I like to make quesadillas on my panini press. I typically make two for a meal.

Here is what I do:

  1. Preheat the panini press to medium-high.
  2. While heating, assemble the quesadillas.
    • I typically add cheese, shredded chicken, bacon bits, and onions. All ingredients are cold, straight out of the refrigerator. The tortilla shells themselves are the only room temperature ingredients, stored in whatever air-tight plastic bag they came in.
  3. Once the press reports it is heated up, I cook the first quesadilla.
  4. I remove the quesadilla when:
    1. The cheese is visibly gooey and just starting to ooze out.
    2. The top of the quesadilla has dark brown grill marks.
  5. I then quickly wipe up any food particles with a dry paper towel (surface is non-stick).
  6. Wait for the press to heat back up, give it an extra 30 seconds or so to be sure it is nice and hot.
  7. Repeat for the second quesadilla.

What I have found is the first one I make has a nice and semi-crispy tortilla shell: it is hard and flaky, and the ends sag slightly when I pick it up in the middle.

However, the second one will have cheese oozing out and sizzling on the press, but the shell will be soft and droopy. I prefer the texture the other way.

I have tried altering the quantity of cheese, temperature, waiting longer to start cooking the second quesadilla, etc. but it does not matter. No matter what I do, the second quesadilla does not have the same exterior texture of the first one that I like.

I suspect this has something to do with either the moisture content of the tortilla shells, residual moisture on the panini press grates, or the cooking temperature. However, my experimentation has thus far not yielded any answers.

What changes do I need to make to my cooking routine so the second quesadilla comes out with a semi-crispy, hard and flaky exterior?

  • 5
    Hmm... The case of the droopy quesadilla: What do you put into your quesadillas - just cheese? or are there additional (maybe moister?) ingredients? Since it sounds like you assemble both quesadillas at the same time, could it be that the second tortilla is absorbing moisture from some of the ingredients and getting soggy while it waits for the first quesadilla to take its turn in the panini press?
    – Lorel C.
    Mar 14 '17 at 1:17
  • @LorelC. I do put in some meat, but it is dry. If I wait to build the second one until right before the press is ready, same result.
    – user21524
    Mar 14 '17 at 1:20
  • 2
    I wonder if the second warms up while the first is cooking, so the cheese melts sooner,before the tortilla can get crispy. You don't put it on top of the panini press or something like that do you?
    – Chris H
    Mar 14 '17 at 6:55
  • 3
    @ChrisH no, but I wonder if I put the cheese back in the fridge and wait a minute after the first is done to put the second together and let the press warm up more if that would fix it. I haven't tried re-cooling the cheese. Maybe having it sitting out a few minutes warms it just enough.
    – user21524
    Mar 14 '17 at 14:14
  • 1
    Of course other ingredients meat can also be a source of heat unless they go in cold
    – Chris H
    Mar 14 '17 at 14:16

Probably its a panini-press-not-heated-enough issue, but with a caveat. I dont know about the inner wokings of the press, but it sounds like this: the thermometer that decides if the light for "ready" sign goes green is situated in a place that gets heated early, gives green, and cuts off the heat production (while the rest of the press is was still gathering heat.)

I am inclined to say that this is a not-hot-enough issues as, if you think about it, every new quesadilla you cook is actually a "second quesadilla", just with enough time lapse between the last quesadilla and this quesadilla.

  • Do you think it might help to let it cool down for a bit, so it can heat back up evenly?
    – user21524
    Mar 16 '17 at 2:31
  • Certainly worth a try, i think it will help.
    – Ron
    Mar 16 '17 at 2:40
  • This was it. Apparently the sensor thought it was hot enough when it was not. I tried letting it cool a little, then jacking the heat up to maximum for a bit. The goal was to get the sensor cool, then ensure the whole surface was hot. Once the sensor registered it as hot enough, I turned the heat back down to where I cook it (medium-high) and the second one turned out almost as good as the first: grill marks were not quite as dark as the first, but the texture was perfect.
    – user21524
    Mar 19 '17 at 17:55
  • For anyone else reading this: the moral of the story is not to trust heat sensors on appliances 100%. Experiment a little in order to learn why a device is not performing as expected, and find a way to bend it to your will.
    – user21524
    Mar 19 '17 at 17:57

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