When you are thinking about meals with ground beef, you can’t get to a quicker and easier answer than quesadillas. Cheesy, beefy, indulgent, this is a perfect answer to the perennial “What can I make with hamburger meat?” question. If you have ground beef and tortillas, and getting dinner on the table stat is the name of the game, this is the fast and easy solution!
I have yet to meet a combination of ground beef and cheese that doesn’t make the people I live with extremely happy. They are not unusual in that respect, I know, which is why tucked amidst the salads and fish recipes, I continue to pepper this blog with dishes such as One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni and Beef and Three Cheese Casserole.
Table of Contents
Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas: The perfect combo of melty cheese with savory beef; like the best bar food in your very own home.Tweet This
- Ground beef – Use whatever type of ground beef you have, but make sure you buy it from a good market or butcher with a high turnover.
- Onion – Any color works here.
- Tomato paste – Adds deep flavor and helps bind the filling together.
- Spinach or baby kale – Beef and cheese quesadillas are the perfect place to slide in some vegetables, particularly leafy greens. They cook down and almost melt into the filling beautifully and unobtrusively.
- Minced garlic – Just a little, but a lot of flavor.
- Chili powder – Gives the quesadillas a slight Tex-Mex or Southwestern vibe.
- Cilantro – Optional; leave it out if you don’t like it.
- Unsalted butter – Just a little bit adds a lot of flavor when cooking the quesadillas.
- Flour tortillas – Buy the 8-inch size.
- Sharp cheddar and havarti – See Variations for other cheese options.
- Guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges to serve
- Use any delicious melty cheeses you like — I picked cheddar and havarti, but a Mexican blend is terrific, a blend of two other cheeses (or more), or just a single cheese, be it havarti, cheddar, provolone, gouda, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, etc. Other Mexican Cheeses like queso fresco can be used, but they might not get as melty – it would good to use a combo of queso fresco, or cotija, and a meltier cheese like the ones listed above.
- You can use other ground meat instead of beef, like pork or turkey.
How to Make Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas
- Brown the beef, then drain.
- Sauté the vegetables: Sauté the onion, then add the tomato paste, spinach, garlic, and chili powder and stir until the spinach is wilted.
- Finish the filling: Return the beef to the skillet and stir until everything is blended. Stir in the cilantro if using.
- Make the quesadillas: Melt half a teaspoon of butter in a clean skillet. Place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle some of the cheese over half of the quesadilla, top with some of the beef mixture, then top that with a bit more cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling, cover, and cook until the bottom is golden, then flip and cook until the cheese is melted and the underside is browned. Repeat until all of the quesadillas are cooked.
- Serve: Let the quesadillas sit for a minute before slicing into 2 or 3 wedges. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.
There are a number of ways to make quesadillas (and here are methods, and tips for making the best quesadillas, however you choose to make them!). In this recipe, the directions say to make one quesadilla at a time, which, if you are new to the quesadilla-making business, is the easiest way to get comfortable assembling and flipping them.
However, because once the quesadilla is folded, it makes a half-moon shape, you could, in fact, assemble two of these on a cutting board, fold them up and then cook them together in a pan, lining up the straight sides of the half moons so two easily fit in the circle. This isn’t hard at all, but if the notion of flipping a quesadilla makes you want to take things a little slowly, start with the one-at-a-time method.
You don’t need to grease the pan when making quesadillas, but I think a tiny bit of butter or oil goes a long way in adding flavor. You can use either butter or oil, your choice!
You want to use lean ground beef, which will be less greasy. But the most important thing is to drain it thoroughly after browning. You don’t want any liquid or fat left in the beef, which will make the quesadillas soggy and unable to brown up nicely.
Storage and Reheating
Leftover quesadillas can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to two days.
To reheat quesadillas, you can heat them on a baking sheet in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the filling is hot. Or warm them in a pan for about 2 minutes on each side over medium heat. You can use the microwave, but that will tend to make the quesadillas soggy.
What to Serve With Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas
More Beefy Quesadilla Recipes
Quesadillas are such a great answer to “How can I make dinner with what I have in the fridge?” Here are a few more options!
- Beefy Chili Cheese Quesadillas
- Steak and Cheese Quesadillas
- Cheesy Ground Beef and Vegetable Quesadillas
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Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup roughly chopped spinach (or baby kale)
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (optional)
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter (divided)
- 8 8-inch flour tortillas
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup shredded havarti
- Guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges (to serve)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and brown the beef, breaking it up with a spoon until it is all browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Turn it 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, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 3 minutes 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 everything is well combined. Return the beef to the skillet and stir until everything is blended. Stir in the cilantro if using, turn the mixture into a bowl, and wash and dry the skillet (or grab a new skillet).
- Combine the cheddar and havarti in a bowl. Place the skillet over medium heat and add a half teaspoon of butter. Place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture over half of the quesadilla, and distribute ⅛ of the beef mixture over the cheese. Top that with another 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Flip the bare half of the tortilla over the filling, cover the pan, and sauté for about 2 minutes until the bottom is golden and the cheese has started to melt, then use a spatula to flip the half-moon quesadilla, and continue to cook, uncovered, until all of the cheese is melted and the underside is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the quesadilla to a cutting board and let the quesadilla sit for a minute before you slice into 2 or 3 wedges. Repeat until all of the quesadillas are cooked. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.