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 1/2″ 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!
Cheesy Picante Chicken Quesadillas
- 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.
|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.|