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Try air fryer quesadillas for a quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe. Refried beans and melty plant-based cheese are stuffed into flour tortillas and crisped to perfection. Serve them as-is or with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream!
Table of Contents
📖 What are air fryer quesadillas?
Compared to Mexican-style quesadillas, these air fryer quesadillas are considered a Tex-Mex dish. Although they are different, we know you will love them just the same!
To make them, all you need is fresh flour tortillas, creamy refried beans, and a meltable cheese of your choice.
This recipe comes together so quickly that it will end up becoming a go-to meal for the whole family!
Dating back to the 16th century, quesadillas come from central and northern Mexico.
The Aztecs used to stuff corn tortillas with pumpkin and squash until Spanish settlers brought over livestock for dairy products. Alas, cheese quesadillas were born.
Hundreds of years later, this snack remains one of the most popular foods all across Mexico and has made its way into Tex-Mex cuisine.
🌮 The best tortillas for quesadillas
Traditionally, quesadillas are made with corn tortillas. But, it’s common in northern Mexico and in the United States to find flour tortillas instead.
For this recipe, we find homemade flour tortillas work best since they crisp up perfectly in the air fryer. The end result is a soft interior with a crispy exterior.
🧀 The best cheese for quesadillas
In Mexican cuisine, the most common cheese variety in quesadillas is Oaxaca cheese. In America, there is ‘quesadilla cheese’ available.
Since we’re vegan and love the idea of everyone being able to enjoy foods like quesadillas, we typically opt for dairy-free mozzarella. It’s melty, stretchy, and has a similar flavor to Oaxaca cheese.
Other popular types of cheese for quesadillas include:
- Chihuahua cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Gouda cheese
🌱 Are quesadillas vegan?
As we mentioned already, quesadillas are traditionally made with dairy-based cheese varieties.
There are so many nut-based cheeses nowadays that it’s becoming much easier to swap in vegan options. In this particular recipe, we use a mix of mozzarella and cheddar for a deliciously melty texture.
One other thing to keep in mind if you are using store-bought tortillas and beans is the use of lard. Some flour tortillas and refried beans contain pork fat, so always double-check.
🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
Tortillas — We prefer small flour tortillas for this recipe as they fit easier in our air fryer basket. Of course, you can use larger ones if they fit in your air fryer. Either store-bought or homemade flour tortillas work well.
Cheese — We usually go for block cheese as opposed to pre-shredded because it melts easier. Pre-shredded varieties often contain additives to prevent clumping, which makes them less flavorful.
Beans — Refried pinto beans go with the Tex-Mex theme of this dish, but you can use refried black beans for a stronger, earthier taste.
Olive oil — For lightly brushing the outsides of the quesadillas to help them better crisp up in the air fryer.
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Step 1 — Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees F for 4-5 minutes. If your tortillas are quite stiff, heat them on a dry skillet or griddle for 30 seconds each.
Step 2 — On one side of each tortilla, spread about 2 tablespoons of beans and 2-3 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese.
Step 3 — Fold each one in half to make half-moon shapes, then brush both sides with a little olive oil.
Step 4 — Transfer the quesadillas to your air fryer basket two at a time. If they aren’t staying closed, place an object on top (like an air fryer-safe tray or rack).
Step 5 — Cook at 350 degrees F for 4 minutes, then flip them. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and they are browned to your liking. Serve as-is or with your favorite salsas. Happy eating!
If you have questions about making vegan air fryer quesadillas, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!
🥗 What to serve with quesadillas
While air-fried quesadillas are delicious on their own, you can never go wrong with some classic salsa pairings like these:
Guacamole — Creamy Haas avocados paired with fresh vegetables and lime.
Vegan Mexican crema — Mexican-style cream sauce made from cashews.
Dairy-free sour cream — A thicker version of Mexican crema made plant-based.
Pico de gallo — Fresh, chunky, and spicy salsa fresca.
Salsa ranchera — Roasted vegetables blended together into a chunky red salsa.
🍽️ How to eat quesadillas
You can leave the cooked quesadillas in half-moon shapes, or cut them into quarters or thirds before serving.
Dip the quesadillas in salsa, spread it along the top, or open them up and add sauce on the inside before digging in!
🌡️ Storage & reheating
To keep your quesadillas fresh, follow these storage and reheating tips:
Fridge — Once cooked, the quesadillas will last in your fridge for up to 2-3 days. Keep them in an airtight container or reusable baggie with the air removed.
Freezer — Let your quesadillas cool completely, then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or an airtight container. Freeze them for up to 3 months.
Reheating — The quesadillas are best reheated in your air fryer so they crisp up again. Preheat it to 350 degrees F, then air fry them for 3-4 minutes until the cheese melts.
Cheese only — If you’re not a fan of beans, make a classic quesadilla with just cheese.
No cheese — Make your air fryer quesadillas with mashed beans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or other squash.
Protein — Try a plant-based “meat” filling like carnitas, al pastor, tinga, or chorizo with the cheese.
Extra crispy — If you’d like your quesadillas with a little more crunch factor, keep them in the air fryer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Flip halfway — Make sure you flip the quesadillas halfway to evenly cook them and help the air circulate properly.
Cook in batches — Don’t stack your quesadillas. Instead, cook them in multiple batches so they turn out crispy.
Don’t use pre-grated cheese — Grate your own cheese instead of using pre-shredded. Packaged cheeses typically contain additives to prevent clumping, meaning it doesn’t melt as easily and is less flavorful.
Preheat the air fryer — For an accurate and consistent cooking time, preheat your air fryer for 4-5 minutes prior to cooking the quesadillas.
Don’t overfill — Go easy on the fillings so they don’t fall out of the sides and make a bigger mess to clean up.
Our favorite is the Instant Pot Duo Crisp because it cooks evenly and has a dual function. However, many people enjoy a stand-alone air fryer like the Ninja AF101.
Yes, frozen quesadillas work as well. If you can find a vegan brand you enjoy, cook them at the same temperature for 5-6 minutes longer than indicated in this recipe. Some plant-based brands include Sweet Earth or Tattooed Chef.
This particular quesadilla recipe is not gluten-free. However, you can use corn tortillas for a more traditional and gluten-free version.
🍴 More recipes like this one
If you enjoyed these air fryer quesadillas, be sure to try some other flavor-packed recipes:
- Quesabirria tacos: Chile-dipped tortillas loaded with melted cheese and oyster mushrooms.
- Blue corn quesadillas: Blue masa tortillas filled with flor de calabaza for a tradtional Mexican quesadilla recipe.
- Sweet potato and bean quesadillas: A quick and easy quesadilla recipe featuring black beans, sweet potatoes, and corn tortillas.
- Mulitas: A double-decker quesadilla made with jackfruit carnitas, melty cheese, guacamole, and salsa.
Best Air Fryer Quesadillas
- Air fryer
- ½ cup refried pinto beans ($0.18)
- ½ cup shredded vegan mozzarella ($1.25)
- 4 small flour tortillas ($0.12)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
For serving optional
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F for 4-5 minutes. If your tortillas are quite stiff, heat them on a dry skillet or griddle for 30 seconds each.
- On one side of each tortilla, spread about 2 tablespoons of beans and 2-3 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Fold each one in half to make half-moon shapes, then brush both sides with a little olive oil.
- Transfer the quesadillas to your air fryer basket two at a time. If they aren’t staying closed, place an object on top (like an air fryer-safe tray or rack).
- Cook at 350°F for 4 minutes, then flip them. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and they are browned to your liking. Serve as-is or with guacamole, salsa, crema, etc. Happy eating!
- Flip halfway — Make sure you flip the quesadillas halfway to evenly cook them and help the air circulate properly.
- Cook in batches — Don’t stack your quesadillas. Instead, cook them in multiple batches so they turn out crispy.
- Don’t use pre-grated cheese — Grate your own cheese instead of using pre-shredded. Packaged cheeses typically contain additives to prevent clumping, meaning it doesn’t melt as easily and is less flavorful.
- Preheat the air fryer — For an accurate and consistent cooking time, preheat your air fryer for 4-5 minutes prior to cooking the quesadillas.
- Don’t overfill — Go easy on the fillings so they don’t fall out of the sides and make a bigger mess to clean up.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe to recipe. All prices are in USD.