This easy recipe for a vegan quesadilla is made with plenty of vegetables, refried beans and avocado for a nutritious and flavor-packed dinner! Making cheeseless quesadillas doesn’t mean you need to lose out on a delicious and balanced meal.
I like to bake my quesadillas in the oven since it’s so easy to do, but you can easily pan-fry this recipe if you prefer!
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Are Quesadillas Vegan?
Some quesadilla recipes or restaurant options may be vegan, but typically only if specified. Cheese is a primary ingredient in most quesadilla recipes and meat is also commonly used.
This recipe uses refried beans as the protein source, rather than meat. It also uses some delicious avocado as a cheese replacement to create a flavorful and satisfying cheeseless quesadilla!
Cheeseless Vegan Quesadilla Ingredients
The ingredient list for these vegan quesadillas should be quite straight forward. To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Onion and garlic: What recipe doesn’t start with onions and garlic?! I can’t cook without these flavor staples!
- Bell pepper: I almost always have bell peppers on hand as they go into most of my cooking. Any color pepper works well.
- Mushrooms: I love the flavor mushrooms provide to this recipe. They are an “earthy” ingredient which works great in vegan cooking as it offers an almost meat-like flavor.
- Corn: This is one of my favorite vegetables; I always keep a bag of corn in the freezer so it’s easy to toss into any recipe I want!
- Avocado oil: I use some avocado oil to cook the quesadilla filling vegetables. Any type of oil would work but be mindful that the flavor of your oil may come through in the filling; avocado oil has a very neutral taste.
- Cilantro: Fresh herbs add amazing flavor to any recipe and cilantro is one of my favorites. I use it every chance I get, and lots of it! This recipe calls for lots of chopped cilantro; feel free to adjust the amount to your preferences or leave it out entirely.
- Taco seasoning: I always keep some homemade taco seasoning on hand because it has tons of flavor! Use any taco seasoning blend you enjoy (homemade or store bought).
- Refried beans: Refried beans make a delicious high protein filling for vegan quesadillas. Many refried bean varieties aren’t vegan since they’re made with lard, so read the ingredients before buying (vegan options are made with oil or simply don’t contain added fats).
- Avocado: To keep this recipe cheeseless, but still full of flavor and healthy fats, I use some mashed avocado! About half an avocado per quesadilla creates a delicious layer. You can certainly use some dairy-free cheeseless shreds if you like (in place of, or in addition to avocado).
- Flour tortillas: I use whole wheat tortillas for this recipe, but you can use any tortillas you like. I typically buy large tortillas and fold them in half, but you can use smaller tortillas and made round quesadillas (one full tortilla on the bottom and top, without folding).
- Salsa and sour cream: I highly recommend serving your vegan quesadillas with salsa for extra flavor and vegan sour cream for flavor and some extra healthy fats!
How to Make Vegan Quesadillas without Cheese
This recipe is quite simple to make! Simply prepare the filling, assemble the quesadillas and bake. You could pan-fry the quesadillas if you prefer.
Read the detailed directions below or watch the quick video to show you each step!
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
Before you start cooking the filling, finely chop onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and cilantro. Mince the garlic too!
It’s helpful to get out other needed ingredients for the filling before you start cooking because it goes quite quick. Open the can of refried beans, grab some frozen corn and make sure you have taco seasoning on hand!
Step 2: Cook Filling
The filling is easy to cook. Start by heating avocado oil (or any oil you like) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts to soften.
Then, add the bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic. Cook until all the vegetables are softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low and stir in the taco seasoning, refried beans, corn and cilantro. Stir until well mixed then remove your pan from the heat.
Step 3: Assemble Quesadillas
Lay out 4 whole wheat flour tortillas and mash two avocados in a medium bowl. Prep your baking tray by covering it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Spread a quarter of the mashed avocado onto half of one tortilla; leave some room (about 1 cm) around the edge of the tortilla. This space helps keep the filling inside the quesadilla as it cooks.
Then, spread a quarter of the filling mixture over the avocado; again, keeping some space on the edges. Fold the quesadilla in half, covering the filling.
Transfer the assembled quesadilla onto your baking tray (you can assemble directly on the baking tray if you like).
Repeat the assembly process for the other 3 quesadillas.
Step 4: Bake and Serve
It’s optional to lightly cover the tortillas with oil before baking. You can use an oil spray or lightly brush each side of the tortillas with oil.
Place your quesadillas into an oven preheated at 400 °F and bake for 10 minutes or until both sides of the tortillas are crispy! The tortillas may or may not turn a golden or darker brown color but will still be crispy anyway. I don’t find it necessary to flip the quesadillas when baking; it can be difficult, and the bottom side of your tortilla gets crisp without added effort.
I use two baking trays to fit all 4 quesadillas and need to rotate the pans halfway through cooking (move the pan higher up to a lower rack and vice versa). If both pans can fit on a center rack that’s best but mine don’t fit!
Serve warm with salsa and vegan sour cream!
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
This recipe makes for a fairly balanced meal on its own! I consider a balanced meal one that contains a good source of plant-based protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates (from whole grains or starchy vegetables) and non-starchy veggies!
Refried beans provide protein, carbohydrates and may contain fats, depending on how they’re prepared. Avocado also offers delicious healthy fats.
There’s plenty of non-starchy veggies cooked into the filling, and you can certainly serve with a side salad for an extra boost of veggies.
The tortilla provides additional carbohydrates and fiber (if using whole wheat tortillas).
When serving with salsa and vegan sour cream on the side, you’ll get plenty of extra flavor and healthy fats in the sour cream. Guacamole is also a tasty side to serve with plant-based quesadillas.
Plant-based Quesadilla Variations
There are plenty of variations you could try with this recipe. Most vegetables work when making the filling so use what you like and have on hand!
If you like, using black or pinto beans in the filling is a nice way to add some texture.
For a spicy vegan quesadilla, add sliced jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled) to the quesadilla before baking. Pickled banana peppers are also a tasty option. If using pickled peppers, allow excess liquid to drain away on a kitchen towel (or paper towel). You could also add cayenne pepper or hot chili powder!
While this recipe creates a delicious cheeseless quesadilla, you can add in your favorite dairy free cheese shreds if you like.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Quesadillas
Refrigerate leftover quesadillas in an airtight container for up to one week. The tortillas can become soggy when storing, so allow the quesadillas to cool completely before refrigerating. For best results, allow quesadillas to cool on a wire cooling rack.
You can reheat this recipe in a microwave until warmed through; this doesn’t keep the tortilla crisp but is a quick and convenient option. To keep the tortilla as crisp as possible, reheat on a baking tray in the oven (or toaster oven) until heated through.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Cheeseless Quesadillas
- ¾ cup onion , chopped (about ½ a medium onion)
- ¾ cup bell pepper , chopped (about ½ a medium pepper)
- 1 cup button mushrooms , chopped (about 6 medium mushrooms)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or oil of your choice)
- ½ cup corn kernels (I use frozen corn)
- ½ cup cilantro , chopped
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 ½ cups refried beans (14 oz/ 400 mL can)
- 2 medium avocado
- 4 large flour tortillas
- vegan sour cream
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
- Prep the vegetables by peeling the onion and garlic then washing the bell pepper and mushrooms.¾ cup onion, ¾ cup bell pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cup button mushrooms
- Finely dice the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms. Finely mince the garlic.
- Wash, pat dry and chop the cilantro.½ cup cilantro
Step 2: Cook Filling
- In a large pan, warm some avocado oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until beginning to soften.2 tablespoons avocado oil
- Then, add the garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms. Cook until your vegetables begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes.¾ cup bell pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cup button mushrooms
- Stir taco seasoning into the vegetables and toss to evenly coat the vegetables.1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- Lower the heat to low.
- Next, add refried beans, corn and cilantro. Stir until everything is well combined.½ cup corn kernels, 1 ½ cups refried beans, ½ cup cilantro
- Remove pan from heat.
Step 3: Assemble Quesadillas
- Prep a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mash avocados.2 medium avocado
- To assemble, spread avocado onto one half of a tortilla. Then, spread some quesadilla filling over the avocado, keeping it to half the tortilla. It’s best to leave about ½ cm (¼ in) of space around the edge of the quesadilla.4 large flour tortillas
- Fold the tortilla wrap in half, covering the filling and transfer to the baking tray.
- Repeat with the other tortillas.
Step 4: Bake and Serve
- Bake your quesadillas in an oven preheated to 400 °F, on the center rack, for about 10 minutes, until both sides are crisp.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately with salsa and vegan sour cream.salsa, vegan sour cream
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.