Main Dishes

May 31, 2022

Easy Carne Asada Quesadillas

Made with only 3 main ingredients and a simple marinade, these Easy Carne Asada Quesadillas are so easy to make and so delicious. They're also low carb, easily gluten free, and packed with over 40 grams of protein per serving!

Here's something weird about me: I have never liked grilled cheese sandwiches but I love quesadillas.

Why? Honestly I think it's the bread-to-cheese ratio and the type of cheese.

And the fact that you can load your quesadillas with the most amazing mix-ins and toppings!

For example, these Beef Sheet Pan Quesadillas are served with salsa, guacamole, cilantro, and lime wedges.

But today's recipe for Carne Asada Quesadillas, or quesadilla de asada, takes the cake. It's not just ground beef inside, it's marinated flank steak!

(Cue mouth watering)

If you love carne asada, you're going to love this Carne Asada Quesadilla recipe!

Carne asada quesadillas on a cutting board with toppings

Ingredients you'll need

For the quesadilla de asada

  • Flank steak: the traditional cut of meat for carne asada. Read the step by step instructions below for details about preparing your steak.
  • Mexican cheese: this blend of 4 traditional Mexican cheeses is a great option because you get so much more flavor AND it comes in a reduced fat variety.
  • Low carb tortillas: I opted for low carb tortillas to bring down the total number of calories per quesadilla. This brand is my absolute favorite (not sponsored) and I use them in all my recipes!

For the carne asada marinade

  • Fresh lime: both the juice and the zest will be used. Be sure to zest first!
  • Olive oil: for a tender, juicy steak that won't stick to your pan.
  • Worcestershire sauce: not traditional but oh so good. Most carne asada recipes call for soy sauce, but I prefer Worcestershire because it was developed specifically for red meat by the English. Trust me on this one!
  • Seasonings: cumin, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, paprika, and oregano.

For the toppings

I used guacamole, plain greek yogurt, pico de gallo, fresh squeezed lime, and cilantro.

For a full list of toppings and "what to serve with" options, check out the FAQ section below!

Ingredients for quesadilla de asada

How to make carne asada quesadillas

Step 1: slice the steak

Some recipes suggest searing the steak first, but then you have to let it rest before slicing and it takes more time to cook.

For this easy recipe, we're going to cut the steak into strips first to save time.

The key here is to slice against the grain of the steak.

What does that mean? Look at the steak and see which direction the fibers of the meat muscle run.

Whichever direction that is, cut perpendicular to it (90°). This keeps the meat in tact during cooking and retains the marinade better. Otherwise your steak will fall apart and be quite dry.

Another important thing to remember is to cut the steak into strips the size of your pinky finger. This includes the length and width. The thinner the strip, the faster it sears in the pan!

Step 2: marinate the steak

Toss the steak strips in a large ziploc bag with the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings.

If you really want the best flavor, set the bag of steak in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can even let it marinate for up to 48 hours before you cook it!

Why do this step in a bag rather than just season it on the stove? One, it's easier to get all the oils and juices on every piece of steak; two, it's a less-messy way to season the steak; and three, it encourages you to marinate the steak!

Step 3: sear the steak

Once the steak has marinated, heat a large skillet to medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. (I like using cast iron because it handles high heat really well and boosts the iron content as well.)

When the skillet is hot, add half the steak in an even layer, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Sear the steak on each side for no more than one minute, then remove, set aside, and repeat with the remaining steak.

Be sure NOT to fully cook the steak. The steak will finish cooking in the oven. You WANT to have pink left in the steak after you remove it from the stove.

A stack of carne asada quesadillas topped with guacamole, greek yogurt, and pico de gallo.

Step 4: prepare the quesadillas

Grease a sheet pan with cooking spray and lay down two tortillas. Spread 1/4 cup of cheese on half of one tortilla, followed by about 1/3 cup of the steak (just enough to cover the cheese), and another 1/4 cup cheese on top.

Fold the quesadilla in half and repeat with the other tortilla. Push both quesadillas to the side and prepare two more on the same sheet pan.

Once you have four quesadillas, spray the tops with cooking spray.

Step 5: cook the quesadillas

Cook for 10 minutes in the oven.

After 10 minutes, flip and cook an additional 5 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

If you're making all 8 quesadillas de asada at once, prepare another sheet pan and repeat.

Step 6: slice and garnish

Let the quesadillas cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then slice into pieces and top with your favorite toppings.

Check out a list of my favorite toppings and side dishes below!

Frequently asked questions

What does carne asada mean?

"Carne" means meat, and "asada" means grilled or barbecued. However, carne asada refers specifically to beef, not any meat.

Carne asada quesadillas on a cutting board with toppings

What is carne asada seasoning made of?

Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and salt. If you have cayenne pepper on hand, that would be a great addition as well.

What goes good with carne asada?

Why is my carne asada tough?

  1. You seared your meat too long. Since the steak is mostly cooking in the oven, you don't want to fully cook it on the stove. For more information, read the step by step instructions above.
  2. You didn't toss the steak well enough in the marinade. Every piece needs to have the oil/juice/Worcestershire soaked into it!
  3. You didn't cut against the grain. Trust me, I've made this mistake too and it really does make a difference. Be sure to cut against the grain to prevent tough, dry meat.

Is carne asada healthy?

This recipe is! I reduced the amount of oil used in the marinade, swapped full fat cheese for reduced fat cheese, and used low carb tortillas to reduce the total number of calories per quesadilla.

If you include toppings like guacamole and pico de gallo, you're also getting a serving of fruit with each quesadilla!

Carne asada quesadillas on a cutting board with toppings

Can I make this recipe gluten free or dairy free?

Yes! Just use your favorite low carb gluten free tortillas or your favorite vegan cheese.

Can I make these carne asada quesadillas in the air fryer?

Yes! Although you'll need to cook fewer quesadillas at once, they will turn out great.

Grease the basket with cooking spray quite well. Air fry at 400° for 5-8 minutes, flip, respray, then cook another 5 minutes. Cook times might vary with each model of air fryer.

Storing and meal prep

Before assembly

Keep the marinated steak in its own bag and refrigerate for up to 2 days. The cheese and any cold toppings (like greek yogurt, guacamole, or picoo) should remain refrigerated as well.

Keep the tortillas in an airtight bag or container in dry storage.

After assembly

Let the quesadillas cool completely at room temperature, then store in an airtight container or ziploc bag for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Keep any toppings separate from the finished quesadillas.

How to meal prep

Follow the recipe instructions, then read the "after assembly" section above.

This quesadilla de asada recipe is perfect for meal prep because it makes 8 quesadillas and you can easily reheat them in the microwave, oven, or air fryer.

A stack of carne asada quesadillas topped with guacamole, greek yogurt, and pico de gallo.

I know you will love this carne asada quesadilla recipe! They're so easy to make and so delicious. Who doesn't love meat, cheese, and carbs?

Be sure to leave a star rating and review below so other readers know how you liked the recipe!

I also love seeing my recipes in your home, so please tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Easy Carne Asada Quesadillas

Made with only 3 main ingredients and a simple marinade, these Easy Carne Asada Quesadillas are so easy to make and so delicious. They're also low carb, easily gluten free, and packed with over 40 grams of protein per serving!

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

15

min

cook:

15

min

total:

30

min

servings:

8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. flank steak, cut into thin strips*
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 16 oz. reduced fat Mexican cheese (about 4 cups)
  • 8 low carb tortillas**

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large ziploc bag, toss the steak strips with the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, oregano, and paprika. (Optional: marinate 30 minutes to 48 hours)
  3. Heat a large skillet (I use cast iron) to medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add half the steak in an even layer. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. SEAR on both sides (ie no more than 1 minute of heat on each side) then remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining steak. Place the seared steak on a plate and set aside.
  4. Assemble the quesadillas by spreading 1/4 cup cheese on half a tortilla, then 1/3 cup marinated steak, then another 1/4 cup cheese on top of the steak. Fold over the other side of the tortilla to close the quesadilla. Repeat with remaining ingredients, but only cook 4 quesadillas at a time. Press slightly to flatten, then spray the tops of the quesadillas with cooking spray.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes, then flip the quesadillas over and cook another 5 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  6. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Notes

*See blog post for more information.

**I use this brand, but you can also use a gluten free brand like this one.

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1 quesadilla, not including any toppings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 quesadilla / Calories: 410 / Fat: 20.1g / Saturated fat: 10.2g / Carbohydrates: 20g / Fiber: 11g / Protein: 42g