Just about anything goes when it comes to making quesadillas. But when I’m after a meal-worthy option that’s guaranteed to satisfy all the hungry eaters around the table, nothing beats a loaded steak quesadilla.
Inspired by fajitas, these quesadillas are packed with thin slices of cumin-rubbed flank steak, charred peppers and onions, and plenty of melty cheese, plus some guac and salsa for topping.
These are the four key components of a really good steak quesadilla:
Tortillas: Use 10-inch (often labeled “burrito-size”) flour tortillas. They’re big enough to hold all the fillings for loaded, meal-worthy quesadillas.
Cheese: Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, or a combination of the two are our top picks for their great meltability.
Steak: These quesadillas call for flank or skirt steak that’s seasoned with ground cumin, salt, and pepper and seared on the stovetop, then cut into thin slices.
Vegetables: Here we use sliced onion and bell pepper for some fajita vibes, but all veggies are fair game. Just be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces and give them a quick sauté to soften their bite and cook off any liquid before assembling the quesadilla.
How to Make Steak Quesadillas
Steak quesadillas come together in four simple steps.
1. Cook the steak: Season the steak with ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Sear in a hot skillet on the stovetop. Set aside to rest, then cut into thin slices or bite-sized pieces.
2. Cook the vegetables: Sauté onion and bell pepper in the same skillet until softened and lightly charred around the edges.
3. Assemble quesadillas: Sprinkle shredded cheese over half of a tortilla. Top with sliced steak, peppers and onions, and more cheese. Fold the tortilla in half over the filling. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
4. Cook quesadillas: Brush a thin layer of oil over the skillet. Cook the quesadillas over medium-low heat until the cheese is mostly melted. Flip and cook on the other side. Each side will cook in one to two minutes.
The Best Way to Assemble a Steak Quesadilla
Use a single tortilla and fold around the filling instead of sandwiching it between two tortillas. When assembled this way, the quesadilla is easier to flip and prevents all of the fillings from falling out.
The Best Cut of Steak for a Steak Quesadilla
Seasoned and thinly sliced flank or skirt steak makes the best steak quesadillas. While it’s true that any cut can work, flank steak and skirt steak check all the boxes: In addition to being reasonably priced and widely available, both cuts are super flavorful and quick-cooking on the stovetop.
Have some leftover steak that needs to be used up? Steak quesadillas are a perfect vehicle to stretch whatever steak you have into a meal. If you’re using leftovers here, simply reheat and slice the steak, then assemble and cook the quesadillas according to the recipe instructions.
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium red bell pepper, preferably red, orange, or yellow
- 16 ounces Monterey Jack or mild cheddar cheese, or a combination
- 1 pound flank or skirt steak
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided, plus more for the pan
- 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas (burrito-sized)
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Tomato salsa
Thinly slice the onion. Core, seed, and thinly slice the bell pepper. Grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 5 cups).
Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then season all over with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, the ground cumin, and black pepper. Cut the skirt steak crosswise into 2 to 3 pieces to fit in the skillet if needed.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Working in 2 batches if needed, place the steak in the pan and cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip and continue to cook, flipping every minute, until both sides have a nice char, and the steak registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare, about 4 minutes total, or 140 degrees F for medium, about 6 to 8 minutes total.
Transfer the steak to a clean cutting board, loosely cover with aluminum foil, and let rest while you cook the peppers and onions.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the onion, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly charred around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and peppers to a bowl. Wipe the skillet clean.
Thinly slice the steak across the grain or dice.
Place the flour tortillas on a work surface. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese onto one half of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border from the edge. Divide the steak, peppers, and onions over the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the steak and vegetables. Fold each tortilla in half over the filling and gently press down.
Brush the skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Add 2 quesadillas to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the cheese is mostly melted and the bottoms are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip with a thin metal spatula and cook until the cheese is melted and the second side is browned.
Transfer the quesadillas to a cutting board. Brush the skillet with more oil and repeat cooking the remaining quesadillas. Cut the quesadillas into wedges. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole if desired.
The steak, peppers, and onions can be cooked up to one day in advance and refrigerated in separate airtight containers. When ready to prepare the quesadillas, thinly slice the steak and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.