Cheese Tacos

Kid-friendlyMexican and Tex MexGluten-FreeTaco

Simple and easy cheese tacos recipe, made with corn tortillas, fried in a little butter, folded over grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Also known as quesadillas.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Most kids grow up learning how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so they can help themselves in the kitchen when they want some lunch. In our family, it was cheese tacos. It’s our stand-by what-do-you-make-when-you-haven’t-really-thought-about-it-in-advance lunch. There’s always a stack of corn tortillas in the fridge. There’s always butter. There’s almost always cheddar or jack cheese. I’ve noticed that most of my friends regularly make a quick sandwich for lunch. Maybe once a month I’ll make a sandwich. Three times a week I’ll make cheese tacos. (What? You don’t have a stack of tortillas in your fridge?)

Usually cheese tacos just have cheese in them. Add some salsa and you’re done. My cheese tacos tend to be a little more elaborate. I stand by my rule that you can put almost anything in a tortilla and call it a taco. (Note that in many parts of Mexico, what we are calling a cheese taco would be considered a quesadilla. In Northern Mexico however, and for most of in the U.S., quesadillas are made with flour tortillas, not corn tortillas.)

Here’s my very special cheese taco recipe. My grandmother made cheese tacos this way; my mother still makes cheese tacos this way. I’m the only one in the family who puts slices of apples in her tacos however, prompting turned up noses from everyone else. Like I said, you can put anything you want in a tortilla and call it a taco, and I like apples and avocados in my cheese tacos.

Cheese Tacos Recipe


This method makes delicious, buttery, cheesey tacos. If you are avoiding butter, or frying oil (which you could also use), you could make these in a microwave. Soften the tortillas first in the microwave. We use 20 seconds on high per tortilla, with the tortillas sitting on a paper towel in the microwave to absorb moisture. Once they've been softened this way you can add cheese and fold them over and heat them a few seconds more, just until the cheese melts.


Special equipment needed

  • A large cast iron frying pan
  • A metal spatula


  • Corn tortillas (as many as tacos you want to make, packaged or homemade)
  • Butter
  • Cheddar or jack cheese
  • Salsa (homemade or prepared)

Optional ingredients

  • Avocado
  • Apple
  • Lettuce
  • Strips of cooked chicken, beef, or pork (a great use of leftovers)


1 Heat up the cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. While the pan is heating, prepare your ingredients. Cut some slices of cheese. Get the salsa out of the fridge. Thinly slice as many slices of apple as you want tacos. (3 tacos, 3 apple slices). Cut, remove seed, slice, and remove from skin the avocado slices you want. Slice some lettuce and any leftover meat you want to add in.

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2 When the pan is hot (sprinkle a few drops of water on it, they should sizzle) lightly butter one side of one tortilla and place it in the pan, butter side down. Using a spatula, quickly flip the tortilla over to the other side, and back again, repeating until there is melted butter on both sides of the tortilla. Let the tortilla sit in hot pan until pockets of air start to form bubbles in the tortilla.

3 Add slices of cheese to one side of the tortilla. Make sure to allow room for the cheese to melt and not spread all over the pan.


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4 Flip the side of tortilla without the cheese over the side with the cheese, as if you were making an omelette. Move the folded cheese taco to one side of the pan. Add a second tortilla, lightly buttered on one side, and repeat the process. You can tell when the taco is done by pressing down on it with a spoon or fork or edge of the spatula. If it gives easily, the cheese is melted and you can remove the taco from the pan.

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5 You are basically done with the cheese tacos. Now all you have left to do is assembly. Open up each taco and add the ingredients you want. A slice of avocado, a slice of apple, a piece of chicken, a little bit of lettuce. Don't over do it or you won't be able to hold the taco and get it in your mouth. :-)

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Quesadilla recipe

Showing 4 of 21 Comments / Reviews

  • arti

    The cheese tacos were amazing! they will be a favorite at our house for sure. I love how the flavor of the corn tortillas is amplified by being toasted with the butter. We had some left over fish sticks that we put in the tacos along with shredded cabbage and salsa. Yum. I’m getting avocados at the store tonight and am making them again next week. LOL. I’m hooked.

  • Elise

    Hi MsOktober – that’s one way to do it! It’s hard to go wrong with tortillas, butter, and cheese.

    Hi Arti – Excellent. I’m so glad you and your family liked them. It used to be that you could only get good tortillas, salsa, and avocados in the Southwest. Now that Mexican food has become more popular around the country you can usually find good ingredients everywhere. This is good news. Enjoy!

  • sosa

    Being mexican, I don’t mind that recipe without beans and chili sauce.
    What about some chorizo?

  • Elise

    Hola sosa. I guess the idea here was just the cheese tacos and the idea that you could put anything in them, or with them. I LOVE chorizo. I eat it in scrambled eggs. And my mother and I have been arguing for months over the bean recipe. She uses a pressure cooker and doesn’t soak the beans. But when we grew up, she always soaked the beans. Diana Kennedy doesn’t soak her beans. So the bean recipe has been problematic as there are several different opinions. What is your opinion about the best way to cook beans? And how do you like to serve chorizo?

  • liz

    We eat these almost everyday in our house! I prefer whole wheat tortillas, so they’re really more like quesadillas. I make them on my George Foreman grill (don’t laugh- it works really well and I only use it for quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches).

    Just today, I made cheddar and apple for my kids. I had mine with black bean dip from Trader Joes and cheddar. Yum! I cook all the ingredients (load up the tortilla, fold them in half). The kids love them and also a great way to sneak in some veggies, such as spinach.

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Cheese Tacos