My favorite item at Taco Bell is hands down the chicken quesadilla. When I gave up fast food for my New Year's resolution, it was by far the thing I missed the most. I decided I had to make a recipe for a copycat Taco Bell quesadilla. The best part? It's such an easy dinner that's even more delicious when it's made from scratch.
This recipe is broken into 3 parts - the chicken, the sauce and assembly. It's an incredibly simple process that you can play around with based on what you have available. You can also use any meat to make Taco Bell quesadillas, but chicken is my favorite! Bonus - this recipe is part of my meal planning guide.
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Ingredients and Substitutions
Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla Sauce - The recipe to make your own creamy quesadilla sauce is in the recipe card, but if you're feeling lazy you can buy a chipotle mayo for a close substitute. It won't be identical but it will still be absolutely delicious.
Pickled Jalapeños - The quesadilla sauce calls for pickled jalapenos and I always recommend making your own as it's cheap and they taste way better. This is my favorite recipe for pickled jalapenos from Gimme Delicious. If you're on a time crunch, you can purchase canned pickled jalapenos in most supermarkets.
Cheeses - In my recipe I call for a Tex Mex blend of cheese because it's easy, saves time and can be purchased for cheap at Costco. If you prefer to buy and shred your own cheese (I usually do), I'd recommend a 50/50 blend of medium or old cheddar as well as Monterey jack cheese in a ratio of about 1 cup total of shredded cheeses.
Chicken - This is where you have the most freedom with this recipe. You can use any leftover chicken you have as long as it's not seasoned with competing flavors. Rotisserie chicken can even work! If you're making the chicken specifically for this recipe instead of using leftover chicken, I recommend seasoning with a simple salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
FAQs and Other Tips
Where do I get pickled jalapenos? You can buy canned pickled jalapenos almost anywhere - but I like to make my own. I use this quick pickled jalapeno recipe from Gimme Delicious.
I don't want to make the sauce, what else can I use? Honestly this sauce is really easy and quick to make and I recommend you do. However, if you don't want to, you could use a chipotle mayo in a pinch.
Do I need a griddle pan to make a copycat Taco Bell chicken quesadilla? Definitely not. When I'm too lazy to drag out the griddler, I use a nonstick pan. If you have a griddler though, I do recommend it. I use and older model of this one here. I like it because it has a flat grill and contact grill and I've purchased a waffle pan, too.
Can I make this vegetarian? If you replace the chicken with vegan chicken breasts you're set! Otherwise I still love this just as a plain cheese quesadilla or with refried beans.
I don't like cheese slices.. Can I omit them? Of course! Personally though, I also don't like cheese slices but find they absolutely make this recipe true to the original. We all know Taco Bell is using processed ingredients. Making these Taco Bell chicken quesadillas without the American Cheese just feels like something is missing.
What kind of tortilla should I use? Taco Bell uses flour tortillas which is what this recipe calls for. You're welcome to use corn tortillas if that's what you have. If you want to cut back on calories you can use a low carb wrap though both of these will change the taste slightly.
Are Taco Bell chicken quesadillas healthy? They certainly won't win any award for their nutrition content, but they certainly aren't the worst option on the menu, Taco Bell chicken quesadilla calories clock in at about 520 calories per serving at the restaurant, but homemade ones may vary slightly depending on the brand and versions of ingredients you use.
Tips to Perfect the Recipe
How to reheat Taco Bell chicken quesadillas? If you make these in bulk, my favorite way to reheat these is in the air fryer! Place the quesadilla in the air fryer at 375 degrees for 3-5 minutes until it's heated through and crispy.
If you don't have any leftover chicken, it's easy to make your own. Since buying an air fryer I use it for literally everything and my favorite way to cook chicken is in the air fryer for 15-20 minutes from frozen at 400 degrees. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken breast on the stovetop over medium heat until it's browned and cooked through to 165 degrees.
Do you love copycat recipes? Check out our other top copycat recipes:
- Roy Choi's French Onion Soup
- Subway Mayonnaise
- Taylor Farms Dill Pickle Salad
- Subway Italian Herb and Cheese Bread
Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla
- Griddle Pan
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos diced
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno juice
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt to taste
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked about 16 ounces
- 1 cup tex mex cheese shredded
- 2 cheese slices
- 4 tablespoons quesadilla sauce
- 4 tortillas
- If using homemade pickled jalapenos, cut the jalapeno slices into very small pieces. Set aside. Measure out all other ingredients.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce until well mixed. It's ready to use right away, but for the best flavor, allow it to sit overnight.
- If your chicken is raw, cook it on a pan until it reaches 165 degrees and is slightly browned. The seasonings aren't important - I just use salt and pepper but you're welcome to use taco seasoning, smoked paprika or any desired spices.
- Take a tortilla and spread one half of it with about 1 tablespoon of quesadilla sauce. Top it with shredded cheese, then chicken, then ½ a cheese slice - torn up into small pieces. Fold the tortilla evenly in half.
- Heat a nonstick pan or a griddler over medium heat. Spray the cooking surface with a bit of cooking spray or a drizzle of oil.
- Cook the tortilla on both sides until slightly browned and until all the cheese has melted. Cut into 3 triangles and serve immediately. If desired, serve with sour cream and/or salsa.