This Chicken Quesadilla is the perfect Taco Bell copycat! Tender chicken, melty cheese, and creamy jalapeno sauce in a buttery and crisp tortilla–Perfect weeknight meal!
The BEST Chicken Quesadilla
Fast food can often be disappointing, but the delicious flavor of Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla always gets stuck in my mind! They go for the “no frills” policy–It’s a simple recipe with chicken, cheese, and a surprising creamy jalapeno sauce. The sauce adds just a little kick; it’s not so spicy that picky eaters can’t handle it, but it’s just spiced enough to give Taco Bell a distinct advantage over other quesadillas.
Even though I LOVE the flavor of their dish, I’m always left frustrated with the lack of filling! Just once I’d love to receive a product that looks similar to the packed, drool-worthy items in the commercials. Instead of continuing to pay for thin, mostly-empty quesadillas, I figured out how to make Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla at home… And now you can, too!
This quesadilla is easy, kid friendly, and filled to the brim with tender chicken, melty cheese, and tasty sauce. It can be made ahead of time, frozen, and customized for your own preferences, too. Swap out the chicken with Marinated Flank Steak, Fajita Shrimp, or tasty pulled pork for carnitas!
Chicken Quesadilla Ingredients
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need for this recipe. For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card.
- Large, burrito-size tortilla – Nutrition values were calculated based on using a La Banderita Carb Counter large 10″ tortilla. You could use a flavored or gluten free tortilla if you would prefer.
- Creamy Jalapeno Sauce – This mixture uses sour cream, mayonnaise, jarred pickled jalapenos, and seasoning for a super flavorful Taco Bell copycat! It’s not super spicy, but it does add a huge dose of flavor and a little heat at the back of your throat.
- Shredded cheese – I used a 3-cheese Mexican blend to get a similar flavor to Taco Bell. You could use a cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or mozzarella if you would prefer.
- Cooked, sliced chicken – Any cooked, sliced chicken will work, even a simple store-bought rotisserie. However, I like to use chicken cooked with taco seasoning (1 pound with 1 packet or this homemade taco seasoning). I like to cover chicken breasts with the seasoning and then grill and slice them, but you could cook yours in the slow cooker, Instant Pot, or air fryer if you prefer.
- Salted butter – I love the buttery flavor that comes from using butter, but you could use oil (avocado, olive, etc.) or mayonnaise if you prefer. The extra salt in the butter helps bring out more flavor in the quesadilla, but you can use unsalted butter if you prefer.
How to Make a Chicken Quesadilla like Taco Bell
This recipe is super simple! I’ve documented each part of this process, so just follow this step-by-step guide.
Spread the jalapeno sauce evenly over the tortilla, leaving a little space around the edge so that it doesn’t spill out during cooking. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce, then place the chicken on half the tortilla in a single layer.
Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat, then add the prepared tortilla. Allow it to cook for 5-6 minutes. Once it’s golden brown, flip the meatless side over to cover the chicken. Flip and cook until both sides are perfectly toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
Quesadillas are best served immediately while nice and warm. We love topping ours with extra jalapeno sauce and some crumbled cotija cheese, but green onions, salsa, or queso are also fantastic garnishes.
Quesadillas can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container up to 4 days. It works well wrapped in foil–You can just pop it directly into the oven or air fryer when you’re ready to reheat.
Quesadillas can easily be frozen! Allow the quesadilla to cool completely, then double wrap it in freezer-safe plastic wrap, followed by two layers of aluminum foil. To further protect from freezer burn, place in a freezer bag. They’re best eaten within 3 months for the ideal taste and texture. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
You can reheat quesadillas in the oven, in a covered skillet, in the air fryer, or in the microwave.
- For multiple quesadillas, reheat them on a baking sheet (covered) in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the tortillas to crisp up for another 3-5 minutes.
- If you love a super crispy quesadilla, reheat in the air fryer at 350 for 3-5 minutes.
- For an almost-fresh quesadilla, add a small pat of butter to a skillet on medium, place the quesadilla in, cover with a lid and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
- Reheat quesadillas in the microwave at 50% for 1 minute increments until warmed throughout. You’ll lose the crispiness of the tortilla, but it is the quickest method.
What to Serve with Quesadillas
We always love to have dips for our quesadillas! This Smoked Queso works great for that, as well as this Roasted Tomatillo and Jalapeno Salsa. These Fajita Veggies are amazing on the side–The flavor complements the quesadilla while adding a healthy, savory side. We love having some tortilla chips with this Homemade Pineapple Salsa, too. For dessert, these Cinnamon Twists are 1000% times better than the stale fried version from Taco Bell!
Some tips for preparing for making this recipe
- Let the tortilla cook flat on the skillet; don’t fold one side over until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is getting nicely golden brown. This helps avoid the filling falling out.
- Make sure the jalapeno sauce has chilled for at least an hour. The longer it’s been sitting, the more flavor it will add. Don’t water it down at all–You want it to be a thick spread that won’t make the tortilla soggy.
- While the quesadilla is cooking, frequently move it around the pan. This ensures that every bite gets nice a crisp, despite any cold or hot spots your skillet or stove might have.
If you love this quesadilla, you’ll love these ideas:
- Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla – This is incredibly easy and SUPER flavorful! Add a sprinkle of blue cheese for a tangy garnish.
- Turkey Bacon Ranch Quesadilla – Perfect use of leftover turkey after the holidays! This recipe is also amazing with leftover rotisserie chicken instead of the turkey.
- Keto Quesadilla – Swap out the tortilla with a cheese wrap! This is super low carb, quick, and an absolute fave for cheese lovers.
- Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadilla – Super filling and definitely hits the spot when you’re craving a burger!
- Breakfast Quesadilla – Eggs, ham, and cheese are always the perfect companions… This is even more true inside a crispy, buttery tortilla!
Chicken Quesadilla FAQs
While Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla has “no frills,” it does use a creamy jalapeno sauce! This adds just a hint of spice. Luckily, we’ve recreated that sauce so you can make an out-of-this-world Taco Bell inspired quesadilla at home.
Absolutely! The air fryer is great for getting the filling nice and melty while the tortilla crisps up perfectly. Here’s a post about Air Fryer Quesadillas, but it’s so simple. Pro tip: Use more butter!
Yes, quesadillas freeze and reheat beautifully! I’ve included freezer instructions in the notes above–Just remember to eat within 3 months for the best flavor and texture.
Chicken Quesadilla (Taco Bell Copycat!)
- 1 large, burrito-sized flour tortilla low carb or gluten free tortillas work as well
- 1 tablespoon butter unsalted
- 2 tablespoons Creamy Jalapeno Sauce recipe in Notes
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese 3 Cheese Mexican blend
- 2/3 cooked, sliced chicken see notes for suggestions
- Spread the jalapeno sauce evenly over the tortilla, leaving a little space around the edge so that it doesn’t spill out during cooking. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce, then place the chicken on half the tortilla in a single layer.
- Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat, then add the prepared tortilla. Allow it to cook for 5-6 minutes. Once it’s golden brown, flip the meatless side over to cover the chicken. Flip and cook until both sides are perfectly toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2-2 tablespoon minced pickled jalapenos
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno juice (from the jalapeno jar)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (increase if you love it spicy) Taco chicken: Meal prep chicken by cooking it with a taco seasoning packet (or this homemade taco seasoning recipe). You can cook it in the slow cooker, air fryer, on the grill, or in the Instant Pot. Chicken thighs, breasts, or a whole chicken will work fine.