Arizona Cheese Crisp

Mexican and Tex MexVegetarianCheeseTortilla

Arizona Cheese Crisps are open-faced quesadillas made with extra large, thin flour tortillas, toasted with butter and cheese, and served with strips of mild green chiles.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Here’s one of my favorites recipes from my mother—what she calls a “Sonoran Quesadilla,” known in Tucson, Arizona where they’re from as “cheese crisps”.

Unlike our usual stove-top quesadilla made with corn or flour tortillas and jack cheese, cheese crisps are open-faced, and made with very large flour tortillas, that are toasted with butter and cheddar cheese, and often topped with strips of mild green chiles.

According to my Tucson-native mom, these open-faced quesadillas are made with especially large, thin, flour tortillas that you could find in Sonora, the northernmost state of Mexico. Typically they are served on a large platter, sometimes cut like a pie, for everyone to share.

They are crispy, buttery, and absolutely delicious.

The tortillas one uses to make cheese crisps are much thinner than the sturdy burrito-sized flour tortillas we found to make these. It just means we need to cook them a little longer to get them crispy. Don’t pile on the cheese too much; as with pizza, doing so will weigh down the result.

Arizona Cheese Crisp Recipe

Print
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes one large Sonoran quesadilla

If you want to have green chiles on your quesadilla (they are optional), you can either roast your own (use Anaheims, Hatch, or Poblano) or use canned whole green chiles.

To roast your own, blacken them over a gas stove, on a grill, or under a broiler, then put the chiles in a covered bowl for a few minutes, then rub off the blackened skin.

(See How to Roast Chiles over a Gas Flame video.) Then de-seed them and cut them into strips.

Ingredients

  • One large, burrito-size (13-inch diameter or larger) flour tortilla
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 or 2 roasted green chiles, peeled, seeded, cut into strips (optional)

Method

1 Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.

2 Butter a flour tortilla all the way to the edges: Place the flour tortilla on a large baking sheet (a dark baking sheet or cookie sheet will work best. Spread the butter all over the top of the tortilla, all the way to the edges. The butter is important for the flavor of a cheese crisp, so don't leave it out!

3 Bake the tortilla until lightly toasted: Bake the plain buttered tortilla for about 6 minutes or until it begins to get lightly toasted. (Check on the timing for your particular oven.)

4 Sprinkle with cheese, add green chile strips, return to oven: Remove the tortilla from the oven and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, leaving about 1/2-inch from the edges. Add strips of green chiles in a star pattern if you want.

Return the tortilla to the oven and cook for 2 more minutes, or until all of the cheese has melted. Remove from oven and eat!

My mother will use her oven's convection setting when she makes these cheese crisps. For convection, she'll put the buttered tortilla into a cold oven and heat on convection at 375°F for 7 to 10 minutes. Then she'll sprinkle the cheese and return the quesadilla to the oven for a couple more minutes.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Arizona Cheese Crisp on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Print

Links:

Flour Tortillas: Where they came from and how to make them

Quesadilla Recipe

Classic Cheese Crisps - from What's Gaby Cooking

Oven Toasted Sonoran Quesadilla

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

60 Comments / Reviews

No ImageArizona Cheese Crisp

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Heather

    Your mama is right, as usual. I love your Sonoran cooked salsa recipe too. It tastes like it came from the same kitchen as the cheese crisp. Monica Flin’s recipe is cookef at higher temperature and without butter. Both are great. Viva Tucson. I’m a native too.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Patricia Basing

    Being from Phoenix, we grew up eating these, 70 years later, still one of my favorite foods. the only thing I do differently is chop the green chilies and sprinkle them all over the top.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Rachel

    Born and raised in Phoenix. I love cheese crisp and introduced them to my Ohio native husband and he loves them. We decided to move to Ohio and he was so put out that we will never again be able to go to a Mexican Restaurant and order a cheese crisp before the meal lol! So thanks for the recipe! Definitely making this for my family.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jon T. Bates

    Hi Donna.
    I moved to Tucson, AZ in 1959.
    The original Casa Molina was on Broadway and is still there. The was also one on 1st Avenue at the Rillito River in the 70’s. Not there now.
    When I got back every September I eat at the Casa Molina De Norte on Campbell Avenue and have to order a 1/2 Cheese Crisp, Green Corn Tamale and eat buffet on Sunday.
    Also there is Macayo’s Mexican Table on 7040 East Broadway Blvd. which I order Green Corn Tamales and always bring back to Amarillo, TX several dozen.
    Nobody in Amarillo, TX serves a Cheese Crisp or Green Corn Tamales.

  • Amanda clay Branum

    My father grew up in Yuma. These are something we had on Christmas this year! I forgot the name of the restaurant he would have these at, they are now my sons favorite!

View More
Arizona Cheese CrispArizona Cheese Crisp