How many calories is the average steak quesadilla?

A steak quesadilla is a popular Tex-Mex dish that typically consists of a flour or corn tortilla filled with slices of grilled steak, cheese, and other ingredients like onions, peppers, and salsa. But with all those tasty fillings packed inside, many steak quesadilla lovers often wonder – just how many calories are actually in one of these filled tortillas?

What Goes Into a Steak Quesadilla?

There are a few key ingredients that make up a traditional steak quesadilla:

  • Tortilla – The quesadilla is built around a flour or corn tortilla that is grilled or pan-fried on both sides. A 6-inch flour tortilla generally contains around 150 calories.
  • Steak – Thinly sliced grilled skirt or flank steak is commonly used. A 3 oz serving of grilled skirt steak has around 165 calories.
  • Cheese – Monterey jack, cheddar, queso fresco, and Mexican-style cheeses like queso Oaxaca are melted inside. 1 oz of cheddar cheese has about 115 calories.
  • Onions and Peppers – Thinly sliced onions and bell peppers add flavor, texture, and nutrients. 1/2 cup of raw onions is about 30 calories, and 1/2 cup of raw bell pepper is 15 calories.
  • Salsa – Tomato-based salsa can be spooned over the top or inside the quesadilla. 1/4 cup of mild salsa averages around 20 calories.

These are the most typical fillings, but other ingredients like guacamole, refried beans, jalapeños, cilantro, and sour cream are often added too. So the more items that get stuffed inside, the higher the calorie count climbs.

Calories in Quesadilla Ingredients

To get an accurate idea of the full calorie count, let’s break down the common quesadilla ingredients:

Quesadilla Ingredient Serving Size Calories
Flour tortilla (6-inch) 1 tortilla (about 35g) 150
Skirt steak 3 oz 165
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 115
Onion 1/2 cup chopped (about 50g) 30
Bell pepper 1/2 cup chopped (about 75g) 15
Salsa 1/4 cup (about 60g) 20

As you can see, the tortilla, steak, and cheese make up the bulk of calories in a traditional quesadilla. The vegetables and salsa add more volume and flavor for relatively few additional calories.

Calculating Total Calories

Figuring out the full calorie count requires some estimating of average serving sizes. Here is one way to estimate the calories for a typical steak quesadilla:

  • 1 medium flour tortilla (150 calories)
  • 3 oz skirt steak (165 calories)
  • 1.5 oz cheddar cheese (about 180 calories)
  • 1/4 cup onions (15 calories)
  • 1/4 cup peppers (8 calories)
  • 1/4 cup salsa (20 calories)

Add up those average estimates and you get a total of around 538 calories for the entire quesadilla.

Calorie Range for Different Portion Sizes

Of course, that calorie count is just a rough estimate. Quesadilla calories can range quite a bit based on the size and serving style:

  • Small appetizer-size – A petite 3-4 inch quesadilla made with 1/2 of a small flour tortilla, 1.5 oz steak, 1 oz cheese, and light vegetables may have around 275 calories.
  • Regular 1 serving quesadilla – A standard 6-inch quesadilla with the ingredient estimates listed above will have about 538 calories.
  • Large quesadilla – An extra-large 10-12 inch tortilla loaded with 4-5 oz steak, 2 oz cheese, and generous vegetable fillings may have 850 calories or more.
  • Quesadilla wedges – If the quesadilla is cut into 4-6 wedges, each wedge would range from about 135 calories for a small appetizer size to over 200 calories for a hearty wedge from a large quesadilla.

Extra Ingredients Can Add Calories

Additional items like guacamole, beans, sour cream, and extras can quickly increase the calorie count:

  • Guacamole – 2 tablespoons adds about 50 calories
  • Refried beans – 1/4 cup contributes about 110 calories
  • Sour cream – 2 tablespoons has around 60 calories
  • Jalapeños – 1-2 slices has only about 5 calories
  • Cilantro – 1 tablespoon chopped adds just 1 calorie

So piling on the guac and sour cream or overstuffing with extra steak and cheese can easily drive up the calories to 750, 900, or even over 1000 calories for an individually-sized quesadilla.

Calories in Restaurant Steak Quesadillas

Steak quesadillas from popular Mexican restaurant chains also give some insight into real-world calorie counts:

  • Chevys Fresh Mex – Their steak quesadilla with cheddar, Monterey Jack, onions and green chiles contains 790 calories.
  • Chili’s – Their Classic Sirloin Steak Quesadillas with cheddar, Monterey Jack, bacon, tomatoes, onions and cilantro lime rice have 1,020 calories.
  • Chipotle – A steak quesadilla from Chipotle with just steak, cheese, and grilled peppers/onions has 610 calories. Adding sour cream and guacamole increases it to 810 calories.
  • On the Border – Their Steak & Cheese Red-Chile Quesadilla has a whopping 1,170 calories from steak, pepper jack cheese, grilled vegetables, and red chile sauce.

As you can see, restaurant versions often have 700-1200+ calories thanks to generous portions and additions like rice, bacon, sauces, guacamole, and sour cream.

Strategies for Lower Calorie Quesadillas

If you want to enjoy quesadillas without going overboard on calories, here are some tips for lighter options:

  • Use smaller tortillas – Opt for street taco size (4-6 inches) instead of large burrito size tortillas.
  • Load up on veggies – Pack lots of onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms which add volume and nutrients for minimal calories.
  • Go easy on the cheese – Use just 1 ounce of cheese instead of 2-3 ounces.
  • Choose lean steak cuts – Flank, sirloin tip, or 95% lean ground beef has the most flavor for the fewest calories.
  • Use reduced-fat cheese – Try reduced-fat Mexican blend or 2% milk cheddar to cut some calories.
  • Skip fatty extras – Hold the sour cream and guacamole or just use small spoonfuls.
  • Share quesadilla wedges – Cut into wedges and share 3-4 mini portions.
  • Boost protein & fiber – Add refried beans for extra protein and fiber to balance blood sugar.

Following some of these tips can help you make satisfying quesadillas for around 400-500 calories instead of 700-1,200 calories for more reasonable meal.

Healthy Quesadilla Alternatives

If you’re looking for even more ways to lighten up this Mexican favorite, here are some healthy quesadilla alternatives:

Chicken or Shrimp Quesadillas

Using a lean protein like grilled chicken breast or shrimp instead of steak can slash some calories and fat. 3 oz of chicken breast has about 140 calories compared to 165 calories for 3 oz of steak.

Veggie Quesadillas

Vegetarian quesadillas are lower in calories by eliminating the steak. Fill them with extra peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, beans, and cubed potatoes or butternut squash for texture and nutrition.

Turkey Quesadillas

Sliced roast turkey breast is another lean swap for steak with about 120 calories for 3 oz. Pair it with reduced-fat cheese and plenty of veggies.

Breakfast Quesadillas

For a breakfast version, scramble an egg with onions, peppers, spinach, and a sprinkle of cheese in a whole wheat tortilla for around 300 calories.

Lettuce Wrapped Quesadillas

Ditching the tortilla altogether, you can fill cooled quesadilla fillings into a lettuce wrap for an easy low-carb, gluten-free option.


A steak quesadilla can range from around 275 calories for a small appetizer-size up to over 1,000 calories for a loaded restaurant version. An average 6-inch quesadilla with standard fillings will generally have about 500-550 calories. There are many ways to adjust the ingredients and portions to make lighter quesadillas in the 400-600 calorie range. So go ahead and enjoy this Mexican favorite, just be mindful of your serving size and ingredients to keep calories under control.

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