Recipes > Lunch/Dinner > Healthy Quesadilla Base Recipe

Healthy Quesadilla Base Recipe

Made with whole grain tortillas and a variety of toppings, these quesadillas can definitely be part of a balanced diet! Filling the quesadilla with beans and vegetables makes the dish healthy in itself, or you can pair it with bean or veggie sides for a plant forward meal.
healthy quesadilla base recipe on a tray with sliced avocado, salsa, and sour cream

This is one of our base recipes. Quesadillas are a staple at Chef V’s house because they make for a quick meal and are a great way to use leftover ingredients. Gooey cheese and flavorful fillings inside a toasty tortilla – how can you go wrong?? Give our healthy quesadilla recipe a try. We’d love to hear the fun variations you can come up with!

Must Know Cooking Skills

For recipe success, learn how to:

Culinary Tips for a Delicious Healthy Quesadilla

Using a spread helps keep the tortilla together once folded, but it is an optional ingredient. If you choose not to use a spread, make sure there is cheese near the edges to melt and adhere the tortilla halves together.

Monitor the heat level as the quesadilla cooks. If the heat is too high, the tortilla will get too brown before the cheese melts.

Room temperature or warm fillings will cook faster and ensure that they are heated all the way through.

Consider mixing the cheese and filling ingredients together before adding to the tortilla to ensure every bite is perfect!

Assembling the quesadillas on the pan is another preparation method to consider. If using this method, place the empty tortilla on the hot pan and sprinkle the cheese to cover the entire side. Place the fillings on one half of the tortilla. Once the cheese is mostly melted, and the tortilla is golden brown and crispy on the bottom, fold the tortilla in half to cover the fillings.

In a hurry? Microwave the assembled quesadilla for about 30 seconds to begin melting the cheese, then finish on the pan to toast the tortilla.

Allow quesadillas to cool slightly before cutting.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Whole Wheat Tortilla: substitute corn, flour, or gluten-free tortillas. Note that flour tortillas don’t provide the same whole grain benefits. Corn tortillas and smaller tortillas need to be stacked rather than folded.
  • Shredded Cheese: Monterey jack and queso Oaxaca are classic cheeses for quesadillas, but any cheese that melts well works. Mozzarella, cheddar, Manchego, gruyere, fontina, gouda, and brie would all make tasty choices. You can also use a mix.
  • Toppings: use any shredded, ground, or diced meat; scrambled eggs; refried or whole beans; shredded, diced, roasted, sautéed, or pickled vegetables; or a combination of any of these options. 
  • Spread: use guacamole, refried beans (unless used as a topping), pesto, barbecue sauce, fruit preserves, hummus, soft goat cheese, mashed sweet potato, or any other ingredient that you can spread. If using goat cheese, leave out the shredded cheese.
  • Butter or Canola Oil: substitute avocado or olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil can be used if the heat isn’t too high.

Base Recipe Variations

Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! Keep it simple or spice it up!

Use these additional ingredients for even more flavor and texture.

  • Salsa or Pico de Gallo: use any flavor of homemade, store-bought, or restaurant leftovers. 
  • Hot Sauce: use your favorite hot sauce flavor that will complement your fillings well.
  • Spices: use a dash of cayenne, chili powder, cumin, paprika, or your favorite spice blend.
  • Fresh Herbs: use cilantro, basil, Italian parsley, or chives. Keep in mind the flavor profile you are trying to create.

While quesadillas may traditionally be Mexican inspired, try to think outside of the box! Consider different cuisines for more unique variations: Italian, Indian, BBQ, and more!

To make a plant-forward quesadilla, you don’t have to skip the meat – just mix it with some beans or vegetables. 

To make a vegetarian quesadilla recipe, leave out the meat! Spinach and mushrooms or black bean and corn are classic fillings.

Want some quesadilla flavor inspiration?

Use these recipe variations for inspiration, then have fun exploring other flavors, ingredients, and textures!

Equipment Recommendations

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Is this easy quesadilla recipe healthy?

Made with whole grain tortillas and a variety of toppings, these quesadillas can definitely be part of a balanced diet! Filling the quesadilla with beans and vegetables makes the dish healthy in itself, or you can pair it with bean or veggie sides for a plant forward meal.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole grains are a good source of fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, trace minerals, and phytonutrients. Replacing refined grains (i.e. flour tortillas) with whole grains (i.e. whole wheat tortillas) may reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Beans

Beans of all varieties contain plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients promote gut health, decrease risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and promote a healthy weight. Beans are a key component of longevity diets around the world.

Vegetables

All vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Aim to eat a variety of colors – each color provides a different benefit for our bodies. The more vegetables in your quesadilla fillings, the healthier it will be!

Learn more about health benefits of different foods and ingredients or in our book, To Your Taste!

Serving Suggestions for Quesadillas

If your quesadillas are short or void of vegetables or beans, add some on the side to create a plant forward meal! If already veggie heavy, pair with a side salad and/or some fruit to make a beautiful Whole Life Plate! Don’t forget condiments, like plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, lime crema, guacamole, and salsa.

Storage Tips for Healthy Quesadillas

Cool quesadillas completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Leftover quesadillas can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap individual quesadillas in foil or plastic wrap, then place in a freezer-safe bag

Quesadillas taste best reheated on a griddle or skillet or in the oven, but the microwave will work in a pinch.

Want more Mexican-Inspired Recipes? 

Try out these delicious recipes!

Baked Tostadas Base Recipe

Ground Beef and Mushroom Taco Meat

One Pan Mexican Quinoa Skillet

Taco Hummus

healthy quesadilla base recipe on a tray with sliced avocado, salsa, and sour cream

Healthy Quesadilla Base Recipe

This is one of our base recipes. Quesadillas are a staple at Chef V’s house because they make for a quick meal and are a great way to use leftover ingredients. Gooey cheese and flavorful fillings inside a toasty tortilla – how can you go wrong?!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 quesadilla

Ingredients
  

Base Recipe

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (~8")*
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese (Monterrey jack, asadero, etc.)
  • ¼ cup toppings (meat, beans, veggies)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons spread (goat cheese, refried beans, etc.)**
  • ½ teaspoon butter or canola oil

Additions to YOUR taste

  • 1 Tablespoon salsa or pico de gallo
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Dash spice(s)
  • Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium low heat.
  • Assemble quesadillas. If using a spread, spread to cover the entire tortilla, but leave a small border around the edge.
  • Top half of the tortilla with shredded cheese, toppings, and additions to your taste. Fillings can also be mixed and then placed on tortilla. Fold in half.
  • Brush griddle or skillet with oil or melt butter. Once melted, add quesadilla. Cook until golden and toasty on one side and cheese is partially melted, 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes more or until tortilla is golden and toasty on both sides and cheese is melted.
  • Remove quesadilla carefully from pan. If cutting, allow to cool slightly. Serve with condiments to YOUR taste. Enjoy!

Notes

*Substitute 2 corn tortillas or smaller flour tortillas (~5”) for the whole wheat tortilla. Rather than folding in half, stack the tortillas with the filling in between.
 
**Goat cheese counts as both the cheese and the spread.
 
Condiments to YOUR taste
  • Plain Greek yogurt, lime crema, or sour cream
  • Salsa 
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Guacamole
 
Check out these recipes for flavor inspiration!
Chicken Black Bean
Egg and Cheese
Southwest Goat Cheese
Sweet Potato Black Bean
Keyword Healthy Quesadilla

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tallon E.

    I’m a big quesadilla fan and this recipe hits the spot! Perfect ratios of spread to cheese to fillings.

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