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Is a quesadilla folded or two tortillas?

A quesadilla is a popular Mexican dish that consists of a tortilla that is filled with cheese, vegetables, and other ingredients, then folded over and cooked. The name quesadilla comes from the Spanish word quesadilla meaning “cheesy tortilla”. There is some debate around whether a quesadilla is technically folded or made with two tortillas. While traditional quesadillas are made by folding one tortilla over the filling, variations using two tortillas are also common. This article will examine the history, ingredients, and preparation methods of quesadillas to determine whether they are fundamentally folded or made with two tortillas.

History of the Quesadilla

Quesadillas originated in Mexico, where they were made with basic ingredients like masa flour tortillas filled with Oaxaca cheese. The dish was an easy, portable food that could be carried to work and eaten without utensils. Over time, quesadillas evolved from a humble food of farmers and laborers into a popular street food and restaurant item. As the dish spread beyond Mexico, innovations emerged like using wheat flour tortillas, adding meat, vegetables, and other fillings. Despite these variations, the classic method has traditionally been to fill a single tortilla, then fold it over the filling to create a half-moon shaped quesadilla.

Ingredients in Quesadillas

The essential ingredients in a quesadilla are:


Authentic Mexican quesadillas are made with handmade corn tortillas known as masa harina. Flour tortillas are also commonly used, especially outside of Mexico. The tortilla provides the outer shell and enclosure for the quesadilla’s fillings.


cheese supplies the distinctive flavor, texture, and binding qualities in quesadillas. Oaxaca and mozzarella are frequently used melting cheeses. Other options include Monterey Jack, queso fresco, queso blanco, and pepper jack.


While cheese is the fundamental filling, quesadillas are often stuffed with additional ingredients. Common options include:

  • Meats like chicken, beef, pork, chorizo
  • Refried beans or black beans
  • Sautéed vegetables like peppers, onions, mushrooms
  • Avocado, tomato, cilantro

The flexibility of fillings makes each quesadilla unique based on preference.

Preparation Methods

There are two main ways to assemble a quesadilla which impacts whether it is considered folded or made with two tortillas:

Folded Method

The traditional folded quesadilla starts with a single tortilla laid flat and filled with cheese and other ingredients. The tortilla is then folded over the filling, forming a half moon shape. This original technique is still used for portable street food or easy homemade quesadillas.

Two Tortilla Method

A more modern approach is to cover the bottom tortilla with cheese and toppings, then place another tortilla on top. This forms a quesadilla “sandwich.” The two tortillas are then pressed together in a sandwich press or cooked in a pan until the cheese melts. While not technically folded, this style allows more fillings without spillage.

Grilling and Cooking Techniques

Quesadillas can be cooked using various techniques once assembled:

Pan Frying

The most common home cooking method is to cook the assembled quesadilla in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. The quesadilla is carefully flipped halfway through cooking each side. This pan frying technique requires caution to avoid spillage of fillings.


Commercial restaurants often cook large batches of quesadillas on a flat grill. The quesadillas can be pressed and cooked in batches, allowing for higher volume production. Grilling gives an appealing char and crispy texture.


Quesadillas can also be placed under the broiler in an oven for quick melting and browning on top. Watch closely to avoid burning.


For convenience, quesadillas can be microwaved between two plates or paper towels. This allows the cheese to melt, though the texture is less crispy.

Serving Styles

Quesadillas are versatile in how they can be served:


The most common way to serve a quesadilla is to cut it into triangle shaped wedges for easy handling and portioning.

Roll ups

For a fun presentation, the cooked quesadilla can be sliced into strips, then rolled up with the filling visible in the center.


Mini quesadilla wedges make great appetizers for dipping and snacking. They can be assembled and cooked in batches ahead of time.

Side dishes

Quesadillas work well as a starch accompaniment to soup, salad, or main dishes. The wedges can be served on a plate alongside other foods.


For a heartier meal, larger quesadillas can be served as the main course topped with extras like guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.

Regional Variations

While the quintessential quesadilla involves a corn or flour tortilla simply stuffed with cheese, many regional styles have emerged:


This city is considered the birthplace of the quesadilla in Mexico. The traditional Oaxacan quesadilla uses handmade corn tortillas stuffed with Oaxaca cheese, then cooked on a comal griddle.

Mexico City

Huge quesadillas called quesadillas de disco are popular street food in Mexico’s capital. They use crispy fried tortillas cooked on a disk-shaped griddle and stuffed with different fillings.

United States

Americanized quesadillas are more likely to use flour tortillas, lots of cheese, and fillings like chicken. Machines to grill multiple quesadillas in restaurants were invented in the U.S.


In Guatemala, quesadillas are often made with flour tortillas that are thicker and denser. Refried beans are a popular filling.


Venezuelan quesadillas are cooked in an arepa grill, stuffed with white cheese, and served as a breakfast item.

Is a Quesadilla Folded or Made With Two Tortillas?

After examining the history, ingredients, cooking methods, and styles, the answer depends on the type of quesadilla:


The original version is folded. This is still the case for basic quesadillas, like street food in Mexico, where just one tortilla is used to enclose the cheese by folding it in half.

Two Tortillas

In many restaurants and modern interpretations, quesadillas are now made with two separate tortillas, one on top and one on bottom. This allows for more fillings and neater eating for diners.

No Definitive Answer

Since quesadillas have evolved into an adaptable dish, there is flexibility in preparation. Both folded and two tortilla versions can be considered authentic depending on the style. What matters most is the satisfying, cheesy essence of quesadillas.


While traditionally quesadillas are folded over a single tortilla, the two tortilla approach is also common, especially in Americanized Mexican restaurants. There is no definitive rule. The technique used depends on the amount of filling, style of quesadilla, and personal preference. However, the melted cheese within a warm tortilla shell remains the soul of all quesadillas, whether folded or made with two. This versatile dish is a cherished staple of Mexican cuisine with many forms all over the world.