Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla Recipe With That Creamy Jalapeño Sauce!
Man, I love me a Taco Bell chicken quesadilla!
Mm mm. Just thinking about Taco Bell chicken quesadillas is getting my mouth watering. What's in the Taco Bell chicken quesadilla recipe that makes it taste so irresistible? It ain't love.
I think the secret is in the sauce—jalapeño sauce. As stated on tacobell.com, "The quesadilla is a simple flour tortilla with some grilled chicken, a hefty portion of melted three-cheese blend, creamy jalapeño sauce, and absolutely zero bells and whistles."
Oh, Taco Bell! You had me at, "...creamy jalapeño sauce!"
Open-minded folks need not feel confined to the meat-and-cheese simplicity of a Taco Bell chicken quesadilla, though. Contents of a non–Taco Bell quesadilla can vary wildly depending on taste. Quesadillans—people who eat quesadillas—often experiment with additions like bacon, onions, black beans, salsa, guacamole, jalapeño, spinach, zucchini, tofu, or whatever the heart desires. So feel free to throw this in if you dare. As for me, I'm a plain Jane, and I love the simple Taco Bell version. Who knew there are even dessert quesadillas that may have chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch in the middle?
Me? I'll stick with the plain ol' cheesy version.
An Alternative Sauce: Light Southwest Ranch
Since I might feel a tad guilty if I were to live out my dream of eating Taco Bell for dinner every night—that’s what my college days were for—I've come up with a pretty close at-home copycat Taco Bell chicken quesadilla recipe. I scoured the internet years ago for a recipe, and there was only one at the time on allrecipes.com. It had some weird ingredients and only fed two people, so I adapted it significantly to fit my family’s tastes and size.
Before I adapted this recipe, I used to use a store-bought sauce. If you're looking for a quick sauce to use that tastes similar to a Taco Bell chicken quesadilla, try Fred Meyer's Light Southwest Ranch. It's not quite the same thing, but it's delicious nonetheless.
I love using chicken thighs in my quesadillas because it's such a tender meat, it's so easy to make, and it's dirt cheap. Stock up your freezer whenever you find them under 99 cents per pound. Then you'll be good-to-go when quesadilla-making time comes around. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge for 1-2 nights beforehand. To cook, throw them in the slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. I usually cook 8 thighs for 5 hours on low, then use 4-5 thighs for quesadillas. I save the remaining thighs for salad toppings the next night.
New at-home quesadillans might need to buy a few ingredients they don't traditionally have in the pantry or fridge. A jar of Great Value jalapeños costs $1.50 at Walmart. I use the juice from the jar for my chicken quesadillas and the jalapenos for nachos or sandwiches. You can also pick up other brands on Amazon, but they often come in bulk sizes. Feel free to freeze extra!
- 8 tortillas
- 2 cups cooked and cut-up chicken thighs or breasts
- 2 cups Mexican-style shredded cheese
For the creamy jalapeño sauce:
- 2/3 cup light mayo or sour cream, regular is fine
- 2 tablespoons jalapeño juice (add more for an extra kick)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- As mentioned above, I like to cook 4-5 chicken thighs in slow cooker for 5 hours on low, and then strip the meat with my fingers to get tender chicken for my quesadillas. You can also cook a few boneless chicken breasts in a buttered pan over medium heat and chop them up, or simply use leftover rotisserie chicken picked from the bone.
- For the creamy jalapeno sauce: Combine the last five ingredients in a small bowl and set aside (and try not to gulp it down like a milkshake).
- Spray a skillet with non-stick spray if needed and preheat to low-medium heat (I use a 4 out of 10). Lay a tortilla in skillet and cover with 1/2 cup of cheese and 1/2 cup chicken.
- Take a new tortilla and spread 3 tablespoons of sauce on one side. Lay this side down on the chicken and cheese tortilla in the skillet, and press with a spatula. Let cook for about 1 minute, or until the bottom tortilla is light golden. Flip over and cook the other side until golden.
- Remove from pan with spatula and let it cool for a moment on a plate. Use pizza roller to cut that bad boy into wedges; first cut the circle in half one way, then turn and cut in half again the other way. Each quesadilla circle yields 4 wedges.