Quesadillas

It was my mother who first made a quesadilla in our home about the time I was in high school. Of course, she was the one who did the cooking, but there had never been Mexican food prepared in our home before. She cooked food from a lot of international cuisines, like Greece, Russia, France, India, Ethiopia, and China, but somehow had never been exposed to Mexican. Which is funny to me, because she really loves everything spicy. I think she eats more jalapenos than I do, and I love jalapenos!

The way we all discovered Mexican food was at a restaurant in Park City, Utah. It was there where we fell in love with cheesy quesadillas, as well as other Mexican and Southwestern specialties.

And being my mother, she went home and made them herself. So this is recipe I’m presenting for quesadillas is how I learned how to make them, from copying my mother’s technique. I honestly think they’re better than in any restaurant – browned, crispy, with cheesy wonderful goodness inside. Whatever ingredients you choose will work, I promise you, as long as there’s enough cheese to hold everything together!

And that’s the fun part. Today I’m simply using chicken, purple onion, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, cilantro, and lots of Monterey jack cheese. Plus tortillas, of course. But you can add any meat, any kind of cheese, and any accessory ingredients.

On two different occasions, back when I catered, I made quesadillas to order at parties. I had 2 skillets going, and used smaller tortillas, since one larger one can easily fill a person to the brim! The guests got to pick their ingredients. I even had chopped mango, which I love to mix with spicy beef and cilantro in quesadillas. Avocados work well, and are a good meat substitute, if necessary. It’s a really fun thing to do, even at your own party. For a smaller group, of course.

In any case, today I present to you my way of making quesadillas. This will hopefully inspire you to try your own, using your favorite ingredients!

Quesadillas

Olive oil
Red bell pepper, diced
Poblano pepper, diced
Purple onion, diced
Tortillas, I used a multi-grain variety
Grilled chicken, I used one I’d marinated in a lime-garlic marinade, then grilled, sliced thinly
Butter
Grated cheese, I used Monterey jack
Chopped cilantro
Hot sauce or salsa for serving

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, then add all of the peppers and onion. Saute just until soft and set aside.

Get out another skillet and place it over medium-high heat. Have all of the ingredients nearby; the quesadilla cooking process goes fairly quickly.

First begin by adding about 1 tablespoon of butter to the hot skillet. It will brown, but that’s good. Place the tortilla in the skillet.

Working quickly, place half of the cheese allotted per quesadilla on top of the tortilla, then place the chicken slices over the top.

Quickly add the chopped cilantro and the remaining cheese. Top with another tortilla. Press down on it, then reduce the heat to practically nothing, and place a lid on the skillet.

After a few minutes, flip over the quesadilla. That’s why it’s important to lower the heat, because you need the cheese to be melted to keep the two tortillas sticking together. Otherwise you won’t be able to successfully flip it.

Raise the heat just a little bit to get some browning on the other side, but leave the lid on to heat everything through on the inside. Remove the quesadilla from the skillet and let it rest for about 5 minutes on a cutting board. It will cut better when you rest it.

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Continue with remaining tortillas if you’re making more.
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I am a huge fan of salsa, but for these quesadillas, I used green and red hot sauces that were given to me by Richard, from REM Cooks, when I met him in Dallas. He has recipes on his blog for both of these hot sauces, so if you have an abundance of chile peppers coming up in your garden, check them out.

Quesadillas are best hot or warm, when they’re really crispy. The butter really does the trick in this recipe, but making adjustments with the flames help as well. If you have an electric stove – I’m sorry, I can’t help you. You probably have to be a little more careful!

By Published On: June 20th, 201445 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

45 Comments

  1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces June 20, 2014 at 8:06 AM - Reply

    I’ve always loved the idea of eating quesadillas (never made them myself) but when I haver ordered them in restaurants I’ve always been disappointed. Your quesadillas definitely do not look disappointing at all and I can’t wait to try making them. The flipping bit looks tricky… Have a great weekend!

    • chef mimi June 20, 2014 at 8:39 AM - Reply

      That’s why I turn down the heat and put the lid on. The cheese melts then, and flipping the quesadillas is a piece of cake because everything sticks together!!!

  2. ladyredspecs June 20, 2014 at 8:23 AM - Reply

    I’m new to quesadilla, they’ve just become a lunchtime fave. I love those last few photos!

  3. A Famished Foodie June 20, 2014 at 8:34 AM - Reply

    These quesadillas look fantastic! Too often nowadays I feel like quesadillas (namely in restaurants) are greasy bread and just a little bit of cheese, but these seem like a great option for home.

    • chef mimi June 20, 2014 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      I never order them out. I’ve spoiled myself, I guess, since it’s so much fun to add good ingredients of your own choosing, and cook them properly. And they should be cheesy!!!

  4. lapetitecasserole June 20, 2014 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    So yummy!

  5. Elaine @ foodbod June 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM - Reply

    I make quesadillas quite often for my boys and they are always a huge success!! Yours look fab :)

    • chef mimi June 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM - Reply

      I used to make them for my kids, especially when friends were over! Kids love them, but so do I! Thanks!!!

  6. Ginger June 20, 2014 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    They are looking delicious! I think I might have most of the ingredients here, so that’s dinner sorted ;-)

    • chef mimi June 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM - Reply

      I could definitely eat these for dinner!!!

  7. Bread Love And Dreams June 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM - Reply

    Love quesadillas, love your recipe ;)

  8. sallybr June 20, 2014 at 2:22 PM - Reply

    Your photos are mouthwatering… :-) We make quesadillas quite often, my last “improvised” version had kale and a white bean puree. Turned out delicious, but my photos were pathetic. I bagged the blog post… now you show off with magazine quality pictures of quesadillas, and I feel I should make those again just for the fun of it…

    :-)

    • chef mimi June 21, 2014 at 9:20 AM - Reply

      I don’t know about magazine quality… but thanks. Your version sounds amazing!!!

  9. anotherfoodieblogger June 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    I love homemade quesadillas! And yours looks mouthwatering!

    • chef mimi June 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM - Reply

      Thank you! I really like them crispy on the outside, and cheesy gooey on the inside!

  10. apuginthekitchen June 21, 2014 at 8:34 AM - Reply

    Oh is this making me hungry, I LOVE quesadilla, and really love the different fillings and make to order idea for catering. That mango, beef and cilantro sounds too good!!

    • chef mimi June 21, 2014 at 9:18 AM - Reply

      It’s so much fun to mix and match ingredients!!!

  11. Conor Bofin June 21, 2014 at 10:49 AM - Reply

    Mimi, they look soooooooo tasty. The standard of quesadilla generally available here in Ireland is pretty low and I tend to steer clear.

    • chef mimi June 21, 2014 at 5:06 PM - Reply

      I don’t blame you! Mexican food just isn’t the same in the UK!!!

      • Conor Bofin June 21, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        Or Ireland!

      • chef mimi June 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        OOOOOPS! Sorry, I always get that mixed up! It’s a terrible thing to mix up – especially when I’ve been to Ireland and Northern Ireland…

      • Conor Bofin June 24, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        Not a bother Mimi. I really am thicker skinned than that. It is such a small little place and we are proud of it.

      • chef mimi June 24, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        As you should be!!!

  12. Amanda June 21, 2014 at 10:37 PM - Reply

    These look so good. I live poblanos and I really like how you meet the tortilla cook well. I am almost anyways in the moid for quesadillas.

  13. Our Growing Paynes June 22, 2014 at 9:46 AM - Reply

    Great recipe. I love Quesadillas, so versatile and quick to make.

  14. My French Heaven June 22, 2014 at 1:08 PM - Reply

    I love love love quesadillas! I need to find a way to make my own here. As you know, FRANCE is not great for foreign foods! It is virtually impossible to find Mexican food here… These look absolutely delicious and I would give just about anything to taste them for real :-)

    • chef mimi June 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM - Reply

      They would work with brie!!!

      • My French Heaven June 22, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        Everything works with Brie😉😉

  15. eliotthecat June 22, 2014 at 2:57 PM - Reply

    You just can’t beat a quesadilla for a versatile lunch (or breakfast or dinner). It sounds like your mom was a bit cutting edge,

    • chef mimi June 23, 2014 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      She really was. She had just never come across Mexican cuisine for some reason!

  16. Bam's Kitchen June 23, 2014 at 1:42 AM - Reply

    My boys love quesadillas and yes they love jalapenos too. We make them quite frequently at home even though my mom rarely made them when I was growing up, just like you. I love how you can really put anything inside them and let the cheese provide its binding magic. The flipping part still can be the tricky part. Take Care, BAM

    • chef mimi June 23, 2014 at 8:03 AM - Reply

      That’s why I really believe in adjusting burners, and using lids. Once the cheese is melted, they flip easily cause everything sticks together!!!

  17. StefanGourmet June 23, 2014 at 5:08 PM - Reply

    We love quesedillas! Well, we love anything that has cheese in it ;-) I’ve never made them with butter before, that sounds interesting! The simplest version I make is when I don’t have a kitchen available (e.g. camping, boating) but just a grill. Then I stuff two tortillas with grated cheese and store-bought chunky salsa, and then simply grill them on both sides. (No meat included as it is a side dish to what we’re grilling.) I should actually do a post on them, because they are so good ;-)

    • chef mimi June 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM - Reply

      Quesadillas really are fabulous – especially with good cheese!

  18. mmmarzipan June 23, 2014 at 5:27 PM - Reply

    They look amazing! And can I just add, your knife skills are awesome!!! <3

  19. dianeskitchentable June 26, 2014 at 1:22 PM - Reply

    My mother was always a basic meat & potatoes sort of cook and I never had the chance to taste any Mexican food until many years after leaving home. Of course in Massachusetts, it took a while for us to get any Mexican style restaurants and most were very disappointing. This definitely looks mouth watering and now that I’ve ventured into some Mexican cooking, this is going to be on my list very soon.

    • chef mimi June 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM - Reply

      Oh good! The ingredients are so fabulous!!!

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