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Meatless “Steakhouse” Quesadillas

  • Author: Tessa
  • Yield: 4 quesadillas 1x


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 lb. yellow or sweet onions, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced (preferably at room temperature)
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 3 to 4 C grated pepper jack cheese (about 12 oz.)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, quartered top to bottom, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • Tangy avocado sauce, for dipping (recipe below)


  1. To caramelize the onions, heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter over medium high in a large skillet until butter melts. Add sliced onions, sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt, and stir constantly for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and stir every 5 to 10 minutes until onions caramelize, anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the heat used. Onions may not darken, but they’re not when they have a jam-like consistency and taste quite sweet. Store in the refrigerator or freezer if not using immediately.
  2. Wipe out skillet from onions and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium. When shimmering, add sliced mushrooms. Stir infrequently as they cook, eventually releasing their liquid, which will evaporate, about 10 minutes total. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.
  3. For each quesadilla, heat 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil over medium high in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold 1 tortilla. Lay a tortilla in the oil, and cook as it sizzles, on 1 side only about 45 seconds. Remove and place oiled side on 2 layers of paper towels. Repeat with a second tortilla. Carefully wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, leaving just a trace of oil.
  4. With the quesadilla ingredients accessible, place one tortilla, oil side down, in the skillet, and turn heat to medium. Layer a small handful of cheese (1/3 to ½ cup), followed by a fourth of the caramelized onions, mushrooms, and red pepper. Sprinkle with black pepper, top with more cheese, and lay second tortilla on top, oiled side up. Weight down the quesadilla with a small, heavy pan, or using the back of your spatula, and cook about 2 minutes (it will be sizzling gently). To flip, pick up quesadilla on a large spatula, and use all your courage to give it a brave toss so it lands on the other side. Cook another 2 minutes, until the second side is crisped, then remove and repeat the process to make the remaining quesadillas. Hold finished quesadillas in a warm oven until serving. Cool slightly before cutting each into quarters.


The quesadillas are great with white cheddar, instead of pepper jack.

Caramelize the onions in advance for much quicker quesadillas. I usually start with 2 to 3 lbs. of onions and make a big batch while doing other kitchen tasks, since they just need an occasional stir. The caramelized onions are delicious on everything and freeze well.

I use the Joy of Cooking method for caramelizing onions, because I find the initial high heat is helpful for jump starting the process.

  • Category: Lunch, Dinner, Appetizer, Snack
  • Cuisine: Gluten-free, Meatless