The Cheese Alternative For Creamy, Dairy-Free Quesadillas

"Quesadilla" — it's literally in the name. Folded between two warmed tortillas with a cheese pull worthy of a slo-mo Instagram reel, a quesadilla isn't a quesadilla without the aforementioned queso. When it comes to quesadillas, cheese is the essential element that holds everything together. In all of it's melty creaminess, you'll find everything from roasted vegetables and beans to chicken, steak, or shrimp. Without it, what would it be? Come to think of it, what would there be in its place? Something you'd probably never guess: hummus.

Hummus is likely the spread you rely on for creaminess in most of your go-to dairy-free foods — from sandwiches and wraps to pasta sauce, salad dressing, and soup. The reasoning for placing the queso in your quesadilla is likely the same as in all of those instances. While it may not be cheese, and nor will it ever be, hummus is thick and creamy. It doesn't necessarily melt like cheese, but when it's warmed, it becomes even more so, coating your ingredients in all of its plant-powered, dairy-free glory.

Plus, just like cheese, it's sticky enough to keep your tortillas in place while it warms up. Dipped into your favorite sour cream substitute and fresh pico de gallo, it's truly a win-win in a world where most dairy-free options flop.

Hummus quesadilla fillings and dips

Preparing a quesadilla with hummus is about as straightforward as making it with cheese: Simply warm up a tortilla, spread the hummus, add your favorite toppings, and fold. What lies in between those steps, however, is where the fun really happens. Of course, you can stick to your usual Mexican food pairings by adding things like beans, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions, chicken, or even steak. With them, you'd more than likely stick to your usual trio of Mexican dips: guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. However, if you're feeling a bit fancy, you can never go wrong with some mole sauce. But, by using hummus instead of cheese, your quesadilla is opened up to a whole other world of flavor possibilities.

The beauty of using hummus is the world of flavor it inspires, particularly the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ones. For instance, by substituting your cheese for hummus, you could opt to take your quesadilla the Greek route, adding everything from olives and shredded Trader Joe's chicken shawarma to cucumbers and tomatoes. Then, when it's all done, you get to dip everything into a freshly whipped-up vegan tzatziki. To tie in the Middle Eastern flavors, however, you could add everything from fried and flattened falafel patties to eggplant, olives, pickles, and more. Then, to tie it all together, finish by dipping it into the famous pickled mango condiment, amba, or some harissa for a spicy kick.