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Easy Quesadillas de Papa

These easy quesadillas de papa are stuffed with tender potatoes, onions, garlic, two types of cheese, and a squeeze of lemon for some quick tasty moreish creamy tangy vegetarian quesadillas to enjoy as a main or side dish.

A stack of five cheesy potato quesadillas on white wood.

On a side note, these are completely inauthentic – I got a hankering for some masala dosa, didn’t have the ingredients to make the dosa pancake, and am not crazy about mashed potatoes which I see used in other quesadilla de papa recipes, so here we are. Totally inauthentic, but totally tasty.

Why you’ll love them

  • For just a few ingredients, these quesadillas are incredibly flavorsome.
  • All the ingredients are easy to find.
  • All the ingredients are reasonably cheap.
  • The filling is no fuss and comes together in under fifteen minutes.
  • These delicious quesadillas are filling and satisfying.
  • They’re crispy and cheesy and filled with tender potatoes, more cheese…what’s not to love?

If potatoes are your thing (I know they’re mine) you might also want to take a look at my easy Bombay potatoes or these spicy roasted harissa potatoes.

Ingredients and substitutions

The ingredients for this recipe are pretty simple so there aren’t many substitutions you can make, but take a look down below anyway to see what you’ll need, and then scroll under to see what changes you can make.

Labelled ingredients including flour tortillas, salt, cheddar, feta, potatoes, onion and sour cream.

Flour tortillas: I love corn tortillas but for quesadillas, you really need the flexibility of flour tortillas. If you’re really stuck, you can use corn ones but instead of folding the tortilla over, double the filling and sandwich two corn tortillas together. I used 9-inch flour tortillas for this recipe but you can always use bigger ones, you’ll just need to adjust the amount of filling you add.

Salt: Any dish including potatoes always benefits from being well-salted. If you’re watching your sodium levels you can substitute with a low or no-sodium equivalent, otherwise, don’t add less and even add a pinch more if you feel the filling needs it.

Garlic: Use fresh garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use two teaspoons of garlic purée instead. Don’t use garlic powder. If you hate garlic, omit it.

Cayenne pepper: This adds a very slight kick, feel free to increase if you wish. The sour cream and cheese take most of the bite off. You can also use any other chili pepper you prefer, or red chili flakes, or even hot sauce if you don’t have cayenne pepper.

Smoked paprika: If you don’t have it, omit it, or use half the amount of guajillo chili powder.

Olive oil: I prefer to use olive oil for everything (although no need to use your extra virgin olive oil here, save that for your salads), but you can substitute with avocado oil or a flavorless oil like sunflower or canola oil.

Cheddar: If you don’t have (or don’t like) cheddar, you can substitute it with Colby cheese, Monterey Jack, Mexican Manchego, or queso asadero.

Onion: If you don’t like onion, leave it out. Otherwise, it adds a lot of flavor, so leave it in. I used a yellow onion but really it doesn’t matter what type you use, so feel free to use a red, white, or sweet onion.

Potatoes: I used thin-skinned white potatoes for this recipe as I didn’t want to have to peel them and wanted the extra nutrients, flavor, and texture from keeping the skins on. You can also use thin-skinned yellow potatoes, baby potatoes. or fingerlings. Yukon gold or Kennebec potatoes are my favorites for this recipe.

Feta: Can be substituted with cotija, queso fresco, or goat cheese (with the rind removed).

Sour cream: Can be substituted with crème fraîche, or for a lighter touch, Greek yogurt.

Lemon: Use fresh lemon juice, not bottled. In a pinch, you can substitute with fresh lime juice.

A hand holding a quesadilla with potatoes and lemon in the background.

How to make them

In just a few steps you’ll have some tasty potato-stuffed quesadillas. I’ve gone into great detail in this section and have attached process photos to every step so you can see exactly what’s going on, in case you’re unsure or are new to cooking. If everything is clear or you’re a very experienced cook, feel free to drop down to the concise version in the recipe card.

  1. Let’s make the filling. Heat a large skillet or work on medium heat and add the oil. Chop the potatoes into one-centimeter dice. Add to the skillet, toss to coat all the pieces with oil, cover with a lid, a larger inverted pan, or aluminum foil and cook for ten minutes, stirring halfway. If you don’t stir halfway you run the risk of the potatoes sticking and burning.
  2. Chop the onions finely and uncover the pan. Add the onions, and increase the heat to medium-high. Mix the onions and potatoes and cook for five minutes or until the onions have softened and are slightly translucent.
Four images labelled one to four showing potatoes in a pan, then with onion, then with spices, then browned.
  1. Crush the garlic cloves, and add to the pan along with the ground cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and salt.
  2. Toss and mix well so that all the potato pieces are coated with spices. Fry for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally as needed to prevent sticking and burning. Grate the cheddar in the meantime (preferably don’t use packaged grated cheddar as it doesn’t melt as well).
  3. Add the lemon juice and toss quickly. Test the potatoes with a fork to make sure they are cooked. If they are still a little hard, add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover it and cook in three minute increments until they’re cooked through. Take the skillet off the heat.
  4. Add the crumbled feta, a quarter of the grated cheddar, and the sour cream, and mix well.
Four images labelled 5 to 8 showing potatoes in a pan, then with cheese mixed in, then on half a tortilla, then topped with more cheese.
  1. Grab a tortilla. Fold it in half and then open it, so you can see a faint indentation where the middle is. Add four tablespoons of the potato mix and spread evenly over half the tortilla, leaving a one-centimeter border at the edge.
  2. Sprinkle half a cup of grated cheddar over the filling and fold the tortilla. Press down lightly on the top to make the tortilla stick together.
  3. Heat a griddle or grill pan on medium-high heat and brush with a little oil or butter. You can also dry fry the quesadillas, but to get them really golden and crispy I do recommend adding a little fat to the pan. Add the quesadilla to the pan once it is hot.
  4. Fry on both sides for between one to two minutes until they are golden brown. Alternatively, you can cook all your quesadillas at once in the oven at 400ºF on a baking paper lined tray for about eight minutes on one side and five to seven on the other.
Split image with an uncooked quesadilla on the left and with one side cooked on the right.

Remove to a plate and repeat with the other quesadillas. Leave to cool for one minute before cutting. I prefer to either use a bread knife, a pizza cutter or large kitchen shears to snip these into three pizza-style slices. I find using an unserrated knife can result in some of the filling squishing out the sides.

Enjoy hot by themselves, or with a side of Mexican rice, avocado salad or slaw, some salsas or sour cream for dipping, pico de gallo etc.

Equipment notes

You’ll only need a few basic items to put this recipe together including:

  • A large skillet, non-stick pan or wok.
  • A large sharp knife for chopping.
  • A garlic press.
  • Optionally, a measuring cups and spoons set.
  • Optionally, a ridged grill pan.

Expert tips

A hand pulling one slice of quesadilla out, showing the sides with cubed potatoes and cheese, on a pale wooden surface.
  1. If you want to speed up the filling cooking time or are worried you have chopped your potatoes too large, simply add them to a microwave-safe bowl with two tablespoons of water, cover tightly with a lid or saran wrap, and microwave for between five to eight minutes until fork-tender. Then in step two you can just fry the onions until softened, drain and add the microwaved potatoes, and continue with the rest of the recipe.
  2. The potatoes are the star of this recipe, but if you want to make your quesadillas even cheesier, then double the cheese. Then sprinkle about three quarters of a cup of grated cheese across the entire tortilla, zap in the microwave for up to a minute or until melted, and proceed with the recipe. For extra melty stringy goodness you can swap out a quarter of the cheese for grated mozzarella. Drool….
  3. This recipe is very mild, but if you like it really hot and spicy like me, feel free to get some garlic chili sauce (I also use it to make this delicious silken tofu recipe) and spread a very thin layer across the tortilla before adding the filling and cheese and frying it.
  4. For simplicity’s sake I’ve shown you how to make one quesadilla in the process photos. In order to get all the quesadillas ready as soon as possible and as hot as possible, I actually recommend filling them two at a time, and frying them two at a time in a large enough pan (and preparing the next two while those two are cooking).

FAQs

Can you freeze these quesadillas?

Yes! You can fill them, and skip frying them and freeze them on parchment paper, and then transfer to a container with a lid and keep them for up to three months. To reheat, you can microwave them for one to two minutes, fry in the pan, or in a toaster (with the open side facing upwards). Personally, if possible, I prefer to freeze the filling, and then later defrost and add to the tortillas to get the crispiest quesadillas possible.

How long will leftovers keep?

You can keep leftover quesadillas in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, I like to dry fry them on low-medium heat for a minute each side or until they are crisp again. You can also grill them or bake them on lower temperatures until reheated. You can microwave them but they will be soft and floppy.

Can I make these ahead of time?

Yes! If making ahead of time, simply prepare the filling first. When cool, move to a container with a lid and refrigerate until needed (for up to three days). Then when you’re ready to make the quesadillas, simply fill them, add the cheese, and fry.

Serve it with…

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Yield: 6 Quesadillas

Easy Quesadillas de Papa

A stack of five cheesy potato quesadillas on white wood.

Delicious crispy creamy cheesy moreish potato-stuffed quesadillas to papa. Enjoy as a side dish or appetizer or make it a meal with some Mexican rice, salad, and dipping sauces.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons oil*
  • 2-3 medium potatoes (1lb/450g, white or yellow, thin -skinned)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 Tablespoons sour cream**
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (2-65 oz/75g)***
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 10.6oz cheddar cheese (300g)
  • 6 9-inch flour tortillas

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet, non-stick pan, or wok over medium heat and add the oil. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into one-centimeter dice. If you use russet, red, or thick-skinned potatoes you'll need to peel them, for thin-skinned white or yellow don't bother.
  2. Add the potatoes to the oil in the pan and toss to coat. Fry for ten minutes, stirring halfway.
  3. FInely chop and add the onion and add. Fry a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Crush the garlic and add to the pan along with the cayenne, paprika, and salt. Toss well to coat the potatoes with the spices and fry a further five minutes, stirring as needed. Grate the cheddar meanwhile.
  5. Test the potatoes are done with a fork- If not, add some water (3-4 tbsp) to the pan and cover, and cook in three-minute increments until done. If done, add the lemon juice and quickly stir through and remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Add the crumbled feta, a quarter of the cheddar, and the sour cream to the potatoes mixture and stir until mixed well.
  7. Add four tablespoons of the mixture to half a tortilla. Sprinkle half a cup of cheddar on top of the potatoes and fold the tortilla. Fry on medium heat for one to two minutes on each side until golden and crispy (if you add a little oil or butter to the pan they will be even crispier, but dry-frying is also fine). I prefer to fill and fry two or three quesadillas at a time, depending on the size of the griddle or pan.
  8. Fill and fry the remaining tortillas. Let them sit for one minute after removing them from the pan before slicing each one into three triangular pieces.
  9. Serve hot as a side dish or appetizer with salsa to dip in, or accompany with rice, salad, salsa for dipping, sour cream, etc. for a satisfying main course tortillas

Notes

* Preferably use olive or avocado oil if you have them, if not sunflower or canola oil.

** Creme fraiche or Greek yogurt can be substituted for sour cream.

*** If you can't get feta you can also use cotija, queso fresco, or goat cheese with the rind removed.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1 quesadilla (3 slices)

Amount Per Serving Calories 465Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 66mgSodium 842mgCarbohydrates 50gFiber 4gSugar 3gProtein 20g

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