I had my first chicken quesadilla in a chain restaurant with a group of friends. I had worked late and been the last to arrive at the restaurant. I missed the ordering of the apps and was so hungry I decided to try it. Understand, I was not one to just grab what everyone else was having. I was a plain girl who usually had chicken on a plate with potatoes. I was unsure that I was okay with mashing up all that chicken and stuffing it in a pita with cheese. My mind was changed that night. Who thought this up? This is awesome.
I didn’t try to recreate the recipe in my kitchen right away, I had to taste a few different options and see which ones spoke to me. I made the first one in my kitchen for my boys when they were about 10 and 12 years old. I used a bright red quesadilla maker and it worked wonderfully. We had chicken, melted cheese and hot tortillas right here at home and we loved them! The quesadilla maker cost about thirty dollars at that time and it was worth every penny. Chicken Quesadillas became a regular in our house because at the time I was a single mom, worked full time and it was quick, easy and nutritious.
Making them like the Restaurant
The one thing that we all agreed on about the chicken quesadillas was that they didn’t taste quite exactly like the ones we had in the restaurants. Our chicken was cubed and it tended to fall out the sides of the tortillas. Even with the cheese melted in with the chicken the tortilla never truly flattened out and the edges were the only crispy part. They tasted good, but some of the things that you notice about the way things are made, the things that make them not just a meal but a meal that you look forward to, things like crispy tortillas and shredded chicken and melty cheese all the way through the chicken quesadilla, those things were missing. I just couldn’t put my finger on it right away.
I decided to experiment with the ingredients a bit and see how it went. I added cream cheese to the chicken and mixed it together with some spices and more cheddar cheese on top. While the chicken quesadilla didn’t fall apart, it wasn’t exactly the flavor we were looking for and it only solved the problem of the chicken falling out of the sides.
After many tries with my boys giving me feedback the whole way, I finally came up with the ultimate, tastes exactly the way we thought it should, chicken quesadilla. What’s the secret? – Shredded chicken. Shredded chicken makes a huge difference in the entire meal. It tastes awesome, it mixes well with any cheese or add ins that you want and it keeps the tortilla much flatter. It just tastes better.
The Secret to Shredded Chicken Success
Now the first thing I was thinking was there is no way that I am going to make these a lot because shredding chicken is no easy task. Well, I found a way to make shredded chicken easy; you can check it out in my post “Shredded Chicken… is there an easier way?” Because there is an easier way!
Next I had to figure out how to make the chicken quesadillas and keep them crispy, I mean that is half the joy of the meal, crispy tortillas. I decided to bake them in the oven instead of in the quesadilla maker and it made a world of difference! I use my large sheet pan, which is my favorite, and I spray it down with some Avocado Oil and when I have the tortillas filled and ready to slide in the oven, I spray the top of the tortillas with the Avocado Oil too, and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees. Avocado oil has a higher smoke point and I tend to use it more than olive oil for things that are roasting in the oven or are going to be at a high heat. What you end up with is crispy, cheesy, shredded chicken quesadillas in about 20 minutes.
The last thing you need is something fabulous to dip them in. I personally like sour cream and salsa on mine but you can also just eat them plain, they are delicious! I will sometimes add buffalo sauce or any kind of olive I have in the house, we especially like the green olives in with the chicken and cheese, but tomatoes and onions also work well.
Pro-Tip…they are great leftover for lunches. I eat them cold. You heard it here first. Let me know if you try them, I know you won’t be sorry.
Chicken Quesadillas in the Oven
- 8 Tortillas I used 8 inch whole wheat
- 2 cups chicken shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 3 tbsp sliced green olives optional
- avocado oil spray
- salt and pepper to taste
- spray large sheetpan with cooking spray. Put half of the tortillas on the sheetpan ( use two sheetpans if needed to lay tortillas flat)Top the tortillas with 1/4 each chicken, cheese and olives if usingPlace the other tortilla over each and spray with avocado oilBake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes turning tortillas once during cook time.Cut in 1/4's with a pizza cutter and serve hot with additional toppings of your choice.Serve with a side of greens
- Recommended Toppings: Salsa,Sour Cream,Hot Sauce (Buffalo Style),Additional Cheese