Kids’ Kitchen: Triple-Decker Quesadillas

Each of these triple-decker quesadillas is comprised of three tortillas and two layers of filling. One layer contains blackened corn kernels and melted cheese, and the other refried beans, shredded chicken and even more melted cheese. The best thing about this recipe is that it’s super kid-friendly and 100 percent customizable except for the melted cheese that holds everything together. Kids can put whatever they want inside. Some of my personal favorite variations include spicy shrimp, shredded pork and ground taco meat.

Makes 4 triple-decker quesadillas

Quesadilla ingredients

12 gluten-free tortillas (3 tortillas per quesadilla)

2 cans refried beans (I used Amy’s with mild chiles)

4 ears of corn, shucked

1 roasted or rotisserie chicken

6 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 8-ounce package shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Guacamole ingredients

4 ripe avocados

Juice of 2 limes

Zest of ½ lime

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional


First, prep all your ingredients. Let the tortillas sit out for about 10 minutes if you store them in the fridge so they can thaw a bit and won’t be as brittle. Open one can of refried beans at a time in case you don’t end up using them all. For the blackened corn, I used fresh corn on the cob, boiled it and cut off the kernels, but frozen or canned corn kernels also work perfectly. Just make sure to thaw frozen corn or drain canned corn. Shredded chicken is absolutely the way to go with this dish, so shred your rotisserie chicken ahead of time. It doesn’t take that long when using two forks—it’s an easy but helpful step that kids can totally do by themselves.

Now it’s time to blacken the corn. Heat a pan on medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When that becomes hot, add the corn and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the kernels over and let them sit for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until blackened. Feel free to blacken the corn more, less or not at all —it depends on your personal preference.

Now that your ingredients are prepped, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan on medium to low heat. To assemble a quesadilla, put one tortilla on a cutting board, then spread it with the beans. Add a quarter of the shredded chicken on top of the beans, and then follow with 1⁄8 of the cheese. Add another tortilla on top. Put this simple quesadilla in the pan, and brown for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip, and immediately add a thin layer of shredded cheese to the top tortilla. Right after the cheese, add a layer of corn, then another layer of cheese, followed by another tortilla.

Wait about 1 to 2 minutes for the quesadilla to brown. Flip, so that the cheese-and-corn layer is now on the bottom, and the beancheese- and-chicken layer is on top. Wait 3 more minutes for the bottom layer to brown, then remove from pan. Use a pizza slicer to cut the quesadilla into sixths or quarters. Repeat three more times to make remaining quesadillas. Enjoy! And don’t forget to top with guacamole if you’re an avocado fan.

To make homemade guacamole, halve your avocados and remove the pit, then score and scoop into a large mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper and cilantro, if using. Mix to desired texture. If your kids are more adventurous, feel free to add whatever they like. Some of my favorites are diced jalapeño, diced red onion and a drizzle of hot sauce. I also like diced sweet bell pepper, too.