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In the summer, I can’t get enough of quesadillas. They make really easy snacks for taking to the park or the beach. Or, they are just great for a weeknight meal. I honestly don’t know any kid, or adult for that matter, who doesn’t enjoy a good cheesy quesadilla.
I especially like quesadillas when fresh seafood is available. Shrimp is my seafood of choice for these crispy-filled tortillas. Though, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a lobster or crab quesadilla. This is one of those dishes where I will use smaller shrimp rather than my preference for jumbo and large shrimp in most dishes.
Small shrimp are sweet and tend to stay put inside the tortilla better than the larger ones. And, I have noticed that little kids will definitely eat those sweet little crustaceans. Rock shrimp is a good choice, but white gulf shrimp also works well. The cheese melts all around them. You might be wondering why cheese with shellfish. Trust me, it really works in a quesadilla. I also like to add some veggies and a good amount of seasoning, but not so much that it masks the flavor of the shrimp.
I make my shrimp quesadillas in a flat cast-iron pan called a comal. You can make them in any heavy-bottomed skillet, on a flat top griddle, or even in an air fryer. Another fantastic appliance for making quesadillas is a contact grill, similar to a panini press.
This particular quesadilla recipe is for ones that are made with one tortilla that is folded over to form a half-moon that is super easy to eat with your hands as you would a sandwich or wrap. They can also be wrapped in foil and reheated on a grill or in the oven right in the foil packet.
This shrimp quesadilla recipe is so easy to assemble and cook once you have prepared the shrimp and vegetables. I’ll walk you through the steps so you can have everything ready when you want to fry up a few batches of these. The filling can actually be cooked a day ahead of time so you have them on hand for making an easy meal or two for weekend guests or a quick weeknight dinner. Just store the cooked ingredients in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. The cheese can be a pre-shredded Mexican blend for ease of assembly. There are some really good packaged blends of organic shredded cheeses.
You will want to have some optional toppings on hand, such as sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. I would think a little hot sauce might also be nice to have. You can use either corn or flour tortillas for this recipe.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 yellow bell pepper seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
- 1 pound medium to small shrimp peeled and deveined
- Juice of 1 small lime or ½ large lime more or less
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil for frying
- 6 8-inch flour tortillas
- 3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro optional
- Toppings: sour cream salsa, guacamole
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions and bell peppers. Sauté until wilted, stirring often, and cooked through, approximately 7 minutes.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and garlic powder to the onions and peppers. Warm through until the spices are fragrant.
- Add the jalapeño peppers, shrimp, and lime juice to the pan and cook until the shrimp is just opaque, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a bowl.
- Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Return it to the heat and add a little bit of the remaining olive oil. Place a tortilla in the pan. Fill one half of the tortilla with some of the shrimp and vegetables. Top with 1/2 cup of the cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of minced cilantro.
- Fold the empty side of the tortilla over the filling. Cook for about 4 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until the cheese melts and the tortilla is golden. Repeat until all the quesadillas are cooked. You can likely cook 2 at a time.
- Serve the quesadillas with napkins and the toppings on the side.
Notes & Tips
- For quick weeknight dinners, cook the filling on a Sunday and store it in the fridge to use when you want an easy and healthy meal. It should keep for 2 or 3 days.
- You can make 3 larger quesadillas using a bottom and top tortilla to form a sort of stuffed pizza. After it is cooked, cut it into 4 pie-shaped wedges and eat just like you would a pizza slice.
Substitutions & Additions
Shrimp: There is no reason why you can’t make seafood quesadillas with lump crab meat, lobster meat, or crayfish bodies. You could also go vegetarian with well-seasoned extra-firm tofu cubes or cooked beans, such as kidney beans or chickpeas.
Vegetables: I sometimes add shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce to my quesadillas for some added texture and freshness. If I am making this with lobster or crabmeat, I will add some very thinly sliced celery for a little crunch. While technically a fruit, bell peppers are so beautiful in summer. They come in green, yellow, orange, red, and purple. You can use whichever color you prefer for this recipe.
Tortillas: For grain-free quesadillas, try cassava or almond flour tortillas. These are great if you are following a paleo or keto diet.
Fresh Herbs: If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, oregano or parsley leaves are a good alternative.
Cheese: I love the convenience of a pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend. If you want to grate your own cheese, try a combination of Monterey Jack and Colby. They both melt nicely. In Mexico, you might find quesadillas made with queso fresco, which is a drier white cheese with a salty flavor. Feta is a good substitute if you can’t find queso fresco. Of course, you can use vegan cheese if you don’t consume dairy.
More Fun Tortilla Recipes
If you enjoy this quesadilla recipe, you might want to try some of our other recipes utilizing tortillas. They are such a great vehicle for easy and fun dishes. Here are a few to check out:
- Vampiros Steak Tacos
- Cheese Enchiladas Rojas
- Birria Des Res Tacos (Beef and Cheese Tacos)
- Huevos con Tocino (Bacon and Egg Filled Tortillas)
- Tacos de Pescado (Fish Tacos)
- Cuban Mojo Chicken Tacos