I would consider myself pretty accomplished in the kitchen, but there was one super simple dish that I just couldn’t get right for even after decades of cooking experience: a quesadilla! It sounds simple—it’s just cheese and filling melted on a tortilla—but my chicken quesadillas always turned out soggy or burnt.
So a few years ago, I took it upon myself to conquer quesadilla making—for myself and for you folks! And I’m happy to report that after lots of testing, I have absolutely nailed the best method for making a chicken quesadilla.
The resulting quesadilla is flavorful and gooey on the inside, a little crispy on the outside, and perfect for dipping in sour cream or guacamole! Chicken quesadillas are now a staple in our house. We have them for easy dinners. I pack them in school lunches. I am a cheesy chicken quesadilla rock star!
How do you make a chicken quesadilla?
If you start with cooked chicken (like from a rotisserie chicken!), chicken quesadillas come together in about 15 minutes, start to finish. Here’s how to do it:
- Sauté some peppers, onion, and garlic until fragrant. Add the chicken and some taco seasoning to the veggies.
- Butter a tortilla on one side (flour, gluten-free, and grain-free tortillas all work well). A buttered tortilla takes your quesadilla to the next level!
- Drop a tortilla into a hot skillet, butter side down, and sprinkle cheese over the entire tortilla. Then, put the chicken filling on half of the tortilla.
- Cook until the cheese starts to melt, and then fold the tortilla in half and press with a spatula to seal.
- After a few minutes, flip the quesadilla over to crisp up the other side.
- Slice and serve!
Feel free to experiment with quesadilla fillings, but avoid using anything liquid-y—like salsa or uncooked veggies—that will turn the tortillas soggy before they can crisp up. Save those wet ingredients for topping the quesadilla after cooking.
What kind of cheese should I use?
I like to use a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. They both melt easily, and their flavors match well with the chopped chicken. But if you have other shredded cheese on hand, go for it—make it your own!
Can I make these quesadillas vegetarian?
You sure can! To keep it super simple, just skip the chicken. Alternatively, replace the chicken with black beans to give the quesadillas more texture and protein. I’m also loving Isabel’s nopales de quesadillas.
How do you make a gluten-free chicken quesadilla?
Double check that your taco seasoning is gluten-free, sub out the tortillas for a GF option, and bam—gluten-free quesadilla! I like using corn tortillas or Siete cassava tortillas.
It takes a lot less filling to fill up a quesadilla than you think! A good quesadilla errs on the side of less filling and more cheese.
What should I serve with my chicken quesadilla?
It’s easy to make these chicken quesadillas into a full meal. Dip them in:
And then serve them with one or more of these:
- a side of sliced avocado
- avocado bell pepper salad
- pickled vegetables
- black bean and corn salsa with chips.
Wait, butter instead of oil?
Absolutely! Oil can be trickier to use, and you’re more likely to end up with greasy or soggy quesadillas. On the flip side, butter will help the tortilla crisp up beautifully. Plus, it tastes delicious! In a pinch, though, plant-based butter or coconut oil will also work.
Buttering the tortillas is a MUST for crisp and flavorful quesadillas! Plant-based butter or coconut oil also do the trick.
Can I make quesadillas in advance?
To prep quesadillas for later meals, just cook them all the way through and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, reheat the quesadillas in a skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the cheese is melted again, or warm them in a toaster oven.
I also make these quesadillas at least weekly for school lunches. I prep them the evening before, and just stash them in the fridge—my kid likes to eat them cold, but you can also reheat them in a skillet until warmed through, and then send them in a Thermos container. They won’t be quite as crisp, but they will still be delicious!
How long will chicken quesadillas keep?
Quesadillas will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Want more recipes like this? Try one of these!
- Healthy Chicken Pad Thai Recipe. This recipe is veggie-packed, and makes a great weeknight dinner or meal prep lunch.
- Meal Prep Caprese Chicken Quinoa Bowl. Another meal prep winner, this time with fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and spicy-sweet basil.
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa. When you do it like this, salsa can definitely be its own meal—just add chips!
- Salsa Chicken Burger Recipe. My secret ingredient keeps these Salsa Chicken Burgers moist, juicy, and tender!
- Black Bean Vegetarian Taco Salad in a Jar. This vegan meal prep salad in a jar is a total party in your mouth.
- Curry Chicken Salad. The curry powder gives this chicken salad a depth of flavor, while the grapes give it some fresh sweetness.
- Chicken Stir Fry. Making stir fry at home can be just as fast as picking up takeout! Let us show you how.