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Carne Asada Quesadilla
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5 from 2 votes

Carne Asada Quesadillas

Food cravings can sometimes be hard to address. Carne asada quesadillas are one of those flavor bombs that answer multiple cravings in one bite. Think of bold spices, succulent beef, and gooey cheese, all wrapped in a baked tortilla, dipped in chunky guacamole, and topped off with refreshing sour cream. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Marinating Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: carne asada quesadillas
Servings: 2 main dishes (or 4 appetizers)
Calories: 855kcal


  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1-½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeños (optional)
  • 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas


  • First, we create the marinade. In a bowl, mix some crushed and roughly chopped garlic cloves (no need to mince), freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, and some chopped jalapeños (if used). 
  • Trim the meat if necessary and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder. Use your hand to press these dry ingredients onto the meat. 
  • Place the meat in a Ziploc bag and add the marinade.
  • Gently massage the bag to make sure the marinade evenly coats all of the meat.
  • Try to press out as much air as possible before closing the bag. 
  • Put the bag on a plate and place it in the fridge for at least an hour (but not more than 10 hours). Massage and turn occasionally to get the marinate working, especially if you plan to marinate for only an hour or so.
  • Once you’re ready to cook the meat, add just a little bit of a neutral oil, like canola, to a cast iron pan and bring it to medium-high heat. That means to a heat where the oil is really hot but is not smoking yet.
  • Grab the meat with tongs from the Ziploc bag and shake off some of the excessive marinade and the larger garlic chunks.
  • Add the meat to the pan. It should instantly sizzle and smoke a little when touching the hot oil.
  • Cook for about 3 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the cut).
  • Check with an instant meat thermometer. It should read 130-140℉ in the thickest part.
  • Remove from the pan, place on a cutting board, and lightly cover with foil.
  • While resting the steak for a couple of minutes, grate the cheeses. 
  • Next, slice the beef - against the grain - in small, bite-sized strips.
  • Carefully wipe out the cast iron pan with a paper towel without burning yourself. It’s okay if the pan is not completely clean. Any little scraps will only add flavor to the tortilla. 
  • Put the pan back on the stove and turn it up to medium heat.
  • Add a soft taco/tortilla to the dry pan (one that fits the diameter of the pan).
  • Sprinkle the whole width of the tortilla with a quarter of the cheese, then add a layer of beef strips to half of the tortilla.
  • When the cheese starts to melt (which takes maybe 1 or 2 minutes), gently - with a spatula - fold the taco/tortilla in half and also gently press it flat so that it looks like a quesadilla should look. 
  • Flip the whole enchilada 😂 and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. 
  • Slide onto a cutting board and cut in half. A pizza cutter works like a charm. A knife works perfectly fine as well.
  • Place on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the top. That’s just for good looks.
  • Serve with your favorite accompaniments, such as guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, black beans, rice, etc. Enjoy!


  • Tip for cooking the meat: Depending on how much meat you’re cooking, you might have to work in batches. You don’t want the cuts of meat to touch each other in the pan. If they touch, they’ll steam instead of sear. 
  • Taste, taste, taste: I’m always tasting my food throughout the cooking process. Right now is an excellent moment to add some finishing flavor touches to the meat. Taste a strip of the steak. Does it need any more salt or other spices? If so, toss the cut meat into a bowl and add more spices to your liking. Remember, we’re creating a flavor bomb. We want bold flavors that will compete with the cool sour cream, lemony cilantro, and creamy, fresh guacamole. 
  • Cheese buying tip: I always use a block of cheese and grate it myself. Reason number 1: It’s more economical. Reason number 2: Leftover cheese stays fresh longer when properly stored. 
  • Another cheesy tip: When grating cheese, make sure the block of cheese comes straight out of the fridge. Or even better, put the cheese in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. Harder cheese is much easier to grate and will stick to the grater less. 
  • Folding the quesadilla: Don’t worry if it breaks at the fold the first couple of times you try this. It won’t taste any different and will give you an excellent excuse to try it again soon.
  • Why is my carne asada tough? Because all of these three steaks are relatively thin, you have to consider the following steps to get the best results: Always cook over high heat by pan searing or grilling. That’s the only way to brown the surface without overcooking the inside. It only takes a couple of minutes on each side to cook these steaks to medium-rare/medium. Secondly, always cut the steak in thin strips against the grain before serving or it might be a little tough to chew.
  • Suggestion: If you enjoy this, then you're gonna love our shrimp tacos!
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Calories: 855kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 57g | Sodium: 1440mg | Potassium: 943mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2715IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 892mg