Cowboy Quesadillas

People ask me all the time how I come up with recipes.  Sometimes I base things off of foods I’ve tried somewhere and try to replicate, sometimes it’s just blending flavors that sound good together, sometimes I daydream about food, sometimes it’s completely accidental, and often- it just happens out of necessity!  This is one of those out-of-necessity recipes.  I was in serious need of a grocery store trip (which are getting few and far between now that I’m a mother to 2 toddlers and a newborn- all boys.  Most days I’d rather pull my own fingernails off than take all three of them to the grocery store.)  I looked in my fridge and had a little left over rice from the night before, a few extra black beans from when I didn’t use a whole can, etc.  I didn’t want to put spicy salsa in it since it was for my kids, so I used bbq sauce instead- and they were a huge hit!  I finished it off with a BBQ-Ranch dipping sauce, mostly because the chance of my kids eating what I cook significantly increases when there’s some sort of dipping sauce involved.  This is a super quick and easy weeknight dinner, snack food, or appetizer.

Let me show you how I did it:

You can definitely adjust this to what you have in your fridge, but I used white rice (leftover is best, because what do you use leftover rice for besides fried rice?), black beans, diced cooked chicken (I always keep a bag of pre-cooked frozen chicken strips on hand), fresh frozen corn (I personally don’t like canned corn, and I like that with a bag of frozen corn you can use a little or a lot), diced tomato, (you could drain a can of tomatoes instead if you needed to), and sliced green onions.

Toss it all together in a mixing bowl

And add some cheese.  I had some sharp cheddar and Gruyere (left over from making this) but really any cheese works.  Cheddar, jack, pepper jack, colby.  It’s less the flavor we’re concerned with and more of the ooey, gooey, make-the-quesadilla-stick-together-ness that we’re going for.

Mix that up and then add a little bbq sauce.  The great thing about bbq sauce is that it’s all the flavor you need!  No spices to measure out here.

Place the mixture on half of some small tortillas

and fold ’em up.

Grill them up in a hot skillet until they’re golden browned and crisp on the outside and warm and cheesy in the middle and serve with a creamy bbq dipping sauce.

My cowboys approved.  And they didn’t even know they were eating vegetables, so next time I’m definitely going to sneak some more stuff in there!  Also, if you’re making these for little fingers, you might find it easier to roll them burrito style with the ends tucked in so the filling doesn’t fall out.



  1. Ah…wish I could do that…just look at leftovers and come up with something that delish!! LOL

    Oh…and I'm still voting for ya's!!

  2. Having four children and a small pastor's salary I often had to come up with out-of-necessity recipes. I actually came up with some family favorites. Now my daughters often have to do a "mom" and come up with out-of-necessity recipes.
    Been voting for yall too.

  3. Yum – though I'm pretty certain I'd have to use salsa instead of BBQ sauce. (my kiddo loves salsa though; the spicier, the better LOL)

    I've never had black beans …. I'm actually not a fan of many beans at all, unless they're in chili. What could be used in place of them?

    I've been voting for you all as well!!! You're doing so awesome *Happy dance*

  4. Okay Jenn- you need to try black beans! I could eat them every single day. This recipe just has a few so it's a good starter for ya 😉 I really can't think of a good substitution.

  5. This looks so yummy! It's going on my list.
    And I hear you about kids and the grocery store – I have 6, 4 and 2yo boys and I will do anything to not take them at the same time!

  6. I came across your blog a few weeks ago, and love it! Thanks for sharing all your yummy food recipes and I love your Halloween ideas! Thank you!!!

  7. You must have heard my silent prayers for a quick dinner idea that wasn't corn dogs. These were a huge hit. I added 3 crumbled slices of bacon, though. There is never such a thing as too much bacon. 🙂

  8. I just bought a quesadilla maker. Best $20 I've spent in a while. I have teenagers and they won't use the skillet to cook for themselves, but they will definitely use a cool gadget 🙂 Can't wait to try this recipe!

  9. Thanks for the great recipe! I was totally drawing a blank about dinner last night (being in need of groceries also and having 5 young boys: I hear you about not wanting to take them shopping!) and checked your site at 4:30 and there it was!

    I actually divided the mixture in half and did BBQ sauce in half, salsa in the other half (since some of my guys don't like BBQ sauce). It was quick, easy and very yummy. Thanks!

  10. Tried your 'Cowboy Quesadillas' last night and loved them! You did good.
    I've been casting my vote for you every day, good luck.
    Maxine and Neal in San Diego, CA

  11. Do your kids ever watch you like set all the food up neatly and take pictures of everything and wonder what the heck you are doing?

    I run a business from my home and my 2 older girls (4 and 6) are now always like wanting to package things up and sell them and send them out in the mail. Isn't it funny what the kids observe? I'm always like, go play! but they want to watch and learn every little thing we do. I've seen all your beautiful pictures and have thought what your kids must think about all this!

  12. I made these last night! They were awesome!!! My kids want them again tonight. We will use this recipe again and again, I'm sure of it!

  13. I voted for you guys! I'm making your chicken tortilla soup for dinner this weekend and I loved your chunky monkey pancakes this week. Wow! Hope you win!

  14. We LOVED these! I thought we would, so a I made a double batch and they were a great quick lunch the next day. I think they'd be yummy with a little cilantro!

  15. I was VERY skeptical of the barbeque sauce and when my husband saw what I was doing he was as well, but these were so good! Thanks for such a yummy, easy dinner idea.

  16. This recipe saved me at dinner last night! We had (still have) no food in our house and I really, really didn’t want to go shopping. I foraged through the cupboards and the freezer and lo and behold I had everything (except green onions) needed for these awesome Cowboy Quesadillas! Everyone loved them … even the picky 3 1/2 year old who announced, “I hate quesadillas”! And the father of said 3 1/2 year old who questioned the barbecue sauce dip! Once again … thank you for a great recipe!

  17. Thank you for another kid friendly meal! I used my countertop grill, added some of the pepperjack cheese you use in the taquitos and some fresh lime juice! It will be a perfect summer lunch/dinner!

  18. OK – I just made these tonight. WOW!!!! My husband gave me an A+++, this was one of the best meals ever!!! I also made the Spanish Rice to go with it, and instead of white rice – I just took a scoop of that and put it inside. Seriously – so good – I can’t wait for my leftovers!

    This week my whole menu was from your site! Started with the meatloaf wrapped in bacon with the green beans wrapped in bacon, last night was the Salad with glazed walnuts (I added chicken for protein), tonight quesadilla’s and spanish rice, tomorrow the mushroom ravioli with asparagas. You girls totally rock!

  19. I’ve been meaning to tell you, I’ve made these several times and we love them. Quinoa has been a great substitute for the rice.:)

  20. Your shredded cheese looks so pretty, I’m a little jealous! This recipe looks incredible and definitely takes quesadillas up a little. much better than straight up chicken and cheese! cannot wait to make these next week!

  21. I have had these before, though I never heard them referred to as Cowboy Quesadillas. I just know they’re absolutely wonderful. Thanks for providing the recipe. However, I would use Spanish rice, not white rice. I would also add a touch of cilantro.

  22. We made these for dinner the other night, sans rice (didn’t have any cooked up), and they were delicious. I made a larger batch of the filling, and used the leftovers to top a pizza–SO YUMMY! Probably one of our favorite pizzas 🙂

    Thanks for the ideas!

  23. Had this exact hodge podge of leftovers in the fridge so we had these for dinner last night. My husband couldn’t stop going on and on about how good they are and thankfully I can interpret stuffed-face-anese (chewing+talking). This is a keeper!

  24. I made these last night. I was a little worried because my kids aren’t big barbecue sauce fans BUT they loved them! (Whew!) Thank you!!

  25. I just made these for lunch, and they are delicious! So fast and easy! Although I just put the dipping sauce straight into the filling, since I’m not a huge fan of barbecue sauce.

    Anyway, I love your blog; you guys always post the most delicious stuff!

  26. I made something similar last week when I was low on groceries too. Instead I used BBQ, beans, avocado, cheese, and a little salt and lime juice. It tasted similar to those BBQ guacamole burgers, just veggie style! It would have been great with tomato, and chicken too, maybe bacon.

  27. Just tried these and they’re a great twist on the taste of what I’d consider traditional quesadillas. I was worried the BBQ sauce might be too overpowering for me, but we all really liked it. Thanks!

  28. I forgot to comment on these a while ago when I first started using the recipe. This is a ‘go-to’ for me. I love them. They are yummy, easy, nutritious, kid and party-friendly. YUM!

  29. Thanks for sharing recipes for Family Home Evenings.
    Please consider sister Neville’s Feb. 14 Ensign article: “Nourishing Our Bodies and Our Spirits”.

    “Making healthy food choices might be described as casting our nets on the right side of the ship. If we “fish” for healthy foods listed in the Word of Wisdom—fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and meats sparingly (see D&C 89:10–17)—we are selecting from those things the Lord “made to be used, with judgment” (D&C 59:20). On the other hand, looking for nourishment in unhealthy snacks, candy, and sugary beverages is like fishing on the wrong side of the ship.”

    Treats can be satisfying AND healthy using whole grains and fruit. eg. 100% whole grain pastry flour, whole sweeteners (eg. low glycemic agave or dark muscovado, black strap molasses or molasses sugar)in reduced proportions.

    Carob brownies made with black beans and reduced sugars is a great substitute for caffeine laced chocolate. Unsweetened yogurt with fruit makes great smoothies and tarts. Low fat ricotta cheese substitutes for whipped cream to add whey protein and no sugar or can serve as a base for refrigerated frostings.

    Thanks, again.

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