Baked vegan quesadillas packed with black beans, corn, spinach, and creamy homemade queso are an easy, crowd-pleasing plant-based meal.
Y'all, back when I first went vegan in 2006, store-bought vegan cheese was the pits. We were really on our own out there, and homemade cashew queso was all the rage. These easy vegan quesadillas use my own cashew queso recipe from back then as the base.
Y'all, this cashew queso might be an older recipe, but it is legit. I have served it to adults and kids -- omnivores and vegans -- and everyone loves it!
Just make sure that, if you're making this for a crowd, you label it as containing cashews for folks with allergies. Because otherwise, people may not be able to tell.
Ingredients and substitutions
- cashews - This is the base for your queso. For nut-free, you can use vegan cheese shreds instead of the homemade queso and skip all of the other queso ingredients.
- salsa - Salsa brings tons of flavor to the queso recipe without needing to gather a bunch of ingredients.
- apple cider vinegar - A touch of vinegar adds zest to the queso. Feel free to use lemon or lime juice instead, if you prefer.
- nutritional yeast - A touch of nooch lends the queso a cheesy flavor.
- garlic - Fresh garlic gives the queso an extra flavor punch!
- olive oil - To saute your veggies. You can water fry, if you don't want to use oil.
- garlic and onion - The aromatics bring so much flavor to these vegan quesadillas!
- baby spinach - I love a little bit of something green in my quesadillas! Feel free to use your dark leafy greens of choice. You can also use broccoli, but cut the amount in half, since spinach cooks down so much.
- roasted corn - Canned or frozen is fine, and there's no need to thaw if you use frozen. You can also use regular corn, if you want.
- black beans - Beans make these quesadillas filling by adding fiber and protein!
- large flour tortillas - Feel free to use whole wheat, spinach, or gluten-free tortillas, if you want!
Making the filling
Heat the oil to medium-high in a large frying pan, and add the garlic and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown ever so slightly.
Add the spinach, and cook, stirring, until the spinach softens and begins to wilt.
Add the corn and black beans, stirring to combine well, and cook until the spinach fully wilts and turns bright green. Season with salt and pepper.
Making the vegan queso
This cashew queso is seriously easy to make. You just toss soaked cashews along with salsa, vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt into the blender.
Then, puree until your mixture gets completely smooth.
You can do this in a high speed blender in about one minute, but this is totally doable in a regular blender, too. Just keep blending, stopping to scrape down the sides every 30-60 seconds.
Let me reiterate that you should stop blending every 30-60 seconds. Not only does this give you a chance to push the goods back down toward the blade, but it gives your blender's motor a rest.
Running your blender for an extended period of time can burn out the motor, and I don't want that for you!
Once the queso is creamy, stir the black bean mixture into the queso.
Assembling the vegan quesadillas
Now, it's assembly time. Spread a generous scoop of the mixture onto half of a large tortilla. Make sure you spread it out, and leave yourself about ¼" of naked tortilla around that edge.
Then, fold the tortilla in half, gently pressing down to flatten the top without pushing the goods all the way out of the sides.
Repeat this process with the other three tortillas.
Transfer the quesadillas to preheated, lined baking sheets, and bake for 15 minutes, flipping once. Let's discuss that flip.
Careful flipping is key here. Slide a large spatula under the first quesadilla on the open end. Place your fingertips gently on top of the quesadilla, then flip it up and over. You're sort of rolling it gently over along the folded end.
Repeat that with the rest of the quesadillas, and use your spatula to gently flatten them a bit. Then, let them finish baking.
Then, it is crucial that you let them cool on the pan before you slice. This cheese will thin out a bit in the oven, and that few minutes of cooling time will let it set back up, so it won't all gush out when you slice.
I like to slice my quesadillas in half with a pizza cutter, starting on the open end and moving toward the folded side. You can use a knife, if you don't have a pizza cutter.
How to serve and store
You can serve these on their own -- they are plenty decadent and flavorful! But if your family loves sides as much as mine does, you can also get fancy. I like to serve these with:
- vegan sour cream
- guacamole or sliced avocado
If you have leftover quesadillas, store them flat in an airtight container or wrap them in foil. Reheat in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F. They'll keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.
Frequently asked questions
This recipe is stuffed with black beans, roasted corn, spinach, and onions, but you can certainly choose your own vegan quesadilla fillings!
Here are some ideas:
- shredded vegan chicken, green onions, and broccoli
- chopped tomatoes and black olives
-sautéed bell peppers and onions
- roasted corn and jalapeno
- sautéed mushrooms, onions, and kale
Vegan quesadillas are a great produce-dump recipe. So steam or saute whatever needs eating, and toss it into the mix!
The cashew queso in this recipe makes a great, non-dairy cheese substitute for quesadillas. If you don't want a cheesy component at all, mashed avocado works very well as the cohesive part of the quesadilla.
Yes! Instead of using the vegan queso, sprinkle your tortillas with vegan cheddar or mozzarella shreds, then add the filling and sprinkle more non-dairy cheese on top before folding over.
It can! Just use gluten-free tortillas.
More vegan dinner ideas
Baked Vegan Quesadilla Recipe
For the queso
- 1 cup cashews - soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes
- ⅓ cup salsa - Choose your favorite!
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic
For the vegan quesadillas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - or water
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup roasted corn - canned or frozen is fine, no need to thaw if you use frozen
- 1 cup cooked black beans - drained and rinsed
- salt and black pepper - to taste
- 4 large flour tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 425?. Place two lined baking sheets into the oven while it preheats.
Make the queso
- Toss all of the ingredients into the blender, and puree until completely smooth. If you are having trouble getting things moving, add more salsa, 1 tablespoon at a time. You want this mixture to be on the thick side, so thin it out slowly, and only as needed. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
Make the quesadilla filling
- Heat the oil to medium-high in a large frying pan, and add the garlic and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown ever so slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach, and cook, stirring, until the spinach softens and begins to wilt. Add the corn and black beans, stirring to combine well, and cook until the spinach fully wilts and turns bright green. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the black bean mixture into the queso.
Assemble the quesadillas
- Scoop about ⅔ cup of the queso mixture onto half of one of your tortillas, using a spoon to spread it out evenly. Fold the tortilla in half, and gently pat it down to seal it. Repeat with the remaining tortillas until you have all four quesadillas assembled.
- When all of the quesadillas are assembled, pull the pans out of the oven, and place two on each baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes and very carefully flip with a large spatula. Use the spatula to gently flatten the quesadillas again. Then, return them to the oven and bake for 5-7 more minutes, until the tops are golden brown. If you had to put your baking sheets on two different oven racks, swap them to the opposite racks for the second round of baking. You'll get more even browning that way.
- Allow the quesadillas to cool on the baking pans for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve straight up or with vegan sour cream, guacamole, and/or salsa for dipping.
- How to Flip the Quesadillas: Slide a large spatula under the open end of your first quesadilla. Place your fingertips gently on top of the quesadilla, then carefully flip it up and over. You're sort of rolling it gently over along the folded end.
- How to Slice Them: A pizza cutter is ideal for slicing these, but you can use a knife. Whatever you use, slice from the open end toward the folded end. These work best if you just slice them in half, not into fourths.