Quesadillas are the way to everyone's heart; who can resist gooey melted cheese and spicy meat rolled in golden tortillas? Add some guacamole and salsa for dipping and you're in absolute food heaven.
Mexico's most popular food has established itself in the bellies of Americans everywhere. With a few simple steps, you can make the real deal at home, too. In this recipe, we use ground beef for quesadillas. This is a crispier version of a traditional hard shell taco with loads of melted cheese to boot.
So grab a cast-iron skillet and learn how to make beef quesadillas by following this easy step-by-step recipe.
Beef Quesadilla: A Deliciously Cheesy Recipe
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8 large (8 in) flour tortillas
- 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1 cup Havarti, shredded
- 1 cup spinach or baby kale, roughly chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced (optional)
- 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 4 tsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges to serve
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Brown the beef, breaking it up with a spoon until it is browned and crumbly. It will take about 5 min.
- Turn the beef into a colander to drain, and carefully wipe out the skillet.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and add the vegetable or olive oil.
- Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 min until the onion starts to soften.
- Add the tomato paste, spinach, garlic, and chili powder and stir for another minute until the spinach is wilted and all ingredients are well combined.
- Return the beef to the skillet and stir until everything is blended.
- Stir in the cilantro if using.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl, and wash and dry the skillet (or grab a new one).
- Combine the cheddar and Havarti in another bowl. Set aside.
- Place the cast iron skillet over medium heat and add half a teaspoon of butter.
- Place a tortilla in the pan.
- Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the cheese mixture over half of the quesadilla, and distribute 1/8 of the beef mixture over the cheese.
- Top the beef with another 2 tbsp of the shredded cheese.
- Flip the bare half of the tortilla over the filling, cover the pan, and let sit for about 2 min.
- Once the bottom is golden and the cheese has started to melt, use a spatula to flip the half-moon quesadilla.
- Continue to cook, uncovered, until all of the cheese is melted and the underside is browned, about 2 to 3 min.
- Remove the quesadilla to a cutting board and let it sit for a minute. Slice into 2 or 3 wedges.
- Repeat until all of the quesadillas are cooked.
- Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.
What kind of beef should be used for this recipe?
For this ground beef quesadilla, you will want to use extra lean ground beef, as it won't have a ton of excess fat to remove. You can just cook it and add spices directly after.
If you choose to use ground beef with a higher fat percentage, you will want to drain the excess fat from the meat before you add it to the tortillas. Otherwise, you'll end up with a sloppy, oily mess of a quesadilla!
What vegetables can you put in a quesadilla?
The fun part of making a quesadilla is playing around with the ingredients to create different flavors.
First, if you have access to some masa harina, make yourself some homemade tortillas. They're simpler to make than you might think and have a huge flavor payoff.
All quesadillas start with cheese. From there you can add different veggies and protein according to your taste.
Some great vegetables to add to your quesadillas include the following:
- bell peppers
- red or green onion
- hot peppers
- pico de gallo
What other meat can you put in a quesadilla?
In this delicious recipe for quesadillas, beef is the protein used. However, you can also have shrimp quesadilla, diced or ground chicken, steak, turkey, or pork.
If you want a vegetarian or vegan quesadilla, black beans or white beans pair well with cheese and veggies.
What is the best cheese for a quesadilla?
In this beef and cheese quesadilla, we've used a blend of cheddar and Havarti cheese for a nice balance between sharp and mild.
Queso quesadilla is a semi-soft white cheese that is traditionally used in lots of Mexican dishes, including quesadillas. It melts beautifully and is mild enough to not overpower the other flavors.
You can also mix mozzarella with cheddar, Havarti, or halloumi. It's best to blend, as 100% sharp cheese can be too strong and not melt well, whereas 100% mild can taste a little bland.
If you want to be adventurous, you can try adding a bit of feta for a salty kick. It pairs well with Mediterannean flavors, like olive, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and chicken.
What are the recommended dips and toppings for a quesadilla?
What goes inside the quesadilla is important, but our favorite part of a quesadilla is the dips that accompany it. The smooth, creamy texture of a dip mixed with the crunch of the quesadilla is perfection.
Use salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, or lime crema on the side for dipping your beef quesadilla. You can also use Greek yogurt for a healthy, lighter option instead.
Final Words About Making Quesadilla at Home
Enjoying Mexican food in the comfort of your own home is made easy nowadays. Beef quesadilla, in particular, is effortless to make. You can even have a cheese quesadilla if you don't feel like eating meat but don't want the vegan option as well.
If you're looking for more homemade Mexican dishes, why not try your hand at making a chicken burrito? For snacks, you can make homemade tortilla chips. These would be a big hit with your family and friends for game night.
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