spicy chicken + caramelized onion quesadillas

by Amy on 7 February 2012

if you read my post on what i made for the first month of my one-new-dinner-a-week challenge, you may have seen that the recipe most requested by my readers was the spicy chicken + caramelized onion quesadillas. i’m not surprised by this, as these were seriously the most delicious quesadillas i’ve ever had. i’m more than happy to share the recipe + hope y’all love ’em as much as we did!

why are they so delicious? first, the shredded chicken is wonderfully moist, tender , + packed full of flavor, thanks to the well-seasoned broth that it is cooked in. then, the caramelized onion, garlic + jalapeno mixture is deliciously savory + complex, with just a hint of heat + spice that works perfectly against the flavor of the chicken. add to that a healthy portion of melty, delicious cheese + some warm (ideally homemade) tortillas + you pretty much have the tastiest quesadilla imaginable.

one thing i love about quesadillas is how customizable they are. if you want your quesadillas a bit heavier on one ingredient or another, feel free to adapt the recipe to perfectly personalize ’em for you. we added black beans into some of the quesadillas, which turned out deliciously. you could also add in diced tomatoes, a bit of cooked spanish rice, some salsa, or any other flavor that sounds good to you. so, next time you’re looking for a easy, incredibly yummy dinner or appetizer, give these quesadillas a try. i promise that you will not be disappointed!

spicy chicken + caramelized onion quesadillas

makes 4 quesadillas, adapted from food.com


3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, quartered AND
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
kosher salt + fresh black pepper, to taste
8 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
optional garnishes/toppings: salsa, sour cream +/or guacamole


in a medium saucepan, bring oregano, bay leaf, chicken broth, + quartered onion to a boil.

add chicken breasts to liquid, reduce heat to medium-low + simmer for about 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

meanwhile, heat a medium skillet or pan over medium-low heat. add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan, then add the 1 sliced onion. cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it is caramelized, about 20 minutes. add the chopped jalapenos + garlic to the pan in the last 5 minutes of cooking. set aside.

when chicken is cooked through, remove from cooking liquid with a slotted spoon + place into a large bowl. cover, + allow it to rest until it is cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. reserve the cooking liquid.

when chicken is cool enough to handle, shred chicken in the large bowl with two forks. add the chili powder, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, + 1/8 cup of the cooking liquid to the shredded chicken, + mix thoroughly. season with salt + pepper to taste.

preheat a warming oven to about 200 degrees.

heat a large heavy-bottom skillet or pan to medium-high heat. when the pan is hot, place one full tortilla in the pan. top the tortilla with 1/4 of the chicken mixture, 1/4 of the caramelized onion/jalapeno mixture, + roughly 1/2 cup of the monterey jack cheese. top with another full tortilla. cook the quesadilla about 5-6 minutes, flipping once, until the cheese is melted + the tortilla is golden.

transfer the completed quesadilla(s) to a baking sheet in the warming oven while you cook the rest of the quesadillas. when all of the quesadillas are cooked, remove them from the warming oven, cut them into triangles with a pizza cutter, + serve immediately, topping with salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole, if you like.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julie @ Table for Two February 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

amy! this looks so good. I’m like literally staring at that chicken just oozing out of the quesadilla. I’m such a huge fan of quesadillas and the flavors within this one sound absolutely divine. I will be making this soon — I have huge cravings for mexican all the time!

2 amy February 7, 2012 at 8:25 am

the chicken was soooo good, too. i ate a frightening amount of it straight out of the bowl before making the quesadillas – it’s so full of delicious flavor. i hope these turn out amazing for you when you make ’em!

3 Cassie February 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

I still need to try making your homemade tortillas…especially for this quesadilla. My husband eats quesadillas like they are going out of style, he would love this!

4 amy February 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

my husband loves quesadillas, too, + was thrilled with these, so they’re husband-approved. =) they’d still be tasty with store-bought quesadillas, but the homemade ones add a little something extra – you should definitely give the homemade tortillas a try, especially now that you have your fabulous new kitchen!

5 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl February 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

You know my love of Mexican food…and these look seriously good! And what a great way to use the homemade tortillas–yum! Hmm, now I’m wondering if I have time to make these for dinner tonight! =)

6 amy February 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

i thought of you when i made these — i know how much you love mexican food! =) if not for dinner tonight, you should definitely give ’em a try soon – i think you’ll love ’em!

7 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

wow these look so good!!

8 amy February 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

thanks so much, alison!

9 Ally Garner February 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

YES!! I was one of those people dying for this recipe. I love the idea to add black beans and spanish rice is a must. Thank you so much for posting this recipe sweet Amy – cannot wait to make this for supper!

10 amy February 7, 2012 at 9:32 am

the ones that we added the black beans into were awesome! we ate ’em so quickly that i didn’t get time to photograph that version. =) i did serve some spanish rice on the side, but thought afterwards that they would be tasty with the rice right in the quesadilla. can’t wait to hear how you + jeff like ’em!

11 Kelly February 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

They do look absolutely mouthwatering!

12 amy February 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

thanks so much, kelly! they definitely turned out deliciously. =)

13 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee February 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

YUM!! Love the idea that you cook the chicken in a well seasoned broth. It just adds so much flavor. thank you for sharing this delicious recipe.

14 amy February 7, 2012 at 10:05 am

this was the first time i made the chicken this way – normally i’d just buy a rotisserie chicken + season the meat from that. i have to say, cooking it this way, in the seasoned broth, imparts sooo much flavor – so much more than just using a rotisserie chicken + seasoning it afterwards. it’s so wonderfully flavorful + savory!

15 Caroline @ chocolate & carrots February 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

Holy crap, Amy, these look amazing! I could go for one right. now. Yum!!!! 😀

16 amy February 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

they turned out soooo tasty, caroline! hope that you love ’em if you give ’em a try!

17 Renee February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

yum yum yum nom nom nom – I tried to reach in and grab the plate but the screen got in the way. Yet another delicious recipe by the fearless homemaker!!

18 amy February 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

awww, thanks renee! i wish there was a way i could send these quesadillas to you through the internet! until then, i’ll have to wait until the next time i’m driving through georgia + can drop some off with you. =)

19 Jess February 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Oh YUM! I am loving this new challenge of yours! I can’t wait to hear about what other new foods you will be making! And thank you so much for your sweet comment! Sometimes Tuesdays can be worse than Mondays!!!

20 amy February 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm

thanks so much, jess! i’ve only been planning the one-new-dinner-a-week a few days before i actually make it each week, so i’m looking forward to seeing what other new meals i’ll be making, too! =) can’t wait to share them with you + everyone else!

21 kristen @ notsodomesticated February 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Yum!! I love recipes with shredded chicken b/c the chicken holds all the delicious flavor you add to it! I wonder if you could do this recipe in a slow cooker?

22 amy February 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

hey kristen, i think you could definitely do this in a slow cooker, although i’m a slow cooker novice so i’m not exactly sure how you’d do it. sorry i can’t be of more help in that department! if you try it in the slow cooker, let me know how it goes – i’m sure my other readers would love to know, too!

23 Adam Jessy February 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I’m one of them who are looking for these homemade tortillas. :) Thanks to you for sharing with us. I would love to give you hug for this one.

24 amy February 8, 2012 at 7:51 am

awww, you’re so very welcome! hope you try them + they turn out great for you!

25 Jessica @ Cajunlicious February 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

Amy, this looks so delicious. I always make quesadillas on nights when I just don’t feel like cooking or have no idea what I want.

26 amy February 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

thanks so much, jessica! i can’t believe that this was the first time making quesadillas – i love ’em, but they’re just something that i never think to make at home. that’s definitely changed – these are on my must-make-frequently list now! =)

27 Megan @ Culinary Chops February 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

yay!!!!! I’m so glad that you posted this recipe (it was my favorite from your first month of resolution dinners).

honestly, if I could come up with a way to cook spanish/mexican/ food everynight, I think I would do it. but then eric would most likely kill me since he likes to eat my leftovers!

I can’t wait to see what else you have up your sleeve for february’s cooking items!

28 amy February 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

ha! so glad that this was the recipe you most wanted to see – that was definitely the consensus amongst everyone, so i wanted to make sure to get it posted ASAP. =) february’s resolution dinners are already off to an awesome start – can’t wait to share ’em all with you at the end of the month!

29 claire @ the realistic nutritionist February 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Oh this looks DIVINE!!!

30 amy February 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

thanks so much, claire – they tasted even better than they look! =)

31 EA-The Spicy RD February 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Believe it or not, I was just thinking about quesadillas earlier today, and how they are a great option for a last minute dinner. This combo sounds divine, and you know me…I like anything spicy :-) Can’t wait to try these out!

32 amy February 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm

yes! i love how they come together so quickly + with very little hands-on time needed. since you like spicy things, you can definitely up the cayenne and/or jalapenos – i wrote the recipe to just have a low level of spice since i know not everyone loves heat as much as we do! =)

33 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD February 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I love quesadillas and this sounds amazing! Another awesome recipe, thanks :)

34 amy February 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

they’re really tasty, steph – hope you’ll try ’em soon – i think you’ll love ’em!

35 Julie at Burnt Carrots February 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm

YAY! These look delicious (I love your photos). I’m super happy you posted the recipe. Thanks!

36 amy February 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

you’re so welcome, julie! hope they turn out fabulous for you if you try ’em!

37 Jeff February 10, 2012 at 12:49 am

I can never get my tortilla’s to stick together well enough to form such perfect looking Quesadillas! They always seem to fall apart. Maybe I just need more cheese? In any case, I’d definitely give them a shot again with this recipe! You had me at caramelized onions… you had me at caramelized onions *sniff*.

38 amy February 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

yes! i made sure to use a good amount of cheese + concentrate a little extra around the edges to keep ’em stuck together. that seemed to do the trick! + yes — the caramelized onion in there is soooo good. but then again, caramelized onion is pretty great in anything. =)

39 Whitney February 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi Amy!!! I found your blog through Pinterest.

My fiance and I are making these quesadillas as I type!!! (the chicken is cooling off) I’m so excited to eat them!!

Hope all is well!

Pi Love,


40 amy February 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm

how fun that you found my little ol’ blog through pinterest! =) hope the quesadillas turned out delicious for you + your fiance, + hope all is wonderful with you both! xo

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