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? Give our healthy quesadilla recipe a try; we’d love to hear the fun variations you can come up with!

Must Know Cooking Skills

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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 filling 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

  • Butter or Canola Oil: substitute avocado or olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil can also be used if the heat isn’t too high.
  • Whole Wheat Tortilla: substitute corn or flour. Note that flour tortillas won’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 too. 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; refried or whole beans; shredded, diced, or sautéed vegetables; or a combination of any of these options. 
  • Spread: use guacamole, refried beans (unless used as a topping), pesto, bbq sauce, fruit preserves, hummus, soft goat cheese or any other ingredient that you can spread.
  • Salsa or Pico de Gallo: use any flavor of homemade, store-bought, or restaurant leftovers. 

Recipe Variations

Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! You can change up the toppings, spread, and cheese to whatever sounds good to you. 

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.

Need some simple quesadilla recipe inspiration? 

Consider some of these quesadilla filling ideas:

Pesto + mozzarella + balsamic marinated cherry tomato halves

Non-refried bean spread + Monterey jack + shredded Mexican chicken + salsa

Goat cheese spread + black bean corn salad 

Equipment Recommendations

You just need a few pieces of kitchen equipment to make this easy quesadilla!

Is this Easy Quesadilla Recipe Actually 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 phytochemicals. 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. (1)

Beans

Beans of all varieties are a great source of plant-based protein. They are also high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. When purchasing canned beans, look for low-sodium varieties.

Vegetables

All vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. 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!

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 light salad and/or a side of fruit. Don’t forget condiments, like plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. And yes, salsa counts as a vegetable!

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?!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 quesadilla

Ingredients
  

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

Optional Condiments

  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Guacamole
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Salsa

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, then topping of choice, then optional salsa. 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 your favorite condiments. Enjoy!

Notes

*2 corn tortillas or smaller flour tortillas (~5”) can be subbed for the whole wheat tortilla. Rather than folding in half, stack the tortillas with the filling in between.
 
**If using goat cheese, you can skip the shredded cheese.
Keyword Healthy Quesadilla

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