You might think that fajita and quesadilla can be used relatively interchangeably, but this is not the case. Although they have some similarities, fajitas and quesadillas are different dishes.
The main difference between a fajita and a quesadilla is that a fajita is a Tex-Mex dish, whereas a quesadilla is authentically Mexican. Quesadillas are also far more cheesy than a fajita which may have a cheese topping.
What is a Fajita?
To fully compare fajitas and quesadillas, it’s a good idea to know what each of these dishes are. So, let’s begin by taking a look at fajitas. Fajitas originate from Texas and are part of Tex-Mex cuisine. They are not traditional in Mexico.
They comprise sizzling strips of grilled meat, often steak or chicken, alongside sliced peppers and onions – all cooked on a grill or a frying pan. They are then served in flour (or sometimes corn) tortillas.
They’ll often be served with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and guacamole alongside a traditional fajita seasoning.
A fajita quesadilla is a mash-up of fajita contents and quesadilla cooking techniques. You take a tortilla, fill it with your usual fajita fillings, and then load it up with cheese and bake to melt the cheese. It is far from authentic but certainly delicious.
Fajitas might be associated with Mexican cuisine, but it is believed that they originated in Texas, where Mexican ranch workers created a fajita from the cheap cuts of meat they were often paid in.
What is a Quesadilla?
A quesadilla is an authentic Mexican dish. It is a corn tortilla filled mainly with cheese alongside vegetables or sliced meats. The filled tortilla is then fried on a griddle or stove until the cheese melts.
The melted cheese almost glues the two sides of the corn tortilla together so that it can be picked up and eaten easily.
Quesadilla directly translates as cheesy-dude. The Quesa part means cheese and the Dilla part means dude. This is fitting because the main flavour in any quesadilla should be cheese.
Differences Between Fajita and Quesadilla
There are some fairly obvious and substantial differences between fajitas and quesadillas:
- Tortilla Type – Flour tortillas are used for fajitas, and corn tortillas are used for quesadillas. However, both types of tortillas can be used for either dish.
- Cooking Order – With a quesadilla, the filling is placed into the tortilla, and then reheated with the filling inside to make a cohesive dish. However, when it comes to fajitas, the tortillas are simply used as a vessel to carry the main elements of the dish.
- Age – It’s reported that fajitas became popular in the mid-1970s in the southern states of the US, mainly Texas. Quesadillas, however, have been enjoyed in Mexica since way back in the 16th century!
- Origins – Of course, the most obvious difference is where each dish originated. Fajitas are from Texas. The Tejanos people invented them. Quesadillas are from Mexico, mainly southern Mexico. It is thought that the Aztecs created the first form of a quesadilla by stuffing tortillas with squash and baking it.
- Flavour – With cheese being the main ingredient in a quesadilla, the main flavour will be cheese. Fajitas, however, will only have a small cheese topping or none at all. The main flavour will be the meat.
Similarities Between Fajita and Quesadilla
You might not think there is anything left to be similar between fajitas and quesadillas, but there are still a couple of links between the two dishes:
- Tortilla – Ultimately, both dishes use a tortilla, and the tortilla is used to carry the remaining ingredients. The type of tortilla might be different. The way they are cooked might differ. But they both use a tortilla which then contains the main ingredients.
- Flavour – The main flavour profile of the two dishes might be different, but the underlying spicing will be fairly similar between the two. Chillies, paprika, cumin and ground coriander are often used to give them flavour.
Fajita vs Quesadilla: Which Wins?
It comes down to whether you want something cheesy and authentic versus something easy to eat that’s part of the Tex-Mex cuisine.
Do You Prefer Fajitas or Quesadillas?
Fajita and Quesadilla FAQs
If you’ve got further questions about fajitas and quesadillas and how they might be the same and different, then these FAQs might help you out:
No, fajitas and tacos are not the same things. Fajitas are larger and filled with grilled or fried ingredients. Tacos are smaller corn tortillas filled with a mix of grilled and fresh ingredients, including lettuce and corn salsa.
Yes, you can use fajita seasoning on quesadillas. You can use whatever you want on quesadillas. Fajita seasoning comprises chilli powder, paprika, cumin and coriander. These are all flavours that might be used in an authentic quesadilla.
Ultimately, any tortilla can be used for fajitas and quesadillas. However, you’ll usually find that a flour tortilla is used for a fajita (these are more accessible and cheaper in US stores). Corn tortillas are more commonly used for quesadillas (and are more abundant in Mexico).
Lewis is the founder and editor of Let’s Foodie alongside other food-related platforms including FreezeIt and SubstituteIt. He launched Let’s Foodie to provide aspiring cooks with one place to get the answers to some of the most commonly asked cooking questions.