by Olena

Chicken Quesadilla

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 10 votes

Flavor packed cheesy Chicken Quesadilla is baked, not fried, for a healthy alternative to a family favorite! Plus it only includes 5 ingredients and you can cook a large batch in the oven.

This chicken quesadilla recipe is perfect for feeding the entire family in one go! Just like vegetarian quesadillas, chicken burritos or ground beef tacos.

Chicken Quesadilla

Cheesy Baked Healthy Chicken Quesadillas

I’ve always loved tacos and finger food options like chicken tostadas, Instant Pot chicken tacos and now these chicken quesadillas. They are simple to make and can be prepared in just a matter of minutes then thrown in the oven for a quick meal, family gathering, game-day appetizer, or a finger-food snack later.

Traditional pan-fried quesadillas are fried in fat and glued together with copious amounts of cheese (and often lots of mayo too). But this isn’t needed! Drop the mayo, reduce the cheese, and swap out a pan filled with oil and/or butter with an oven sheet, and you can make healthy baked chicken quesadillas that are crisp and delicious but with a fraction of the calories and fat!

These baked chicken quesadillas are filled with the classics; tender chicken, flavorful bell peppers, and melty cheese – but with a healthier, oven-baked method that allows you to make up to 12 homemade quesadillas AT ONCE!

Chicken Quesadilla recipe served on a plate with pico de gallo and yogurt

As a busy mother, believe me when I say these healthy chicken quesadillas are great as a travel snack too. Stack them up in an aluminum tray, loosely covered (so they don’t become soggy), and grab some kitchen towels for your kid’s laps. That way, they can nosh on them in the car with no fear of mess (plus the kitchen towels and tray are reusable!).

This easy chicken quesadilla recipe is made even quicker and more effortless using leftover chicken and skipping the vegetable pre-sauté step entirely (it’s not needed as the oven will tenderize them perfectly!).

Best of all, these healthy chicken quesadillas are also super versatile. You can easily mix and match the seasonings, types of chicken, vegetables, and cheese used for different results every single time. Read below for several variation options!

Ingredients for Baked Chicken Quesadilla

  • Cooked chicken breast: I usually use chicken leftovers using one of these methods – Instant Pot frozen chicken, Instant Pot chicken breast, or baked chicken breast recipes.
  • Bell peppers: I like to use diced red and orange bell peppers as they are less ‘bitter’ than green peppers. However, feel free to use your choice of peppers.
  • Whole wheat flour tortillas: Using pliable, large tortillas are best and will provide a nice crunch. Low carb tortillas don’t tend to work as well when baked, and I avoid corn tortillas for same reason.
  • Shredded cheese: I usually use a white cheddar or Kerrygold Dubliner cheese from a block. Other popular options include Tex Mex, Colby Jack, and Monterey Jack (check FAQ below for more options).
  • Seasonings: I used a combination of cumin, salt and pepper.

And that’s it, these healthy chicken quesadillas contain just 5 ingredients, 7 if you include the salt and pepper!

chicken breast, bell pepper, tortillas, cheese

Optional Add-Ins and Variations

While these chicken and cheese quesadillas taste amazing with just the 5 ingredients mentioned above, there are several ways you can adapt this recipe to your needs.

  • Meat: You can easily switch up the protein in this recipe- especially If you’re using leftovers – ground beef, brisket, carnitas, etc.
  • Seasoning: You can experiment with different seasonings. Using a combination of the above (cumin and s & p) with chili powder and/or cayenne powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika makes for a delicious homemade quesadilla seasoning. You could also use homemade taco seasoning or fajita seasoning.
  • Spice: You could add finely chopped jalapeños or chilies into the chicken quesadillas or serve them with hot sauce.
  • Other Vegetables: Garlic, diced onion, corn, beans (and refried beans), mushrooms. Zucchini, avocado, and spinach can all be added to these baked chicken quesadillas. However, you may want to sauté them for a few minutes if using certain ingredients (particularly watery ones like zucchini and mushrooms).

How to Make Chicken Quesadillas

For the full ingredient quantities and recipe, there is a full recipe card below.

This easy recipe for chicken quesadillas requires just four simple steps – preparing the filling, combining it, assembling the quesadillas, and baking them. Let’s take a closer look, though.

  • Prepare the ingredients: First, chop or shred the cooked chicken and finely dice the peppers. When using pre-cooked chicken, there’s no need to use a skillet at all. However, if you are pan-frying your chicken from raw, you can also sauté the vegetables if preferred.
  • Combine the filling: In a large bowl, add the chicken, bell peppers, cumin, and salt & pepper, then mix well.
  • Assemble the chicken quesadillas: To do this, make sure to only fill one-half of the tortillas, so they can be folded over:
    • Sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp cheese.
    • Spread heaping 1/2 cup filling on top.
    • Sprinkle another 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese.
    • Fold the other half of the tortilla on top, pressing on it to make a half-moon shape. Then place on a baking sheet, 3-4 per sheet.
  • Bake the chicken quesadillas: In the oven for 25 minutes at 375F/190C (If you make a smaller batch, this time will likely be reduced), no flipping required. If you want slightly crispier results, spray the oven tray and top of the quesadillas with a little bit of cooking oil (just a light spray rather than completely brushing the tortilla should be more than enough). If doing so, flip them over half way.
  • Allow the quesadillas to rest: For just 2-3 minutes before cutting each one into 2-4 wedge pieces using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Make sure to only cut in one direction; otherwise, they tend to fall apart.

How to Serve Chicken Quesadilla

There are several ways to enjoy these chicken and cheese quesadillas. While they taste delicious alone as a finger-food snack, they can also be served with several sides. Some of my favorite options include:

Chicken Quesadilla on a plate

How to Make Ahead and Store

Make Ahead: The pepper and chicken filling can be prepared in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

Freeze: The unbaked chicken quesadillas can also be made ahead and frozen, ready to bake from frozen (25-30 minutes at 375F/190C or within a panini press). To freeze, place them on a baking sheet and freeze till solid, then wrap in plastic wrap and add to a freezer-safe bag/container for up to 3 months.

Also, check out my 10 healthy freezer meals for other simple make ahead ideas!

Storing:  Leftover homemade chicken quesadillas should be kept in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

To Reheat: If you want to bring back the tortilla’s crispiness, then place them back in the oven or within a skillet/panini press (no oil needed!) until warmed through and crispy on the outside.

How to Make Chicken for Quesadillas

I prefer using pre-cooked chicken breast leftovers (recipes linked in the ingredients section above) for a quick and simple option. However, you can also use diced and shredded chicken.

Diced Chicken: If cooking from raw, dice the chicken into small pieces and pan fry with a little oil and the seasonings until cooked through (usually just about 5 minutes). You can also add the vegetables to the pan to sauté if you want them even softer.

Shredded Chicken: Like this Instant Pot shredded chicken.

Can You Panfry It?

Yes, although baking is less effort and easier for large families, you can still cook this recipe within a skillet or panini press (possibly even a waffle maker). To keep it healthier, heat it ‘dry’ (with no oil or butter) or just a light spray of oil.

What Is the Best Cheese for Quesadillas?

This is entirely up to personal taste, but in short, any cheese that melts will work. I love to use a white cheddar or Kerrygold Dubliner (and avoid orange cheddar, which is more processed). You can also use cheese mixes. The cheese on the ‘outside’ will act as ‘glue’ to hold the chicken quesadilla together. Here a few suggestions:

  • Monterey Jack
  • Cheddar
  • Colby Jack
  • Oaxaca Cheese
  • Asadero
  • Jalapeño Jack
  • Mozzarella

It’s best to buy a block and shred it yourself as pre-shredded are often coated with anti-caking agents, which will prevent it from melting properly.

More Tips

  • It’s best to use cold fillings: Then you don’t have the issue of them ‘steaming’ in the oven and causing the tortilla to go soggy. If you plan on using newly cooked/heated ingredients, it may be best to allow them to cool so they can be added at room temp or chilled.
  • If you notice the tortillas starting to bend upwards while baking: Carefully flatten them back down with a spatula.
  • If you have any leftover filling, you can eat it as-is or save it for another time.

More Favorite Recipes

If you enjoyed this easy chicken quesadilla recipe, you might also like these alternative 45 quick and healthy dinner ideas.

Chicken Quesadillas on a plate with pico de gallo
Chicken Quesadilla

Chicken Quesadilla {Easy Baked Recipe}

Flavor packed cheesy Chicken Quesadilla is baked, not fried, for a healthy alternative to a family favorite! Plus it only includes 5 ingredients and you can cook a large batch in the oven.
5 from 10 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 quesadillas
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast diced
  • 3 bell peppers finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese that melts well shredded (Cheddar, Mozzarella)
  • 12 large 8″ whole wheat tortillas
  • Salsa guacamole, pico de gallo or yogurt, for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add chicken, bell peppers, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
    Chicken Quesadilla
  • Build each quesadilla: On a half of tortilla sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp cheese, spread heaping 1/2 cup filling and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese. Fold the other half of tortilla on top pressing on it somewhat gently-hard making a half moon shape. Place on a baking sheet.
    Chicken Quesadilla
  • Repeat and make 11 more quesadillas, arranging 3-4 quesadillas on a baking sheet. If you have any leftover filling – eat it.
    Chicken Quesadilla
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 1-2 minutes and cut each quesadilla in half using serrated or sharp knife.
    Chicken Quesadilla
  • Serve warm or cold with salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo or yogurt.
    Chicken Quesadilla

Notes

  • To cook chicken breast, I usually use Instant Pot frozen chicken, Instant Pot chicken breast or baked chicken breast recipes.
  • You can use any colour bell peppers. I like to mix green with red, yellow or orange because green bell pepper tastes a bit differently.
  • Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.
  • Make Ahead: Refrigerate filling mixture covered for up to 2 days, then make quesadillas.
  • Freeze: For each quesadilla, assemble and then wrap in plastic wrap as tightly as possible without compromising its shape. Lay flat in a gallon size Ziploc bag, squeeze as much air out as possible, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, bake from frozen at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Or alternatively cook in a panini press.
See recipe post for more Tips and FAQs.

Nutrition

Serving: 2quesadillas | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1175IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 2mg
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olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

19 comments on “Chicken Quesadilla

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  1. 5 stars
    Good recipe. My grandkids could just about live on these things.A tip I have learned to cut the quesadilla is to use a pizza cutter. Works so much better than a knife.

    1. The chicken won’t be cooked at that temperature at only 25 minutes. If you cook the raw chicken in the tortilla for longer or at a higher temperature, the tortillas will be overcooked. Best to use precooked chicken.

  2. 5 stars
    I’m not going to tell you how we used to make quesadillas in our house because you would be horrified. These are so much better! Quick and delicious, and MUCH healthier. Also, now that I’ve made them, it’s easy to change up the filling and make different varieties. Quesadillas are now a part of our regular dinner rotation!

    1. Mira! I am happy to hear my recipe is a go-to at your house! And you are right, you can definitely change up the fillings and have fun with it 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    love the variety of healthy fillings for these .. not a fan of fold overs so we use the rolled wrap .. still great taste

  4. 5 stars
    Random question about this … what if I shredded up a rotisserie chicken for this instead? Have you tried that before for your quesadillas? My husband doesn’t believe in Instant Pots (lol) so it would really save some time using an already made chicken 🙂
    Also, just wanted to say thanks for all of these delicious recipes! I have so many more we are going to try in the next few weeks!

    1. Hi Heather. Of course. Let your husband enjoy high in sodium rotisserie chicken. 🙂 Just kidding. That works, might have to use less cheese on top! Please let me know what other recipes you try. I appreciate the feedback!

  5. 5 stars
    First time trying this – SO easy and yes!! tasty too! Thank you ! Even my grandkids want to
    learn how to make these !

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