- Food: Quesadilla
- Writer: Lizzie Green
- Content-Type: Food Blog
It’s about time you met the quesadillas, my go-to dinner.
I whip together a quesadilla in under 10 minutes flat when I’m too lazy to make a decent meal, when my fridge is bare, or when I arrive home from the grocery store hungry.
In all these years of food blogging, how have I not posted my basic quesadilla recipe? Today, I’m putting things right by providing my favorite quesadilla, as well as a variety of quesadilla-making ideas and creative ways to mix up your quesadillas.
First and foremost, a quick history lesson! When Spaniards brought dairy ingredients (along with cows) to Mexico in the 1500s, quesadillas were born.
Mexicans mixed cheese (queso) with tortillas to make a variety of delectable dishes, including the quesadilla.
A quesadilla is nothing more than a cooked tortilla with melting cheese within. It’s a Mexican grilled cheese, if you will, with the option of adding extra content.
My favorite quesadillas, on the other hand, aren’t the overly buttery, ooey-gooey quesadillas that you might have regretted ordering at a Tex-Mex restaurant.
These quesadillas are loaded with vegetables and protein-rich beans. I prepare them using whole-grain tortillas for added nutrition and plenty of cheese to ensure they’re both appealing and tasty.
That’s why, instead of ordering pizza, I usually prepare a quesadilla—quicker it’s and more satisfying.
How to make the Best Quesadilla Recipe?
Here are a few pointers to help you achieve the best possible outcome:
Per quesadilla, use one tortilla. After that, fold it in half to make a half-moon shape. With this method, you can make two quesadillas at once, nested in the pan with their folded sides touching.
The flipping and slicing of giant round quesadillas created with two tortillas are too difficult.
Pick your cheese with care. Freshly grated cheese melts better than pre-shredded cheese.
Cheddar cheese is preferred over Monterey Jack because it is less gooey and provides a firmer, easier-to-slice quesadilla. Use Oaxaca cheese if you want to go the traditional route and can locate it!
Use a skillet that is medium to large in size. Make sure your pan is big enough to hold the quesadilla lengthwise so it can roast nicely from end to end.
Don’t turn the heat up too much. Moderate heat will melt the cheese slowly while crisping the tortillas without burning them.
Reduce the heat as needed, and then be careful to cook each side until it is deeply brown and crisp. The crispiness is essential.
It’s not necessary to use oil or butter. I frequently cook my tortillas on a cast iron pan with no oil at all since they are less likely to burn.
A thin brush of oil or melted butter on the outsides is a great touch (I provided directions for incorporating oil/butter in the recipe below, but you may certainly ignore it).
Toss in the beans. Cooked beans provide a protein-rich filling that balances out the cheesy-carby flavors. That way, it appears to be a more well-balanced, complete meal.
Prepare your fillings by chopping them up. Large hunks of components can’t be sandwiched in a quesadilla because they’ll fall out and dribble hot cheese down your chin. Awkward. Cut them up into little pieces.
Bonus Tip (if you dare):
Sprinkle a little cheese on the exterior of the quesadilla, let it melt, and then flip it so the cheese fries against the quesadilla for a cheesy flavor explosion. If desired, repeat on the other side.
This is best done on non-stick surfaces, although it may still result in a wonderful mess (this is also a great trick for grilled cheese sandwiches). My crispy mushroom, spinach, and avocado quesadillas recipe have more thorough directions.
Serving Suggestions for Quesadilla
Quesadillas are a quick supper in and of themselves. I enjoy pairing them with fresh salads, black or pinto beans, and Mexican soups. Here are some suggestions:
- Salad of Fresh Black Beans
- Salad greens with a jalapeno-cilantro dressing (or a simplified version of it)
- Avocado Salad with Herbs
- Black Beans from Scratch
- Mexican(ish) Salad with Kale and Quinoa
- Pinto Posole Soup with Spicy Black Beans
|Time to prepare: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 5 minutes
10 minutes in total
Quesadillas are a quick and easy supper. In about 10 minutes, you can enjoy this vegetarian quesadilla dish! The recipe makes one quesadilla (3 slices), so double or triple it as needed.
- 1 whole-grain flour tortilla (about 8″ diameter)
- ¼ cup cooked black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon chopped red bell pepper or jarred roasted bell pepper or a few thinly sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped red onion or green onion
- ½ cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño (if you like heat)
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil, melted butter, or extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Any of the following, for serving: Salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole or strips of avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, chopped fresh cilantro…
- In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Warm your tortilla in the microwave for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway through. Flip once more and spread about half of the cheese on one half of the tortilla. Cover the other fillings evenly on top of the cheese: beans, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno (if using).
- Cover the fillings with the remaining cheese and fold the empty side of the tortilla over to surround the fillings. Brush a light coating of oil on the top of the quesadilla, then delicately flip it with a spatula.
- Allow 1 to 2 minutes for the quesadilla to cook until golden and crispy on the bottom, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid scorching the tortilla. Brush a light coating of oil on the top, then flip and fry until the other side is golden and crispy.
- Remove the quesadilla from the griddle and place it on a chopping board right away. Allow for a minute for the cheese to solidify before slicing it into three pieces with a chef’s knife. Serve immediately with any desired sauces or toppings.
- TURN IT AROUND: Replace the fillings with a handful of any of the following: raw or cooked chopped vegetables, sautéed greens, fresh leafy herbs, chopped olives or pepperoncini peppers, or anything else you can think of.
- NOTES ON CHEESE: You can replace the cheddar with any melty cheese (Monterey Jack, mozzarella, authentic Oaxaca—no need to shred the Oaxaca cheese). If desired, crumbled feta or goat cheese can be added.
- MAKE A BASIC QUESADILLA WITH CHEESE: Just leave out the rest of the fillings!
- USE A CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE TORTILLA TO MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE.
- TO MAKE IT VEGAN, FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the cheese and spread 1/4 cup cashew sour cream or hummus over the tortilla (see these hummus quesadillas), brushing with oil instead of butter.
- STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: These quesadillas are at their crispiest shortly after they’re made, but they’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days if covered. If preferred, warm in the microwave or oven before serving.