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What is a folded quesadilla called?

A quesadilla is a popular Mexican food consisting of a tortilla that is filled with cheese and other ingredients, then folded over and heated until the cheese melts. Traditional quesadillas are made with just cheese inside a flour or corn tortilla. However, over time many variations have emerged, with fillings like meats, beans, vegetables, and more added to the cheese.

When a quesadilla is folded over on itself before cooking, this is sometimes called a folded quesadilla or a quesadilla fold. The terms “folded quesadilla” and “quesadilla fold” refer to the shape and preparation method, where the quesadilla is folded in half with the filling inside before being cooked.

So in summary, a quesadilla that has been folded over into a half-moon or semicircle shape can be called either a “folded quesadilla” or a “quesadilla fold.” These terms differentiate it from an open-faced quesadilla which is cooked flat and not folded.

Origins of the Quesadilla

The quesadilla has its origins in Mexican cuisine. The name comes from the Spanish word “queso” meaning cheese. Cheese has been a staple ingredient of the quesadilla since its creation.

Some accounts trace the origins of the quesadilla to colonial times in Mexico. Street vendors in cities would cook tortillas filled with cheese over hot griddles to sell to passersby as a convenient food. The cheese melted inside the tortilla made for a simple but tasty meal or snack.

Other sources point to indigenous roots of wrapping foods inside tortillas. Pre-Hispanic cultures in Mexico used corn tortillas and cooked them on a clay griddle known as a comal. Fillings like squash blossoms, mushrooms, and chili peppers were wrapped inside the tortillas as a portable food. The modern quesadilla is thought to have evolved from these traditional antecedents.

So while the exact origins are unclear, the quesadilla appears to have roots in both Spanish and indigenous Mexican culinary traditions using tortillas as the main base. The quintessential ingredient of cheese was added during Mexico’s colonial period.

Traditional and Modern Fillings

The basic quesadilla has traditionally been filled just with cheese, which can be grated or shredded and mounded into the center of the tortilla before folding it over. Some common cheeses used are:

– Oaxaca – A stringy white cheese also known as quesillo.
– Asadero – A creamy white cheese that melts well.
– Cheddar – An orange cheese that adds bold flavor.
– Manchego – A Spanish-style sheep’s milk cheese.
– Monterey Jack – A mild white cheese often used in Mexican cuisine.

Cheese Description
Oaxaca A stringy white cheese also known as quesillo.
Asadero A creamy white cheese that melts well.
Cheddar An orange cheese that adds bold flavor.
Manchego A Spanish-style sheep’s milk cheese.
Monterey Jack A mild white cheese often used in Mexican cuisine.

While cheese is the classic quesadilla filling, today’s quesadillas are often loaded up with other ingredients too. Some popular modern fillings include:

– Chicken – Grilled or shredded chicken adds protein.
– Steak – Carne asada and other grilled beef cuts.
– Pork – Carnitas, al pastor, and chorizo sausage.
– Shrimp – Brings a taste of the sea.
– Vegetables – Onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach.
– Beans – Refried or whole beans provide fiber.
– Guacamole – Creamy avocado dip.
– Queso – A cheesy sauce or dip.
– Rice
– Salsa

The possibilities are endless when it comes to quesadilla fillings today. Just about any ingredient can be included along with the cheese to make the quesadilla even more hearty and flavorful. Common protein fillings replace or complement the cheese, while vegetables add freshness and textures.

Folding and Cooking Methods

The way a quesadilla is folded and cooked impacts its shape, texture, and degree of toasting:

Basic Fold

The most straightforward folding method is to place the filled tortilla on a hot griddle or pan, then fold it over in half using a spatula once the bottom side has browned. This creates a half moon shape. The quesadilla can also be folded again into quadrants for a triangular shape.

Pressing and Grilling

For a flatter quesadilla, the folded tortilla can be pressed with a spatula to gently squash the fillings and meld the two sides of the tortilla together. Extended grilling on both sides will toast the tortillas until crispy.

Double Fold

For a quesadilla with a plumper center, the tortilla is first folded over itself into a semicircle. It is then folded again into a quartered circle before flipping. This creates more layers and height.

Deep Frying

While less common, quesadillas can also be deep fried for several minutes until the exterior becomes crispy. The deep frying locks in the melted fillings.

Oven Baking

Baking quesadillas in the oven allows the cheese to melt thoroughly without over-browning the tortilla. However, it does not provide the toasted crispiness from griddling.

So in terms of achieving the classic crispy outside and melted interior, skillet cooking or grilling are the preferred cooking methods for folded quesadillas. Deep frying can also crisp up the tortilla. Baking works when a softer quesadilla is desired.

Serving Suggestions

Quesadillas are very versatile in how they can be served:

– Cut into wedges – This is the most common way to serve quesadillas. The folded quesadilla is cut into triangular slices like a pizza or pie to reveal the melted fillings within.

– On a plate – For a knife-and-fork dining experience, the quesadilla can be left whole and plated as an entrée with sides like rice and beans.

– In a sandwich – A quesadilla half can be placed into a roll or bun to create a tasty hot sandwich.

– Appetizer portions – Small quesadillas, often made with smaller tortillas, can be served as appetizers and finger foods.

– With toppings/sides – Quesadillas are great accompanied by guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, and salsa for topping or dipping.

– In tacos/burritos – Quesadilla wedges along with fillings work well rolled up in flour tortillas for quesadilla tacos or burritos.

From simple street food to restaurant-style presentation, the humble quesadilla can be served up in many convenient and delicious ways.

Key Differences from Enchiladas

Since they both involve tortillas and fillings, quesadillas are sometimes confused with their close cousin – enchiladas. But there are a few key differences:

– Tortillas – Quesadillas use flat tortillas while enchiladas use rolled/stuffed tortillas.

– Fillings – Enchiladas have fillings stuffed inside tortillas. Quesadillas have fillings between two tortillas.

– Folding – Quesadillas are folded and pressed. Enchiladas are rolled up into tubes.

– Sauce – Enchiladas are baked with sauce topping them. Quesadillas rely on fillings for moisture.

– Frying – Quesadillas are toasted on a griddle. Enchiladas are not fried.

So while they are similar baked tortilla dishes, quesadillas and enchiladas have distinct preparations and serve different roles in Mexican cuisine. Remembering details like the folding method, fillings, and sauce can help differentiate between the two.

Regional Variations

While cheese quesadillas are popular everywhere, some parts of Mexico and Latin America have their own local twists on the quesadilla:


Quesadillas from the Oaxaca region are made with Oaxaca cheese woven into textured strands between tortillas. The cheese pulls apart into strings when the quesadilla is sliced. Lime juice and wild mushrooms are sometimes incorporated.

Mexico City

Hailing from the nation’s capital, quesadillas from Mexico City are larger with just one tortilla folded over. They have plenty of fresh white cheese inside and are topped with avocado, onions, and salsa.

Northern Mexico

In northern states like Chihuahua, quesadillas feature meat fillings like carne asada. They often include melted white cheeses like queso asadero or Chihuahua cheese.


In Guatemala, quesadillas are made from thick, handmade corn tortillas. They are stuffed with cheese and herbs before being grilled until crispy.


Venezuelan quesadillas are made with a cornmeal flatbread called arepa. Soft white cheese and shredded chicken are sandwiched between halves of the arepa.

So while cheese remains the constant, quesadillas across different Latin American regions show influences from local ingredients, cheeses, breads, and fillings. There are so many varieties to explore!

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Quesadillas are highly adaptable for vegetarian and vegan diets by using plant-based fillings:


– Cheese – Use any melted cheese such as Oaxaca, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc.

– Beans – Refried or whole pinto, black, or garbanzo beans.

– Vegetables – Onions, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, etc.

– Mushrooms – Portobello, white button, shitake.

– Huitlacoche – Corn fungus with an earthy flavor.

– Zucchini flowers – A popular Mexican delicacy.


– Beans – Pinto, black, garlic, etc.

– Vegetables – Grilled eggplant, caramelized onions, roasted peppers/chiles, etc.

– Tofu – Grilled or fried tofu cubes or strips.

– Plant-based cheese – Brands like Daiya or Follow Your Heart.

– Guacamole – Use as filling instead of cheese.

– Hummus – Chickpea spread works nicely.

With so many meatless ingredients to choose from, quesadillas can readily be made vegetarian or vegan. The key is combining different vegetables, beans/legumes, cheeses, etc for robust flavor in the absence of meat.

History of the Term “Quesadilla Fold”

The term “quesadilla fold” is believed to have originated in the 1980s as quesadillas began to gain popularity on American restaurant menus. Early recipes specified folding a quesadilla in half before cooking it as the standard preparation method.

Using “fold” in the name emphasized the distinction between a closed, folded quesadilla versus an open-faced quesadilla that is flat. It helped clarify that the dish being ordered or made would arrive folded over with the fillings neatly encased inside.

The word “fold” also indicates the action being performed – folding the tortilla over itself to create the quintessential half-moon quesadilla shape. Other descriptors like “folded quesadilla” were sometimes used, but “quesadilla fold” became the most widely adopted term.

As quesadillas were increasingly served at Mexican restaurants across the U.S. through the 1990s and early 2000s, “quesadilla fold” solidified itself on menus. It emerged as a succinct and descriptive label for calling out this popular preparation style.

While less common today, “quesadilla fold” helped introduce the idea of a folded quesadilla to American diners and remains a part of its history in the United States. The term is still occasionally seen on restaurant menus and quesadilla recipes.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to making a delicious folded quesadilla at home:


– 2 flour tortillas
– 1 cup shredded Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or cheddar cheese
– Optional fillings like cooked chicken, steak, veggies, beans
– Butter or oil for cooking


1. Lay one tortilla flat on a cutting board or plate. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the top.

2. If using any extra fillings, scatter them over the cheese layer. But don’t overfill.

3. Top with the remaining cheese.

4. Place the second tortilla on top and press down gently to make a sandwich.

5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of butter or oil.

6. Carefully transfer the quesadilla to the hot skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes until bottom tortilla is golden brown.

7. Use a spatula to fold the quesadilla in half, pressing gently. Cook 1 more minute.

8. Flip and cook other side for 1-2 minutes until both sides are browned and the cheese melts.

9. Remove quesadilla from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Let sit 1 minute before slicing into wedges. Enjoy!

Be sure not to overfill the quesadilla or it will be difficult to fold and the fillings will ooze out. Cook over medium heat to melt the cheese without burning the tortilla. Customize with your favorite quesadilla fillings!


Are quesadilla folds supposed to be crispy?

A crisp exterior with a melted, gooey interior is considered ideal texture for quesadilla folds. Lightly browning the tortillas on both sides of the folded quesadilla in a skillet or on a grill will help achieve this contrast. Overcooking can make the quesadilla excessively crispy and dried out.

Do you cook both sides of a folded quesadilla?

Yes, it’s important to cook both sides of a quesadilla fold to ensure even heating and browning. After folding the quesadilla over on itself, cook for 1-2 minutes per side to melt the cheese inside and toast the tortillas. Cooking just one side will result in a soft, undercooked side.

What cheese is traditionally used in quesadilla folds?

Authentic Mexican quesadilla folds are commonly filled just with melting cheeses like Oaxaca, asadero, or queso quesadilla. Shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack are also popular options. Cheddar, pepper jack, and other cheeses work too.

Should you use one or two tortillas for a quesadilla fold?

Two tortillas are used to make a quesadilla fold – one on the bottom as the base and one on top to create the top layer after folding it over. Trying to fold over just one tortilla to make a quesadilla will result in the fillings spilling out.

What are good vegetarian fillings for quesadilla folds?

Some tasty vegetarian fillings for quesadilla folds include sautéed peppers and onions, mushrooms, spinach, roasted veggies, black beans, pinto beans, huitlacoche (corn fungus), avocado, and fresh cheeses like queso fresco or paneer.


A folded quesadilla, also called a quesadilla fold, refers to a quesadilla that has been folded over on itself before being cooked, resulting in a half-moon shape with the cheese or other fillings encased inside. The terms specifically indicate the preparation method compared to a flat, open-faced quesadilla. While originally made with just melted cheese in a tortilla, quesadilla folds today often contain other ingredients like meats, beans, veggies, and more along with the cheese. This popular dish can be folded and cooked in a variety of methods, then sliced into wedges for serving. With sweet and savory fillings, crispy-melt contrasts, and portability, quesadilla folds have become a staple food in both Mexico and the United States.