This crispy Corn Tortilla Quesadilla (or taco quesadilla) is a great way to use up leftover taco meat. It only takes about 15 minutes to make and is super versatile. Serve quesadillas as an easy appetizer, weeknight dinner, or snack.
I always have cheese, tortillas, and some sort of filling in my fridge so a corn tortilla quesadilla is my go to easy dinner. I also love to make Air Fryer Frozen Burgers and Pepperoni Naan Flatbreads when I am short on time.
If you prefer flour tortillas, try my Carne Asada Quesadillas!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Fried corn tortilla quesadillas are crispy, cheesy, and super easy to make (less than 15 minutes). They come out way crispier than microwaved or baked quesadillas.
- Quesadillas are a great way to use up leftovers. They are super versatile and can be customized with whatever fillings you like.
- You can make these quesadillas with or without a griddle. A large skillet works great!
- This corn tortilla quesadilla recipe can be made vegetarian or vegan. Corn tortillas are naturally gluten free (always check the package).
- Serve these for lunch, dinner, a snack, or appetizer. The recipe is easily scalable for a crowd.
- Fried corn tortilla quesadillas are kid friendly.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Butter: You can use unsalted or salted butter.
- Cheese: Be sure to shred your own cheese. It melts better. I used about 4 ounces of pepper jack and 4 ounces of colby jack. Cheddar, oaxaca, monterey jack cheese, or mozzarella are all great options as well.
- Taco Meat: Use any leftover protein that you have on hand, like shredded, grilled, or sautéed ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork. Rotisserie chicken will also work. Heat it up in the microwave or on the stovetop before assembling the quesadillas because it will not heat up enough in the quesadilla. I used my Instant Pot Shredded Beef. You can also leave the meat out all together to make a corn tortilla cheese quesadilla.
Helpful Equipment & Tools
- OXO Good Grips Nylon Flexible Turner
- Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle
- OXO Good Grips Box Grater
How to Make a Crispy Corn Tortilla Quesadilla
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat or on a griddle.
- Assemble quesadillas.
- Fry until golden.
- Flip and fry again.
- Serve with pico de gallo, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Heat a griddle or large pan over medium heat. Use tongs to melt some of the butter all over the surface. Set the remaining butter aside.
Step 2: Place the meat on one side of the griddle if there is room. You can also keep it warm in a separate pan.
Step 3: Place 2 tortillas (or all 4 if they can fit) in the melted butter. Use tongs to press and move each tortilla around so they are coated in the melted butter.
Step 4: Add about 1 ounce (or ⅛) of the shredded cheese on top of each tortilla.
Step 5: Add about ¼ of the meat to each tortilla.
Step 6: Add another ounce of cheese on top of the cheese.
Step 7: Top each with a tortilla.
Step 8: Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is golden brown and crispy.
Step 9: Flip the quesadillas and add more butter if needed.
Step 10: Fry for another 3-4 minutes or until the other side is golden.
Step 11: Remove the quesadillas and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Vegetarian: Swap the meat for sautéed or grilled vegetables, corn, black beans, or rice. You can also just omit the filling all together and stick with lots of cheese.
- Vegan: Swap the butter for olive oil or vegan butter. Use dairy free cheese and a vegetarian filling.
Make Ahead & Storage
- It is best to only make as many quesadillas as you plan to eat/serve in one sitting. They are best (and crispiest) fresh off the griddle.
- Refrigerator: Store leftover quesadillas in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. Since these quesadillas use leftover meat, they do not stay fresh in the fridge as long. Leftover cooked meat is only good for 3-4 days in the fridge total.
- Reheating: Reheat the quesadilla in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat until warmed through.
- Freezer: These quesadillas do not freeze well.
- Shred your own cheese. I always recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding them at home. Pre-shredded cheese has a starch coating on it to prevent it from clumping in the bag. This also prevents it from melting as well.
- Heat the meat first. The meat will not be able to heat up enough while fried in the quesadilla. Always heat the meat up before assembling the quesadilla.
- Use butter. The butter has a delicious flavor and enough fat to fry the tortilla. Frying the tortilla makes it crispy and golden brown.
Crispy Corn Tortilla Quesadilla
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter*
- 8 corn tortillas
- 8 ounces cheese, shredded*
- 1 -1 ½ cups leftover taco meat, heated up*
- pico de gallo, sour cream, chopped cilantro, for serving
- Heat a griddle or large pan over medium heat. Use tongs to melt some of the butter all over the surface. Set the remaining butter aside.
- Place the meat on one side of the griddle if there is room. You can also keep it warm in a separate pan.
- Place 2 tortillas (or all 4 if they can fit) in the melted butter. Use tongs to press and move each tortilla around so they are coated in the melted butter.
- Add about 1 ounce (or ⅛) of the shredded cheese on top of each tortilla.
- Add about ¼ of the meat to each tortilla.
- Add another ounce of cheese on top of the cheese.
- Top each with a tortilla.
- Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is golden brown and crispy.
- Flip the quesadillas and add more butter if needed.
- Fry for another 3-4 minutes or until the other side is golden.
- Remove the quesadillas and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Never leave cooking food unattended