Anita’s Turkey Quesadillas

Anita's Turkey Quesadillas

Anita’s Turkey Quesadilla is a great game day appetizer or meal using that leftover Thanksgiving turkey

Anita’s Turkey Quesadilla is a very easy, satisfying and tasty main dish … or it makes an awesome appetizer for holiday parties. Plus it’s one of my favorite uses for Thanksgiving turkey. It’s only a few ingredients and you just can’t mess it up.

Personally, turkey isn’t one of my favorite proteins. Generally, I find its taste to be pleasant but nondescript. I mostly like it in a sauce, gravy, or made into turkey salad with mayo and perhaps some seasoning. This quesadilla is one of my favorite dishes using leftover turkey. It doesn’t matter if it’s white meat, dark meat or a combination. Note that most of the flavor is from salsa and green chiles. I’m not specifying a specific brand, heat, or variety of either salsa or green chile. What I do with this is sautee up the onions and peppers until soft, then add the chopped turkey and the salsa, and taste it. Then I add the green chiles and add more salsa and green chiles to tweak the flavor and heat to my liking.

Often it’s the green chiles that I use to increase heat, but it all depends on how hot the salsa is and how hot the chiles are.  If you’re making this for a party, it’s very easy to make two skillets of the filling with one hot and one mild to please the hard core spicy food addicts along with the wimps (… or perhaps I should say normal folks).  Here’s what the mixture looked like on the first tortilla before I covered it with the second layer of cheese and second tortilla. What you see in the photo was made with 2 10-inch whole wheat tortillas. I found it to be about right for a meal for 2 people. On the other hand, my 27 year old son ate a whole one all by himself. Many people tend to overstuff quesadillas and end up with lots of cheese and filling oozing out the sides. You need to see some small patches of the bottom tortilla showing through before you put the top tortilla on. I hope this photo helps … this amount was about right.

Anita's Turkey Quesadilla

Anita’s Turkey Quesadilla … halfway through assembly, before second layer of cheese and top tortilla is added. Yes, you can start cooking at this point….

I usually use a quesadilla maker – I have both 8-inch and 10-inch ones, 4 total. I bought all of them at thrift stores for under $10. For these, I just used a very large skillet. I just heat it till the bottom is starting to brown, then slide it onto a large plate; then I turn the skillet upside down over the plate, flip it and lightly brown the top side. It’s easy with either skillet or quesadilla maker. Buying a quesadilla maker is only worth it if you make lots of quesadillas.

Anita's Turkey Quesadillas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Southwestern
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped (any color)
  • 1 cup chopped leftover turkey
  • ½ cup red salsa, medium heat or hotter to taste
  • ¼ cup diced medium hot green chile (about 1 Anaheim)
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar or cheddar-jack cheese
  • 4 8-inch or 2 10-inch flour tortillas
  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil, then saute onion and bell pepper until soft; then add the turkey, salsa, green chile, and cumin.
  2. Mix well while cooking for a few minutes, taste, and add more salsa and chile as desired to taste. Note everything is already cooked, so no need to cook more than a few minutes.
  3. Place a 10-inch tortilla on a large dry nonstick skillet (no oil) over a burner and sprinkle half the cheese evenly over; then spread the turkey mixture evenly over the cheese and then spread with remaining cheese and top with second tortilla.
  4. Heat over medium heat until bottom tortilla is starting to brown, slide it off onto a plate; then place the skillet upside down over the plate and flip it. Then lightly brown the top side.
  5. Slide off onto a plate, cut into 6 or 8 wedges, garnish with chopped tomatoes or cilantro and serve


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