Serves 2 to 4

A cross between a Mexican pizza an an open-faced quesadilla, the cheese crisp is the perfect comfort food. Southern Arizona restaurants started selling the dish more than 50 years ago and it’s become a staple of our local Sonoran Style cuisine. I ditched the tortilla and came up with this super-cheesy, updated version of the dish that is grain-free, and thus gluten-free and low-carb as well. Parmesan is a hard cheese that crisps when melted, replacing the flour based tortilla. Serve the chipotle ranch on the side as a dipping sauce if you don’t have a squeeze bottle available. I used a blend of jack, cheddar, and queso quesadilla for the Mexican cheese blend. See more of the recipes I’ve developed for


  • 2 Hatch or Padilla green chilies or one of each
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 ½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves

Ingredients for the Chipotle Ranch Drizzle

  • 1 cup prepared ranch dressing
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a jar of chipotles chilies


  • Preheat the broiler to 475 degrees. Wash the chilies and spray them with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally until the chilies are brown and the skin is blistered; about 10-15 minutes.
  • While the chilies are roasting, mix together the ranch dressing and the adobo sauce. Transfer to a plastic squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Remove chilies from the oven, peel off the blistered skin, remove the seeds and stems, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-1/8 inch wide strips. Set aside.
  • Line a round 12-14" pizza pan with a round silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cover with a layer of shredded Parmesan cheese. You should just barely see the bottom of the pan through the cheese. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven. Set the oven to "bake" and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Sprinkle the Mexican cheese blend on top of the crisp Parmesan "crust", then arrange the chili strips on top. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Top with fresh cilantro leaves, then drizzle with chipotle ranch in a spiral pattern. Cut with a pizza wheel and serve.
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