4 Ways to Make Quesadillas + 10 Tasty Filling Ideas

By Kare Raye | Last Updated: March 11, 2014

4 Ways to Make Quesadillas + 10 Tasty Filling Ideas
As far as easy meals go, it doesn’t get much better than quesadillas. At their simplest, quesadillas are flour tortillas filled with cheese, folded over, and heated to crispy, melty perfection in minutes. But they lend themselves to endless incredible fillings and variations, plus, they’re easy to customize to individual tastes.

Everyone knows you can whip up quesadillas in a frying pan à la grilled cheese, but did you know there are other (often healthier) ways you can achieve that golden-brown crispy shell full of gooey, irresistible goodness?

Start with medium-size flour tortillas, a little less shredded cheese than you might think–about 1/4 cup for a full quesadilla or 2 tablespoons for a folded-over half–and whatever else you’d like. Smashed black beans? Charred onions and peppers? The world is your quesadilla.

Stuff as you wish, and then it’s time to get cooking! Here are four ways to make quesadillas.

4 Ways To Make QuesadillasFry Them // Let’s start with the most common method. Frying quesadillas gives them that delectable crispy golden shell and, if you’re lucky, just the right amount of oozy overage. The bad news? Tortillas can soak quite a bit of oil for a less healthy result.

To cook, drizzle a tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil into a medium-to-large pan, and warm over medium heat. Only once the oil is heated should you (carefully) drop your prepared ‘dilla into the pan–otherwise the tortilla will soak up even more oil and possibly even end up a bit soggy. Cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes, then carefully flip, cooking until golden on both sides and the cheese is melted, another couple of minutes.

Transfer to a few paper towels to soak up excess oil, cut into wedges, and serve.

4 Ways To Make QuesadillasPanini Press Them // This method is my favorite. It’s fast, for one–just a minute or two and dinner’s ready. Best of all, it requires no oil–zero! If you really want to, you can brush the grill plates with a bit of oil, but I’ve found it’s not necessary. The quesadilla will still crisp up quite nicely without any. The downside? This method really isn’t great for super-stuffed quesadillas – it starts to ooze out the sides. Sadness.

It also works best with half-size quesadillas (one flour tortilla filled with a couple of tablespoons of cheese and folded into a half-moon shape). Just prep the quesadilla, place it in your press, gently lower the lid (don’t press it down!) and follow the directions for your particular panini press. I just wait about a minute for the red light to turn green. Done!

4 Ways To Make QuesadillasBake Them // Okay, so I said panini press is my favorite method, but baking them is a new discovery that’s gaining momentum around here. It’s an incredible way to make a whole bunch at one time, and you can stuff them to the gills if you really want to. Just preheat your oven to 350°F and brush one side of each tortilla with a little oil. Fill the quesadillas using the fold-over method and then lay them side-by-side on a baking sheet. 20-30 minutes later, depending on your ‘dilla, your meal is golden-crisp, melty, and ready to devour.

4 Ways To Make QuesadillasGrill Them // What the what? You can grill quesadillas? Yes sir (or ma’am)! We love grilling up our quesadillas especially on hot summer days, when we’d rather be outside than in. We prefer using the half-moon method when grilling, too (it makes them easier to maneuver when on the hot grill). Heat your BBQ to medium-low, and brush the outsides of your tortillas with a little oil, if you like. Cook on both sides until golden and grill-lined, and the cheese is melted through.

Bonus: 10 Tasty Filling Ideas!

Of course, the most important part of any quesadilla is the filling! While you can never go wrong with cheese and beans, sometimes you want to expand your horizons a little bit, right? Here are some delicious ideas for you to ponder:

Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Homemade cilantro pesto adds a kick of fresh flavor to these quesadillas.

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These look delicious! I don’t always make quesadillas, but this post may inspire me to try making more! Thank you for the creative ideas! (the kale and sweet potato version sounds bomb BTW)

I love how super-crispy they get in the panini press – and no oil needed! So, naturally, that means you can add a little more cheese. 😉 But baking them is becoming a fast favorite method here, too.

Love this post. I never thought about all the filling possibilities so I’ve stuck to the typical cheese and chicken. The mushroom & sun-dried tomato one sounds purely amazing

There are definitely infinite possibilities. They work particularly well in our house, too, because I’m a vegetarian but my husband is a meat-eater – individual customizable portions for the win! 🙂

Thanks for covering all the different methods.

I’ve been experimenting with different ways to cook quesadillas and have had no luck frying them. I usually end up dumping a ton of the ingredients when I do the flip.

Baking works really well especially since mine end up being more like quesaritos (stuffed to the gills with veggies). One trick I use is to place some Daiya cheese slices around the edges then lightly push down on the edges…it helps to seal them a bit better. I do that again when I take them out to flip them over.

Looking forward to trying some of your flavor combos. They sound so delicious!

It can be tough flipping those bad boys in the frying pan! It helps when you reduce the filling (which is a bummer because they’re SO good stuffed to the gills! 🙂 and also maybe try the fold-over method when frying; that can help. Love the idea of sealing the edges like that – more melty goodness!

Yum! I’ve never made quesadillas at home, after a rather horrifying restaurant experience, but this has convinced me to go forth and try again, especially the baked version! I can’t wait to experiment! I was thinking about getting Man-thing a snackwich maker for his birthday but that panini press looks infinitely more appealing now 😀

I am so curious about your horrifying restaurant quesadilla experience. But maybe it’s best not to know! 😉 Oh and panini presses are so awesome! So many uses other than sandwiches. Totally worth it in my book, and I’m really not a fan of most one-note kitchen gadgets.

I’ve been looking everywhere in my bookmark folders to see who made this awesome post, just so I could come back and say you convinced me to get a panini press just to make a quesadilla! (well, it also has a waffle and snackwich option/interchangeable parts, but my husband doesn’t need to know his “birthday present” was just an excuse to press away at a lovely stuffed delight ;D)

A few months ago, I grilled my first quesadilla and it was like, “why haven’t I always done this?!” Even my 3-yr old ate them up, the ones with veggies in them too!!! Your pear + brie one, as well as the banana ones, look like great ideas!

I am jealous your three-year-old will eat quesadillas! I thought for sure they’d be a win with my two-year-old, but no dice. Hoping she expands her culinary horizons before too long. I mean, quesadillas, kid! You’re totally missing out!

These are great suggestions. I just added your link to the Chayote Chile Soup recipe I posted this morning.
I had already suggested quesadillas as an accompaniment–but I don’t have any on my blog–yet. Thanks for the post!

Love this post! I only knew about the pan way. Totally trying the others! AND I just got a George Foreman grill on Friday. It might not work like a panini press but I’m going to try anyway. 🙂 Thanks for including my PB&J quesadillas!

Homemade tortillas – so impressed! I keep wanting to try making some but for some reason the idea intimidates me. That’s silly, right? 🙂

If you elevate the front part of your George Foreman grill so that the grill is lever, you have a panini grill. I’ve been doing it for years!


Thanks for this post. I never even thought of using a panini press to make quesadillas! You are amazing, as always!! My fav filling has to be black beans with yams covered in chipotle vegenaise w/ brown rice with taco seasoning 🙂 yum yum yum!

– Mandy @

I use a nonstick frying pan….lay one tortilla on it then add the topping….then place another tortilla on top. When the underneath starts to turn golden, using a spatula I turn the quesadilla over and cook the other side. Brilliant…no oil and no oozing sides …and the pan doesn’t need a lot of cleaning!

Love this! And it reinforces my urge to get a panini press, even though I’m fighting kitchen clutter. Some of the non-traditional combos like pear & brie sound great.

You might try parchment paper under your ‘dilla in the oven. No sticking and you jut peel the oozies off with the ‘dilla. No oil either!

Hey! I’m writing an article to be posted on the Spoon University website, an online food magazine for college students, and one of the items on my list is a grilled quesadilla. I would love to feature this blog post and one of your pictures of the grilled quesadilla with your permission!

Thanks so much!


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