A Cheese Crisp is a crunchy open-face quesadilla that is an Arizona favorite!! They are quick, easy, and perfectly dippable.
Crispy Cheese Crisp is perfect for dipping into a bowl of fresh homemade salsa, either green or red. Guacamole is also a crowd pleaser!
What is a cheese crisp?
The Arizona cheese crisp, also known as “Sonoran Quesadilla”, is said to have originated in Southern Arizona as a way to use leftover flour tortillas.
It is a popular Mexican style dish all over Arizona and surrounding areas, although it’s not necessarily traditional.
It’s basically a flat tortilla covered with piles of cheese. It is then baked in the oven until the cheese has melted and the tortilla has a perfectly crisp texture.
It is similar to a quesadilla, except that a quesadilla is folded over and pan fried until toasted and warm throughout.
Best kind of cheese?
I used Colby Jack cheese for this recipe, but you can easily use other cheeses that melt well. You can use one cheese flavor or a combination of 2-3. I recommend shredding the cheese yourself as the prepackaged shredded cheese doesn’t melt as well. Here are a few more favorite cheeses you can try:
- Oaxaca cheese
- Chihuahua cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Pepper Jack cheese
Best kind of tortillas?
- Large thin flour tortillas are used for this recipe. The thinner the better because they create the crispiest result. I like the uncooked Tortilla Land tortillas. Just be sure to cook them before making the cheese crisps. If I’m buying pre cooked tortillas, then LaLa’s Traditional Style Flour Tortillas work well. Of course, homemade flour tortillas are our very favorite.
- Since you’re the chef, you can customize them any way that you prefer. You can make them large or small. You can use whole wheat tortillas, low carb tortillas, corn tortillas, or spinach and herb tortillas.
how to make cheese crisps
PREP. Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.
TORTILLA. Butter the tortilla making sure to cover the entire surface and place a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until the tortilla is toasted.
CHEESE. Remove tortilla from the oven and sprinkle with ¾ cup cheese and diced green chiles. Return to oven and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
SERVE! Take out, cut up and enjoy warm. Repeat with additional cheese crisps.
Leftovers: Store leftover cheese crisps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. You can even freeze them in a Ziplock freezer bag for 1-2 months.
The best way to reheat them is in the oven. Place the cheese crisp on a cooling rack and then place the cooking rack onto a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake them until warm and crisp. You can also use the microwave, but it takes away the crispiness of the dish.
Make it in the Air Fryer
- First be sure that the tortilla will fit in your air fryer. If it’s too big, just cut it into thirds or quarters.
- Lightly mist one side of the tortilla with cooking spray.
- Place the cheese and other toppings on the other side of the tortilla. Because these are thin they will cook fairly quickly. I suggest you air fry them at 350°F for only 2-3 minutes.
- Check and add more time if needed.
dress it up
The cheese crisp is typically made with cheese only or with a bit of green chilies. However, this dish resembles a thin pizza and like pizza you can easily add some other toppings to change them up from time to time:
- fresh corn
- sliced olives
- roasted red peppers
- sliced jalapeno
- grilled and thinly sliced chicken or steak
- green onion
- sprinkle on smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper
- add a bit of heat with crushed red pepper flakes
- top with avocado, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa
what to serve it with
Since these chesee crisps are perfect for dipping, here are some of my favorite things to dip it in:
They also make a great appetizer for some of our other favorite Mexican entrees, like:
For more mexican dishes, try:
Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.
Butter the tortilla making sure to cover the entire surface and place a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until the tortilla is toasted.
Remove tortilla from the oven and sprinkle with ¾ cup cheese and diced green chiles. Return to oven and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Take out, cut up and enjoy warm. Repeat with additional cheese crisps.