What Gives The Best Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce Its Kick?

Known for serving up widely accessible Tex-Mex cuisine, Taco Bell offers a plethora of sauces that can help spice enthusiasts turn up the heat. While it's certainly not the hottest of the bunch, Creamy Jalapeno Sauce is a fan favorite that the restaurant says makes a "legendary" quesadilla sauce. Rather than stockpiling sauce packets from the drive-thru to give homemade quesadillas a little extra oomph, you can whip up your own with Mashed food developer Kristen Carli's copycat Taco Bell quesadilla sauce recipe.

Carli uses ranch dressing as the base of her copycat Taco Bell quesadilla sauce to achieve that perfect combination of creamy and spicy. While she also includes salt, sugar, paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder to punch up the flavor, the heat comes from cayenne pepper, pickled jalapenos, and sriracha sauce. Including all three of those notoriously spicy ingredients may sound intimidating, but Carli says, "The spice-averse people out there [can] take comfort in knowing that you have the ultimate control over the level of heat in this sauce."

Have it your way

According to Mashed food developer Kristen Carli, saving yourself from the "mysterious contents" of whatever is in Taco Bell's quesadilla sauce isn't the only benefit of making the sauce at home. With some minor alterations to her copycat Taco Bell quesadilla sauce recipe, you can also control the spice level. "You can control the spice by increasing or decreasing the sriracha," says Carli.

While she recommends ½ a tablespoon of cayenne pepper and a whole tablespoon of pickled jalapeno (blended to creamy perfection) in addition to the sriracha, the amount of these ingredients can be altered to suit your taste. "Once you have tried making a batch or two, feel free to experiment with other ingredients, too, adding or subtracting herbs and spices as the spirit moves you," Carli says.

You will want to make more than a batch or two, Carli points out. "This sauce dials the flavor up way past 11 and is great on all sorts of foods." More than using it as a dip for quesadillas and chips, she recommends slathering the sauce on burgers, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches or even using it as a dressing for a kicking taco salad.