Restaurant-Style Shrimp Quesadilla Recipe

Quesadillas have been eaten for centuries in Mexico, but the original version was a bit different from what we would recognize today. The Aztecs of central Mexico were skilled in agriculture, and one of their most important crops was maize, which they ground into flour to make tortillas. They warmed these up and filled them with local plans like squash. The cheese was added later after the Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Mexico. They also gave the quesadilla its modern name, which comes from queso, the Spanish word for cheese. Now countless varieties of quesadillas can be found, from simple tortilla and cheese versions to more elaborate recipes including meat, beans, and vegetables along with the cheese.

Recipe developer Michelle Bottalico has created a recipe for shrimp quesadillas that are simple to make at home but are as delicious as the ones you can get in a restaurant. Shrimp is seasoned with a spice blend of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder before being fried with onions and bell pepper. This flavorful filling is layered inside a tortilla with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. After the tortilla is fried in a little butter, the outside becomes golden and crispy while the inside is warm and gooey from the melted cheese. Next time you have a hankering for restaurant-quality Mexican food, you can try this shrimp quesadilla recipe in the comfort of your own home.

Gather your shrimp quesadilla ingredients

For this recipe, you will need raw shrimp, which can be fresh or frozen. Make sure it's peeled, deveined, and chopped into large pieces before you begin. Have some cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper on hand for seasoning the shrimp. You'll need onion and bell pepper for the vegetables in the filling, and avocado oil for frying them. This recipe calls for large 12-inch flour tortillas and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Finally, you'll use butter to fry the tortillas. Two optional ingredients are sour cream and pico de gallo, which can be served alongside the quesadillas if desired.

Step 1: Season the shrimp

Pat the shrimp dry, place them in a bowl with the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and toss well to mix evenly. Set aside.

Step 2: Heat the oil

Heat the oil on medium high in a large heavy-bottomed skillet.

Step 3: Saute the onion and pepper

Place the onion and bell pepper in the skillet and saute for 4-5 minutes until softened.

Step 4: Add the shrimp

Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet and cook for 4-6 minutes until opaque, stirring frequently to cook all sides of the shrimp. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Step 5: Melt the butter

Clean the pan with a paper towel, lower the heat to medium, and melt 1 teaspoon of butter in the pan.

Step 6: Fill the tortilla in the pan

Place a tortilla in the pan and layer ¼ of the cheese, ½ of the shrimp mixture, and another ¼ of the cheese over half of the tortilla.

Step 7: Fold and cook the tortilla

Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the layered half, press down with a spatula to let the cheese adhere, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is partially melted and the bottom of the tortilla turns golden.

Step 8: Flip the tortilla

Carefully flip the tortilla and let it cook for 2 more minutes until all the cheese is melted and the other side is golden. Set aside.

Step 9: Repeat with the other tortilla

Place the other half of the butter in the pan and repeat the cooking process for the other tortilla.

Step 10: Serve the shrimp quesadillas

Cut each quesadilla in half and serve with sour cream and pico de gallo on the side if desired.

Can I substitute ingredients in shrimp quesadillas?

Many of the ingredients in shrimp quesadillas can be tweaked or substituted according to your preferences or what you have available. The one thing we don't recommend substituting is the raw shrimp for cooked. Unfortunately, cooked shrimp won't take on as much flavor from the spices, and since they're already cooked, the additional cooking time can make them tough and rubbery. The good news is you can choose fresh or frozen shrimp depending on what's available.

You can also switch up the spices in the recipe according to your preferences, or you could leave some of them out. Another option is to use dried herbs like oregano and thyme or to add fresh cilantro to the vegetables. Besides the onion and bell pepper in these quesadillas, other vegetables you could use include spinach, scallions, and thinly sliced mushrooms or zucchini.

We used avocado oil for frying the vegetables and butter for frying the tortillas, but you can use all one or the other or use a substitute for avocado oil like olive or canola if that's more convenient. Finally, don't make the mistake of choosing the wrong cheese for quesadillas. Instead of Monterey Jack, other cheeses that work well are cheddar, Asiago, pepper jack, and Mexican cheeses like Cotija, Chihuahua, and Oaxaca, a stringy cow's milk cheese that's similar to mozzarella.

How do you prevent shrimp quesadillas from getting soggy?

One way quesadillas can become soggy is if you include overly wet fillings. Make sure you cook the onions and bell peppers in a large pan, because if the vegetables are too crowded there won't be enough space for liquids to evaporate as they are released from the vegetables during cooking. In the same vein, we don't recommend using vegetables with a very high water content like tomatoes. If you do end up with a lot of liquid in the pan, drain it out before you continue to the next step.

Follow the recipe directions for cooking the quesadilla in a skillet. If you're tempted to use the microwave instead, know that this will keep the quesadilla soft and it will be more prone to getting soggy. The high heat of a heavy skillet will make the tortillas nice and crispy in a way that just isn't possible in the microwave. For the same reasons, reheat any leftover quesadillas in a skillet or bake them in a 325 F oven for about ten minutes until the cheese is melted. These methods will ensure that you preserve the crispy exterior and melted interior that makes quesadillas so good.

Restaurant-Style Shrimp Quesadilla Recipe
4.9 from 19 ratings
You can whip up these flavorful restaurant-style shrimp quesadillas with onion, bell pepper, and the perfect blend of spices in under half an hour.
Prep Time
2
minutes
Cook Time
26
minutes
Servings
2
Servings
shrimp quesadillas served on table
Total time: 28 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into large pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • ⅓ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced bell pepper, any color
  • 2 teaspoons butter, divided
  • 2 12-inch flour tortillas
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Optional Ingredients
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Pico de gallo for serving
Directions
  1. Pat the shrimp dry, place them in a bowl with the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and toss well to mix evenly. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil on medium high in a large heavy-bottomed skillet.
  3. Place the onion and bell pepper in the skillet and saute for 4-5 minutes until softened.
  4. Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet and cook for 4-6 minutes until opaque, stirring frequently to cook all sides of the shrimp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Clean the pan with a paper towel, lower the heat to medium, and melt 1 teaspoon of butter in the pan.
  6. Place a tortilla in the pan and layer ¼ of the cheese, ½ of the shrimp mixture, and another ¼ of the cheese over half of the tortilla.
  7. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the layered half, press down with a spatula to let the cheese adhere, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is partially melted and the bottom of the tortilla turns golden.
  8. Carefully flip the tortilla and let it cook for 2 more minutes until all the cheese is melted and the other side is golden. Set aside.
  9. Place the other half of the butter in the pan and repeat the cooking process for the other tortilla.
  10. Cut each quesadilla in half and serve with sour cream and pico de gallo on the side if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 658
Total Fat 38.7 g
Saturated Fat 19.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 268.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 30.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
Total Sugars 4.5 g
Sodium 1,022.5 mg
Protein 48.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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