Plant-Based Bean and Avocado Quesadillas

Skip the cheese without skimping on flavor.

Plant-Based Bean and Avocado Quesadillas

Does a quesadilla need to have cheese? I mean, the dish has the Spanish word for cheese (“queso”) in the title, so you would think it’s a required ingredient. But a huge part of adapting our favorite recipes to use plant-based ingredients is thinking outside the box. When we thought about it, a quesadilla is really just a folded, grilled sandwich — similar to a grilled cheese. Since you can make grilled sandwiches without cheese, we figured we’d give these dairy-free, no-cheese, Plant-Based Bean and Avocado Quesadillas a try.

The results were nothing short of phenomenal. This dish contains spiced black beans, the cheese-like flavor of nutritional yeast, and smooth-textured avocado. Basically, it had all the flavors and textures we’ve come to know and love when those quesadilla cravings hit. We didn’t even miss the cheese!

How to Make Refried Beans from Scratch

Nutritious and flavorfu, these quesadillas will be a hit with vegans and meat-eaters alike!

Part of the reason this Plant-Based Bean and Avocado Quesadillas recipe works is because of the beans. They’re a great source of plant-based protein, and mashing them creates the perfect texture for our cheese-less quesadilla. You could certainly buy store-bought refried beans, but we thought it’d be more fun to make them from scratch.

We’ll start with a cup of cooked, drained, and rinsed black beans. You can use any type of beans (we have a healthy refried bean recipe that uses pinto beans instead), but we chose black beans here for the color contrast. Add them to a pot with the water and spices. Feel free to mix up the spices and create your own flavor profile, but don’t skip the fresh lime juice, cilantro, and nutritional yeast. These three ingredients come together to create a tangy, herbaceous, and cheesy flavor that really makes this quesadilla shine. If you don’t like cilantro (it tastes like soap to some people!), you can use parsley instead.

Once the beans are warm, it’s time to get mashing. If you like, you can toss the seasoned beans in a food processor or blender and give it a few pulses. We found it easier to mash this small amount of beans with a fork or a potato masher, but do whatever is most comfortable for you.

Making a Great Quesadilla

Warm, tasty and oh-so-satisfying, you can indulge in these quesadillas with zero guilt.

You’ll notice that we recommend cooking these Plant-Based Bean and Avocado Quesadillas on the stove top. Why do you need to heat them up if there’s no cheese to melt? Well, technically, you don’t have to. You could heat the tortillas in the microwave until they’re soft and pliable, fill them with the beans and mashed avocados, and go about your day.

That said, they will taste so much better if you take the extra ten minutes to heat them in a skillet. Remember: There is no melty cheese in this quesadilla, so creating the right texture is crucial for making a satisfying replacement. Heating the filled tortillas in a skillet crisps up the exterior, adding a beautiful crunch to the quesadilla, while also adding a lightly toasted flavor. It’s worth the extra step!

The Perfect Snack or Meal

Black Beans and Avocados pair up t create a scrumptious and filling snack or meal!


When the quesadilla is finished, enjoy it alone as a snack or light lunch, or serve it with a salad to create a complete and filling meal. It doesn’t really need any garnishes, but you could add extra chopped tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro to the top if you like. If you find yourself missing the sour cream, whip up a batch of our dairy-free sour cream using cashews (or make it with tofu instead).

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