If you're craving some ooey-gooey, melty mozzarella and cheddar cheese goodness I challenge you to find something more satisfying (and straightforward) than a grilled cheese quesadilla. Made with three simple ingredients, this dish is not only easy to make, but also customizable with so many toppings and side options to add more yummy tastes and textures.
Whether you are after a hearty meal, speedy snack or side to serve with a comforting soup like this Spicy Mexican Soup with Beans and Corn, there are numerous ways to make this recipe your own.
Just like my Halloumi and Smashed Avocado Sandwich, Mexican Corn Soup and Tuna Melt Quesadilla, a cheese quesadilla is perfect for lunch or brunch. Take a look at my Jackfruit Tacos, another delicious Mexican-inspired vegetarian recipe that you can also customize with tasty toppings like my quick and easy Guacamole Without Tomato.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
✅ 4 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Tasty warm and comforting - there are few things that beat warm gooey melted cheese.
- Ready in 10 minutes
- Requires just 3 ingredients
- Customizable - add more tastes and textures into the mix with additional fillings and toppings
A super simple quesadilla recipe
With so many types of quesadillas out there, you might be thinking "why settle for a plain old cheese one?" But sometimes the simple things are the best and you only need three ingredients to whip it up in no time. Plus, you can use this recipe as a base to get creative with your own flavor combos. It's totally customizable to your taste buds.
What is a quesadilla?
A quesadilla is a popular Mexican dish made by filling a tortilla with cheese (and sometimes other ingredients such as meat, beans, or vegetables), and then grilling or toasting it until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. It can be served as a snack, appetizer, or main course, and is often accompanied by salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.
The best cheese for quesadillas:
The best cheese for quesadillas is a cheese that melts well and has a good flavor that complements the other ingredients in the quesadilla. I often go for a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. To me it's the best of both worlds, with the sharp taste of the cheddar with the soft stringy texture of mozzarella.
Authentic cheese quesadillas typically use a cheese called "queso Oaxaca" or "quesillo," which is a stringy, semi-soft cheese that is similar to mozzarella. This cheese is commonly used in Mexican cuisine and is known for its ability to melt easily and stretch into long strings.
Other good options include:
- Monterey Jack: This cheese is mild and creamy and melts beautifully. It's a popular choice for quesadillas.
- Colby Jack: This cheese is a combination of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses and has a mild flavor with a slightly sweet note. It melts well and is great for quesadillas.
- Cheddar: This cheese has a sharp, tangy flavor that can add a nice kick to a quesadilla. It melts well and adds a nice golden color.
- Queso blanco: This cheese has a mild, slightly salty flavor and a crumbly texture that melts well. It's a traditional cheese used in Mexican cuisine.
- Gouda: This cheese has a nutty flavor and melts well, making it a tasty option for quesadillas.
- Mozarella: has a stretchy, stringy texture when melted, which can work well in quesadillas. However, it has a very mild flavour so you may want to mix it with another cheese unless you prefer a very mild cheese.
Ultimately, the best cheese for your quesadilla depends on your personal taste and the other ingredients you're using. Try out different combinations of cheese. Most cheeses will work well, and this recipe is great for using up leftover cheese.
Pre-shredded cheese is a convenient option but often contains additives and anti-caking agents, which can affect the flavor and texture of the cheese when melted. I urge you to grate your own cheese if you can.
The only exception is mozzarella. I have found that fresh mozzarella can add unwanted moisture to the quesadilla, so I tend to opt for grated/pre-shredded here.
🛒 Other ingredients:
The best tortillas
The best tortillas for quesadillas are soft and pliable, so they can be easily filled and folded without breaking.
Traditionally, corn tortillas are used for quesadillas in Mexico, but flour tortillas are a popular choice because they are softer and have a neutral flavor that can complement a variety of ingredients. They are larger in size, so they are great for making quesadillas that can be cut into slices and served as an appetizer or main course. You're also sure to find them in your local store, whereas corn tortillas can be trickier to get hold of.
That said, corn tortillas are also a good choice because they have a slightly nutty and earthy flavor, and when toasted or grilled, they develop a nice crunch that contrasts well with the melted cheese.
Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. Both corn and flour tortillas can work well, so feel free to experiment with different types.
I highly recommend toasting the quesadillas in butter instead of oil. Butter adds flavor and richness and has a rich and creamy taste that pairs up nicely with cheese.
You can swap the butter for oil if you wish to, and you can also toast the quesadilla in a dry pan without any fat. It will still crisp up nicely but might compromise the flavour and texture.
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
1. Get the pan nice and hot
Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add butter.
Prep your quesadillas while you wait for the pan to heat up. Simply sprinkle an even layer of grated cheese onto half of the tortilla, leaving around 1cm / ⅓ inch gap around the edge to prevent the cheese from oozing out into the pan as you toast it.
When the pan is hot, and the butter starts to sizzle a little you can add the quesadilla. Then just cook it for 90 seconds to 2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.
4. Slice and serve
Slice the quesadilla using a knife or pizza cutter and serve immediately with your choice of toppings.
👍 Top tips
- Grate your own cheese (except for mozzarella) - it will significantly improve the flavour and texture of your quesadilla, and it's more cost-effective too.
- Use pre-shredded mozzarella - fresh mozzarella can added unwanted moisture to the quesadilla.
- Wait for the pan to get hot - patience really pays off here, make sure the butter is bubbling and sizzling before the quesadilla touches the pan. If you add the quesadilla too soon it will absorb the fat and become soggy.
- Fry in butter - it adds yummy rich flavour and improves the texture.
There are so many ways to jazz up a cheese quesadilla. Here are a few variations you might want to try:
- Add some protein: Add cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp to your quesadilla for a heartier meal. Leftover fajita or taco meat works great!
- Add veggies: load up your quesadilla with sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, or spinach. These veggies add some extra nutrition and flavor to your cheesy creation.
- Refried beans: spreading refried beans onto the quesadilla before adding the cheese is a great way to add flavor, texture and protein.
- Spice it up: sprinkle in some chili powder, cumin, or red pepper flakes. Or, add some sliced jalapeños or hot sauce for a fiery kick!
- Go gourmet: Get fancy by using more upscale cheeses like goat cheese, brie, or gouda. Add some caramelized onions or fig jam for a sophisticated twist.
- Change up the tortilla: try corn tortillas or whole wheat.
Dips and toppings are a great way to bring more tastes and textures into the mix and will transform a simple cheese quesadilla into something seriously delicious. Here are a few suggestions:
Here are some tasty side dishes that can elevate your quesadillas from a simple snack to a satisfying meal:
The choice between corn and flour tortillas really depends on your personal preference. If you like a more traditional Mexican-style quesadilla, then corn tortillas are a great choice. They have a slightly nutty flavor and are more resilient, so they hold up well to the heat and the weight of the filling. Plus, they're gluten-free if that's something you're looking for.
If you prefer a softer and more pliable tortilla that can wrap around your filling more easily, then flour tortillas are the way to go. They also have a milder flavor, which can be nice if you want your toppings to be the star of the show.
Cheese is a high-fat and high-calorie ingredient, and when combined with a tortilla, the calories and carbs can add up quickly. That being said, a cheese quesadilla can be a good source of protein and calcium, especially if you use a whole-grain tortilla and add some veggies or lean protein to it.
If you're looking to make your cheese quesadilla a bit healthier, you could try using reduced-fat cheese or using less cheese overall, adding some veggies like bell peppers, and serving it with a side salad.
A cheese quesadilla made with a traditional flour or corn tortilla is not considered keto-friendly, as these tortillas are high in carbs.
However, if you use a low-carb or keto-friendly tortilla (such as a coconut flour or almond flour tortilla), and use a keto-friendly cheese, then you could make a cheese quesadilla that fits into a keto diet.
You certainly can. Just prepare them as normal and brush the outsides with butter or spray with cooking oil and air fry at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C for 6-8 minutes flipping halfway until the tortilla turns golden brown. Make sure you check on them after a minute or two to see if the tortillas have opened. If they have, gently press them together. The melted cheese will keep them sealed.
Leftover quesadillas can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just allow them to cool completely, wrap them in plastic wrap or place into an airtight container and refrigerate. You can then reheat them on the stove, in the oven, or using your air fryer following the instructions below.
Quesadillas freeze well so why not make a large batch so you have a quick meal or tasty snack on hand. Just cook them as you normally would, cut them into smaller pieces if you wish, and allow them to cool completely. Then wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and then wrap them all in foil or place them into a freezer bag.
For best results defrost the quesadilla overnight in the refrigerator and reheat it following the instructions below. You can also reheat from frozen if you need to but will need to add a few minutes to the suggested cooking times.
- Stove: place a griddle or frying pan on a medium heat. Wait for the pan to get hot before adding the quesadillas and toast for 1-2 minutes on each side until the cheese has melted.
- Oven: Place the quesadilla on a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F or 180°C turning halfway.
- Air fryer: Heat the air fryer to 350°F or 180°C and add the quesadilla. Cook for 4-5 minutes turning halfway until the cheese has melted and the and tortillas are nice and crisp. Check after a minute or two to see if the quesadillas have opened and reseal if necessary. You can also use the reheating function if your air fryer has one.
If you're wondering if you can use the microwave, the answer is yes, but you won't get the best results this way. You can microwave the quesadilla for 30 seconds at a time until the cheese has melted, but keep in mind that the tortilla won't crisp up the way it would if reheated using the other methods.
😋 Check out my other Mexican-inspired recipes
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- 7 g (½ tbsp) butter (note 1)
- 80g (⅔ cup) Shredded/grated cheese (morzarella and cheddar recommended) (note 2)
- 2 medium sized tortillas (note 3)
- sour cream
- tomato salsa
- Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add the butter.
- Prep the quesadilla while you wait for the pan to heat. Place equal amounts of grated cheese inside the tortillas, leaving around 1cm / ⅓ inch gap around the edge to prevent the cheese from oozing out into the pan as you toast it. Then fold over.
- When the pan is hot and when the butter begins to sizzle add the quesadillas.
- Cook them until the bottoms of the quesadillas are nicely browned and then flip. A couple of minutes on each side is what's usually needed.
- Slice and serve immediately with your choice of sides including tomato salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
- Butter: cooking the quesadillas in butter adds additional flavor and richness, but you can use the same amount of oil instead.
- Cheese: any cheese that melts well will work so feel free to choose one (or a mixture of cheeses) to suit your taste. Good options include Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, Cheddar, Queso Blanco, Gouda and Mozzarella.
- Tortillas: both corn and flour tortillas will work well. Flour tortillas are often used for quesadillas because they are softer and have a neutral flavour that works well with a large range of ingredients, but you can also use corn if you prefer a nutty flavour and crunchy texture.