California Breakfast Quesadilla

California breakfast quesadillas from Kelly Senyei are a breakfast revelation. Why have Tater Tots on the side when you can mix them in with all the other delish ingredients—chorizo, avocado, eggs, Monterey Jack—and make early mornings surprisingly easy? Or brunch, if you’re a sleepyhead.

A California breakfast quesadilla, cut into eight wedges on a plate with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

Adapted from Kelly Senyei | The Secret Ingredient Cookbook | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021

Breakfast burritos are a religion for this born-and-raised Southern California girl. My favorite fillings include chorizo, scrambled eggs, and Monterey Jack cheese, but the real reason anyone orders a traditional California breakfast burrito is for the extra-crispy potatoes tucked inside the tortilla. With this recipe, you can save yourself precious morning minutes by leaning on store-bought Tater Tots for the star filling and opting for a quesadilla instead of burritos—its wedges make for easy dipping in homemade salsa.–Kelly Senyei

WHAT IS THE BEST CHEESE FOR QUESADILLAS?

Monterey Jack, like in this very recipe, is a fantastic choice for quesadillas because it’s melty and stretchy. You can also use mozzarella or a combination of both. If you’re in the mood for Mexican cheese for brekkie, go with Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese. These have the same luxurious melt and stretch, which is why they’re the traditional choice in Mexico. Better yet? Use a mixture of any of these cheeses and find your quesadilla heaven.

California Breakfast Quesadilla

A California breakfast quesadilla, cut into eight wedges on a plate with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.
A kid-friendly quesadilla that uses Tater Tots, chorizo, eggs, and avocado for a filling and quick breakfast (or anytime you're hungry!) treat.
Kelly Senyei

Prep 30 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 45 mins
Breakfast
American
2 servings
924 kcal
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Ingredients 

  • 1/4 pound uncooked chorizo casings removed
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup cooked store-bought or homemade tater tots
  • 1 small avocado peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 2 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • Salsa for serving

Directions
 

  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the chorizo, breaking it apart with a spatula, until it's browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate, leaving all drippings in the skillet.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the butter to the drippings in the skillet.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper.
  • When the butter has melted, add the eggs to the skillet and allow them to cook undisturbed in a single layer, as if you were making an omelet. Use a spatula to lift up the edges of the egg, then tilt the skillet to allow any uncooked egg to run down under the cooked egg.
  • Once the egg is cooked through, sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese on top, then remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Arrange one tortilla on your work surface and slide the eggs into the center of the tortilla, creating an even layer.
  • Wipe out the skillet, then place the egg-topped tortilla in the skillet.
  • Top the eggs with the chorizo, tater tots, sliced avocado, and remaining 1/3 cup cheese, and top with the second tortilla.
  • Place the skillet over medium heat and cook the quesadilla, flipping once, until golden brown and slightly crisp, 2 to 4 minutes per side.

    TESTER TIP: Given the generous fillings inside this quesadilla, flipping it may be tricky. To make it easier, place a plate over the skillet, flip the quesadilla onto the plate and then slide it back into the skillet to brown the other side.

  • Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board. Slice it into eight wedges and serve with salsa for dipping.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 924kcal (46%)Carbohydrates: 52g (17%)Protein: 37g (74%)Fat: 64g (98%)Saturated Fat: 23g (144%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 457mg (152%)Sodium: 1642mg (71%)Potassium: 901mg (26%)Fiber: 9g (38%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 1467IU (29%)Vitamin C: 15mg (18%)Calcium: 410mg (41%)Iron: 5mg (28%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

California breakfast quesadilla—I don’t know which word caught my attention first, California, breakfast, or quesadilla, but put them all together and I knew I would love it. And I did. The combination of the ingredients was perfect just as is but while I was making it (and eating it) I couldn’t help but think of all the possibilities for this perfect breakfast quesadilla. You can add or change up the ingredients to meet your personal preference but it is perfect just as written.

I'd also like to point out that this would be fabulous for any meal of the day...not just breakfast. In an effort to save some time, I precooked my chorizo and grated my cheese the day before. I garnished my quesadilla with pico de gallo, sour cream, and sliced jalapenos. Yummilicious!

This will be a perfect summertime brunch entrée! All the goodness of a breakfast burrito, layered in a huge quesadilla. I mean huge! Usually, quesadillas are thin with minimal ingredients, well...this California breakfast quesadilla is thick and stuffed full of goodness. Overall, it was well-liked by my family, and with a few tweaks—to your taste—this is certain to be a crowd-pleaser.

Let’s talk about the construction. The instructions say to slide your egg onto the tortilla…I quickly realized that would be a disaster for me. [Read: My beautiful egg was slightly stuck in the middle of the skillet and the skillet was too large for my hands to maneuver all of that at one time.] No worries, I grabbed a dinner plate, placed the tortilla inside, and inverted it over my egg. One flip and I had the egg layer out of the skillet, and onto the tortilla sitting perfectly on the plate.

Now onto the other layers. It will be much easier to quickly wipe out your skillet, spray a little cooking spray then slide the egg and tortilla (right side up) back into the skillet. I lost a few chorizo crumbles off the side of my tortilla (and that’s when I thought of transferring the tortilla and egg back to the skillet prior to adding the next layers). It was less fuss and clean-up to complete the construction inside the skillet.

I came across mini tater tots in my grocery, which was better to layer on the quesadilla but I should have used more because no one really tasted the tots consistently. Next time I'll add more minis, use hash brown patties, or swap in an O’Brien-style potato hash with bell peppers.

The avocado was similar. We could taste the creamy texture but it wasn’t a pronounced star of the show. A slight mash and seasoning may also be a reasonable alteration (salt, pepper flakes, perhaps lime).

I let each side of my quesadilla brown a little more than 3 minutes per side because 2 minutes wasn’t long enough for the first side. With this being such a large and stuffed quesadilla it may be hard to flip up a bottom edge to see the degree of browning. I used the dinner plate here as well to flip the quesadilla from one side to the other without tearing the tortilla or losing the filling.

The wedges were so thick, that I just set out store-bought salsa, leftover tater tots, and another peeled avocado for condiments and sides.

Start to finish this took about an hour, so easily doable for even the busiest meals (even if you have to double/triple the recipe – 8 wedges per 10-inch quesadilla). If I were to double this, then I would probably pull out my griddle versus using a skillet to brown the quesadillas.

Loved, loved, loved our Sunday morning California breakfast quesadillas. OK. It was more like brunch, and it was truly delicious. As it would be for lunch, and you could also have breakfast for dinner. We've made many types of breakfast quesadillas, most of which contained some of these ingredients, but somehow never used all of these ingredients together at one time. Each of the pieces works together to make a fabulous finished product.

The non-stick skillet I used was one of our cast-iron pans, which is so very “cured,” it's the best of what would be considered non-stick. I’m a big fan of the flavors of Mexican chorizo. The spices are wonderful. After cooking the meat that was taken out of the casing, you’re left with some gorgeous, orange-tinged grease in your skillet. I questioned adding butter to the pan at this time, thinking that the eggs might not need it, but I did and I think it helped flavor the eggs. It also made sure that my eggs did not stick to the skillet.

This recipe makes a lot of food, but that didn't prove to be a problem. The leftovers were fabulous the next day. I heated a few of the wedges up in the microwave to take the chill off of them, and then put the wedges into my wonderful cast-iron skillet. They turned a gorgeous, toasty, golden brown. They were actually nicer than the day we ate them originally.

Cooking the whole tortilla at one time, was just too large to handle comfortably. It was very difficult to turn and not have the filling spill out. If I didn’t have a truly mondo spatula, I wouldn't have been able to turn the quesadilla successfully. My suggestion is to put a tortilla into the skillet and build the fillings up on one-half of the tortilla. Then you can just fold the second half of the tortilla over the filling and press it down. After you cook the bottom half of the quesadilla, it is easy to flip the whole thing over, so that you can brown the other side. I served these wonderful wedges with my homemade pico de gallo. I am already looking forward to next weekend so that I can make this again.


Originally published June 6, 2021

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