If you love cheesy, meaty ground beef quesadillas and would like to sneak more vegetables into your diet, this recipe is a must try. Extra lean ground beef is cooked with a blend of fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle chiles in adobo, garlic, onion, and “hidden” leafy green veggies spinach and kale.
The extra picky eater in my house gives these hidden veggie quesadillas two big thumbs up. So I feel confident in saying you’ll never know the greens are there!
How to Make Ground Beef Quesadillas with Hidden Veggies
The secret to successfully hiding spinach and kale is a blended sauce that’s added to browned and cooked ground beef. Once it’s cooked and reduced down, you’re left with a rich and flavorful beef filling for quesadillas (or tacos, stuffed peppers, enchiladas, Mexican pizza, or anything else you can think up).
Hidden Veggie Sauce for Ground Beef
To make the sauce, you’ll need half an onion, peeled garlic cloves, salt and ground cumin, fresh baby spinach and kale (or any leafy green), fire roasted tomatoes, and chipotle chiles in adobo. Everything goes in a food processor and is blended until smooth.
If you have a picky eater like me, start small with the added veggies and increase in the next batch if you’d like to get more inside each quesadilla.
Best Tortillas for Quesadillas
Flour tortillas are ideal for quesadillas since they easily fold without breaking and support more filling than corn tortillas.
You’ll see a note in the recipe card below about nutrition facts with Mission Carb Balance tortillas. These are a great tortilla option for making lower carb, lower calorie quesadillas like my cheddar bacon ranch turkey quesadillas or ground chicken quesadillas.
The tortillas I used for the recipe video are the same flour tortillas I used for our leftover barbecue chicken quesadillas recipe. I also used H-E-B’s southwest flour tortilla for half the quesadillas.
A final great tortilla option for quesadillas is a corn and flour blend like you’ll see in our sheet pan chicken quesadillas or air fryer chicken quesadillas recipes. (Side note: Those are great resources for alternative prep methods and freezing leftovers for meal prep.)
Best Cheese for Ground Beef Quesadillas
It’s hard to beat queso Oaxaca when it comes to making quesadillas. It’s similar to string cheese or mozzarella, but it melts incredibly well. If you can’t find Oaxaca cheese, queso Chihuahua is a great option. And the tried and true Monterey jack is always a great choice.
In addition to queso Oaxaca, I used a blend of Colby jack and pepper jack cheese.
Whatever cheese you go with for your quesadillas, I would encourage you to use freshly grated instead of pre-shredded cheese. The anti-caking agents in pre-shredded cheese makes melting difficult.
As a nutrition facts note, you can make these beef quesadillas a bit more macro friendly by reducing the amount of cheese that goes in each quesadilla. The recipe calls for an ounce and a half in each, but cutting back to an ounce (1/2 ounce on both sides of the beef filling) works fine.
What to Serve with Quesadillas
I like serving these with salsa verde, sour cream or fat free Greek yogurt, guacamole, and some form of side dish. Here’s a handful of pairing ideas:
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Smoked Charro Beans
- Cilantro Lime Rice or Cauliflower Rice
- Mexican Escabeche
- Shortcut Refried Black Beans
- Borracho Beans
Let me know in the comments if you have a go-to side dish I need to try.
That should cover everything you need to know. If I missed something, drop any questions in the comments below. And if you try these ground beef quesadillas and love them, we always appreciate recipe reviews!
Hidden Veggie Quesadillas with Ground Beef
Perfect for the picky eater in your house or just a more enjoyable way to sneak more vegetables into your diet, these quesadillas are filled with lean ground beef cooked in a fire roasted tomato and chipotle sauce with hidden spinach and kale.
- 1 pound Extra Lean Ground Beef
- 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
For the Sauce
- 1/2 White Onion
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 15 oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 3-4 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- 2 large Handfuls Baby Spinach and Kale (1-2 oz)
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
For the Quesadillas
- 10 Tortillas (7" to 8")*
- 15 oz Shredded Cheese Blend (I used Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, and Oaxaca)**
- Add the sauce ingredients to a food processor and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Set aside.
- Brown and fully cook the beef in a skillet with the half tablespoon of oil. Add the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 4-5 minutes.
- Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with cooking spray or a tiny bit of oil before adding a tortilla(s). Add 3 tablespoons or about 20g of cheese to one half of each tortilla, followed by 1/10th or about 3.5 oz of the beef, and another 20g of cheese on top. Fold the quesadilla to close and cook for 1- 2 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Slice each quesadilla into triangles to serve a crowd or serve whole with your choice of fixin's.
*The nutrition facts provided below were calculated with Mission Carb Balance tortillas. The tortillas used in the recipe video are fresh flour and southwest flour tortillas from the H-E-B bakery.
**You can reduce the fat and calorie content by using only 1 oz of cheese per quesadilla.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Quesdillas Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 17gCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 12gProtein: 18g
Sunday 26th of February 2023
What’s the macros for using ground chicken and 1oz of cheese?
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
Would these still be delicious with using ground chicken or ground Turkey instead of beef? Or does the beef make the dish?
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
Ground turkey or chicken would work perfectly fine. The sauce is pretty flavorful so you don't miss the beef flavor as much, especially with extra lean beef.
Saturday 3rd of September 2022
These were delicious! I decreased chipotle peppers to suit our taste but otherwise made exactly as written. Everyone loved them.
Thursday 28th of July 2022
These are delicious! Kid approved too! Making the teriyaki beef tomorrow! Glad I stumbled on to your Instagram
Sunday 14th of August 2022
Thanks, April! Hope you all enjoyed the teriyaki bowls as well.