Grilled Chicken Quesadilla

Grilled Chicken Quesadilla

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Chill : 4 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
707 Calories
39g Fat
63g Carbs
28g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 707
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 50%
Saturated Fat 12g 62%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 1031mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 63g 23%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 28g
Vitamin C 9mg 43%
Calcium 363mg 28%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 541mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Quesadillas, humble folded tortillas with one or various fillings, are common offerings in Mexican restaurants all over the world and their recipe variations are as infinite as anything you put inside of a tortilla. In this recipe, we bring to your table a flavorful chicken quesadilla that features herb-marinated chicken tenders lying on top of tangy creamy cheese topped with grilled vegetables. Filling, nutritious, and tasty, they comprise a great weeknight meal, but also an easy appetizer for outdoor gatherings. The preparation and cooking is brief, but the chicken needs at least 4 hours in the marinade, so plan ahead to allow the chicken to absorb as much of the delicious flavors in the sauce as possible.

Behind this simple dish lies a complex story. Named by Unesco as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Mexican cuisine is as varied as the country is vast. Packed with fresh and aromatic ingredients, following local millenarian traditions, the dishes stemming from this wonderful and enjoyable fare are mouth-watering pieces of history on a plate. Yet, the humble quesadilla is surrounded by a lot of regional controversy.

If you know a little Spanish you'll know that queso translates into English as "cheese." Thus you'd assume that the dish's name originated from the fact that the basic filling is always, well, queso. However, that's not always the case, and versions without cheese are plentiful. And it all depends on the region in which you eat it and the local customs. A quesadilla is, in brief, a folded tortilla with any filling. Newer versions created in the United States are served as triangular sandwich-like bites made out of two tortillas with the beloved queso present at all times. Our version brings the best of both worlds: the Mexican tradition that believes the quesadilla needs queso and the American idea to cut them in triangles for easy eating. Can't get better than that.

Use leftover rotisserie chicken or roasted turkey if you have some and use the marinade preparation later as a herby table sauce to dip the quesadillas in. Other cheeses can be used, as long as they're melty, like full-fat mozzarella or Havarti, but shred them yourself, as already-shredded cheese is packed with anti-caking agents that prevent the cheese from melting properly.


  • 8 ounces chicken tenders

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch thick crosswise slices

  • 8 (6-inch) medium flour tortillas

  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For Serving:

  • Sour cream, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Grilled Chicken Quesadilla ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Place chicken tenders in shallow baking dish.

    Place chicken tenders in shallow baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Combine water, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Combine water, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and olive oil in a blender

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Pour marinade over chicken tenders, coating completely. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.

    Pour marinade over chicken tenders in the baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Preheat grill. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through, about 6 minutes.

    chicken on the grill

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Brush onion and eggplant with oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.

    onions and eggplant on a grill

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Wrap tortillas in foil and place on top rack of grill while you cook other ingredients.

    Wrap tortillas in foil and place on top of the grill

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Mix cheeses together in a bowl.

    cheese mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Remove chicken, vegetables, and tortillas from grill.

    chicken in a bowl, vegetables in bowls, tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Place about 1/4 cup of cheese on half the tortillas. Top with chicken, one slice of onion and one slice of eggplant.

    tortillas with cheese, chicken and vegetables on top

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Top with another tortilla, as if you are making a sandwich.

    quesadilla topped with tortillas

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Place on grill and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden brown.

    Grilled Chicken Quesadilla on the grill

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  13. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream.

    Grilled Chicken Quesadilla served with a side of sour cream

    The Spruce / Christine Ma