This quesadilla recipe comes out crispy on the outside with perfectly melty cheese! Here’s how to make this Tex Mex specialty.


If there’s one meal we lean on time and time again, it’s the mighty quesadilla. This Mexican and Tex Mex recipe is genius in its simplicity, from the golden tortilla outsides to its melty, gooey interior. When we’re not sure what’s for dinner, it’s often this trick that we pull out. It’s not rocket science to make a quesadilla, but there are a few tricks that take it over the top. This easy quesadilla recipe makes a crispy, deliciously seasoned tortilla melt every time.

How to make a quesadilla: 3 tricks

The quesadilla was invented in Mexico, possibly in the 16th century or before. The ingredients and method evolved over time, but an authentic Mexican quesadilla today is typically made with corn tortillas and Oaxaca cheese. The American quesadilla is a variant on the Mexican original: it’s more like a grilled cheese and typically uses flour tortillas.

This Tex Mex staple is the recipe we’re sharing here. Here are 3 tips to a next-level quesadilla recipe:

  • Use quality melting cheese. The best types of cheese for the American quesadilla include mild cheddar, Colby Jack, and Mexican blend cheeses. Avoid sharp cheddar because it doesn’t melt as well. For a more traditional Mexican quesadilla, use Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese.
  • Fill with a sprinkle of pico de gallo. Pico de gallo, or fresh salsa, adds just the right kick to the interior. It adds a little tomato, onion, garlic and jalapeno, but not so much that you can distinguish any of the specific flavors.
  • Cook in cast iron or stainless steel. This gets the best browning to the outside of the tortilla. We like to use a small drizzle of oil for cooking, but you can also cook with a dry pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side until golden brown on the outside.

Cheese quesadilla ingredients

The ingredients for a basic cheese quesadilla are very simple. You can use it as a template to make a veggie or chicken variation with a few add-ons (see below). Here’s what you’ll need for a cheese quesadilla:

  • Flour or corn tortillas: Corn tortillas are traditional for Mexican-style tortillas. They also make this recipe gluten-free. The typical American or Tex-Mex style quesadilla uses flour tortillas, which get a bit more crispy when browned (like bread in a grilled cheese). Either work here!
  • Mild cheddar cheese and Colby jack cheese: We like using a blend of cheese for most nuanced flavor. Or, try Mexican blend, smoked mozzarella, or Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese.
  • Pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa): It’s easy to find containers of pico de gallo in the refrigerated section of the grocery.

Variations: veggie, chicken quesadilla & more

Step up your quesadilla with a few filling variations! You can easily turn this basic template into a veggie or chicken quesadilla with the following additions:

  • Veggie: To each tortilla, add 1 handful drained and rinsed black beans, 1 handful thinly sliced green onions, 1 handful canned corn, and 1 sprinkle chopped cilantro.
  • Chicken: To each tortilla, add ¼ cup chopped or shredded chicken.
  • Beef or vegan beef: To each tortilla, add ¼ cup cooked ground beef or plant-based crumbles or taco meat (we like the brands Impossible and Beyond). Or, make Vegan Taco Meat.

Dipping sauces and toppings

Another way to a next-level quesadilla? Serve it with a fun dipping sauce or topping. To us, sour cream is just about perfect. But you can get creative and serve with a Mexican crema or dipping sauce. Here are some ideas for sauces and toppings:

When it comes to toppings, we like to keep it simple: a bit of chopped cilantro and a dollop of hot sauce is all you need.

Quesadilla Recipe

Try baked quesadillas to serve a crowd

Want to make more quesadillas at once? Try these Baked Quesadillas! This recipe makes an easy dinner by baking up a big batch all at once on a sheet pan. All the quesadillas are done at the same time, and they come out with a beautifully crispy exterior. 

More quesadilla ideas

There are lots of fun variations on the quesadilla! Here are a few other ways to get creative:

This quesadilla recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free (with corn tortillas).

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Easy Quesadilla Recipe

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quesadilla 1x


This quesadilla recipe comes out crispy on the outside with perfectly melty cheese! Here’s how to make this Tex Mex specialty.


  • 2 6-inch flour tortillas (per 1 serving*)
  • ¼ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded Colby jack cheese**
  • 2 tablespoons pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa)
  • 2 pinches salt
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • Other filling items: cooked chicken, cooked ground beef (or plant-based crumbles), black beans, canned corn, avocado, green onions, chopped cilantro, etc.
  • To serve: sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro, avocado crema, lime crema, salsa, guacamole, chipotle sauce, etc.


  1. Place half the shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and 1 pinch salt in half of a tortilla, along with any other filling items (be careful not to overstuff). Fold it over to make a half circle. Repeat with the other tortilla. 
  2. Heat a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to lightly coat the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side until browned and crisp, pressing gently with a spatula while cooking. 
  3. Slice into 4 or 6 wedges and serve immediately with dipping sauces. 


*Want to make 8 quesadillas at once? Try our Baked Quesadillas

**Other cheese ideas: Oaxacan and Chihuahua cheese are most traditional for a Mexican quesadilla. Or, try Mexican blend cheese, or substituting the Colby jack with smoked mozzarella.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Quesadilla, cheese quesadilla, quesadilla recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Most of the items are Mexican. Show me a more elaborate, but fast dinner with meats … chicken, beef, pork chops, etc.

    Fast, but not 5 minutes and others – not that fast.

    It takes time to make scrambled eggs. The recipe doesn’t count prep time at all. Crack each egg, add milk, mix together. Cook, then turn. Add the sauce. Cook and turn again.

    Peel the onion, take away the outer pieces, cut onion slices or pieces.

    Wash the cilantro, dry it, chop it – oh, I think you just left it whole.

    I am past 5 minutes by now. At least, one person is over 5. You need several people, each doing different things.

  2. Great basic recipe. We sautéed onion, garlic, green peppers and spinach. Then mixed with black beans. Super easy and flexible. Add some cilantro, sliced avocado and also. Spanish rice on the side. Yum!