A chicken quesadilla can easily become your go-to meal for the whole family, as children and adults alike enjoy them. The quesadilla—originally a Mexican dish involving a tortilla filled with cheese, folded in half and then grilled or fried—has become a very popular and adaptable snack or meal in the United States. A chicken quesadilla is a tortilla folded over cheese, chicken, salsa and then grilled or fried. Simple! Being a Mexican dish, the flavors are full and hot rather than mild, but it's a versatile dish that can be amended to your taste preferences. Here you will see the steps for creating the basic chicken quesadilla.
For truly delicious quesadillas, make sure your onions (and any additional vegetables you may choose to use) are fresh. Choose flavors according to your taste preferences. For example, if you do not like spicy flavors, use a mild salsa instead. If you love spice, go ahead and add a chili pepper when cooking the onions! Any combination of cheese will work for this recipe, although Colby, Cheddar and Monterey are popular choices. In this recipe, the chicken and tortilla are fried in a skillet, although you may choose to grill, bake, or sauté the chicken and grill or bake the quesadillas.
Remember, if you are cooking your own chicken, make sure the meat is fresh and cooked all the way through to avoid salmonella. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Easy instructions are below, but you may also buy a pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket.
If you or the person you're making the dish for is lactose intolerant, you will have to use a dairy-substitute cheese and sour cream. Similarly, gluten-free tortillas can be used in place of flour tortillas if anyone has a gluten allergy. The preparation time will be about 10 minutes, and the cooking time will run about 25 minutes. This recipe will provide five servings.
For sides & garnish: (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. You can skip the next two steps if you have bought a pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket.
Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Heating the pan and oil only takes about 30-60 seconds; you can tell it's hot if the oil sizzles when you splash a drop of water into the pan.
Fry the chicken strips until they are no longer pink – about 8 minutes – moving the strips around the pan frequently. Even if you have a meat thermometer and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, cut a strip of chicken in half to see if the middle is pink after 7-8 minutes. The meat in the middle should be completely white.
Leaving the heat on, place the chicken strips onto the plate, and add a bit of oil to the skillet if needed. Add the onions and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until they are soft and translucent, stirring around the pan constantly. Then add the chicken back to the skillet, mix in the salsa (add more if you wish), and stir. Turn off heat.
Fill one half of the tortilla with the chicken mixture and top generously with grated cheese. Fold the tortilla in half. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, chicken filling, and cheese.
In the same skillet as before, heat 1 ½ teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium heat and place in as many tortillas as will fit comfortably. Heat for 2-3 minutes, then turn tortilla over and repeat for another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts. The tortilla should become crispier and slightly browned in places, but not burnt; remove tortilla once cheese has melted.
Place the cooked quesadillas on a baking sheet and put in the oven to keep warm while the rest are being cooked (add a little bit more vegetable oil to the skillet if needed when cooking the rest of the tortillas). When all quesadillas are cooked, turn the oven off and cut each quesadilla into fours. Serve with sides of sour cream, extra salsa, and some lime wedges!
Single Servings and Alternative Recipes
If you want to make this dish just for yourself, divide the ingredients by 5 (e.g. 2 oz. chicken, 1 tortilla etc.). To make 10 servings, simply double the recipe (e.g. 1 pound of chicken, 10 tortillas etc.) and expect the overall prep & cooking time to increase.
Feel free to play around with spices. Perhaps marinate the chicken in lime juice and cayenne pepper before you cook it, or add a diced green or red pepper to the onions. You could even add fresh spinach or fresh/canned sweet corn to the tortilla along with the chicken and cheese filling. To make the quesadilla vegetarian, you can make plain cheese quesadillas or add canned black beans to the onion and cheese filling.
If you want to make a quesadilla from scratch, look for recipes for guacamole and salsa. Both are very easy dishes on their own, but obviously add more overall time to the meal if you're making them all at the same time.