A cheese quesadilla may sound like a midnight snack, a meal of picky eaters and college students but there’s a lot more to this Mexican dish than cost.

We’ll be going over simple steps to make a killer cheese quesadilla and showing off some different sauces and vegetables you can use and make a traditional meal that much better.


    • Flour Tortillas
    • Grated sharp Cheddar cheese
    • Butter
    • Onions
    • Green chiles
    • Salsa, sour cream, or guacamole (optional)


peppers on chicken quesadilla with sour cream on the side
Image: CC BY 2.0, jeffreyw, via flckr

A great quesadilla starts with a great tortilla. So don’t be afraid to spend a little more money to get the real deal. If possible, head to the Mexican or International aisle of your local grocery store and look for authentic tortillas in the size you need.

If you’re trying to make a side item for a bigger meal or something smaller but a full meal based on quesadillas is going to need the biggest tortilla possibleShopping smart doesn’t stop with tortillas. Look for shredded cheese that’s either made for quesadillas (like a Mexican blend) or a sharp cheddar that you’ve worked with before.

Fresh onions and green chilies are also a must. If you like a spicer quesadilla add red and green jalapeños to bring out a different dimension to your meal.

Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, the assembly is simple. Layer about half of the cheese for one quesadilla on the bottom tortilla. Then work your way to the vegetables.

We’ve chosen onions and green chiles to give a little flair to all that cheddar, but diced tomatoes and other greens could work as well.

Either way, chop large enough chunks to be tasted, not large enough to hurt the integrity of the thin quesadilla.

Once you’ve finished, pour your vegetables on top and go for an even coating. Next, put the rest of the cheese onto quesadilla, so that our finished product has our vegetables in the center of it all.

More Instructions:

Next, melt butter over medium heat in a pan that’s going to be big enough to hold your quesadilla. 

Place your quesadilla onto the pan and press down slightly. To make your cheese melt faster but be wary of scorching the outside of your tortillas and leaving the cheese unmelted with too much heat.

It’ll be a couple of minutes before the underside of the tortilla is a golden brown. So lift an edge every minute or to make sure land in the sweet spot. If you’d like, place more unsalted butter on the top of the tortilla and spread once it’s softened. Using cooking oil or olive oil are optional but we recommend butter to keep things from too greasy.

Flip your quesadilla once it is ready and repeat the process on the other side. Then, pressing down a little bit to keep your sides glued together by the cheese inside.

If you’ve layered your cheese properly the melted insides of your quesadilla should be threatening to spill out at this point. This means we’ve done a good job with portioning.

Once both sides are a golden brown, remove from heat and serve immediately. If you’d like, slice up your quesadilla into thirds or eighths to plate as if they were chips.

If you’ve opted for salsa, guacamole, or sour cream, you can top your meal off with a healthy dab or keep your sauces in small bowls on the side.

That’s it! If you’ve followed the steps and you want a crunchy and chewy quesadilla that goes great with any other traditional Mexican meal.


    • Purchase large Mexican tortillas and sharp cheddar cheese
    • Butter both sides and cook over low to medium heat
    • Check the underside of the quesadilla and flip when golden brown
    • Serve immediately after cooking, top with sour cream, or slice into eighths

Variations and Meal Ideas

Since the cheese quesadilla is so simple, stuffing the insides with different cheeses or even meats is a great way to make a fuller meal out of a simpler dish.

Try these variations and ideas to make a better cheese quesadilla or surprise your guest with all your own creation.

different toppings on top of a quesadilla
Image: CC BY 2.0, Katherine Lim, via flckr


If you’re not interested in filling your quesadilla and keeping your creation as thin and crispy as possible. Consider going all out on toppings to increase the visual appeal and try out some new flavors.

The classic choice would be to place a healthy dollop of sour cream in the center of your quesadilla or trying to smear a little bit of guacamole over the top.

Pulling out aromatics like basil, green leaves, and oregano could also add a little more dimension to your meal.

The more adventurous try sliced chili peppers to bring heat or sliced tomatoes to help match your quesadilla to a salad or similar offering.

Try to add sliced mango or pineapple to an especially thin quesadilla and mix with tomatoes or chili peppers.

The more ingredients the easier to create discord with your meal. So we recommend experimenting at your own risk and at the risk of your guest’s taste buds.


The cheese quesadilla gets its name from the most obvious ingredient, and tampering with that ingredient comes with consequences.  

Some purists would argue that these suggestions remove “cheese” from the cheese quesadilla, but these next options could make for a better meal—regardless of the nomenclature.

Mexican blend or sharp cheddar is the obvious choice but for a milder cheddar could help offset the spices of chilies or pair with pineapple and mango flavor on top.

Guacamole and avocado are the obvious choices to fill in a milder quesadilla. When going this route to make a meal tastes a little bit healthier go for a mild cheese or mozzarella.

Finally, we have meat. Add shredded chicken or ground beef can make more quesadilla filling and make a killer dipping sauce alongside your cheese and meat slices makes for a delicious banquet for parties and tequila night.

Don’t be scared to add beans to fill out your quesadilla, or even quinoa to satisfy your vegetarian friends. Anything that you’d find on a plate at a Mexican restaurant may be better served in your next dinner item.

Salsa & Sauce

sour cream and salsa with quesadilla
Image: CC0 Creative Commons, pixel1, via Pixabay

Don’t let someone else ruin your meal—instead, try making your own salsa.

Blend onions, garlic, jalapeños and diced tomatoes for a simple and spicy salsa to go with your quesadilla. To make a good guacamole sauce: make avocados with red onions, chiles, black pepper, tomato, and add a dash of lemon juice.

You can experiment over time with the part sizes to make a salsa or guacamole sauce that matches with the temperament of your quesadilla.

For a spicier quesadilla, you can go easy on the jalapeños in the sauce. For a milder meal with mangos and pineapple, try out an opposing strategy.  

It may seem reductant given this item, but mixing queso into your salsa could produce some wonderful results. So, if you need something to do with all that extra sharp cheddar you bought and made a salsa con queso to serve with your quesadilla or chips.

Wrapping Things Up

Our recipe here will give you a cheese quesadilla that’s miles better than anything you managed to assemble in college or between paychecks but it’s important to note that we’ve given you a starting point rather than a complete meal.

If you’re cooking Mexican food, go all out and serve your quesadilla with refried beans and seasoned rice. Mixed drinks, chips and cheese, and fresh guacamole will bring out the best in your items and create a full meal that isn’t as involved to make as you may have expected.

Experiment, keep a close eye on those tortillas while cooking, and try out cheese quesadillas the next time you need to impress a guest without breaking the bank.


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