Adobo-Marinated Chicken Quesadillas

The combination of chicken cutlets, smoky adobo sauce, and mild, melty Monterey Jack cheese makes this chicken quesadilla recipe a winner.

chicken quesadilla

Our go-to chicken quesadilla recipe starts with chicken cutlets. They're marinated in a can of chiles in adobo, a tangy Mexican chile sauce that's one of our favorite pantry ingredients. With it's smoky richness and heat, the adobo sauce transforms the chicken into a spicy, succulent filling.

After cooking in a grill pan—or on the grill, if you prefer—the chicken is sliced and layered on flour tortillas. Then, Monterey Jack cheese (plus red onion, and jalapeños that have simmered in sugar and rice vinegar) are added to give the quesadillas extra oomph. A quick turn on the grill pan lets the cheese melt and crisps up the tortillas. Serve half a quesadilla to each person or cut the quesadillas into slices and let everyone help themselves.


  • 1 can (7 ounces) chiles in adobo sauce

  • ½ cup water

  • 4 chicken cutlets (4 ounces each)

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 8 eight-inch flour tortillas

  • 5 ounces low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 ⅓ cups)


  1. Puree chiles in adobo sauce and water in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, place onion in a small bowl. Combine jalapenos, vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until jalapenos are soft and sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes. Pour over onion, and let stand until mixture is cool. Strain through a fine sieve.

  3. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill chicken, about 2 minutes per side. Slice into strips. Wipe pan clean.

  4. Place 1 tortilla onto a work surface. Arrange strips of 1 cutlet to cover tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese and some onion-jalapeno mixture. Top with another tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas, chicken, cheese, and onion mixture.

  5. Carefully place quesadilla onto hot grill pan, and cook over medium heat until tortillas are crisp and cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla in half, and divide among 8 plates. Cut into wedges.

Cook's Notes

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