Fast Food Quesadillas Ranked Worst To Best

The beauty of a great quesadilla is simplicity and plenty of melted queso. If you ask Oxford Reference, a quesadilla is simply a tortilla stuffed with cheese (and sometimes other fillings) and heated. It doesn't get much more straightforward than that, but there's a lot you can do with that simple formula. The quesadilla's lack of complexity makes it a great target for fast food chains. With some quality prep work, employees can toss a cheesy tortilla in a toaster and get it to the drive-thru window in a hurry. However, as anyone who has tried to flip their own quesadillas might know, it's rarely as simple as it sounds. 

Quesadillas have several tightropes they must walk across at once. The tortilla shells must be crispy, your cheesy gooey, your meat juicy, and your extra's impactful, all without making a mess. Thousands of overzealous quesadillas have been stuffed full of every ingredient in the pantry, only to fall apart in a liquid mess after the first bite. Everyone makes mistakes with quesadillas, and fast food chains are no different when it comes to this Mexican food item. The crispy, cheesy line between a great quesadilla and a dud is so thin that some chains have even introduced ovens custom-made for toasting quesadillas. Here are the industry's best and worst efforts. 

11. Taco John's: Double Beef and Potato Quesadilla

Being so far from the center of the Americanized Mexican food universe, Taco John's is great for Potato Ole's, but it's the last restaurant we'd stop at for quesadillas. The brand's melty cheese tortillas have been a bit underwhelming, often coming underfilled. Taco John's isn't taking the lack of success personally. This Wyoming-born chain is embracing the challenge and spending more quality time in the test kitchen cookin' up a menu makeover. Leading the charge is a new slow-cooked carnitas quesadilla, which spends eight hours in the smoker before being tagged, bagged, and dropped on your plate. 

A dreamy smoked quesadilla with a hefty side of Ole's could vault Taco John's up a few spots, but we can't give full credit until the carnitas makes it out of the test kitchen and stains our t-shirt. In the meantime, Taco John's has dropped two aggressive plays in the quesadilla department, announcing a new, cheesier quesadilla and as of April 2023, a Double Beef and Potato Quesadilla. This new ground beef option slips Potato Ole's inside to create a much more filling quesadilla than previously available at the chain.

Both new quesadillas come smothered in a four-cheese blend and represent significant steps in the right direction, but as it stands, there's a reason it's called Tex-Mex, not Wyo-Mex. Taco Johns has a ways to go before it can catch the other quesadillas on our list. 

10. Qdoba: Steak Fajita Quesadilla

It's tough to say no to free queso and guac. Qdoba's wide-ranging entree selection includes a creamy avocado dip and melted cheese. Unfortunately, the quesadilla isn't a great way to take advantage of Qdoba's generosity. The item is just a forgettable choice, so lackluster they aren't even worth a mention when discussing Qdoba Menu items. When they are brought up, Qdoba's quesadillas are often considered one of the worst among the serious tortilla contenders. 

The brand started thinking outside the shell to show the industry its toasty cheese still means business. Its most significant move was the 2022 introduction of cheesy-crusted quesadillas that didn't quite hit the mark. An extra crunchy layer of cheese always makes a decent menu item, but in this case, It didn't change the franchise's direction. Passionate early adopters had high expectations and felt catfished by the disappointingly sparse crust. The cheesy crusts have since been relegated off the featured menu to the build-your-own section.

Not easily discouraged, Qdoba turned back to the inside of the tortilla, stuffing a quesadilla full of pico de gallo, brisket birria, and queso. This potent use of the grill was a bonafide hit and gave the brand a bit of much-needed momentum. Unfortunately, the Birria quesadilla was a limited-time drop only, and for now, you'll have to stick to the steak fajita or build your own quesadilla.  

9. Baja Fresh Mexican Grill: Shrimp Quesadilla

When it comes to burritos and burrito bowls, Baja Fresh knows what it's doing in the kitchen. The quesadillas aren't terrible, but they aren't standouts in our book, either. Baja Fresh's decent quesadillas are further buffeted by a salsa bar with six different flavors. The shrimp quesadilla dipped into a six-chili-mango salsa blend is easily the best quesadilla we've encountered thus far, and the Mexican grill rounds out the menu with five more vegetarian, vegan, and fire-grilled quesadilla options.

Tiny details and extra choices helped these quesadillas rank, but they didn't come easy. These quesadillas are also the most expensive we'll cover. There are plenty of occasions to spend big for a great quesadilla, but save it for T.G.I. Fridays ... or just a better Mexican fast food chain. When ranking fast food quesadillas, price is enough of a factor to knock these quesadilla's down a few pegs. While expensive, the inclusion of shrimp and roasted veggie protein options and wide-ranging sides do enough to put Baja Fresh on our map. You can even fill your quesadilla with Impossible Brand vegan ground beef for a protein-packed vegetarian or vegan meal.

8. El Pollo Loco: Birria Overstuffed Quesadilla

El Pollo Loco's quesadilla line recently got overhauled and overstuffed. The restaurant's new line separated itself from the usual chicken and cheese by squeezing veggies into the shell. The release started hot with poblano peppers and chipotle chicken, but there would be only one survivor; shredded beef avocado, since rebranded as the Birria Overstuffed Quesadilla. 

These overstuffed entrees were announced as a limited-time option from the get-go, so their subsequent removal from the menu isn't necessarily a death sentence. There's just no telling when or if these corpulent quesadillas will return. Even the birria was only on the menu until June 2022, which leaves customers with plenty of questions about the quesadilla's future at El Pollo Loco. The chain has only committed to two quesadillas for the long term: a relatively unexciting shredded chicken and a vegetarian cheese quesadilla, and these options alone aren't enough.

Overstuffed menu items helped El Pollo Loco make this list. While there are some gripes about the quesadilla being stuffed too full of ingredients other than cheese, the creativity and juiciness of this entree have serious potential. If we could only get that crazy chicken to commit, we might have a real contender.

7. Chick-fil-A: Chicken Quesadilla

A great twist sits deep in the bowels of Chick-fil-A's secret menu. At most locations that serve the hash brown scramble burrito or the cool wrap entree, ask nicely, and you might see this brand's chicken wrapped up inside a flour tortilla. This secret quesadilla holds nothing more than chicken and cheese, and it is glorious. Most Mexican fast food chicken options can't compete with Chick-fil-A's breast meat, immediately elevating this quesadilla with the best quality fast food chicken you can find inside a tortilla.

Here's how to order a quesadilla at Chick-fil-A: ask for grilled or fried chicken, with melted cheese, in a large tortilla. If you're really feeling like switching it up today, you can ask for salad toppings and a solid layer of signature sauce to hold it all together. Beyond the great use of chicken, there are still some cheesy kinks to work out if Chick-fil-A ever considered putting this secret order into the full-time rotation. Most locations only stock American, colby jack, and pepper jack cheeses, which aren't our first choice for the melty role cheese must take in a great quesadilla. 

If store staff look at you funny next time you try to order off the secret menu, Chick-fil-A Corporate has you covered, releasing a Nightly Nugget at-home Southwestern Quesadilla recipe. All you've got to do is order a grilled chicken filet, buffalo sauce, and XL waffle fries for the trip home.

6. Chipotle: Fajita Quesadilla

Chipotle spent its sweet time developing this classic. The quesadilla finally earned its place on Chipotle's permanent menu in 2021, but there are still a few hoops to jump through if your goal is a cheesy wrap. Chipotle's quesadilla is sold online only. They can't serve quesadillas to everyone on account of the time it takes to melt your queso properly. It's just not conducive to Chipotle's lock and load style. Fans who are genuinely dedicated to the combination of two toasted tortillas must order ahead to enjoy.

A bit of forethought will reward you with a classic quesadilla powered by a process that thinks differently. Chipotle's food scientists whipped up an oven custom-built for quesadillas, with the only purpose being to melt cheese perfectly. Food fans on TikTok took the new grill and ran with it, creating wild ways to stuff Chipotle Quesadillas, none more famous than a Philly cheese steak fajita

In response to the social media fanfare, Chipotle retrofitted the technology of over 3,000 restaurants and trained 100,000 staff members to make a new menu item inspired by the hit. You won't find a more crowdsourced quesadilla on the market.

5. Cookout: beef quesadilla

Cookout quesadillas are more known for their quantity potential than anything else. You can order any two quesadillas as your main dish in a cookout tray, and the cheesy, gooey quesadillas are also available as a side dish. That means space for two more quesadillas in the same styrofoam container.

It's known colloquially as the "quaddilla," and while heading to a restaurant and ordering a tray stuffed full of four quesadillas isn't for everyone, it's an extreme example of why quesadilla fans should absolutely make a stop at Cookout. If you want more variety in your tray, add a quesadilla to your burger and sandwich order without a surcharge to create a delightful dining combination like a Big Double burger + chicken nuggets + beef quesadilla + a strawberry milkshake. Now that is a fast food order!

Pick and choose how you fill out your styrofoam with cheese, chicken, and beef quesadillas. In the past, Cookout has spruced up its quesadilla with limited-time options like cheeseburger and chorizo, but we're still waiting for the ultimate collaboration. If the chain ever combined its BBQ sandwich into a pulled pork quesadilla with a splash of Texas Pete, you might see the brand instantly leapfrog a few competitors.

4. Barberitos: build-your-own quesadilla

A mission that started with the Mission burrito has snowballed into one of the most customizable fast food quesadillas on the market. Barberitos takes its build-your-own quesadilla seriously, allowing you to choose five different proteins every day of the week and fish on Fridays. Including marinated tofu helps this quesadilla stand out as a tremendous vegetarian option. 

At Barberitos, the choice doesn't stop at your protein. Build out your quesadilla with a long-winding selection of 18 free toppings. We don't recommend stuffing your quesadilla full of all 18, but whipping up a crunchy tortilla stuffed full of chicken, cheese, mushroom, fresh jalapeño, and spinach is undoubtedly in play. It's not quite a fully vegan quesadilla because the stores don't stock vegan cheese. Still, the wealth of vegetable options across the protein and topping choices brings more choices for meat-free Mexican lovers. To sweeten the deal, Barberito's embraces the cantina-style success of other Tex-Mex chains by including free chips and salsa bar access with every order, opening up a world of quesadilla dipping options. The company took the made-to-order Mexican model and ran with it, expanding its food wells and keeping its quesadilla press hot.

3. Del Taco: Bold Chicken Quesadilla

Del Taco immediately earned a spot on our list for its brilliant pairing of Mexican favorites and crispy-cut French fries. We're all for fast-food Mexican cuisine that saves the more authentic sides for taco trucks and puts its fryer to good use. On Del Taco's current menu, you can grab a burrito, snack-sized quesadilla, fries, and a soda for five bucks. If that's not cheap enough for you, the snack queso quesadilla is one of Del Taco's 20 under $2. Del Taco also provides three full-sized quesadillas that range from straight cheddar to carne asada. These are great choices, but they alone don't elevate Del Taco to a coveted spot in our top three.

In the past, Del Taco has gone experimental with its quesadillas. The mid-2010s enjoyed an epic run of bacon and egg breakfast quesadillas available at 11 p.m. The company also forced a quesadilla and a taco together with a generous portion of grated cheddar cheese and queso blanco, but that's not why it made it to the top, either.

One word finally pushed this quesadilla to our top three: bold. The not-so-secret password to access Del Taco's secret menu hits differently when combined with a chicken quesadilla. Tell your cashier you'd like a bold chicken quesadilla, and they'll add Del Taco's secret sauce and a heaping portion of French fries to your order that might leave you walking out of the restaurant a changed diner.

2. Moe's Southwest Grill: Chicken Club Quesadilla

Welcome to Moe's, where the quesadilla isn't a sideshow; it's the main attraction. Most Mexican chains' bread and butter are rice and beans. While quesadillas are essential to the experience, many popular restaurants focus on burritos, tacos, and special features. Not here. Moe's best menu item is its chicken club quesadilla, which takes everything you love about the popular sandwich style and sticks it between two toasted tortillas and heaps of shredded cheese. The chicken club brings bacon and chipotle ranch with it to your table, confidently applying a New York Clubhouse twist on a Tex-Mex classic.

While the stock club quesadilla is nearly perfect, you can alter this option to your liking like anything else at Moe's, adding on black beans, swapping the chicken for steak, or sneaking in a splash of fresh jalapeños. We're breaking the first rule of chicken club just telling you about this B.L.T in a tortilla, but our second-place pick is showing the world that the quesadilla genre is just getting started. If you don't want to join the club just yet, Moe's also has a build-your-own-quesadilla option powered by organic tofu or sirloin steak, melty cheese, and free chips.

1. Taco Bell: chicken quesadilla

The reviews of Taco Bell's quesadillas can get pretty intense. You might not expect much from a Mexican chain that produced a cheesy roll-up, but rabid fans of Taco Bell's quesadillas joked if they could order a chicken quesadilla for 99 cents, they would eat until they died.The quesadillas are legends to Taco Bell's truest fans, like the couple who got married inside the Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas. Groom Dan Ryckert, after enjoying a custom wedding cake made from Taco Bell's Cinnabon Delights, told, "The greatest Taco Bell item of all time is the Chicken Quesadilla." 

One Redditor summed up their experience with an awe-inspiring quote, "I ordered six. Why did I order six and no drink? It doesn't matter, I eat all six, tearing through the envelopes with no regard to my own health or appearance. I'm in euphoria, everything is good. There are no wars, no disease, all my loved ones are still alive, I'm not single, I have a job. The quesadillas bring me to a state of higher being, enlightenment, nirvana ..."

Say what you will about Taco Bell; no other quesadilla on the planet has brought more eaters to enlightenment. If becoming face-to-face with God isn't good enough for the number one spot, you might need to re-evaluate your ranking system.