They’re dynamite, Napoleon: Gosh-darned chicken quesadillas

May 14, 2007


It’s that time of year, and he’s been at the grill again. As far as I can tell, there has been only one instance when the husband inadvertantly left that gas-powered fire hazard on — and he beat me to the chore of turning it off, glaring at me menacingly as he did so. (Is it wrong to be a nag about an item that can burn your house down? I think not.)

You might think, then, that I would discourage firing up the barbie for an item like chicken quesadillas, which can be safely made indoors and without the risk of sirens. Well, think again.

These quesadillas rock because of the sooty flames licking their crisp skins. They rock because of the sear marks on the juicy chicken inside. They rock because they are crunchy and fresh and… well, grilled.

As you know, I am a huge fan of eating and of my husband’s cooking. Plus, I love any items that are chock-full of fresh ingredients — here, it’s salsa and avocado. (Yes, please!) Therefore, I yield to the siren song of these delicious chicken quesadillas and throw caution to the wind. When the husband volunteers to make these chicken quesadillas, I turn on the grill.

(And, of course, make sure it’s turned off again, too.)


Click here to download the recipe for Chicken Quesadillas.

So, OK, not the most original recipe. But this is one that I’ve used a number of times in recent weeks with excellent success. You can serve these quesadillas as a meal or an appetizer. And let’s be honest: It’s starting to get hot out and it’s grilling season… So “Knock it off Napoleon, and make yourself a dang Ques-a-dilla!” (For those who have used their lives more efficiently than I have, that quote is from Napoleon Dynamite, a movie that I’ve grown to appreciate.)

Now that I’ve convinced you to make yourself a quesadilla, here are the keys to it. First, keep everything fresh. I know the temptation in life is to take that jar of salsa from New York City and mix it in, but it’s not worth it. Everything is coming into season now and you’ll be able to taste it in every bite.

Second, the wet rub is king in this recipe. In the last post I talked about a dry rub on the ribs. (I love dry rubs, too.) But this is a dish you want to turn out on the fly, like when you are exhausted by a 2-month-old and don’t want to order out for the third night in a row. So the wet rub — here very spicy — gives you a lot of kick, without taking hours to create flavors.

Finally, the grill is magic. Even my gas-powered grill can make all the difference in flavors. You can toast the quesadillas or broil them for likely the same level of doneness, but the grill marks and flavors brought on by sitting on those grates will make you crave this dish. If you can, grill. You will be rewarded.



Chicken Quesadilla
Yield: 24 servings if hors doerves, 6 for main course
Time: 40 min

1 dozen 4-inch flour tortillas
2 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
2 cups cheddar, Monterey jack or similar cheese
1 avocado (diced)

Wet Rub:
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
juice of 1 lime

1 medium onion (diced)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
2 jalapeños (finely diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 lime (juice)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1. This recipe uses direct heat while cooking over a grill. If using a gas grill, set to medium high heat. If using charcoal, over the coals will work.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the wet rub. Pat dry the chicken breasts and dredge them through the rub. Both sides should be well coated.

3. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 min per side with the grill lid on or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-170F. Remove from the heat and let rest for at least 5 min, preferably longer. Once cooled, cut the breasts into half-inch or smaller cubes. Do not turn off the grill or snuff the flames once cooking is complete. You will be returning to the grill later.

4. While the chicken is grilling, mix together the salsa in a large bowl. Be careful with the jalapenos — if you are not inclined to spicy food, modify. Take a third of the salsa and set aside to serve along with the finished product. Add the diced avocado and cubed chicken to the remaining two-thirds of the salsa. At this point, if you are preparing for a party, you can stop. Simply cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It’s important that you press the plastic wrap down against the mix, to prevent the avocado from oxidizing and turning brown, as apples do.

6. If your tortillas are refrigerated, remove from fridge and allow to warm to room temperature or until easily pliable. Once ready, take about two tablespoons of your chicken mix, and place it on one side of the tortilla. Add a healthy pinch of cheese and then fold the tortilla over in half. If necessary, press along the seam to keep the tortilla closed.

7. Time for the finishing touches. Place the filled tortillas on the grill. Toast them on both sides for about 2 min per side or until the tortilla becomes crisp and the edges begin to darken. Once cooked, remove from heat and let rest for at 2 minutes to allow the cheese to solidify slightly. Slice in half and serve with the remaining salsa, plus other condiments of choice such as guacamole and sour cream.



  1. Oh my goodness – those don’t look like any quesadillas that I’ve ever eaten before. I’m *seriously* reconsidering the menu for dinner tonight now.

  2. These look really delicious… I really love good mexican food and with the avocado… I’m there!

  3. Menu reconsidered – and I’m really not always *this* easy to persuade! My husband *loved* the marinade on the chicken and the grilled tortillas were such a nice change from the norm – thanks for a wonderful dinner 🙂

  4. I did quesadillas on the grill one time and never looked back. The flavor of the flames made all the difference. Yours look, as always, like they should be immortalized in a food museum. Great work!

  5. This is a perfect summer dish, I’m firing up the grill.

  6. Food fit for a king-looks “soooodelicious!”

  7. Still great dish!
    What a wonderful blog.

  8. My mouth is watering! I love quesadillas on the grill. Even the most humble ingredients taste better with a bit of smoky char on the outside.

  9. Wow. I never thought to use the grill for quesadillas, and now it just seems so obvious! I’ll have to try them pronto!

  10. Delish! I did grilled chicken this week too. Check out my latest entry. My photos aren’t as good as yours, but the food was as good;)

  11. If you had any leftovers, did you take them out to Tina, the big fat lard?

    Or did Uncle Rico eat them up?

  12. Yum! We made quesadillas similar to this all the time. So easy and quick! I’ve never made them folded over before though-we always make a large round one with 2 tortillas.

  13. I made these last night & they were sooo good! It was my first time making quesadillas & also using jalapeños… I was scared but they were perfect with just the right amount of heat! Thanks for a great recipe… Usually I’m really apprehensive about trying anything not on Allrecipes.com because I can read reviews others have posted but I’m so glad I tried these, thanks again!

  14. […] You can find the recipe here. […]

  15. You take such amazing photographs to illustrate your recipes with. I can only assume that the two of you work together to make this happen…unless of course you have a prehensile 3rd arm tucked away some where. Anyway, these are simply beautiful. I want to pick each image off the page and have a great big bite.

  16. […] Meatballs or the 2nd half of the Chicken & Broccoli Braid ∞ Weekend ∞ Grilled Chicken Quesadilla’s from My Husband Cooks. This is the best chicken quesadilla recipe I’ve ever had! Thankfully […]

  17. […] was hungry and not pot-committed to my original dinner plans. Their pictures were gorgeous so I scrapped my dinner in favor of […]

  18. […] I’ll be making dinner since we’re taking turns, but I’m planning on making the Chicken Quesadillas (from My Husband Cooks) that I never got to last week. They’re sure to be a crowd pleaser! […]

  19. Just made this these awesome quesadillas along with grilled corn on the cob for 5. It was a great success. Excellent recipe and very flavorful!


    I’m putting this one up on my blog! (will pingback of course 🙂 )

    Loof forward to trying other recipes from your blog.

    Best, Itay.

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