Grilled Quesadillas With Turkey and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Grilled quesadilla with turkey and sundried tomato pesto

The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Quesadillas are a great household staple for dinner. Not only are they simple to pull together in a hurry, but it's one of our favorite ways to use up all kinds of leftovers, from taco meat to cooked chicken and vegetables, just add those bits and pieces of cheese lying around in the fridge and voila! 

These quesadillas were born from some leftover pesto that we made to toss with pasta, some leftover corn tortillas, and some leftover browned turkey from making tacos. You can use this as a template for creating your own leftover-inspired quesadillas. This, plus a salad, is a great lunch or dinner.


  • For the Pesto:
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the Quesadillas:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup cheese (shredded, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend)
  • 1/2 cup browned ground turkey or beef (or leftover cooked taco meat)
  • Optional: salsa and sour cream (to serve)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for grilled quesadilla
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  2. Place the sun dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the salt and pepper and the cup olive oil and puree until it forms a paste. 

    Place sundried tomatoes in blender
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka 
  3. Heat a large heavy skillet, such as cast iron, over medium-high heat and add 1/2 teaspoon of the oil.

    Oil in skillet
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  4. Spread some pesto over the one side of the corn tortillas (about 1/2 teaspoon on each) and place a tortilla pesto-side up in the pan.

    Spread pesto over tortilla
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each of the pesto sides, then sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the browned meat on top of that.

    Sprinkle cheese on pesto
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  6. Place the other tortilla on top. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottom of the quesadilla is nicely browned and a bit crisp, then use a wide spatula to slip the quesadilla and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the other side, until the bottom is also nicely browned. 

    Place other tortilla on top
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  7. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into quarters. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling (again you will have leftover pesto to use in different ways). 

    Transfer to cutting board
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka
  8. Serve hot with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbystka


  • Make sure the heat is fairly high so that the corn tortillas get nicely browned and a bit crisp.