Cheesy Quesadilla Casserole

Mexican food is a favorite in our house, and this Cheesy Quesadilla Casserole recipe is always a home run. I like how quickly it comes together, and how fast the baking time in the oven is. It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t demand your full attention, but still turns out delicious every time. I also like that we usually have all of these ingredients on hand. We keep ground beef in the freezer and all the other ingredients in the pantry to throw together easy recipes like this on weeknights.

I like to use corn tortillas in this recipe. I find that flour tortillas often end up soggy in enchiladas or casseroles. Corn tortillas usually hold up much better. And I just prefer the taste! When I have extra time, I will toast the tortillas individually for a few seconds on each side before I use them, but that step is by no means necessary. Whatever your preferred tortilla, don’t worry too much about making your tortilla layers perfect. This recipe is meant to be quick and easy and it really doesn’t matter in the end how perfectly you make each layer.

Shredded cheese.

Cheese is really the star of this recipe. I like to keep a bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend on hand for this one, although I have also used Monterrey Jack, medium Cheddar, or mozzarella with great results. And any combination of those cheeses would also be good. The key is to get a really gooey, melty cheese for the top layer, but if you wanted to experiment putting something more flavorful in the lower layer, cotija would probably be brilliant.

The recipe calls for ground beef, but I have substituted it with ground chicken (with some added vegetable oil to fry it) with very good results. Ground turkey would also work with added oil like the chicken, and I’m sure ground pork would be also delicious.

Cheesy Quesadilla Casserole

3 from 65 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 package corn tortillas

  • 2 1/2 cups cheese, shredded

  • 1 can (15oz) tomato sauce

  • 1 can pinto beans

  • 1 can diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (like RO*TEL®)

  • 1 can whole kernel sweet corn

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 can chopped green chiles

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • salt & pepper

  • 2 dashes (optional) tabasco or other hot sauce

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease large baking or casserole dish with cooking spray.
  • Brown ground beef over medium-high heat, add onions and cook until translucent. Drain grease from pan and discard.
  • Drain and rinse beans. Drain can of corn.
  • Add pinto beans, diced tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, and chopped green chiles to ground beef mixture. Stir thoroughly. Season mixture with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and salt & pepper to taste. Add optional tabasco or hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Spread 1/3 of beef mixture into the bottom of greased baking dish; top with 3-4 tortillas in single layer, overlapping, or cutting to fit as needed. Spread another 1/3 of beef mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle half of shredded cheese over beef. Finish final layer in same fashion with remaining tortillas, beef mixture, and cheese on top.
  • Bake until cheese is melted golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Notes

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn can be substituted for canned corn. Stir corn into beef and onion mixture to thaw corn before adding other ingredients.
  • 2 packages of taco seasoning can be used to substitute for all herbs and seasonings if desired.
  • Mexican blend cheese, mozzarella, jack, or medium Cheddar cheeses all work well with this recipe, but use any cheese you wish. Be sure to choose something that melts nicely.
  • Black beans or kidney beans can be substituted for pinto beans.
  • Flour tortillas can be used rather than corn, but are not recommended.
  • Green chiles can be mild or hot, to your taste. Hatch chiles work well in this recipe.

I love the seasoning mix in this recipe, but when I’m pressed for time I sometimes just grab two packets of pre-made taco seasoning and use them in place of the herbs and seasonings listed. The flavor works and it speeds up my recipe prep time. I also like to add some tabasco to spice things up. You may like things hotter than I do, or you may like them milder, so tune this recipe to your favorite spice level by adding more or less hot sauce as you wish.

Hot sauce.

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