Cooking quesadillas on a baking sheet instead of in a skillet not only is easier, it also crisps them better. That’s thanks to the low sides of the baking sheet, which promote even heat circulation, perfect for melting and toasting the double dose of cheese in these quesadillas—some tucked inside the tortillas, the rest sprinkled outside. As they bake, the outer layer melts and crisps (a technique we borrowed from Italian frico, or cheese toasted with other ingredients). To make these quesadillas heartier, we add pinto or black beans briefly microwaved with chili powder to infuse them with spice.


Be sure to use conventional chili powder, not a “pure” chili powder, such as chipotle, habanero or ancho. Conventional chili powder (a blend used to season American-­style chili) typically features ground red chilies, cumin, powdered alliums, salt and oregano. This adds more complexity and depth to the quesadillas than a single-source chili powder.


Three tablespoons of oil may seem like a lot, but it’s essential for proper crisping. For ease, we apply the oil directly to the baking sheet, then add the quesadillas, flipping them to coat both sides before topping with cheese and baking.

Skip the Skillet. Embrace the Baking Sheet

Cheese Crisped Pinto Bean Quesadillas i41 Sheet Pan

For especially crispy, cheesy quesadillas, we cook them on a baking sheet. This makes the cooking almost entirely hands off. Plus, the low sides and wide base of the baking sheet promote even heat circulation to brown the cheese, caramelizing milk solids and adding more flavor than simply melting the cheese. We use this same cheese-crisping technique to make extra-savory croutons by sprinkling grated Parmesan over cubes of bread midway through oven-toasting them.