Javier Burillo – What You Can Put in That Quesadilla

Contrary to what so many think, a quesadilla does not come with cheese, in fact you actually have to ask for it if you are ordering one, at least that’s the way on the streets of Mexico.

When I first started to visit Mexico my friend Javier Burillo used to laugh at me for forgetting to order them with cheese, as of course this was something that I expected. As it happens, even though ‘queso’ means cheese, the ‘quesa’ part of the word doesn’t have anything to do with it. And so apart from cheese, which is delicious, what else can you get put inside your quesadilla? Here are some common choices.


This is one of my favorite fillings and whilst it doesn’t sound too delightful, it is in fact the diseased fungus from a corn. Now in most countries these corns are tossed away, but diseased corns are used in Mexico. The result is a mushroom-like fungus which tastes absolutely delicious and is best eaten inside a freshly made quesadilla.

Chorizo and Potato

You could certainly enjoy your quesadilla with either chorizo or potato on their own, but the combination is absolutely delicious and they are best eaten together. What you will find in most cases is that the mixture has been cooked up in the morning and they will add it to the freshly made tortilla and then heat it through. The combination of starch and spice is delicious and any salsa or guacamole which you add really seeps into the potato mixture.


Chicharron is the name which refers to the skin of the pig that has been stripped away and then is deep fried in oil. They actually sell these in sheets in the markets of Mexico. What they do when they create this to add to a quesadilla is marinate it in spices and then re-cook it in water which brings back some of the gelatinous texture of the skin before it was fried. This is also delicious in a quesadilla and it offers a really rich and deep flavor with great texture.

Chicken Tinga

You can, in reality, get all manner of meats added to the quesadilla but my favorite is this chicken tinga, which tastes great and is very soft on the mouth. To create this they will boil a chicken breast and then shred the meat. This chicken is then added to a slightly spicy tomato sauce and then they add it to the quesadilla. For me this is a great option served with cheese inside, remember to ask for the cheese separately!

Pumpkin Flower

I love how they use so many ingredients in Mexico which most of us wouldn’t think of, and flor de calabaza is certainly one of them. This is basically the flowers which grow alongside the pumpkin plant and they are absolutely delicious. These will be slowly boiled with some added herbs and spices and then packed into a quesadilla for your pleasure.

These are some of the tastiest fillings for this particular snack.