisket chili (from above)
  • Shredded smoked cheddar cheese, or mixed cheddar blend (more or less depending on how cheesy you like your nachos)

Optional Nacho Toppings:

  • diced tomatoes, thinly sliced jalapeño, finely chopped onion, cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices (or guacamole), sour cream, salsa


For the Chili:

  • In a large saucepan (or cast iron pot), over medium heat, pour 1-tablespoon olive oil and add your onions. Cook about 3-4 minutes, and then add the chopped leftover brisket and the jalapeño. Cook 1-2 minutes until warmed up.
  • Add the beer and let it come to a simmer (about 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol reduce).
  • Then add the coffee, tomato sauce, tomato paste, pinto beans, green chilies, and all the spices, and mix well.
  • Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low heat, for about 20-30 minutes, until the chili thickens, the flavors are well combined and you’re happy with the flavor. Adjust seasonings to your preference. This is all about finding a richness and flavor you like!

To Make The Brisket Nachos:

  • Using a sheet pan or cast iron skillet, create one layer of corn tortilla chips (remember, make sure they are thick chips so they hold the weight of the chili).
  • Layer the chips with some chili and a layer of shredded cheese.
  • Create another layer of corn chips, followed by chili and shredded cheese.
  • If you are using an oven-safe platter you can place in the oven under broil. Broil until the cheese is melted (this won’t take long, just a couple minutes).
  • Alternatively you can place a cast iron skillet loaded with nacho goodness in the grill and heat up until the cheeses are melted.
  • When the cheese is nice and melted, remove and top with your favorite cold toppings: sliced jalapeño, tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro.
    Serve with your favorite dips: salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.


** Depending on how many nachos you plan to make, the chili may yield leftovers. Nothing wrong with that! Just use how much chili you are comfortable with on your nachos.
Check out this great smoked brisket recipe as a great starting place.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine: American, BBQ, Barbecue
Servings: 4 people
Keyword: brisket nacho recipe, brisket nachos, chili cheese nachos
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

*This post was originally published in February of 2014, and updated in March 2020 with new photos and updated information (the delicious recipe remained exactly the same!).

If you like this recipe for Brisket Nachos we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes. 

Smoked Beef Brisket Nachos

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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. 5 stars
    These Nachos are the bestv nachos I’ve ever had in my life. I tried brisket for the first time this weekend and was blown away

  2. My husband smoked a brisket 2 weeks ago, so I froze some leftovers and went in search of some recipes that use smoked brisket. It’s a little tricky, with that applewood smoke flavor, to find recipes where the smoked flavor won’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. I made the chili according to your directions, except I subbed 2 cayenne peppers from the garden for the jalapeno. We had already dried all the jalapenos. For beer, I used Bud Light Platinum (leftover from a party, we don’t drink it). The chili was rich and almost decadent. The ensuing nachos were fantastic. Definitely will make again. I paired it with my go-to Mirassou Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though the chili was a little spicy, I think I’ve killed half my heat sensors with spicy hot food 🙂 I also made your chipotle garlic salsa. (How else to use the rest of the can of chipotles??) I found it to be a little too reminiscent of the tomato paste, so next time would use 1/2 can. Otherwise really good, kind of addicting, and it’s a good thing I work from home tomorrow, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to have garlic breath for days!

    1. Hi Kim,
      I’m so glad you made the chili! It’s definitely a winner in my book. And those nachos!!! Love!
      You are brave for trying that salsa! It’s pretty potent 😉
      I found that if it’s too strong to eat as a stand alone salsa that it works great as a marinade for chicken breasts (and much less potent that way).
      Cheers, Mary

    1. Thanks for the great compliment! No, I don’t have a Canon 5D (yet!). This was taken with a Rebel T4i, with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. That lens is amazing! Cheers