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I grew up making quesadillas, the benefit of having a Hispanic mother who is a great cook. "Queso" is cheese in Spanish.
A quesadilla is a heated tortilla with melted cheese inside. But in addition to cheese, you can put practically anything in a quesadilla.
Best Fillings for Quesadillas
My favorites are mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, and onions. I don't cook these ingredients first, but it really is a matter of taste. You could if you wanted to.
Corn or Flour Tortillas for Quesadillas?
Traditionally in Mexico quesadillas are made with corn tortillas, not wheat flour tortillas, and a melty, white cheese.
Here in the states though, because of how close we are to the Sonoran area of northern Mexico, quesadillas are more often made with flour tortillas. We like to get the flour tortillas lightly toasted because it improves the flavor.
What Is a Quesadilla?
A quesadilla is a Mexican dish that dates back to the 16th century. Traditional quesadillas were made with a corn tortilla that was warmed on a griddle, filled with cheese and various other fillings (meat, vegetables), and then folded over to be eaten by hand.
The addition of toppings like guacamole, salsa, and sour cream seems to have come along later. And, as Americans have adopted quesadillas, they've put their own spin on them, adding untraditional fillings such as scrambled eggs to make breakfast quesadillas and often swapping out flour tortillas for the corn tortillas.
How to Make a Quesadilla
Quesadillas are simple and quick to make. Place a tortilla on a hot griddle, let it brown, flip it over, and then fill with cheese and toppings of your choice. When fillings are warmed through and the tortilla is sufficiently browned, fold the tortilla over, remove it from the griddle and enjoy.
One tip about using meat in a quesadilla: the cooking time may not be sufficient to heat the meat through. You may want to preheat it before adding.
What Is the Best Quesadilla Cheese?
Freshly grated cheese such as cheddar or Monterey Jack are often used in American-style quesadillas. Pre-grated cheese is handy and melts okay enough, though we recommend grating your own cheese for the best meltability.
You can use any meltable cheese in a quesadilla, but for something closer to an authentic Mexican quesadilla, try one of these cheeses.
- Queso asadero
Tips to Make Ahead and Reheat Quesadillas
For make-ahead quesadillas, choose your fillings wisely. Avoid watery fresh vegetables like tomatoes, which can make the tortillas soggy. Likewise, don't put salsa inside the quesadilla if you're making them ahead.
Before storing quesadillas, allow them to cool completely. Wrap quesadillas individually in plastic wrap; refrigerate 3 to 4 days.
To freeze wrapped quesadillas, stack them on top of each other and wrap the stack in an additional layer of aluminum foil.
Defrost quesadillas in the refrigerator. Quesadillas defrosted on the counter or in a microwave will get soggy.
Reheat quesadillas until they are just heated through, since they were previously cooked. You can use several methods.
- Microwave: For a quick reheat, microwave at high power until just heated through (start with 30 seconds). Note that the tortilla will won't be crisp this way.
- Stovetop: Preheat a griddle or a pan on medium-high heat. Add the quesadilla; cook about 1 minute, then flip and continue reheating until the filling is hot.
- Oven: To reheat several quesadillas at once, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350°F preheated oven and heat 5 to 10 minutes. Flip once while reheating.
Try These Quesadilla Recipes Next!
- Large flour tortillas
- Grated cheese - either mild or sharp cheddar, or Monterey Jack
- Olive oil or butter
- Sliced mushrooms
- Green onions
- Black olives, sliced
- Fresh tomatoes, diced
- Chicken pieces
- Apple cider vinegar
Heat the tortillas until air pockets form:
Heat a large skillet (cast iron works great) on medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula (you could use butter as well).
Take one large flour tortilla and place it in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, 10 seconds between flips. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla.
Add cheese and other ingredients:
When pockets of air begin to form, take a handful of grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla, making sure that the cheese does not land on the pan itself.
Add whatever additional ingredients you choose - green onion, sliced mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. If you would like your quesadilla to be a chicken quesadilla, add some diced cooked chicken.
Take care not to layer on the ingredients too thickly - this is a quesadilla, not a quiche!
Lower heat and cover pan:
Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The pan should be hot enough by now to have plenty of residual heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke too much, remove from the heat.
After a minute, check to see if the cheese is melted. If not, return the cover and keep checking every minute until the cheese is melted.
Fold tortilla over:
When the cheese is sufficiently melted, use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side, as if you were making an omelette.
The tortilla should by now be browned slightly. If it is not browned, turn the heat up to high and flip the quesadilla over every 10 seconds or so until it gets browned.
Remove quesadilla from pan and cut into wedges:
To make the lettuce to accompany the quesadilla, thinly slice some iceberg lettuce. Sprinkle some cider vinegar on it and some salt.