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These Chicken Quesadillas made with leftover rotisserie chicken are one of my go-to, easy dinner ideas for busy weeknights! When I want to make something that my whole family will eat but I don’t have much time or energy left for any REAL cooking, it’s this chicken quesadilla recipe to the rescue. The edges are nice and crispy with loads of melted cheese inside!
I’m pretty sure the first time I ever had a quesadilla was the summer before 4th grade. My family had moved from Nebraska to California and we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, which was still a novelty for us back then (it was the 90’s and Nebraska didn’t have a ton of Mexican restaurants, okay?). I distinctly remember my brother ordering a quesadilla off the menu, only he pronounced it “kwes-uh-dill-uh”. (It’s “cay-suh-dee-yuh”, just to be clear.)
I don’t know what the server thought of us, but he kindly gave us our first lesson in Spanish pronunciation. Another time at another Mexican restaurant, my dad avoided mispronouncing the name of a menu item by ordering “the numero cinco” from the menu. But when his food was delivered to him, it was definitely not what he thought he had ordered. That’s when we realized that while he could count to ten in Spanish, he didn’t actually know which number was which.
Regardless of my family’s ill-fated attempts at ordering foods with foreign names, it’s been love since first cheesy bite with quesadillas. I actually have another recipe on here for grilled summer vegetable quesadillas that are another favorite around here, but they take a little more time and effort than these easy chicken quesadillas, which are a last-minute, what-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-feed-my-family-tonight sort of recipe.
It’s amazing how something as simple as a flour tortilla filled with cheese can be so satisfying. But when you add a little protein in the form of rotisserie chicken and beans, boost the flavor with a little chopped green onion and cilantro, then pan fry with a little butter in a skillet until crispy outside and melted and gooey inside, a chicken quesadilla really is a thing of perfection.
But let’s be clear, when it comes to really good quesadillas, even though they are simple, there are a few pointers that will help you take them to the next level.
What’s the best cheese for quesadillas?
The best cheese for quesadillas is one that melts well and has good flavor. I find that using more than one variety of cheese makes for the best quesadillas.
Montery Jack, colby jack, and mozzarella are good choices because they melt really well, but by themselves they are a little boring in a quesadilla. Cheddar has good flavor, but it’s too greasy on it’s own. Pepper Jack is a personal favorite but it’s too spicy for my kids. Typically, I like to go halvsies with mozzarella and cheddar since those two cheese are what I almost always have in the fridge.
But if I’m thinking about it at the store and want really good cheese for quesadillas, I go with queso asadero or oaxaca cheese, which are both more authentic choices for quesadilla cheese and have both good flavor and melting properties.
What kind of tortillas do you use for quesadillas?
This is really personal preference since you can use either flour tortillas or corn tortillas for quesadillas. There are also lots of options for whole wheat tortillas or gluten-free choices, if you want.
We like flour tortillas best, although we do corn tortillas every now and then for a change.
What can you put in a quesadilla?
I’m sharing a recipe for chicken quesadillas today, but you could easily switch out the protein or throw in other veggies or beans instead. The point is making a heartier-than-your-basic-cheese-and-tortilla quesadilla so it’s substantial enough to serve for dinner. Here are some of the other add-ins I’ve used in quesadillas before:
- chopped green or white onions
- diced onions
- sauteed peppers
- grilled chicken
- shredded beef
- pulled pork
- chopped fresh cilantro
- beans (pinto or black beans are our favorites)
- Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice
- shredded lettuce (it gets a little wilty but my favorite taqueria in San Jose includes thinly shredded iceberg lettuce in their vegetarian quesadillas and I love them)
How to Make Chicken Quesadillas
- Prep all filling ingredients: Shred the cheese, shred the chicken, drain and rinse the beans so they are dry, chop green onions and cilantro, prep any other filling ingredients, etc.
- Heat pan or griddle over medium heat: Heat a little oil or butter in the pan or on the griddle. Oil actually makes for crisper edges and helps keep the quesadillas from sticking to the pan. Butter has wonderful flavor, but the quesadilla won’t be quite as crisped on the outside. Honestly, both are good choices.
- Assemble the quesadillas: Work quickly to sprinkle about 1/2 cup of cheese over half of each tortilla, then add shredded chicken, a couple tablespoons of beans, and a generous sprinkle of chopped green onions and cilantro. Fold the tortilla on top of the fillings to create a half circle, then cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip the quesadillas and cook on the other side until golden brown, the cheese is melted, and the fillings are hot. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and fillings.
- Slice into wedges: Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut each quesadilla into 2-3 wedges, then serve with sour cream, the BEST guacamole ever, and pico de gallo or my easy Mexican restaurant-style salsa.
More Easy Mexican Recipes You’ll Love
- Sheet Pan Ultimate Nachos with Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Ranch Chicken
- Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad
- Best Ground Beef Taco Meat
- 4-6 large flour tortillas
- 2 cups shredded cheese (a combination of mozzarella, cheddar, monterey jack, oaxaca, or asadero)
- 1 cup black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups leftover shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)
- 1/3 cup chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter
- Heat oil or melt butter in a large pan or griddle over medium heat.
- Working quickly, add 1-2 tortillas to the pan and sprinkle about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese over each tortilla. Add 1/3-1/2 cup of shredded chicken, along with a couple of tablespoons of beans, and a generous sprinkle of chopped green onions and cilantro.
- Fold each tortilla in half on top of the fillings, then cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown, the cheese is melted, and the fillings are hot.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and filling ingredients.
- Slice into wedges and serve with sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo or salsa.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 790 Total Fat: 45g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 25g Cholesterol: 114mg Sodium: 796mg Carbohydrates: 54g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 40g
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