Chicken quesadillas make for a fantastic and easy meal to prepare, and my delicious recipe features a combo of gooey white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, black beans and roasted red peppers for a zesty kick!
For a Quick and Zesty Meal, Chicken Quesadillas to the Rescue!
While it's true that most of the time I absolutely love to spend hours in my kitchen chopping, slicing, stirring, braising, or simply experimenting, there are days when I really appreciate keeping things super quick and simple.
On those occasions when I'd prefer to just toss together a handful of colorful and healthy ingredients and have a zesty meal a few minutes later, chicken quesadillas are a really terrific option. They can be loaded up with lots of tasty little tidbits I already have on hand to give ‘em a bit more of a flavor “pop” and some substance. I love that the sky's the limit when it comes to quesadillas!
My quesadilla recipe has tender slices of seasoned chicken, vibrant roasted red peppers, some creamy white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, plus a little sprinkle of black beans.
It's quick and zesty meal that when topped off with some sour cream, salsa, cilantro and green onions, it's ready to get into my hungry belly in no time at all! 😉
How to Make Chicken Quesadillas Extra Tasty and Thick!
A very basic chicken quesadilla recipe is pretty much just cheese and sliced or shredded chicken, which certainly is yummy enough.
But the way I see it, if I can add in a couple of more ingredients and spices to give my chicken quesadillas a little more “oomph”, I'm all about that!
I like to season a couple of chicken breasts with smoky, zippy chili powder and cumin, then sear them off before slicing them (this can be done ahead for convenience, or you can even use rotisserie chicken for this), and slice up some sweet and savory roasted red peppers out of a jar for some smokiness.
Green onions and fresh cilantro leaves are also terrific for added color and flavor. I even like to add in some organic, canned black beans that get deliciously nestled into the gooey melted cheeses for extra protein and fiber.
And here's where things get nice and thick: rather than sprinkling these delicious toppings over an entire large flour tortilla and then topping that with another flour tortilla, I like to do what I call a “fold over” method when preparing my quesadillas.
Here's a glance at my chicken quesadilla recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe below...)
- To get started, I season and grill or sear off my chicken breasts, then slice them once cool enough to handle. (You can skip this step if you have pre-cooked chicken already on hand.)
- I opt for medium-large (about 10”) flour tortillas so that they can easily fit into a large skillet. For the skillet, I like to use my cast-iron for this, because it gets nice and hot, and slightly charrs the tortillas.
- For easy assembly (the “fold over” method), I lay one flour tortilla in front of me, add a generous amount of ingredients beginning and ending with cheese to only one half of that tortilla, then fold the other half of it over top of the ingredients. This way, the chicken quesadilla has a semi-circle shape rather than being a large circle, making it nice and thick and easier to flip over. I can even fit two halves in my large pan if I want!
- To cook, I gently place one or two chicken quesadilla “semi-circles” into my hot skillet to heat through and crisp on the first side for a few minutes; then, I carefully flip them over using a large spatula to heat through and char on the other side for a couple of minutes more.
- To serve, I cut each chicken quesadilla into two or three large wedges (using my pizza cutter or a knife), and serve with fresh toppings!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: 4 chicken quesadillas
Nutrition Info: 775 calories (per quesadilla)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
• 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise through the middle to create thinner cutlets
• Avocado oil
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon granulated onion
• ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
• 4 flour tortillas (10”)
• 1 ½ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
• 1 ½ cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
• 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and dried, then sliced thinly
• 2 green onions, sliced
• ½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish
• Sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole, for optional garnish
- To prepare the chicken, add the cutlets to a bowl or large plate, and drizzle over about 1 tablespoon of the oil; sprinkle over a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, along with the chili powder, cumin, granulated onion and garlic, and rub the seasoning into the chicken.
- Place a large non-stick grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and once hot, drizzle in a touch of oil and add the chicken breasts into the pan (work in batches if necessary) to sear for about 3-4 minutes per side; once cooked through, remove from pan and slice thinly once cool enough to handle.
- Add the two cheeses into a bowl and toss together to combine.
- To assemble the chicken quesadillas, place one flour tortilla on a work surface in front of you; to one half of the tortilla add about ½ cup of the grated cheese mixture, then top with a generous amount of the sliced chicken, about ¼ cup of the black beans, and a sprinkle of the roasted red peppers, green onion and cilantro; add another ½ cup of the grated cheese over this, then fold the other half of the tortilla over this filling; continue with the remaining quesadillas, placing them onto a tray or large platter to hold.
- To cook the quesadillas, place a large skillet (cast-iron is my pick) over medium-high heat, and add in one (or even two) of the quesadilla semi-circles; cover with a lid, and cook on this first side for about 3-4 minutes, flipping the quesadillas once they're golden brown on the bottom; cook on the other side for a few minutes more until golden-brown and the cheese is gooey; repeat with the rest of the quesadillas, placing them onto a platter to hold. (You can even keep them in a “warm” oven to hold.)
- To serve, cut each quesadilla semi-circle into two or three large wedges, and serve with your favorite toppings!
Tips & Tidbits for my Chicken Quesadilla:
- Medium-large flour tortillas: My favorite brand of tortillas is Mission brand, because they're nice and soft and pliable. They come in a great medium-large size (roughly 10”) which makes chicken quesadilla recipe a breeze, but you can use your favorite brand of roughly that size.
- Pre-cooked chicken, or freshly grilled: If you can find pre-cooked or pre-grilled and sliced chicken at your market, then you can totally opt for that, or you could even use shredded rotisserie chicken for this recipe as well. I like to simply season and grill/sear off some chicken breasts (I do this ahead of time), then slice and have on hand to use.
- Jarred roasted red peppers for convenience: Roasted red peppers that come in a jar are super sweet and smoky, and very easy to use. Simply drain the amount needed and pat dry, then slice thinly and use!
- Make ahead for easy chicken quesadillas: If you'd like to make your preparation that much more streamlined, you can prep your ingredients a day or two ahead of time. Simply sear or grill and slice your chicken breasts (or slice/shred pre-cooked chicken you have on hand), slice some roasted red pepper, drain some black beans and have those ready, and have on hand your grated cheeses. The day you'd like to serve these, you can simply assemble the chicken quesadillas and cook them when ready.