Why you’ll love this recipe:
This seriously easy chicken quesadilla recipe is on the table in no time, thanks to ready-to-eat ingredients like leftover cooked chicken and canned corn.
The chicken and corn are smothered with melty pepperjack cheese, and the tortilla is toasted in a hot, buttery pan until golden brown. These chicken quesadillas are so unbelievably tasty that I guarantee your family will eat them faster than you can make them!
- Flavor – Scallions and cilantro add fresh, herby, Mexican-inspired flavor.
- Texture – Ooey, gooey cheese combined with a crunchy tortilla makes every bite super satisfying.
- Customizable – Feel free to add other popular quesadilla fillings such as diced tomatoes, sautéed peppers, and avocado.
I love it when last night’s leftovers can also be tonight’s quesadilla fillings! If you don’t have leftover chicken, whip up a batch of my instant pot frozen chicken breast first.
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Leftover cooked chicken – I prefer to use leftover boneless, skinless chicken breast. However, leftover boneless chicken thighs or even rotisserie chicken would also work. You could even mix and match different proteins you have on hand like steak or shrimp!
- Pepper jack cheese – You can’t have quesadillas without cheese! This acts as a “glue” holding all the ingredients together and adds zesty flavor from the jalapeño and habanero peppers. You can substitute pepper jack with cheddar, but you’ll want to add some extra seasoning to the chicken mixture, such as a dash of taco seasoning or fajita seasoning.
- Corn kernels – I like canned corn for the time-saving convenience. Fresh corn from the cob or frozen corn could be used as well. Refer to corn 101 for tips on cooking corn.
- Scallions – Use these to add a mild oniony flavor. Trim the ends, and use both the green and white parts of the scallion.
- Cilantro – This peppery herb adds a bright taste and authentic Mexican flavor to the quesadillas.
- Flour tortillas – I recommend 10” flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas. This is because flour tortillas are softer and more pliable. Corn tortillas are delicate and on the dryer side, meaning they tend to snap and break, causing your quesadillas to fall apart.
- Butter – Use this to oil the skillet and create a golden brown exterior on the tortilla shells. Extra virgin olive oil would also work.
How to make this quesadilla recipe:
1. Make the filling
- Combine the chicken, cheese, corn, scallions, and cilantro in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
2. Make the quasadillas
- Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat, lightly oiled with butter.
- Place two empty, folded tortillas (folded into half circles) side-by-side in the hot skillet, holding them open at the top with your free hand.
- Spread ¼ of the chicken and cheese mixture evenly across the bottom of each tortilla shell. Lower the top half of each shell over the filling mixture.
- Cook the quesadillas for about two minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is golden brown and crispy.
- Flip each quesadilla (starting from the folded side), and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Add more butter to the skillet when flipping the quesadillas if needed.
- Transfer the cooked quesadillas onto a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken mixture.
- Cut the cooked quesadillas into wedges, and serve them with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole, and enjoy!
As it is, this simple chicken quesadilla recipe comes together in just 20 minutes. Sometimes the kids need us to have dinner on the table even faster though, right?
- Purchase pre-shredded cheese. This will shave off some prep time and eliminate at least one dirty dish.
- Choose canned corn, not fresh corn. If saving time is your priority, canned corn is your best option. All you have to do is open the can, drain the liquid, and it’s ready to use!
- Use store-bought toppings. Store-bought salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole can be just as delicious as homemade!
- Make the chicken mixture in advance. The chicken, cheese, corn, scallions, and cilantro can be chopped, combined, and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to cook dinner.
- Cook the entire chicken quesadilla recipe in advance. Surprisingly, quesadillas are delicious when they’re cold. They’re an excellent lunchbox option when you aren’t in the mood for a sandwich!
- Store leftover chicken quesadillas in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two days.
- The best way to reheat leftover quesadillas is in a hot skillet over low heat until the shell is crispy and the middle is warmed through. Alternatively, you could use the microwave, you just won’t get that crunchy bite.
Side Dish Ideas:
Do you know how to make the BEST chicken quesadilla recipe even better? Add some irresistible side dishes!
Chicken Quesadilla FAQs:
The quesadilla will seal shut with melted cheese. Leave about a ½-inch border around the sides of the quesadilla with no filling in it. This will leave enough room for the cheese to expand and act as glue, but it won’t ooze out.
Oil or butter and a hot skillet will result in a perfectly crisp and golden-brown quesadilla. I like to use butter, but olive oil or avocado oil would also work. Just don’t be tempted to use too much oil. Otherwise, your tortilla shell might get soggy!
This easy chicken quesadilla recipe is really versatile. So, feel free to experiment. Try combinations that include ground beef, ground turkey, shrimp, all kinds of veggies, jalapeños, and different types of cheese.
Easy Chicken Quesadilla Recipe
- 2 cups leftover cooked chicken cut into bite-size pieces Note 1
- 7 oz Pepper Jack cheese grated Note 2
- ½ cup corn kernels fresh or canned
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 10-inch flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoons butter
Optional sides for serving:
- Sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole
- In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cheese, corn, scallions and cilantro.2 cups leftover cooked chicken, 7 oz Pepper Jack cheese, ½ cup corn kernels, 4 scallions, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium high heat. Lightly sweep butter all over the bottom of the skillet. (TIP: Use a cold stick of butter.)2 tablespoons butter
- Place 2 tortillas side by side, creating half circles with each tortilla, holding the other halves in the middle.4 10-inch flour tortillas
- On one half of each tortilla, add ¼ of the chicken mixture and spread over half of a tortilla, leaving about ½-inch border at edge. Then fold other half of the tortilla over the filling. Do the same thing on the other tortilla.
- Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is golden brown and crispy. Slide a spatula under the quesadilla from the folded side and flip. If needed, you can butter the skillet again when you lift the quesadilla before flipping. Cook for another minute or two, or until nice and golden.
- Transfer the quesadillas onto a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken mixture.
- Cut into wedges and serve with your favorite sides, like salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole, etc.Sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole
– Once cooled, store leftover chicken quesadilla in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
– Reheat leftovers in a skillet over low heat.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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