Classic Cheese Crisp

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Growing up in Tucson meant many things, but perhaps the most important was that a Classic Cheese Crisp was everyones go-to snack! These were pretty much available at any restaurant and are, in fact, my true definition of the perfect meal. Well that and this homemade chipotle salsa which pairs perfectly with this dish!

Classic Cheese Crisp from (@whatsgabycookin)


If you've never heard of a Cheese Crisp before - today is the day. Consider this the first day of the rest of your life. It's a buttered flour tortilla that gets baked until just slightly toasted and then loaded with cheese, baked again, and then served with salsa and guacamole. It's basically an open faced quesadilla and it is truly one of the most perfect creations you'll ever have. We used to make these every day after school and they will forever be near and dear to my heart. Big should out to El Charro for making these a staple early in our lives!

Classic Cheese Crisp from (@whatsgabycookin)

Let's discuss how you can jazz up a Classic Cheese Crisp. Besides serving them with pico, salsa, or guacamole, you can also get snazzy with the cheese.

Cheddar is the most classic for a cheese crisp, obviously. But I've been known to do Pepper Jack or Colby Jack from time to time and it's equally as delish.

Classic Cheese Crisp from (@whatsgabycookin)

Classic Cheese Crisp

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 2 votes
The all time best recipe for a classic cheese crisp - a tucson staple from growing up in the Southwest! Essentially an open faced quesadilla with a little bit of butter to make the tortilla crispy. True perfection
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack, Lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 person


For the Cheese Crisp:

  • 1 large burrito size flour tortilla (13-inch diameter or larger)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Serve with:


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.
  • Butter the flour tortilla all the way to the edges. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  • Bake the plain buttered tortilla for about 6 minutes or until it begins to get lightly toasted.
  • Remove the tortilla from the oven and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, leaving about ½-inch from the edges. Return the tortilla to the oven and cook for 2 more minutes, or until all of the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and eat with desired dipping sauces

Nutrition Information

Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 964mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1188IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 462mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. My aunt and uncle lived in Green Valley and took me often to this restaurant that made these! Thanks for the trip down memory lane… such fond memories of 10 spring break trips with them and all their friends who became my bonus grandparents for 2 weeks a year ❤️

  2. I’m from Arizona and we always made ours in a skillet. Now we often do air fryer. And we never used butter. I’ll try it this way today, it sounds good. Even though I don’t live in AZ anymore, we still always have tortilla and cheese in the refrigerator.

  3. 5 stars
    Love that you posted this! I’m born and raised inAZ and cannot find any restaurant in CA that makes ‘em. Now I want to go AZ . I’m from Phx but have had el charros many times.

    1. When I moved to California from Phoenix, I was shocked that no one, including restaurants, knew what a cheese crisp was.

  4. I ate these back in the 70s visiting family who moved across the country to AZ. It was cool and exotic to me back then but I guess I forgot the name and been living on basical quesadillas back on the East coast since then. That will change today

  5. Is this supposed to crisp up like a chip? I’ve tried twice now with 2 different tortillas and just get kind of a….chewy quesadilla

    1. Not like super crispy like a chip, that would really only be achieved from deep frying. But it def has a crisp to it when you butter and bake it without the cheese to start

  6. Love I good cheese crisp! If I wanted to add toppings (cooked) would I add them at the same time as the cheese?

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