Fajita quesadillas are ooey-gooey delicious and crazy-fast. They’re a great way to use up leftover meat—for example, my Carne Asada. These quesadillas make for a fun, kid-friendly meal that will become a go-to in your family.
Quesadillas are incredibly fast and easy to make, which makes them PERFECT for busy weeknights. They are a great way to use up leftover meat, especially if you have part of a rotisserie chicken kicking around in the fridge, or perhaps you just made Carne Asada the night before. In fact, if DO you have leftover Carne Asada (which, BTW, also includes fajita veggies—SCORE!), these Fajita Quesadillas are a natural next step for using it up! On the other hand, you can go vegetarian with Fajita Quesadillas: they’re still absolutely scrummy—just make more fajita veggies.
A brief history of Fajita Quesadillas
I have some near-and-dear-to-my-heart history with Fajita Quesadillas. Way back when I first became a regular fixture in the Frank family—my wonderful hubster, Phil, and his three beautiful children—this was the meal I made when Phil had to go out of town for a business trip and I was alone with the kids for the first time.
I wanted to do something special and fun for them to ease any discomfort about being alone with me for the first time, so I settled upon Fajita Quesadilla night. I made up little menus for each child the night before and gave them to the kids after I picked them up from school that day. They got to personalize their fajita quesadillas and go hog-wild with the fixings, which I set out buffet style.
The kids thought it was a hoot. They bragged to their dad about the great dinner I’d made them, and how it was like going to Chipotle at home. [rolls eyes heavenward] That’s high praise in the Frank family, I’ve come to learn. (You can read more about the learning curve I faced when, having no kids of my own, I became instant mom to three here.)
Meal Prep for Fajita Quesadillas
If you have Carne Asada leftovers, this is a simple matter of reheating the vegetables and meat when it comes time to assemble the quesadillas. If not, I like to slice the peppers and onions for the fajita vegetables either the night before or that morning before I go to work. I store them in a zip-top bag so that all I have to do is sauté them in some olive oil at dinner time. Although they are completely delicious on their own with a little S & P, I sometimes add a couple teaspoons of taco seasoning to amp up the flavor.
Assembling the Fajita Quesadillas
I like to use large flour tortillas for my fajita quesadillas. Whole wheat tortillas are a healthier option, but I haven’t experimented with them yet. I put the filling mixture on one half of the tortilla: if the quesadillas are too thick, the cheese won’t melt right and the filling will likely not be warm enough, so I make sure not to mound the fillings too high. I also leave about half an inch between the filling and the outer edge of the tortilla.
A note on the filling mixture: I used to layer cheese on the bottom, then meat and veggies, and then another layer of cheese (like in the photo above). Now, I have come to realize that the quesadilla holds together better if I mix everything. The cheese melts throughout and holds the two halfs of the tortilla together, while also anchoring the bite-size pieces of meat and veggies—no messes!
Cooking the Fajita Quesadillas
I like to use my cast-iron skillet for this task. It’s a 16″-inch skillet, so it’s perfect for the large-sized tortillas I like to use: I can cook 2 at a time.
I first “close the lid” of the quesadilla and press down on the top half of the tortilla to compress my cheese-veggie-meat mixture, and then I put the quesadilla into the warm, well-oiled skillet. I let the quesadilla cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom half of the tortilla is a nice, golden-brown color. Then I flip it with a spatula and let the other half cook to golden-brown.
When the fajita quesadillas are crispy and golden-brown all over, I take them to a cutting board. Although you can serve them as-is, I like to cut them into 3 symmetrical triangles for a fun presentation and easy handling. Here’s the scheme I follow to cut the tortillas (use a pizza cutter or a large chef’s knife):
And that’s it. Serve the fajita quesadillas with a simple side salad—and maybe some refried beans or rice—and call it dinner. One large quesadilla is more than enough for me, and more than my kids can eat. Phil usually swipes any extra quesadilla sections. Since this is a very kid-friendly meal, it’s a go-to in my household, especially on busy weeknights. I hope that your family loves it as much as we do!
P.S. Need more leftovers inspo? Check out Using up Leftovers!
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup Vidalia onion, sliced
- 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. taco seasoning* (optional)
- 2 cups cooked meat cut into bite-size pieces or shredded
- 1 cup fajita vegetables (above)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Cotija cheese
- 4 9-10" (burrito-sized) flour tortillas
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
- Pico de Gallo
- hot sauce
- chopped cilantro
To make the fajita vegetables, add vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened (about 8 minutes). Add salt, pepper, and taco seasoning (if using). Remove with a slotted spoon, getting rid of as much moisture as possible. Give the vegetables a pat-down with a paper towel to remove remaining moisture.
Place a large (16") cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat evenly. In a large bowl, mix the fajita vegetables, cooked meat, cilantro (if using), and cheeses. Spread 1 cup of the mixture onto one half of a flour tortilla, spreading evenly and leaving 1/2" inch of space between the filling and the outer edge of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and press down evenly. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Place two quesadillas in the skillet and cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 2-4 minutes. Carefully flip the quesadillas and repeat on the other side. Remove quesadillas to a cutting board and cook the remaining quesadillas, adding more olive oil to the skillet if necessary.
Cut each quesadilla into three equal triangles and serve.
*EASY TACO SEASONING: 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.
To make vegetarian fajita quesadillas, simply triple the amount of fajita vegetables that you make and leave out the meat.
|Have I mentioned that Carne Asada is the ideal night-before prelude to Fajita Quesadillas? The meat and veggies are all cooked and ready to go, which cuts the cooking time in half. Carne Asada is succulent and delicious, and the whole meal comes together in under 25 minutes.|
|Pico de Gallo: a fresh, easy-to-make salsa that’s great with tortilla chips or as a garnish for any meal with a Latin flair.|
|Salsa Verde: a versatile sauce of charred tomatillos, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and onions. Great on meats, with tortilla chips, or simply over rice.|
|Red Enchilada Sauce: an authentic Mexican red sauce made with reconstituted guajillo peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. Great for Red Enchiladas, but also for cooking meats (especially pork!).|
|Red Enchiladas: Mexican comfort food at its best: these enchiladas come out of the oven ooey-gooey and delicious. A great way to use up leftover meat.|