This Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce is creamy and spicy and tastes JUST like the original. From a former Taco Bell worker and current Taco Bell lover.
Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce
I have a little confession to make.
I LOVE Taco Bell. It's my guilty pleasure. 🙈
I know, I know. It's not even real Mexican food, but I just love it. I actually used to work at Taco Bell in college! Gotta pay tuition somehow!
My favorite go-to item is a cheese quesadilla. The only thing that really makes a Taco Bell quesadilla different from any other quesadilla on the street is the Taco Bell Quesadilla sauce.
AKA - The creamy jalapeno sauce, or CJ sauce, as we used to call it when I worked there.
So, in an effort to save money (as always) and to feel slightly less guilty about the junk-food-factor, I've come up with this copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce recipe that is 💣
This will satisfy your Taco Bell quesadilla craving and it tastes Just. Like. The original. I swear it.
The Jalapeno Juice
You might notice that the recipe calls for jalapeno juice.
What the heck is jalapeno juice? It's what I'm calling the liquid from a jar of canned/jarred jalapenos. It could also (probably more accurately) be called pickled jalapeno brine.
You don't need to buy it separately. It's just in the can or jar from the jalapenos you're using!
Delicious Quesadilla Add-ins
Even though I love cheese quesadillas best, sometimes it's fun to mix it up. Try these ideas for some fun new flavors.
- Ground beef - great way to use up leftover taco meat!
- Steak - grill it or fry it in a pan. For the tenderest steak, cook it whole, let rest, then slice against the grain.
- Chicken - grill it, bake it, cook it in the slow cooker, or even get it pre-packaged from the store.
- Pulled pork - another great use for leftovers.
- Black beans and corn - makes a yummy vegetarian, Tex-Mex style quesadilla.
- Jalapenos - Spice it up with some spicy peppers. You can also try green chiles, serranos, or habaneros.
- Bacon - because you should put bacon on everything.
What Do I Serve with Them?
A simple, fresh green salad is always a winner.
I also like to serve it with sour cream, homemade salsa (I always have some in my fridge because you never know when a salsa craving will strike!), and homemade guacamole.
What Else Can You Use Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce for?
Maybe you have extra or maybe you just love this stuff. Either way, there's lots of ways to use up this yummy sauce.
- Dip - Use it as a dip for chips or just dunk your quesadilla right in.
- Taco Sauce - Use it on any tacos or fajitas.
- Burrito Bowl - A little drizzle on a burrito or taco bowl will add just the right amount of creamy kick.
- Burgers - Use it instead of mayo on a burger piled high with your other favorite toppings, like fresh jalapenos, avocado, and cheese.
- Chicken Tenders - Maybe not the most refined plate choice, but still yummy on occasion. Dip in the creamy jalapeno sauce for a spicy kick.
- Nachos - Drizzle it on top with cheese and all your favorite toppings.
- Sour cream substitute - use it in place of sour cream in your favorite Tex-Mex or Mexican inspired recipes, like the filling in these Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes You'll Love
- Homemade Restaurant Style Salsa - Super easy 5 minute recipe in the food processor for the best salsa you can eat outside of an authentic Mexican restaurant.
- Authentic Guacamole - creamy and delicious for dipping and chips.
- Easy Taco Dip - Use your Taco Bell quesadilla sauce in this yummy dip!
- Rice and Black Bean Burritos - Easy and cheap to make, and delicious to eat, smothered in red sauce and cheese.
- Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice - another favorite copycat recipe!
Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce
- ¼ cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeno slices
- 1 tablespoon juice from jarred jalapenos
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
For the quesadillas
- ½ tablespoon butter or oil
- ½ cup shredded cheese per quesadilla
- 2 flour tortillas (or one large burrito size) per quesadilla
- Add all sauce ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until ready to use.
To Make Quesadillas
- Add butter or oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat.
- Assemble quesadilla(s): Layer a tortilla, shredded cheese, add-ins (see notes above), and 2 tablespoons quesadilla sauce.
- Cook in hot skillet until both sides are golden and cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).
- This recipe is naturally keto, gluten free, and dairy free.
- If you have a food processor, you can throw all of the ingredients in for the sauce, mix it up, and it's done.
- Do I have to chill it? No, you can eat it right away if you can't wait. But it's really best after the flavors mingle, so I highly recommend chilling at least 2 hours if possible.
- Grate your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheese has powder to help it not stick together, so freshly grated cheese melts so much smoother and gooier!
- Cover your quesadillas while you cook them to steam them and make sure the cheese melts all the way through.
- Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
UPDATE INFO: This post was originally published in September 2014. It has been updated and republished in September 2020 with new pictures, tips, and video.
Never Miss a Thing!
Join our newsletter to get new recipes, tips, tricks, and tutorials every week!
Chrystal @ YUM eating says
I am always looking for good Mexican recipes. Taco Bell is a treat for me as I can't eat their stuff often. I prefer to make as much as I can at home. Thanks for this recipe, sounds delish!
Sydney @ Tastefully Frugal says
I LOVE Taco Bell's quesadillas too! The sauce definitely makes the quesadilla... I will definitely be trying this soon. Thank you for linking up to Creative K Kids Tasty Tuesdays. I'll be pinning this to my snacks board and the Tasty Tuesdays board. Hope you have a great week and come link up again!
Thank you so much for this recipe. It tastes really close to Taco Bell, but somehow, it's even better!! I appreciate you taking the time to share it, you cured my taco bell craving!
I just made this with full-fat sour cream instead of mayonnaise. I 100% reccomend using sour cream! It's perfect and delicious! TBH, the thought of ruining a perfectly tasty quesadilla with a big blob of seasoned mayonnaise makes me gag. So for other mayo haters: use sour cream!!
Just made it. SPOT ON!!!! Exactly the same, but just a little better.. My son, who's the world's pickiest eater," just scarfed down 2 in a matter of 3 min. I LOVE this recipe. It's PERFECTION!!! I think it's a perfect copycat, but better because it's fresh. I can't thank you enough, making my kids food is difficult, as not only are they extremely picky, but they like completely different things. Dinner=argument.. xo.??
Just made this, letting it sit for another few more hours, does the overwhelming mayo taste dissipate after letting it sit?
Maybe it'll taste better after I actually use it on the quesadillas, but right now, tasting with a chip, it's a mexican mayo, not bad, but very mayo
Yes, before the flavors are combined thoroughly, you won't be able to pick out one specific flavor as much
Nick Stoner says
The recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of garlic. Is that minced garlic, garlic powder, or garlic salt?
Garlic powder. Sorry for the confusion! I'll update the recipe.
Bless you. ??
What brand of mayo do you use?
It's really good but wayyy to spicy!! I will probably use less jalepenos and cayenne next time. Otherwise it's very similar! Thanks!
Nailed it! I'm afraid to estimate how many Taco Bell quesadillas I consumed during college, and I could always tell when they skimped on the sauce or didn't include it at all. I wonder if the minced jalapeños are really necessary? I don't remember any bits in the Taco Bell sauce, but the flavor is definitely spot on. Thank you for the recipe.
Hi, I just made this recipe and it was soo good! I've always wanted the yummy sauce that was in the Taco Bell Quesadilla and now I do! I was wondering if I could share this recipe on my blog, as long as I link back to you!
Patty Cupples says
Awesome! I had a Taco Bell quesadilla for lunch and it had a great flavor so I came home and started hunting a recipe, I am so happy that I found yours! I wanted to make it for my family tonight so I ran to my kitchen and got busy, I just tasted it and it and it taste great. I did add a scoop of sour cream to make it go farther, I think they are going to love it! Thanks so much!
What kind of cheese do you guys use?
Emily Liao says
This tastes just like the real thing, but better! Loved it 🙂
Each and every shot is sooo mouthwatering! I LOVE that texture and and I can only imagine enjoying these over the weekend!
Fantastic recipe that is just what I have been looking for! I really enjoy quesadillas as often as I can, not to say about making the perfect sauce for them, so really excited to try your tips and tricks now!
I'm a huge fan of this sauce so I was really excited to try it! It came out just like the real thing and now I'll be making this at home instead of buying it!
I have never tried this sauce at Taco Bell, but I am always looking for new fun things to add to my quesadillas. I love the ideas of this jalapeno sauce, and that it uses some of the brine!
Beth Sachs says
I haven't eaten at Taco Bell in a long time (I live in the UK so it was the last time I was in the States). Wow this Quesadilla is amazing and just like the 'real thing', my kids love this too!
I don't eat Taco Bell but this look FANTASTIC with all that gooey cheese!
Taco Bell is my absolute fave and I'm loving this sauce!It's always perfect when you can make your own version at home!
I always love taco bell copycat recipe and these taco bell quesadillas were no exception! What a delicious recipe!
I have to say I love Taco Bell! This quesadilla sauce is just what I needed! Thanks for a great recipe!
Jonathan David Haynie says
This recipe is great!!
I added a few things to it to make it perfect for me I do like things spicy, 1/2 tsp onion powder, a touch (1/8TSP) more cayenne powder, and an additional 1/2 TBSP jalapenos. I put all ingredients in a food processor and blended for about 2 minutes (until smooth like taco bells). Tastes amazing!!!
Wow. This was spot on! I love the heat but for me could use more. But this is a great copy but tbh WAY better. Thanks for this recipe!
Thank you! These were the best quesadilla’s that we’ve ever made at home. The spice level is perfect medium. I always make a recipe ‘as is’ the first time around but to be a little more healthy next time, I may swap the Mayo for Greek yogurt. Served this up with some salsa and sour cream! Totally worth making! Is it like Taco Bell’s, nope, it’s better! Give it a try!
TACO LOVER says
BEST COPYCAT EVER! I bookmarked and even emailed it to a friend. This is going to be my go-to! Heck, I think this sauce could be made into a cracker dip or even added to a sandwich. I'm typing this review while eating!
I saw some people say it's too hot. Did they use PICKLED jalapanos? I imagine it would be much hotter with fresh. Pickled makes it just like Taco Bell.
Good Lord this is delish.
Jeannean Green says
I didn't have jalapenos, so used peperoncinis instead. Delicious. I just made another (quadrupled) batch of the sauce!!