Quesadillas have always been a great improvised meal or snack option. Got a few tortillas lying around, and maybe a half-full bag of shredded cheese? You can whip up some quesadillas in the microwave in about two minutes.
But quesadillas can be a full meal you can be proud to serve to your family or company. And the best thing is that it doesn’t take all that much effort as your barebones microwave quesadillas.
Sure, you’re going to need a few extra ingredients and some prep time, and you’ll be cooking your quesadilla on the stovetop rather than nuking it. But these quesadillas will blow just about any others you’ve had away.
One of the great things about quesadillas is that they’re so customizable. For that reason, this recipe will periodically discuss some of your options outside of what is being recommended here.
If you’re making this for the first time, stick with the recipe. But if you have different preferences or you’re looking to experiment, feel free to take some of the other suggestions.
This recipe is going to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They give the quesadillas a hearty, meaty taste but just about every non-vegetarian will eat them.
If you prefer a bit more flavor, substitute chicken thighs.
And really, you don’t have to stick with chicken at all. Turkey can be a fine substitute. Beef, whether ground beef or strips of steak, works just as well.
If you or someone you’re serving for is vegetarian or vegan, portabella mushrooms can be substituted to make quesadillas that are just as rich and flavorful as most meat-based options.
For now, though, we’ll stick with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
If you’re not all that experienced with using spices, feel free to buy a packet of taco seasoning to use with this recipe.
However, if you like to play around with different spice profiles, you can very easily make your own mix to use with these quesadillas. Here’s a taco seasoning mix that works very well with these quesadillas:
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoons cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried onion
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare these quesadillas:
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 10 flour tortillas
- 2 cups of Monterrey Jack cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer for quesadillas)
- 1 white onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, either from a packet or homemade
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 5 tablespoons of butter
Salsa for topping:
- 1 pound tomatoes
- 1 cup white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preparing the Quesadillas
To begin, you’ll want to chop up all the ingredients which need chopping or dicing.
For the chicken, trim any fat you’d like to remove. Take the green and red peppers and the white onion designated for the quesadillas and cut them into slices or strips.
We’ll cover making the salsa separately for those who want to add it – for now, you can set those ingredients aside.
Take a pan or skillet and heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Note that we’re using vegetable oil because of its smoke point. Using it over olive oil allows for a higher cooking temperature without the oil burning.
Once the skillet is heated, place the chicken breasts in and season them with the taco seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the chicken until it’s done, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and dice it up into cubes.
Add the last tablespoon of vegetable oil to the now-empty skillet, keeping high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until the vegetables soften and the onions begin to become translucent about three to four minutes.
Remove the cooked veggies from the skillet and set them aside.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium. Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter into the skillet. Now, lay one tortilla into the skillet.
Build your quesadilla by placing cheese, chicken, and vegetables on top of the tortilla, then laying a second tortilla on top of the first, with the cheese, chicken, and veggies forming the filling. Portion your ingredients to make 5 quesadillas.
When the bottom tortilla has become golden in color, carefully turn the quesadilla over, and add another half tablespoon of butter.
Once the other side of the quesadilla is golden brown, this quesadilla is done.
It’s usually a good idea to heat the oven to 220 degrees. You can place finished quesadillas in the oven while you complete the entire batch.
These quesadillas are ready to serve. But if you’d like to incorporate salsa as a topper, here are the instructions for that.
Making the Salsa
If you want your salsa to be smooth and textureless, the recipe is incredibly easy.
Simply put all the ingredients listed except for the cilantro into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then, add the cilantro and pulse the blender to dice the cilantro, and serve.
If you want a salsa with a bit more texture, here are those instructions:
Finely dice the garlic and the chipotle pepper. You want to turn these into as close to a paste as you can. If you have a mortar and pestle or molcajete, feel free to use those.
Finely chop the onion. The pieces should be about 1/8th inch square.
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Your tomato pieces should be at least double the size of the onion.
Roughly chop the cilantro.
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir them up. This salsa has a bit more crunch and texture to it and can be spooned onto the quesadillas.
Whether you make the quesadillas with or without the salsa, they’ll provide a hearty and delicious meal that will soon become a favorite in your household.