Loaded with tender marinated steak, plenty of cheese, and pico de gallo; these hearty carne asada quesadillas are the perfect no-hassle weeknight dinner.
Jessica Halverstadt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What you’ll love about this recipe
- It’s simple! One of the wonderful things about quesadillas is that they are so easy to prepare. Although there are a few simple extra steps to prepare the carne asada steak, these quesadillas are no different. Sans the time for marinating, they take less than 30-minutes to prepare. I love to get the steak marinating the night before or even in the morning before I go to work so when I come there is little left to do. Because the last thing anyone wants to do after a long day at work is spend loads of time in the kitchen preparing dinner.
- The easy clean-up! Aside from the simple prep, the fact that there is minimal clean-up required is another reason this dish is a great choice for a weeknight dinner. A skillet, some measuring spoons, a knife, and a spatula is pretty much all you need.
- The flavors! After bathing in the citrusy, umami-rich marinade with hints of onion and garlic the steak ends up not only much more tender but much more flavorful. Combine that with the cheese, a toasted tortilla, and the fresh pico de gallo (not to mention whatever toppings your choose to garnish it with) and you’ve got yourself one flavorful quesadilla.
Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)
- Fresh squeezed orange juice: When appropriate, citrus juice is ideal for marinating meat. It adds flavor and also helps break down the fibrous strands of protein rendering the steak more tender. It’s no wonder orange juice is traditionally the foundation of the carne asada marinade. While you could use bottled orange juice I urge you not to. Rather, I suggest you use freshly squeezed orange juice to assure the best flavor and to avoid the additives that may be found in bottled varieties.
- Soy sauce: Rather than using salt this recipe calls for soy sauce because it also adds some wonderful umami flavor to the mix.
- Lime juice: Freshly squeezed is best!
- Garlic: I would suggest using at least three garlic cloves, however, this can be adjusted to taste. Personally, I love me some garlic and thus choose to use four decent-sized cloves.
- Cumin: For hints of warmth and earthiness.
- Steak: While carne asada is typically made with skirt steak, which I recommend, you could use flank steak instead. Skirt steak is a tough cut of meat so don’t skip the marinating process – doing so tenderizes the meat and also infuses it with flavor. If your skirt steak, or a portion of it, is on the thick side I recommend hammering it down to flatten it out some. The more uniform the steak pieces are the more evenly they will cook.
- White onion: For marinade.
- Cilantro: Also for the marinade. Could be used to garnish as well.
- Large flour tortillas
- Cheese: My favorite cheese to use for quesadillas is Chihuahua cheese because it melts exceptionally well. Since it is not as easy to come by I have a couple of other suggestions including queso quesadilla and Monterey Jack. For this recipe, my preference is a milder white cheese, however, feel free to experiment with other options like cheddar or Colby Jack.
- Pico de gallo: Although optional, I feel that the pico de gallo should not be omitted. It brings balance to the dish by adding fresh bright flavor.
- Non-stick cooking spray: Since you only need a light coating of oil to cook the quesadillas, I find it’s easiest to use non-stick cooking spray, however, you could use a cloth to lightly coat the skillet with any neutral, high smoke oil.
How to make carne asada quesadillas (+ tips)
1. Begin by combining all the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish with a lid or if you wish, in a small bowl then transferred to a large plastic baggy.
2. Cut the steak against the grain into 1/4″-1/2″ strips then cut the strips into 1/4″-1/2″ pieces then transfer it to the container with the marinade, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least one hour, but no more than 24 hours.
3. Remove the skirt steak from the marinade, pat dry, and set aside.
4. Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the steak, stirring occasionally, for three minutes then raise heat to high and cook an additional two minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. Place a large skillet over medium-low heat.
7. Once hot, spray with nonstick cooking spray then flatly place a tortilla in it. Sprinkle with one cup of cheese, 1/4 of the steak, and 1/4 cup of pico de gallo. Cook for two minutes until the cheese begins to melt then fold the tortilla in half creating a quesadilla. Cook for one minute then flip and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining ingredients, spraying the skillet with more oil in between each quesadilla.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.
What to serve with these quesadillas:
- Cilantro Lime Spinach Rice: This healthy spinach rice with lime and cilantro is a simple and delicious way to get in an extra serving of greens. It works great as a side or served up in a burrito or wrap. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
- Salsa Verde Pinto Beans: Slightly spicy and full of flavor these simple salsa verde pinto beans bathe in a rich and creamy broth that will leave you longing for more. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
- Creamy Poblano Rice w/ Corn: This Mexican-inspired rice incorporates a creamy roasted poblano sauce, onion, garlic, and corn. Great side dish to serve alongside your next Mexican meal. Simple prep, naturally gluten-free, vegetarian option, and just the right amount of heat.
More recipes featuring carne asada:
- Carne Asada Nachos: A great choice for a party or a weeknight dinner, these easy carne asada nachos can be prepped ahead, customized with your favorite toppings, and are so so delicious. Naturally gluten-free.
- Carne Asada Fries Mac & Cheese: Carne asada fries + mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food; creamy mac and cheese made from scratch covered in carne asada, potatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. I hope you’re ready to indulge! I promise it will be worth the calories.
- Carne Asada Tacos w/ Roasted Pineapple Habanero Salsa: Carne asada tacos made with tender marinated skirt steak and piled with all your favorite toppings including roasted pineapple habanero salsa.
If you make these carne asada quesadillas I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 pound skirt/flank steak
- 1/2 small white onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
For the quesadillas
- 4 large tortillas
- 4 cups chihuahua cheese
- 1 cup pico de gallo
- Non-stick cooking spray or neutral oil
- Begin by combining all the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish with a lid or if you wish, in a small bowl then transferred to a large plastic baggy.
- Cut the steak against the grain into 1/4″-1/2″ strips then cut the strips into 1/4″-1/2″ pieces.
- Transfer the steak to the container with the marinade, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least one hour, but no more than 24 hours.
- Remove the skirt steak from the marinade, pat dry, and set aside.
- Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the steak, stirring occasionally, for three minutes then raise heat to high and cook an additional two minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place a new large skillet or wash and the one used to cook the steak and place it over medium-low heat.
- Once hot, spray with nonstick cooking spray then flatly place a tortilla in it. Sprinkle with one cup of cheese, 1/4 of the steak, and 1/4 cup of pico de gallo. Cook for two minutes until the cheese begins to melt then fold the tortilla in half creating a quesadilla. Cook for one minute then flip and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining ingredients, spraying the skillet with more oil in between each quesadilla.
- Serve warm with your desired toppings. Suggestions include: guacamole or sliced avocado, sour cream, and salsa.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 945Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 211mgSodium: 1883mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 66g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc