Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas are quick and kid-friendly—great for weeknights! The perfect way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken (or even Thanksgiving turkey!).
Sometimes, you need a meal in the holster that's fast AND that the kids will reliably snarf down without any complaints. Picante Chicken Quesadillas fit that bill splendidly. They're ooey-gooey-melty and come together crazy-fast with leftover cooked chicken (or leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!).
Components of Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas
The "Picante" in Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas comes from pico de gallo. This fresh salsa is mixed in with the chicken and cheese. I like to make extra pico de gallo because it's a great, easy snack to have on hand to eat with tortilla chips. Our oldest son is addicted to the stuff. You can make it several days in advance and keep it in the fridge. (OR, you can use your favorite chunky salsa. I won't tell.)
Just the other day, I made these Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas using leftover breast meat from a rotisserie chicken. I chopped the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces (you can also shred it).
For cheese, I like to use a mix of sharp cheddar, monterrey jack, and cotija cheese.
Finally, large, burrito-style flour tortillas (~10 inches) are perfect for quesadilla-building. I either butter the tortillas or brush them with olive oil for griddling to get that perfect level of crispiness (see below for more).
Assembling Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas
To ensure that the cheese melts throughout the entire quesadilla and holds everything together, I mix all of the ingredients for the filling (rather than layering cheese, filling, and more cheese).
One tortilla or two?
You can go one of two ways with assembling the Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas. You can make the quesadillas using my hubster's preferred method. This entails spreading the filling over one tortilla (leaving ½" on all sides) and then covering it with a second tortilla, as in the picture below.
To me, this method is a bit scary because of the flipping part. If I'm making the quesadillas, I only put filling on half of the tortilla and fold the other half over the top.
The hubster swears by butter for griddling the quesadillas. I have to agree: butter makes for a wonderfully crispy quesadilla. However, I usually go a less decadent route by using a paper towel to spread olive oil over the surface of the tortilla. This still produces perfectly acceptable crispiness.
As each side is crisping up, I lid the skillet so that the filling heats through by the time both sides of the tortillas are golden and crispy. To serve, I cut the quesadillas into roughly equal wedges and arrange them on a plate. Sometimes we eat them right off the cutting board.
I set out my condiments buffet style. Our favorites are sour cream or Mexican crema, hot sauce, extra pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and sliced scallions. Of course, all of these can be prepped in advance. Bonus!
I've made larger batches of Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas for easy football party fare. In this case, I cut the quesadilla wedges into skinnier pieces for serving.
And that's it! A crazy-fast meal (or appetizer) that's sure to be a hit with the kids. I hope your fam loves it as much as mine does!
P.S. If you're looking for more leftovers recipes like this, have a look at Using up Leftovers!
I'm linking my Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas recipe up with #CookBlogShare. Check it out for some great recipes and reads!
Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas
Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas are quick and kid-friendly, which makes them great for weeknights! The perfect way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken (or even Thanksgiving turkey!).
- 2 cups cooked meat,, cut into bite-size pieces or shredded
- 1 cup pico de gallo,, drained, or your favorite chunky salsa
- ½ cup cilantro,, coarsely chopped (optional)
- ¾ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup shredded Cotija cheese
- 4 9–10 inch (burrito-sized) flour tortillas
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
- extra Pico de Gallo
- hot sauce
- chopped cilantro
- thinly sliced jalapeño
- thinly sliced scallions
- Place a large (16") cast-iron skillet over medium heat. In a large bowl, mix the pico de gallo (or salsa), cooked meat, cilantro (if using), and cheeses. Spread 1 cup of the mixture onto one half of a flour tortilla, spreading evenly and leaving ½" inch of space between the filling and the outer edge of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and press down evenly. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Pour a small amount (~1 tsp.) of olive oil onto a bunched up paper towel; lightly brush the olive oil onto the top of each quesadilla, adding more oil to the towel as needed.
- Place two quesadillas in the skillet, oiled side down. Apply olive oil (as before) to the other side of the quesadillas. Cook, covered, until golden-brown on the bottom, 2-4 minutes. Carefully flip the quesadillas and repeat on the other side. Remove the quesadillas to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining quesadillas.
- Cut each quesadilla into three equal triangles and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
|Pico de Gallo: A zippy, spicy Pico de Gallo recipe that is perfect for football parties and potlucks. Serve alongside a bowl of sturdy tortilla chips.|
I love the look of this, it's my kinda comfort food!
Thank you, Emily! You and me both!
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
I love quesadillas but I'm guilty of overstuffing them! Love your tip about mixing first as I feel it's like a conveyor belt trying to get everything on and cooked before starting on the next one.
Thanks, Amanda! I didn't even think about that, but you're right! Mixing everything simplifies the assembly considerably!
Lisa | Tiny Kitchen Capers says
Holy cow! So much cheese!!! Love quesadillas and these look crazy good!
Thanks, Lisa! They really ARE.
Oh YES for cheesy goodness like this anytime!! I'm having a few friends over for the weekend and this just comes across as the perfect way to snack and chat all weekend!! Thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you, Mahy! I hope your crowd enjoys them!
Jacqueline Meldrum says
I always forget about quesadillas, but they are so simple to make and everyone loves them. I must make them again soon.
Thanks, Jacqueline! It's always such a relief to have this easy meal just a few minutes away.
I love quesadillas! This recipe looks incredible and I love that they're so easy to make. I'm not ashamed, I like simple, haha! Great post, thanks!
Thanks, Kristine! I'm a big fan of easy too!
Helen of Fuss Free Flavours says
Sounds like a really tasty meal, and so easy. Perfect for a mid-week meal after a busy day. A great alternative to pizza. The Pico de Gallo sounds delicious.
Thanks, Helen! Yes, and yes!
I love adding the pico, and having extra to dip! quesadillas are a favorite around here...
Thanks, Kristina! In my house too!
Monika Dabrowski says
These look so yummy, I know my own kids would devour them, plus they are so uncomplicated to make it's the perfect recipe for kids and parents alike! Thank you for bringing it to #CookBlogShare:) Stumbled!¬
Thanks so much, Monika! Yes, the hubster and I snarf these down just about as quickly as the kids!
Robert Erman says
I like Cheese Picante. Thanks for sharing about this recipes..Very delicious..