Trader Joe’s Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas Review

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas

Freezer Meal Frenzy’s office is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we’re writing this review in January. That means it’s pretty gosh-darn cold out right now. And there are few better ways to wait out the cold than to chow down on some toasty food.

We’ve had the hankering for quesadillas lately, which seemed like a wonderful toasty treat to fight the cold-weather blues. So we headed out to Trader Joe’s and picked up a box of the Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas. Clearly we weren’t the only people with this exact same idea, as the quesadilla boxes were in quite a state of disarray. You can see in the photographs in this review that our box was pretty dinged up as a result (we like to imagine customers were wrestling over the last couple boxes of these and then got kicked out just before we got to the store, though we’re guessing that’s probably not what happened here).

Once we got these over to the Freezer Meal Frenzy office, we started suspect that these were the Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas with Seasoned Vegetables, just with a new box and a slightly shorter title. We’d already reviewed that older version of these, so we wanted to investigate this new batch to see if they are indeed the same thing.

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas

Sure, these have two quesadillas per box, and those quesadillas are individually wrapped, just like the previous version. But once we started comparing the nutrition content and ingredients, it did seem like there were some variations. This version has 10 more calories per quesadilla, for instance, and the ingredients list the tortilla first as opposed to the filling (suggesting that the amount of filling might have been reduced).

So now that we know these are at least slightly altered from their previous form, let’s cook these up and eat them! There are instructions for the microwave, stovetop, and oven on the box, but we went with the microwave for two reasons. First, the last batch of quesadillas we reviewed turned out surprisingly crispy in the microwave, and we wanted to see if that would be the case here as well. Second, all that investigation made us really hungry and we didn’t want to wait any longer to eat! (If you want to read the full cooking instructions straight off the box, you can scroll down to the bottom of this review to check out our package scans.)

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas

Now, we’re going to be honest here. That whole “damp paper towel” thing really messed us up. We were instructed to wrap the quesadilla in a damp paper towel, then cook on 50% power for two minutes, then cook for one-minute increments until it’s heated all the way through. That led to a super soggy quesadilla that was still kind of cold in the middle after the first minute, and a decent amount of warm after the second minute-long increment.

So we tried again with the second quesadilla, this time skipping the paper towel and cooking for a solid three minutes on full power. This second time, the shell came out a bit dryer on one side, but the bottom was still soggy. We’d like to try flipping the quesadilla over in the middle of the cooking process, and we’d also like to try cooking these on the stovetop. Unfortunately, our box only had two quesadillas, so we were all out of test subjects at this point.

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas

The shell has kind of a weird flavor to it. It feels like a flour tortilla that’s desperately trying to be a corn tortilla, and it has a fake taste to it that we found to be off-putting. And in the soggy version, that really became a problem, as the wet consistency brought the worst elements of this shell to the surface. In those conditions, our shell became almost slimy. We didn’t have those sliminess problems with the second quesadilla, but we still found the shell to have that weird flavor.

And this is especially problematic because the filling here is surprisingly bland. This means you’ll actually taste the shell more than you’ll taste that white-meat chicken or either of the cheeses. In fact, this almost felt like it was trying to taste like something but failing to do just that — it’s a barely-there flavor that kind of just exists in the background. Since the filling should be the primary flavor factor here, this feels like a huge misstep to us.

There is some corn here, though, which we admit is pretty good.

One of these quesadillas contains 410 calories and 440 mg of sodium. Keep in mind that these are super flat and not filling at all (our suspicions about the reduced filling amount seem to be confirmed), so those calories are mostly empty. Even eating two quesadillas in a sitting didn’t satiate our wintertime hunger, so eating just one seems like a pipe dream — unless it’s a midday snack between meals.

The Trader Joe’s Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas are a huge step backward from their previous iteration. These have a weird-tasting shell and super bland ingredients, which make them an incredibly forgettable snack. We definitely hope TJs brings back the previous version of these, because those were actually really tasty.

To learn more about the nutrition content, ingredients, or cooking instructions for these frozen quesadillas, check out our package scans below.

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Chicken Quesadillas
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