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.


woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. This is probably one of my absolute favorite meals! It is just so yummy, and reminds me of the BBQ Chicken salad at Zupas. Yes!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!

  8. my cowboys loved these, too! This is a keeper. Thank you! Shhh, no one even knee there was qinoua in them 😉

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. Thank you!!! We tried these tonight and my husband couldn’t stop talking about them! Definitely a keeper.

  14. 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.:)