Carne Asada Quesadillas are filled with tender cuts of grilled carne asada steak, stretchy cheese, and smoky green chiles. It’s a delightfully easy Mexican-inspired meal.
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Whenever we’re in the mood for tex-mex at home, we make these delicious carne asada quesadillas. The outside of the tortilla gets super crispy, and the meat inside is so tender and juicy. These wonderful textures are only made better with a hefty helping of melted cheese!
These carne asada quesadillas use our homemade carne asada dry rub which has such a better flavor than the typical store-bought blend. It’s super flavorful, has just a touch of spice, and skips all the additives that most big-name brands use.
What is Carne Asada?
Carne Asada is actually a cooking method, rather than a specific dish. It literally means “grilled meats”. The steak, usually chuck steak, but you can also use skirt or flank steak – is typically marinated then grilled or seared to give it a charred flavor.
Carne asada can be served on its own or as an ingredient in other dishes. It’s one of the most common kinds of tacos you can get in Mexico. While there are typical seasonings associated with it, there’s no set recipe that must be followed.
For our recipe, we put together all the typical flavors with a boost of flavor from Tajin chili and lime seasoning that really elevates it.
Ingredients You Need
- Flank Steak – To make this recipe, we use flank or skirt steak, which is a nice thin cut of beef with a good texture that’s easy to chew. You don’t want to use any steak that’s difficult to cut through with your teeth – it’s just too annoying to eat.
- Carne Asada Rub – Our homemade rub includes typical Mexican seasonings like chili powder, ground cumin, ground celery seed, ground Mexican oregano, etc. See our recipe for the full ingredients list.
- Olive oil – The olive oil is drizzled onto the carne asada along with the rub to make a nice thick paste that infiltrates all the creviches of the steak.
- Flour Tortillas – White or whole wheat tortillas are what we use. If you want to keep the carbs down, you can use a Carb Balance tortilla.
- Monterey Jack Cheese – Grate your own cheese as pre-shredded cheese does not melt as well.
- Canned Diced Green Chiles – these chiles aren’t too spicy, so feel free to switch them out for a spicier pepper, if you want.
- Green Onions – Skip the regular onions and use green onions for a little onion flavor that’s not overpowering.
- Cilantro – Chopped cilantro adds flavor and can also be used as a garnish. It can be skipped for those that don’t like cilantro.
- Butter – We use butter to give the exterior of the quesadilla a bit more crunch and umami flavor. Use salted for the best flavor.
How to Make Carne Asada Quesadillas
Set aside 1/2 teaspoon of the rub for later. Season the flank steak with the remaining carne asada rub and a tablespoon of the olive oil. Rub it in with your hands to really coat the meat. Let it sit in the refrigerator covered for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours to really soak up that great flavor.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the remaining olive oil and sear the steak for 3 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches your desired level. I prefer 135 degrees F for a medium-rare steak. Transfer to a plate to rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the carne asada into small pieces that will be easy to eat in the quesadilla without too much work.
You will have to make one quesadilla at a time, unless you have a really large flat grill. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Brush one side of the tortilla with melted butter and place it buttered-side down on the grill. Top with equal amounts carne asada, cheese, green chilis, green onions and cilantro. Add the top tortilla.
Brush the top of the tortilla with remaining butter and cook the quesadilla for 4-5 minutes per side, until golden and heated through.
Top with sour cream and sprinkle with the reserved carne asada rub.
- Cast Iron Skillet or Flat Grill Pan – A cast iron skillet gives the best crunchy crust, but if you don’t have one any flat grill pan that the tortilla fits in will work.
- Basting brush – Use a basting brush to easily brush on the melted butter.
- Meat thermometer – Always use a meat thermometer when cooking meat to make sure it has reached the desired internal temperature. We cook our carne asada to 135° F internal temperature for medium-rare steak.
Substitutions & Variations
- For a different flavor profile, try making the quesadillas with canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It’s spicier and smokier!
- Dice up a few jalapeños finely and add them to the quesadillas before toasting them in the pan. You can just add flavor by removing the seeds. Or leave the seeds in for a super spicy kick.
- Almost any cheese can be used in this recipe, but it’s best to stick with cheeses that melt well and don’t have a lot of liquid. We like to use a Mexican cheese blend and we sometimes add some cotija cheese as well. Shred the cheese yourself to get the best results.
How Do I Store Leftovers?
Let the quesadillas cool to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container. They should last in the fridge for about 5 days. Reheat the quesadillas in a pan over medium heat until it has warmed through.
You can also freeze left over quesadillas, wrapped well in the freezer for about 2 months. This is a great way to have a grab and go snack that’s quick to reheat, or to do meal-prep for lunches. If you have an air fryer, it’s super easy to pop the quesadilla into the air fryer basket. Cook on 400° F for 3-5 minutes.
Questions About the Recipe
Can I make the carne asada quesadillas in the oven?
Yes. Follow the same first steps in this recipe, but instead of pan frying the quesadillas, place them on a lined baking sheet. Let them bake in the oven at 450°F for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Do I have to marinate the meat?
Giving the meat some time to soak in the rub will give you a much more flavorful cut of meat. It’s best to not skip this step. However, you don’t need to put together an elaborate marinade like most carne asada recipes call for. Our dry rub contains all the flavors you would get from the wet marinade and it’s much easier to just rub on.
Tips & Suggestions
- Top the fresh carne asada quesadillas with some creamy guacamole or refreshing pico de gallo.
- Use a meat thermometer to check that the steak is fully cooked. For a medium rare steak, it should register at 135°F. You can remove it a few degrees before it reaches this point, as carry over cooking will bring it up to 135° as it rests.
- When flipping over the quesadillas, brush the tortilla with some extra butter to make it extra crispy on both sides.
What to serve it with
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Carne Asada Quesadillas
- 1 pound flank steak
- 1 tablespoon carne asada rub see our recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 4 large flour tortillas
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- 4 ounces canned diced green chiles well drained
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- Set aside 1/2 teaspoon of the rub for later. Season the flank steak with the remaining carne asada rub and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Rub it in with your hands to really coat the meat. Let sit in the refrigerator covered for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil. When hot, sear the steak for 3 minutes per side, or until your desired internal temperature. I do 135° F for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate to rest for 5 minutes.
- Cut the carne asada into small pieces.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Brush one side of the tortilla with melted butter and place it buttered-side down on the pan. Top with equal amounts carne asada, cheese, green chilis, green onions and cilantro. Add the top tortilla.
- Brush the top with melted butter. Place the quesadilla in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until browned and heated through.
- Top with sour cream, more green onion and cilantro and sprinkle with the reserved carne asada rub.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.