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Sheet pan quesadillas: my new favorite weeknight dinner

Quick, easy and affordable — sheet pan quesadillas are a fantastic staple meal for busy college students

While the big-picture draw of making a sheet pan quesadilla is its ease of preparation, the shining star of this recipe is the jalapeño dressing.
While the big-picture draw of making a sheet pan quesadilla is its ease of preparation, the shining star of this recipe is the jalapeño dressing.

As a busy college student I am constantly on the lookout for cheap and easy dinner recipes. Sheet pan quesadillas are simple, quick and delicious. Whether you’re making dinner for a mid-week study group or just want to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day — this recipe for sheet pan quesadillas is sure to satisfy your taste buds and time constraints while being incredibly customizable. 

When scrolling through Instagram during my typical late-night sleep procrastination, I came across a video on sheet pan quesadillas and instantly knew I had to try it out. My boyfriend tends to take over dinner responsibilities on my busy class days, and he was super excited to try this unique quesadilla concept as well. Taking inspiration from a recipe he found online from The Modern Proper, he concocted his own version of a sheet pan quesadilla that had us both marveling at its flavor and simplicity. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 large tortillas
  • 2 cans of chicken
  • 4 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2-5 sprigs cilantro
  • 3-8 pickled jalapeños
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Onion powder to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon milk
  • Salsa (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and spread evenly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Layer six tortillas along the bottom, ensuring they overlap and eliminate any gaps on the bottom. About half the tortilla should be inside the pan, and half should be hanging over the edge. 
  3. Evenly layer the Mexican blend cheese along the entire tortilla base inside the baking pan. 
  4. Strain two cans of chicken and shred in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning and mix well.
  5. Spread chicken in an even layer on top of the cheese.
  6. Starting on one end of the baking sheet, fold over the tortillas toward the center of the pan and lay two tortillas in the center to hold down the folded edges and cover the top of the quesadilla.
  7. Bake the quesadilla for 20 minutes, checking often to ensure no burnt edges.
  8. While the quesadilla is in the oven, add sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, cilantro, garlic and onion powders and jalapeños to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  9. Allow sheet pan quesadillas to cool slightly before slicing into eight even rectangles using a pizza cutter. 
  10. Top quesadillas with jalapeño dressing and salsa if desired. 

While the big-picture draw of making a sheet pan quesadilla is its ease of preparation, the shining star of this recipe is the jalapeño dressing. Creamy and sweet with a bit of a kick, this dressing took the quesadilla to the next level, adding complexity of flavor and a wonderful finishing touch to the presentation. This component is easily customizable to determine the perfect amount of heat depending on the number of hot and sweet jalapeños are added.

Using canned chicken is what makes this recipe extremely simple and affordable. My biggest tip when working with canned chicken is to season it well but watch the sodium. Easily made overpoweringly salty — I prefer to season my canned chicken with spice blends like Adobo or taco seasoning. To make this recipe vegetarian but still high-protein, I suggest swapping the chicken for black beans. Adding black beans alongside the chicken would be tasty as well and is something I will definitely be trying with my next batch. 

My favorite salsa is the Trader Joe’s pineapple salsa and it paired magnificently with these quesadillas. Other tasty toppings I am excited to try on these quesadillas are pico de gallo and guacamole. Adding a component of freshness helps brighten the flavors of the quesadilla. If I were to make sheet pan quesadillas when entertaining guests, I would make a self-serve “quesadilla bar” of sorts and have several bowls of each topping out for people to create their own yummy combinations. 

All in all, this recipe has a lot of great qualities that I am sure other college students — or really anyone who is short on time — will love it. Easily thrown together and super customizable, sheet pan quesadillas are a great addition to your weekly meal prep schedule as it has a refrigerator life of about five days. Try making it with your roommates to add ingredients you all love. I even tested this recipe as leftovers the next day and it was still delicious served cold. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or whipping up a quick dinner-for-one, this recipe is sure to satisfy. 

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