Quesadillas are a Mexican classic that has long made its way all over North America. Even non-Mexican themed restaurants have it on the menu.
With crispy flour tortillas, gooey melted cheese, and grilled vegetables, quesadillas are a total crowd-pleaser. It isn't surprising that even the pickiest eater can be satisfied with a quesadilla, as they've been called "the grilled cheese of Mexico" by Rick Bayless.
Grilled steak and cheese quesadillas can make an easy and nutritious lunch or dinner, and the high protein in the steak will keep you full for hours. The smoky, charred flavor from the grill along with the spicy steak quesadilla seasoning, fresh salsa, and lime, pair well, especially in the summertime.
Let us show you how to make steak quesadillas at home with some simple ingredients.
Steak Quesadilla: A Tex-Mex Classic
- 1 lb thin sirloin steaks (½ inch thick each), or 1 lb flank steak
- 4 large (10-inch) flour tortillas
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack
- 2 jalapeño or serrano chilies, thinly sliced and seeded (for less heat) or chopped with seeds and membranes (for more heat)
- 2 limes, juiced (about ¼ cup)
- 2 tomatoes on the vine, seeded and chopped
- 1 large avocado, coarsely chopped
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
- 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mild or hot pickled jalapeño slices, drained
- 3 tbsp neutral-flavored oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Cayenne hot sauce
- Cooking spray
- Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving
- Salt and pepper
- Freeze your steaks until slightly firm, about 5 min.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high to high.
- In 2 medium bowls, divide the chilies, red onion, and half the lime juice. Add a quarter of the grated garlic to each bowl and season with salt. Let stand for a few minutes.
- To one bowl, add the tomatoes, some cilantro, and a few dashes of hot sauce for the pico de gallo. In the other bowl, using a potato masher, mash in the avocado for the guacamole.
- Thinly slice the steaks against the grain; season with salt, pepper, and the spices.
- Add 2 tbsp oil, with two turns of the pan, to the skillet.
- Add the beef in a single layer and cook until brown and crispy. It will take 2 to 3 min.
- Turn the beef over and cook until browned, about 2 min more.
- Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil, one turn of the pan, to the skillet.
- Add the white onion, bell pepper, and pickled jalapeños and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender. It will take 3-4 min.
- Add the remaining garlic and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in the beef and remove from heat.
- Heat a nonstick cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Spray 1 tortilla lightly with cooking spray and add to the skillet, sprayed-side down.
- Scatter a quarter of the cheese on top. Arrange about a quarter of the quesadilla steak and vegetables on one side of the tortilla.
- Fold the tortilla over the filling and cook, turning once, until golden and crispy. It will take 1-2 min per side.
- Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese, beef, and vegetables.
- Cut the quesadillas into wedges.
- Serve your steak quesadilla with the crema, guacamole, and pico de gallo.
Steak Quesadilla FAQs
How to make tortillas at home?
If you've never tried homemade flour tortillas before, you are seriously missing out. The flavor is on point, and the texture is as good as the tortillas straight from Mexico.
They're also incredibly easy to make. You need to purchase a special corn flour called masa harina. It uses corn that has been soaked in an alkaline agent to dissolve the skin and improve the nutritional content. Using just plain cornmeal, which hasn't been treated in this way, will result in a disappointing flavor and texture.
Mix the masa harina cornflour with water according to the directions on the bag. Press the tortillas using a cast iron tortilla press, then pan-fry or grill, and they're ready to go for your quesadillas!
What goes inside a quesadilla?
The basic ingredient in a quesadilla is cheese. We have a fantastic recipe for a simple cheese quesadilla to get you started. They also usually include some vegetables and a source of protein as well.
If you're adding meat, you will want to fully cook it beforehand, as it won't have the time to cook inside the quesadilla in the few minutes it's on the grill.
Here are some great options to add to your quesadillas:
- grilled bell peppers
- sundried tomatoes
- avocado or guacamole
- pico de gallo
- green onion
- cooked chicken
- flank steak
- sirloin steak
- pulled pork
What's the best cheese to use for quesadilla?
The best quesadilla cheese is the traditional Oaxaca cheese straight from the source. This cheese can be difficult to source outside of Mexico, so if you're struggling to find some we have a few alternatives.
Mozzarella is a great option that melts beautifully, but the flavor is too mild on its own. The best cheese in a quesadilla is a blend of a stronger flavored cheese, like cheddar, and a mild, easy-to-melt cheese.
Try combining 60% mozzarella or Monterey Jack with 40% mild cheddar, medium cheddar, halloumi, or Havarti cheese.
Homemade Steak Quesadilla Takeaway
Enjoying Mexico's much-loved quesadilla is now possible more than ever with our easy steak quesadilla recipe. It will prove a big hit in any outdoor gathering, especially during these summer months. Serve with tortilla chips, or a chicken burrito for that authentic Mexican-themed party.
Instead of steak, you can also try making shrimp quesadilla or a vegan quesadilla with black beans and avocado.
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