Healthy Chicken Quesadilla (with Black Beans)
These healthy chicken quesadillas are packed with seasoned and shredded chicken breast, black beans, and fresh corn all griddled together inside crispy whole-wheat tortillas with gooey melted Jack cheese. In about a half an hour, you’ll have a weeknight meal the whole family will love!
This post contains affiliate links.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Recipe For Healthy Chicken Quesadillas
My family is from West Texas and loves to cook, so that combination can only mean one thing: I am obsessed with Tex Mex and Mexican-inspired cuisine! I have indoctrinated my children into this passion by regularly cooking them Easy Chicken Enchiladas, among many other similar recipes, so I can safely say I’ve done my duty as a mother.
It’s now time to share one of my favorite healthy quesadilla recipes with all of you! Today we’re making the incredibly delicious and simple healthy chicken quesadillas with black beans! What’s not to love about a super fast and easy chicken quesadilla for dinner? Nothing beats the combination of crisp tortillas, melty cheese and tender chunks of chicken. And what’s better, we’ve made these a little healthier!
When I say they’re easy, I really mean it – you can even meal prep these quesadillas so everything is ready to heat when you’re ready to eat! This is truly a meal the whole family will love!
Pair these chicken quesadillas with lime and cilantro-spiked Kohlrabi slaw, guacamole, pico de gallo or mexican corn salad for a fast and flavorful meal that’s sure to be satisfying for everyone at the table!
What Makes These Chicken Quesadillas Healthier?
- They have only 1 ounce of cheese per serving which is far less than restaurant quesadillas and many other high-fat traditional quesadilla recipes.
- Thanks to black beans, corn and whole-grain tortillas they are high in dietary fiber. Fiber helps keep you fuller longer, aids in digestion, helps control blood sugar levels and can help maintain weight loss.
- They are cooked in cooking spray on a non-stick surface to minimize additional fats.
- Boneless chicken breast is high in protein and fat-free to help keep fat calories lower. This recipe comes in at 26 grams of protein!
- Black beans are nutritious and high in antioxidants.
- Corn is high in minerals and vitamins and may help aid eye health.
- We’ve added spices and herbs to bump up the flavor without adding excess calories.
- Each serving of this recipe is only 363 calories!
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
Boneless Chicken Breast Tenders
I chose to use chicken tenders because they are much faster to cook all the way through than boneless chicken breast since they are thinner. Regular chicken breast or boneless thighs can be subbed, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
You can also use leftover chicken or instant pot shredded chicken, just toss it with the salt and cumin before assembling.
For these healthy quesadillas, we used whole-wheat tortillas because they are made with whole-grain flour. They have more fiber than regular flour tortillas.
You can use gluten-free or low-carb tortillas if you’d like. Just note that they may darken more quickly than flour tortillas, so you’ll want to lower the temperature under your skillet slightly so they don’t burn. Find more tips on using these alternative tortillas here.
No quesadilla would be complete without the queso! I like to use some type of Jack cheese for my quesadillas because it melts so well. If you can find Colby Longhorn at your grocery store that’s what my mom always used in her Mexican food recipes. Otherwise, freshly grated Monterey Jack or Colby Jack works perfectly. For a bit of a kick you can sub in Pepper Jack or Jalapeño Jack!
For a speedy alternative, you can also use pre-shredded jack cheese. Or look for “Mexican Cheese Blend” or “Taco Cheese.” These pre-shredded cheeses do not melt as beautifully as hand-grated cheese, but they are great time-savers for busy nights.
You can use frozen kernels once thawed, or cut fresh corn off the cob. To cut the kernels off the cob without making a mess, you can put an overturned bowl inside a larger bowl and rest the end of the corn on the inner bowl. Slice down the cob with a sharp chef’s knife and the kernels will fall down into the bowl without spilling all over the place.
For more protein, fiber and antioxidants we also added in black beans. To make this easy enough for a weeknight meal, we used canned drained black beans. Giving them a quick rinse will help was off excess sodium.
If you prefer to use cooked dried beans, follow these instructions and drain them well.
- Ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- Cooking spray
- Chopped fresh cilantro
Step-By-Step Instructions To Make This Recipe
Step 1: Season, Cook and Chop the Chicken
Start by sprinkling cumin and salt over the chicken and coating a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray.
Heat the skillet on medium-high heat and add the chicken to cook. Turn the chicken once until it’s cooked through, which should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Chop it into small pieces or shred it with two forks.
Step 2: Combine Ingredients
While the chicken is cooking, stir the beans, corn, cilantro, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.
Step 3: Divide Ingredients Among Tortillas
Then, lay your tortillas on a clear work surface and divide the chicken among the tortillas, covering only half. Top the chicken with the corn and bean mixture, then sprinkle on cheese. Fold the tortillas closed and press down to create a seam. Don’t be alarmed if they’re very full – that’s what you want!
Step 4: Cook Quesadillas
Now, rinse and dry your skillet and coat it generously with cooking spray. If you want to cook all four chicken quesadillas at the same time, you can use a stove-top griddle instead. Heat your cooking surface over medium-high heat and add two quesadillas at a time for a skillet or all four if using the griddle.
Let them cook until the bottom of the tortilla is browned and the cheese is starting to melt, which should take about 3 to 4 minutes.
Carefully flip the quesadillas over. This can be a little tricky if you are cooking them in a large skillet, but I find using my free hand on top helps hold them together. Once they are flipped, press down lightly and let them continue to cook until the other side is browned and the cheese is completely melted, which should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5: Slice and Serve
Slide the quesadillas onto a cutting board and slice them into wedges to serve. Repeat cooking the remaining two quesadillas by using more cooking spray and adjusting the heat to prevent them from scorching. Serve them hot and enjoy!
FAQs and Expert Tips
The key is to let the quesadilla brown at about the same rate as the cheese is melting on the inside, so it is important not to use too hot heat. As they cook, the skillet will get hotter and hotter, so if it starts to smoke, adjust the temperature down to medium heat. If you are cooking them in a skillet, two at a time, make sure to adjust the heat for the second batch.
Gluten-free or low carb tortillas may be substituted, but note that they may darken more quickly because they are higher in fat than a traditional flour tortilla. To prevent them from burning, you will want to lower the temperature under your skillet slightly so they do not burn. To ensure the cheese melts before the tortillas get too dark, let the shredded cheese come up to room temperature before assembling your quesdaillas so it will melt more quickly.
So many delicious things! I’d personally recommend pico de gallo, classic guacamole, Mexican brown rice, and Mexican coleslaw. Of course, you can also top your quesadillas with classic quesadilla toppings like sour cream (or Greek yogurt), chopped red onion, black olives and hot sauce.
Variations To Try
- Substitute crumbled cooked ground chicken, beef, or, turkey.
- Use meatless protein alternatives such as jackfruit or chicken-style seitan and sub in vegan cheese to make this vegan friendly.
- Add grilled and chopped veggies, sauteed onions or bell peppers instead of the beans and corn.
- Add chopped pickled jalapenos.
Watching your sodium?
To lower the sodium in this recipe follow these steps:
- Choose a variety of cheese that is lower in salt such as Fresh Mozzarella, Alpine Lace, Swiss or low-sodium Cheddar cheese or low-sodium Provolone.
- Omit any added salt.
- Look for low-sodium tortillas such as La Banderita (you’ll want to use two of them because they are smaller) or you can make your own low-sodium tortillas from scratch.
- Watch your toppings. Many salsas are too high in sodium. Instead opt for homemade Pico de Gallo or Guacamole without any added salt.
To Meal Prep This Recipe
- Cook and shred the chicken
- Mix the corn and beans
- Shred the cheese
- Store everything separately in resealable containers in the refrigerator up to three days in advance
From there, they will come together in only 10 minutes! Just assemble, cook, and serve!
Leftover quesadillas can also be reheated in the oven, but it’s best to do so when the quesadillas have not been cut. Brush oil over a large sheet pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the quesadillas, side-by-side on the pan and bake until the cheese is re-melted and the bottom is crisped, which should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Alternatively, if you have already cut them into wedges and want to reheat, line your baking sheet with foil to catch any melted cheese drips.
Additional Recipes To Try
- You’ll want the recipe for these Easy Ground Chicken Tacos with Poblanos in your back pocket for everything from a family weeknight dinner, to a festive Taco Tuesday!
- This Ground Turkey Enchilada recipe is a quick, easy, and HEALTHY variation on a Mexican classic.
- If you have extra tortillas, Easy Fruit and Cream Cheese Lunch Wraps are a great kid-friendly option for lunches. And adults love them too! They’re a delicious healthy snack to have prepared and ready to go!
- Apple Ham and Cheddar Quesadillas are the perfect yummy meal to make during the school season since they only take 15 minutes and kids LOVE them!
- These vegetarian quesadillas with spinach pesto and cheddar are a great family meal that comes together in only 20 minutes.
- If you’re looking to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your weeknight menu, Easy Veggie Tacos are a great way to go! When I served them to my family, they said they didn’t even realize they were vegan – success!
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
These healthy quesadillas are packed with seasoned chicken breast, fresh corn and black beans all griddled together in crispy whole-wheat tortillas with gooey melted Jack cheese. In 25 minutes or less, you’ll have a weeknight meal the whole family will love!
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
- ½ pound chicken tenders
- Cooking spray
- 4 large whole-wheat tortillas
- ½ cup canned drained black beans
- ½ cup corn kernels, freshly cut off the cob or frozen and thawed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack, Colby Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon salt over the chicken. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, turning once, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Chop into small pieces or shred with two forks.
- Meanwhile, stir beans, corn, cilantro, the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin and the remining ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
- Lay tortillas on work surface. Divide the chicken among the tortillas, covering only half of the circle. Top with the corn and bean mixture. Top with cheese. Fold the tortillas closed and press down to create a seam. They will be very full.
- Rinse and dry the skillet. Coat generously with cooking spray. Set over medium-high heat. Add two quesadillas and let cook until the bottom of the tortilla is browned and the cheese is starting to just starting to melt, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip the quesadillas over and let continue cooking until the bottom is browned and the cheese is completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Slide the quesadillas onto a cutting board and cut into wedges to serve. Repeat cooking the remaining two quesadillas, using more cooking spray, and adjusting heat to prevent them from scorching. Serve hot.
Ingredient Note: Gluten-free or low-carb tortillas may be substituted, but note that they may darken more quickly. You will want to lower the temperature under your skillet slightly so they do not burn. To ensure the cheese melts before the tortillas get too dark, let the shredded cheese come up to room temperature before assembling your quesadillas so it will melt more quickly.
Tip: To cut the corn kernels off the cob without making a mess, stand the corn on end in a bowl and slice down the cob with a sharp chef’s knife. It can help to elevate the tip of the corn cob with an overturned bowl if you like. The kernels will fall down into the bowl without spilling all over.
Make Ahead: These can be reheated in the oven. It’s best to do so when they have not been cut. Brush oil over a large sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees. Heat until the cheese is re-melted and the bottom is crisped, 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you have already cut them into wedges and want to reheat, line your baking sheet with foil to catch any melted cheese drips.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Active Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Calories: 363
- Sugar: 2 g
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 34 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 26 g
Keywords: Healthy Quesadilla, Chicken Quesadilla with Black Beans, Chicken Quesadilla with Black Beans and Corn