No-Queso Quesadillas

by on March 5, 2009
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Cheeseless QuesadillasI got a craving for quesadillas after seeing a recipe for them in the current Vegetarian Times—which is odd because I don’t think I’ve ever had a quesadilla. Like a lot of popular foods (buffalo wings is another that comes to mind), quesadillas didn’t come on the scene until after I’d become a vegan. So on the one hand, I don’t really miss what I never had, but on the other, I’m never quite sure what all the fuss is about. And the existence of all these post-vegan foods can leave me feeling pretty old: Like counting the rings to figure out the age of a tree, you can determine the age of a vegan by counting the foods she’s never had!

While it was strange that I was craving a quesadilla, I was fairly sure I knew how one would taste; after all, it’s just melted cheese in a tortilla, both of which I have had. To make a fairly authentic-tasting vegan version, I could simply use one of the packaged vegan cheeses that are becoming more widely available. I’ve sampled several (Teese, Sheese, Daiya, and Follow Your Heart, to name three), and I’ve found them pretty tasty. But if you turn the package over and read the nutritional info, you’ll find that all of them contain a humongous amount of fat. The mozzarella from Follow Your Heart, the only brand I can buy locally, contains 8 grams of fat in one ounce. I’m guessing that I would need at least 8 ounces of cheese to make these quesadillas, bringing the total fat just from the cheese to 64 grams, or 16 grams per serving. That’s pretty ridiculous for something that’s essentially a snack.

So, I did my arteries a favor, skipped the packaged cheese, and made my quesadillas with a nutritional yeast-based cheese. My no-queso quesadillas didn’t really taste like cheesy ones, but I thought they were great, melty and full of flavor, and daughter E gave them 4 out of 5 Num-Crumbs on her new rating system. But please don’t go out and make these for your non-vegan friends. I’m afraid that you’ll be disappointed in their reaction and they’ll come away with the impression that vegan food is even weirder than they thought it was. But, if you like nutritional yeast sauces, I think you’ll find these as tasty as I did.

No-Queso Quesadillas

No-Queso Quesadillas

There are a lot of good vegan quesadilla recipes that don’t try to imitate cheese at all. Here are a few that look delicious:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gracie August 11, 2009 at 8:07 pm

I recently bought the UnCheese cookbook in hopes of experimenting with different cheese sauces. But I'm finding that every recipe has oil in it, usually several tablespoons.

With baked goods I've found suitable substitutes for oil, but I'm not sure what to try to substitute for the oil in these recipes. Any suggestions?


2 Vanessa September 9, 2009 at 9:29 am

Maybe I haven't been cheese-free long enough (only a year…) but UCK! I have yet to find anything that replaces cheese in any recipe, or in any grocery store. I tried to like this but I just couldn't…Even when I fried the tortilla with Earth Balance spread…


3 Z November 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Try Daiya Vegan Cheese. It taste good, melts and stretches. I love it on my grilled cheese sandwiches and baked potatoes.


4 acai berry cleanse October 22, 2009 at 4:33 am

I will definitely try it, it looks so delicious. Thanks for providing such good and nice information. I am i will come again.


5 Absolute Acai Berry UK November 10, 2009 at 11:32 am

Yeah sure, Vanessa you may be right but not all of the people se it that way.. think vegans.


6 Nichole February 22, 2010 at 8:25 pm

This was right on! Made this for lunch today and it was awfully good:

Thanks for the great recipe!


7 Natalie April 27, 2010 at 7:14 am

When I first went vegetarian, I ate vegetable quesadillas for every meal! I stopped eating them for a while after I went vegan because I don’t like to use much fake cheese, but have started making them again recently with a small amount of fake cheese (generally one ripped up slice between 2 tortillas), a sprinkling of black beans, some cilantro and mashed sweet potato. They’re definitely not authentic, but they are very delicious and easy to make if you have spare cooked beans that need to be used up. I’ve also made the yucca version in Veganomicon, which was very tasty. In any case, if you’re not 100% sure about this cheese filling on its own, try pairing it with some of these fillings and it may blend more instead of being the obvious main ingredient.


8 Kim July 10, 2010 at 11:10 am

I was just curious what type of whole wheat tortillas you use.


9 Kristen August 10, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I have recently found 2 amazing types of “cheese” that I wanted to share with everyone. One is a speadable cheese from the Wayfare Foods Inc, I believe it is a newer vegan company, anyway they use oatmeal as their base for the cheese. The product is called “We Can’t Say It’s Cheese” and they have different flavors. Here’s the link to their website…

The next cheese is Dayia which I’m sure you all have heard of. You can get this in Whole Foods. But putting both of these cheeses together makes an awesome grilled cheese sandwich!! I’m just so happy that I’ve found them. 🙂


10 geneveive October 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Whole Foods had the Dayai cheese shredded in their salad bar, and under the ingredient list there was a note saying that it contained soy and wheat…so it must be one of the hidden ingredients. There is an Italian eatery near me that has an entire vegan menu, but i have had a gluten reaction after eating there and i’m now sure it’s because they use the Dayai cheese…too bad, because it is good!


11 genevieve October 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

oddly, i just checked Dayia’s website and they claim they are gluten-free…


12 genevieve October 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm

…but Whole Foods had some shredded in the salad bar and under the ingredients there was a note that it contained soy and wheat…


13 Corinne June 8, 2011 at 3:16 am

This looks great. I’ve had nutritional yeast in my cupboard for well over a year but I’ve been too afraid to use it. I think I’ll have to give this one a go! I love the comment about not giving it to your nonvegan friends 🙂


14 CarrieAnn July 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Oh gosh….deliciousness!


15 Carolyn August 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm

We love so many of your recipes… unfortunately this was a flop with my kids. We’ve only been off dairy for a month or two so they clearly remember what cheese tastes like and this wasn’t close enough for their taste buds. I enjoyed it though.


16 De'Jah Turner August 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

What a good looking quesadilla! I have discovered that Daiya cheese is very trustworthy! You should try it.


17 Caryn January 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I love this cheese! We added salsa to make queso … M yummmmmmmm!


18 adam stevens May 5, 2012 at 7:06 am

These were delicious!!!! Had a bit of trouble getting the yeast, but it’s well worth it and actually tastes much better than processed cheese. Thanks.


19 Lila Wells May 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

To me, one of the best parts of my homemade quesadillas is/was the pico de gayo. The cheese just held it all together. I’m going to try these and see what happens!


20 Alice May 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I made these yesterday when I had a quesadilla craving. True, vegan cheese never has the same flavor as animal products, but it is still tasty when you miss a former comfort food. The cheese sauce whips up in a snap, and I am very impressed with how easy and delicious this recipe is. Thank you for making all of these wonderful recipes available for free!


21 Malinda June 4, 2013 at 3:08 am

I was absolutely craving cheese sauce today, but didn’t have a lot of time or ingredients on hand. These were perfect and hit the spot! Will definitely be basking again! 🙂


22 Malinda June 4, 2013 at 3:09 am



23 Naomi March 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

I am a big fan of filling ‘dillas with hummus and dipping them in salsa. It’s so easy and tastes amazing!


24 Carol March 5, 2014 at 1:02 am

I am fom AZ, hubby from CA….you can make quesadillas with creamy refried beans and a bit of salsa, or roasted onions and peppers…likewise even a bit of avocado or butternut sqush gives creamy illusion with a tiny sprinkle of a shredded “mock cheese”. I like mine toasted in the oven folded in half, but it can be done on a skillet, just hard not to burn without oil. Enjoy.


25 Judy March 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I made these tonight , the “cheese ” sauce it was excellent. I used soy curls that had been prepared with the ” no-chicken” bouillon inside as well, a side of avocado and it made a wonderful meal. Thanks again


26 DAFNE May 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm

This is delicious and fast. I tried with blue corn tortilla and fried beans…yoummi…


27 Sam June 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm


Hats-off to you.

I am lact0-vegetarian and trying to be a Fat-Free vegan like you but struggling and /or wrestling in the kitchen with my wife on a daily basis. I guess you can come up with innovation and help me out.

I can’t convince my wife to cook without oil. I wonder how do use Apple Sauce?

Also, you should look at all the Indian Sweets where we use a lot of Ghee (Purified Butter) and Milk and Sugar to make sweet dishes/ deserts but you need to show your creativity to convert them into healthy sweets without Milk and Ghee and Sugar. It would be a big help to the community.

Thank You. Have a nice evening.



28 Con January 3, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Eating these right now with black beans and spinach in, will make again 🙂


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