Grilled Chicken and Red Onion Quesadillas

I make these grilled chicken quesadillas a lot for parties. If a big crowd is coming over the house, I fill the tortillas with the chicken and fold them a few hours ahead and stack them on a tray. As people arrive, I grill the quesadillas for about five minutes to melt the cheese and toast the tortillas. If you want to get a head start, you can always grill off some of the quesadillas and slip them into the  warming rack, which is a convenient place to hold them. As guests arrive, serve the warmed sandwiches and finish grilling the rest for latecomers and anyone who wants seconds.–Jamie Purviance

Grilled Chicken and Red Onion Quesadillas Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 5 H
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • For the paste
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper, stem removed
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the chicken quesadillas
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 8 ounces each
  • 1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Four 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup good-quality tomato salsa


  • Make the paste
  • 1. In a food processor, mince the garlic and jalapeno. Add the remaining paste ingredients and process until smooth. Coat the chicken breasts on all sides with the paste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Make the chicken quesadillas
  • 2. Lightly brush or spray the onion slices with oil. Grill the chicken and onions over direct medium heat until the chicken is opaque in the center and the onions are tender, 8 to 12 minutes, turning once.
  • 3. Remove the chicken and onions from the grill and allow to cool. Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/8-inch slices and the onions into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • 4. Evenly divide the chicken, onions, and cheese over half of each tortilla. Fold the empty half of each tortilla over the filling, creating a half-circle, and press down firmly.
  • 5. Grill the chicken quesadillas over direct medium heat until well marked and the cheese has melted, 4 to 6 minutes, turning carefully once. Allow the quesadillas to cool for a minute or two before cutting into wedges. Serve warm with the salsa.
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