How many kcal is a quesadilla?

A quesadilla is a popular Tex-Mex dish that is typically made with a tortilla that is filled with cheese, meat, beans, veggies, and other ingredients. It is then grilled or pan-fried until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is fully melted. Quesadillas make for a tasty and satisfying meal or snack, but many people wonder just how many calories are packed into one of these filled tortillas.

What Is A Quesadilla?

A traditional quesadilla consists of a flour or corn tortilla that is filled with cheese, such as Monterey Jack, cheddar, queso fresco, or Oaxaca cheese. The tortilla is then folded over the filling to create a half-moon shaped pocket. The quesadilla is cooked on a griddle or skillet until both sides are crispy and the cheese is fully melted.

Common variations on the classic quesadilla include fillings like cooked meat, refried beans, sauteed veggies, salsa, guacamole, and more. The variations are endless, which is part of what makes quesadillas such a versatile and customizable dish.

Traditional quesadillas are made with just one tortilla, creating one sealed pocket of melted cheese and other fillings. However, another common preparation method is to use two tortillas with the filling spread between them. This allows for more fillings to be added overall.

No matter which way you make them, quesadillas are a staple of Mexican restaurants and home kitchens alike. They make for an easy, filling meal as well as an endlessly customizable snack.

Factors That Affect Quesadilla Calories

There are several factors that play a role in determining the number of calories in a quesadilla:

Type of Tortilla

The type of tortilla used can impact the calorie count. Standard white flour tortillas tend to have around 150-180 calories each. Whole wheat or multigrain tortillas may have slightly fewer calories, around 130-150 each. Corn tortillas are the lowest calorie option, with about 50-80 calories per tortilla depending on the size.

Size of the Tortilla

Larger tortillas that are 10 inches or more across will have more calories than smaller 6-8 inch tortillas. Be mindful of portion sizes when selecting tortillas for quesadillas.

Type of Filling

Fillings like cheese, meat, beans, and veggies all add calories to the quesadilla. Higher fat ingredients like chicken with skin versus chicken breast or chorizo versus lean steak will add more fat and calories. Using low-fat fillings like veggies can help lighten the calorie load.

Amount of Filling

The more filling you add in between the tortillas, the higher the calorie count climbs. Overstuffed quesadillas are often higher in calories than those with a balanced tortilla to filling ratio. Be mindful of portion sizes when adding fillings.

Cooking Method

A quesadilla cooked in oil or butter absorbs some of the added fat, increasing the calories versus one cooked on a nonstick skillet with just a light coating of cooking spray.

Sides and Condiments

Any additional sides or condiments like guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and chips all add more calories to your finished meal.

Calories in a Basic Cheese Quesadilla

To get a general idea of how many calories are in a straightforward cheese quesadilla, let’s break it down by common ingredients:

  • 1 medium flour tortilla (about 8 inches): 150 calories
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or cheddar): 110 calories

Total: 260 calories

This is for one quesadilla, made with one tortilla and 1/4 cup of cheese. This serving provides a 1:1 ratio of cheese to tortilla, allowing for an evenly melted pocket of cheesy deliciousness.

If you opt for a lower calorie corn tortilla instead, the calorie total would be around 210 calories.

Calories in Two-Tortilla Quesadillas

If making a quesadilla by filling two tortillas with cheese in between, the calorie count increases:

  • 2 medium flour tortillas (about 8 inches): 300 calories
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or cheddar): 220 calories

Total: 520 calories

This serving uses two tortillas and double the cheese for more generous portion. The calorie count increases significantly.

Calories in Meat and Veggie Quesadillas

To estimate the calories in a meat and vegetable quesadilla, we need to factor in the additions:

  • 1 medium flour tortilla (about 8 inches): 150 calories
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese: 110 calories
  • 2 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped or shredded: 70 calories
  • 1/4 cup sauteed peppers and onions: 25 calories

Total: 355 calories

This counting is for a quesadilla made with one tortilla, cheese, and the addition of lean protein and sauteed vegetables. The calories increase only slightly compared to a plain cheese quesadilla.

Steak or Beef Quesadilla

Subbing in steak or ground beef adds a bit more:

  • 1 medium flour tortilla: 150 calories
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese: 110 calories
  • 2 oz lean steak or ground beef, cooked: 140 calories
  • 1/4 cup sauteed veggies: 25 calories

Total: 425 calories

The iron-rich red meat packs more calories and fat than the chicken breast. Portion size matters when adding calorie-dense meats like beef.

Calories in Large Quesadillas

When dining out, quesadillas are often oversized. A large restaurant-style quesadilla can pack 700-1200+ calories, depending on the ingredients used. Some examples with estimated calorie counts:

  • Beef and bean quesadilla made with two 12-inch flour tortillas and loaded with fillings: 1100 calories
  • Shrimp and cheese quesadilla made with two 10-inch tortillas: 700 calories
  • Chicken veggie quesadilla made with one large 12-inch tortilla: 950 calories

These totals demonstrate how giant restaurant quesadillas can deliver very high calorie counts. Order with care or consider sharing when faced with these jumbo-sized options.

How to Lower the Calories in Quesadillas

There are several easy ways to lighten up your quesadilla to reduce the calorie count, including:

  • Use smaller tortillas that are 6-8 inches rather than giant 10-12 inch tortillas
  • Choose corn tortillas instead of higher calorie flour tortillas
  • Use just one tortilla rather than two
  • Reduce the amount of cheese
  • Load up on low calorie veggies like spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers
  • Choose leaner proteins like chicken breast, shrimp, beans
  • Cook on a nonstick pan with cooking spray instead of oil or butter
  • Skip the sides of chips, guacamole, and sour cream or enjoy them in small portions

With some simple tweaks like these, you can enjoy deliciously cheesy quesadillas while still minding your calorie intake.

Healthy Quesadilla Recipes

Here are some healthier recipes for easy quesadillas under 500 calories:

Shrimp and Pico de Gallo Quesadilla

Calories: 380

  • 1 medium whole wheat tortilla (150 calories)
  • 2 oz shrimp, cooked (70 calories)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (110 calories)
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo (30 calories)
  • Cooking spray (20 calories)

Saute shrimp in a nonstick pan coated in cooking spray until just pink. Spread onto tortilla, top with cheese and pico de gallo. Cook in a nonstick pan on medium, flipping once until golden brown and crispy.

Chicken Avocado Quesadilla

Calories: 440

  • 1 medium whole wheat tortilla (150 calories)
  • 2 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded (70 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp mashed avocado (50 calories)
  • 1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (110 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (1 calorie)
  • Cooking spray (20 calories)

Combine chicken, avocado and cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro. Spread onto tortilla and cook in a nonstick pan on medium heat until crispy and brown.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Calories: 410

  • 1 medium whole wheat tortilla (150 calories)
  • 1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed (60 calories)
  • 1/4 cup cooked sweet potato cubes (37 calories)
  • 1 oz reduced-fat pepper jack cheese, shredded (50 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp salsa (5 calories)
  • Cooking spray (20 calories)

Combine black beans, sweet potato and shredded cheese. Spread on tortilla, add salsa and cook until warm and crispy.


How many calories are in a cheese quesadilla?

A basic cheese quesadilla made with one 8-inch flour tortilla and 1/4 cup shredded cheese is around 260 calories.

How many calories in a steak quesadilla?

A steak quesadilla made with one flour tortilla, 2 oz steak, 1/4 cup cheese and veggies is approximately 425 calories.

How many calories in a Chipotle quesadilla?

Chipotle chicken quesadillas range from 440-870 calories depending on size and fillings. Steak quesadillas range from 530-1080 calories.

Are quesadillas high in calories?

Quesadillas can be high in calories, especially large restaurant-style ones loaded with high-fat fillings. But homemade quesadillas made with lighter ingredients can be reasonably low in calories.

How can I make a lower calorie quesadilla?

Opt for smaller tortillas, corn vs flour tortillas, just one tortilla, go easy on the cheese, and load up on lean proteins and veggies. Also cook on a nonstick pan with spray instead of butter or oil.

The Bottom Line

A simple cheese quesadilla starts at around 260 calories, but ingredients like meats, additional cheeses, sides, and condiments can quickly add higher calorie counts. Giant restaurant-style quesadillas often pack 700+ calories. To lighten things up, opt for healthy fillings, watch portion sizes, and limit high-fat, high-calorie additions to keep your quesadilla relatively slim.

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