Danny Trejo’s Pollo Frito Quesadilla (Fried Chicken Quesadilla)

August 10, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Trejo's Tacos
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 2 quesadillas
Author Notes

According to Danny Trejo, this recipe for fried chicken "is delicious on its own"—but when it's paired with a spicy, creamy slaw and stuffed into a quesadilla, it's taken to a whole new level.

On the latest episode of Food52's podcast, Play Me a Recipe, the actor and restauranteur explained how to make a quesadilla that tastes exactly like those served at Trejo's Tacos. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • Quesadilla with Cabbage Slaw
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 4 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 2 (13-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese blend
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Trejo's Fried Chicken, about 1/3 of the recipe below (or, use any type of leftover fried chicken)
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
  • Danny Trejo's Fried Chicken (serves 4)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  1. Quesadilla with Cabbage Slaw
  2. Make the crema: Put the sour cream, chipotles, adobo sauce, lime juice, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. (If making in advance, keep the crema in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)
  3. Make the slaw: In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage and ¼ cup of the chipotle crema, mixing well.
  4. Heat a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and cook until it is lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Turn the tortilla over and spread 1 cup of the cheese evenly across the top, followed by ¾ cup of the fried chicken. Sprinkle half of the cabbage mixture over the chicken and top with half of the serranos, spreading evenly. Cook until the cheese begins to melt, about 3 minutes. Fold the tortilla in half and cook for 45 seconds, then turn the quesadilla over and cook for another 45 seconds.
  5. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and cut it into 4 wedges. Repeat with the remaining tortilla and fillings. Serve with the remaining chipotle crema on the side.
  1. Danny Trejo's Fried Chicken (serves 4)
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch-wide strips. Place the strips in a bowl and season them with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set the chicken aside for 30 minutes at room temperature. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  3. Drain off any liquid in the bowl of chicken and pour the buttermilk over the chicken. Lift the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and then dredge them through the spiced flour, shaking off any excess.
  4. Slowly lower a few chicken pieces (you don’t want to overcrowd the pot) into the hot oil and cook, turning them often, until they are golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. To check if it’s done, remove a piece of chicken and test its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer—it should read 165°F. Drain the fried chicken on a wire rack or paper towels, and repeat with the remaining pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Fiona Wolf
    Fiona Wolf
  • JP

3 Reviews

Fiona W. August 17, 2022
This is absolutely delicious. But it is the most bizarrely written recipe. Also 4 cups of flour for 1.5 lbs of chicken means we threw away about 3 1/2 cups after the dredge. And the crema, while super tasty, only calls for 1/4 cup and a drizzle so that seems excessive too, to have 3 1/2 cups left. We'll eat it on something else but the scaling is poor.
JP August 18, 2022
I agree with Fiona one hundred percent. It is the first thing I thought when I read the recipe. Obviously the recipe is from a restaurant chef, not a home recipe designer. It sounds great though, and I look forward to trying it.
JP August 18, 2022
Correct that, an actor/restauranteur rather than restaurant chef.