Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Anna Hampton; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

Folded or stacked? We dig into the pros and cons of each method.

Elizabeth Laseter
July 20, 2018
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Cheesy, gooey quesadillas. They’re crispy, comforting, and you’re pretty much inhuman if you hate them. But for something so simple, quesadillas stir up a surprising amount of debate (as shown in this lengthy Reddit post). Some argue over what type of cheese to use, or the best fillings—but the biggest controversy stems from the actual method of preparing them.

The first method involves a single tortilla that’s filled with cheese and other ingredients, then folded into a half-moon shape. The second method involves piling all your ingredients on top of one tortilla, then sandwiching it with a second tortilla.

The ultimate question is, which method produces the tastiest, most satisfying quesadilla—folded or stacked? The Internet is clearly split over this hotly debated subject, and so are we. To settle the dispute once and for all, let’s dig a little deeper into each method.

Folded Quesadilla

Photo: Sara Tane

First, let’s talk about folded quesadillas. Any kind of cook, even people who hate to cook, can make a folded quesadilla. Simply heat a skillet over medium heat, pour in a little oil, then add the tortilla (we prefer 6- to 8-inch flour tortillas). Fill it halfway across with your ingredients, then fold into a half-moon shape. Cook the filled and folded tortilla on both sides until golden-brown and heated through.

So, what’s so great about folded quesadillas? Since you’re only working with one half of the tortilla surface area, you’re much less likely to overfill a folded quesadilla. As a result, you’ll be working with a more compact, neater quesadilla, and there’s less of a chance for the fillings to spill out into the skillet.

Yes, a folded quesadilla is smaller in size—and it holds less fillings than a stacked quesadilla does, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The smaller size also makes it much easier to flip with a spatula, which gives you greater control over its ability to brown.

And what about those cheesy, crispy edges (which is arguably our most favorite thing about the folded quesadilla)? Folding over one side of the quesadilla pushes the cheese to the edge of the tortilla, causing a small amount of it to leak out into the skillet. Instead of pushing it back inside the tortilla, leave it alone—and let it toast away to crispy, cheesy goodness.

Are there any cons of a folded quesadilla? Potentially. From an aesthetics perspective, a folded quesadilla looks more rustic, and simply doesn’t look as pretty on the plate after it’s cut as a stacked quesadilla does. Additionally, because it uses only one tortilla and holds less filling overall, it feels like more of a snack than a meal.

Fun Fact #1: Interestingly, a folded quesadilla is quite similar to a traditional Mexican quesadilla. An authentic Mexican quesadilla consists of a folded corn tortilla filled with a small amount of Oaxaca cheese and cooked until golden brown. It’s typically served with guacamole and salsa, and isn’t exactly the same, overstuffed quesadillas we envision here in the US.

Folded Quesadilla Recipes

Stacked Quesadilla

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr    

A stacked quesadilla yields two times the amount as a folded quesadilla—which can certainly be a plus if you’re trying to feed a hungry crowd efficiently. One full quesadilla sliced into triangles fits perfectly on a plate and it makes for a filling and satisfying meal.

As pretty as it looks, a stacked quesadilla trickier to make than a folded quesadilla. Instead of one tortilla (again, we like 6- to 8-inch flour tortillas for this) per quesadilla, you’ll need to use two. Heat your skillet over medium heat, pour in your oil, and add the first tortilla. Top with cheese and any other filling ingredients, making sure to evenly distribute them across the tortilla, then place the other tortilla over top. Cook until golden brown, then *carefully* flip the quesadilla and cook the other side.

The toughest part about making a stacked quesadilla is actually flipping it successfully. Because you’re dealing with a heavier, wider quesadilla, it’s clumsier to handle. And unless the quesadilla contains mostly cheese, you’re inevitably going to lose some degree of the fillings in the act of flipping it. This means a sad mess of spilled ingredients all over your skillet and cooktop, and you have no choice but to spend the bulk of your time trying to stuff everything back inside the tortilla. All of this is pretty frustrating—and distracting. In this moment of panic, you’re more likely to burn the bottom tortilla as you’re furiously trying to salvage the spilled ingredients.

Ideally, you’d need a spatula that’s as wide as your quesadilla (like this ridiculous 8-inch wide spatula) to flip it without the sides collapsing. Or a quesadilla maker—but what’s the fun in using that?

Fun Fact #2: A stacked quesadilla most closely resembles a traditional Mexican dish called Sincronizadas. This involves two stacked flour tortillas filled with thinly sliced ham and Manchego cheese, then cooked on both sides until crisp and golden-brown. While Sincronizadas resemble quesadillas, they’re actually considered to be a completely different dish in Mexico.

Stacked Quesadilla Recipes

The Verdict: Folded or Stacked?

It’s no question that quesadillas of any kind are delicious. But after much debate, we’ve chosen a winner—folded quesadillas. Why? They're quick to whip up, easy to flip, and of course—those crispy, cheesy edges are simply iresistable. Plus, a folded quesadilla is the perfect finger food for noshing while watching football or sipping margaritas by the pool. Dunk a triangle into a bowl of your favorite salsa, queso, sour cream, or guacamole, and you can't get much better than that.

Whatever you do—please do not make your quesadilla in a microwave. That’s just wrong.

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