Fresh Masa Cheese Quesadillas with Mushrooms

Recipe by Pati Jinich

In this traditional Mexican cheese quesadilla recipe, fresh masa is stuffed with garlicky sautéed mushrooms and cheese, then cooked deep-fried or seared until the dough is golden-brown and the cheese is melted. Yes, these quesadillas take longer than what you’d make with packaged tortillas from the grocery store, but the corn flavor and the melty, crisp-yet-soft texture is unparalleled. Serve with salsa and guacamole for a delicious vegetarian snack, appetizer, or side dish.

45 mins
24 to 32 mins
1 hr 30 mins
10 small quesadillas
Fresh Masa Cheese Quesadillas with Mushrooms - select to zoom
Fresh Masa Cheese Quesadillas with Mushrooms - select to zoom
Fresh Masa Cheese Quesadillas with Mushrooms - select to zoom
Fresh Masa Cheese Quesadillas with Mushrooms - select to zoom


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  1. To make the mushroom filling: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm up the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic cloves, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, flipping occasionally, until completely golden brown and softened. Remove the garlic from the oil, finely chop, and set aside.

  2. With the heat still on medium-low, add the onion and jalapeño to the skillet, stir to coat in oil, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

  3. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and stir to coat. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid from the mushrooms has released and evaporated, leaving the pan mostly dry, 6 to 8 minutes. Once there is almost no liquid in the skillet, stir in the cilantro and reserved chopped garlic. Remove from the heat.

  4. To make the masa: In a large bowl, combine the masa harina and water. Knead the dough in the bowl for a couple of minutes, until soft and smooth. Add the chopped cilantro or epazote and salt; mix until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 10 even pieces (about 60g each). Roll each piece of the dough in the palm of your hand to form a ball. Cover the dough balls with a slightly damp towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the tortilla press.

  5. To press the tortillas: Cut two circles about the size of the tortilla press out of a food-safe plastic bag (like a bread bag or zip-top bag). (See “tips” below for details on using a rolling pin, if you don’t have a tortilla press.)

  6. Working with one ball of dough at a time, sandwich it in the center of the two pieces of plastic. Place the plastic-enclosed dough on the bottom plate of a tortilla press. Gently squeeze the handle of the press until the dough is about 1/16" to 1/8" thick and about 5" to 5 1/2" in diameter. To achieve an evenly round tortilla, jiggle the handle of the press just as you near the bottom. Be careful not to make the tortilla too thin or it will be hard to handle.

  7. Remove the top piece of plastic and place about 1 tablespoon cheese and 1 tablespoon of the mushroom filling on half the tortilla. (Too much filling will make the quesadilla hard to fold.) Use the bottom piece of plastic to fold the tortilla over the filling like a turnover. Still using the plastic for assistance, firmly press the edges together to seal the filling inside. Gently lift the quesadilla off the plastic and set it onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel and continue with the remainder of the dough, cheese, and mushroom filling.

  8. To sear the quesadillas: Heat a nonstick or cast iron comal or skillet over medium heat until hot. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the quesadillas to the pan a few at a time, making sure not to crowd the skillet. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and lightly crisp on all sides. Towards the end, flip each quesadilla onto its side to cook the folded edge, about 30 seconds. Keep the cooked quesadillas warm while you repeat with the remaining quesadillas.

  9. To deep-fry the quesadillas: Fill a tall, heavy-bottomed pot with 3/4" of oil; heat the oil until it measures 350°F to 375°F on a thermometer. (The oil is ready when you dip the edge of a quesadilla into the oil and it bubbles happily without vigorous spattering.) Add the quesadillas to the oil a few at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown and lightly crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried quesadillas to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Keep the fried quesadillas warm while you repeat with the remaining quesadillas.

  10. Serve the quesadillas hot, with the salsa of your choice and/or guacamole.

  11. Storage information: Store cooled cheese quesadillas in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a comal, skillet, or toaster oven before serving.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Masa harina (translation: dough flour) is flour made from corn that’s been soaked in a solution of slaked lime (nixtamalized) to loosen its hull and soften it, which improves its texture and helps release its nutrients. The soaked corn is ground into a paste (masa), dried, and then ground again, this time into a fine flour. Due to the corn’s special treatment, neither cornmeal nor corn flour are good substitutes for masa harina.

  • To shape the tortillas without a tortilla press, prepare the filling and dough as described through dividing the dough (step 4). Working with one ball of dough at a time, place the ball between plastic sheets or parchment rounds about 7" to 8" in diameter. Use a rolling pin to roll the tortillas into about 5" circles. Proceed with the recipe as written.