Quesadilla Salvadoreña

Salvadoran Quesadilla / Latinaish.com

Ask an American what a “quesadilla” is and most likely they’ll tell you it’s thin flour tortillas with cheese melted in between – but that’s a Mexican quesadilla, and not the one I’m talking about today. Salvadoran quesadilla is a rich cheese-flavored pound-cake-like sweet bread which is perfect with a cup of coffee. You can buy them at some bakeries and Latino markets in the United States but often times, you’ll find they aren’t fresh and have gotten a bit dry. The good news is, you can make your own “quesadilla salvadoreña” at home, and believe me, it’s even more amazing than the store bought ones.

I’ve actually been meaning to share a quesadilla recipe here for years, but the first one I tried was given to me by a friend who generously emailed me her family’s recipe, and thus it wasn’t mine to give away. Over the years I tried other quesadilla recipes, and eventually, tweaking here and there as I do, I ended up with a recipe all my own, but it still wasn’t perfect. I continued baking and changing things, and the quesadillas were usually good, but I definitely had some complete failures along the way, too. Last week I decided to make another attempt and, (bendito sea!) success! Finally! Delicious success!

We ate every last crumb of the one in the photos, and days later, I made another just to double check my recipe, (and because we wanted more quesadilla!)

So here it is, just in time for making as a holiday gift for family, friends and neighbors, (if you can stand the idea of parting with it.)


Salvadoran Quesadilla


1 stick (8 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, separated
1 (slightly rounded) cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup 1% milk, room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
sesame seeds


1. Combine sugar, flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside. Note: The cup of sugar should be rounded, so it’s slightly more than 1 cup.

2. In a medium bowl mix the cheese and butter and then add the milk. Set aside. Note: The cheese can be cheap non-brand name Parmesan. Grated “queso duro blando” or “queso duro viejo” can probably be substituted for Parmesan but I haven’t tried it yet. You could also use 2% or whole milk in place of the 1% milk, but I do not advise skim milk.

3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in the yolks, then add the cheese mixture. Beat at medium speed, slowly adding in the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

4. Pour into a greased 9 inch springform pan or round pie pan. You can also use a 7×11 rectangular pan, which is what I used the second time. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Note: Springform pans tend to leak a little until the batter has set up, so put a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven to catch any drips.

5. Bake on the middle rack of your oven at 300 to 325 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. (Actual cooking time will vary slightly depending on the size and type of pan. My oven runs a little hot, so I baked mine at 300 F.) Keep an eye on it starting at 30 minutes as it continues to bake to make sure you remove it before it begins to burn. It goes from yellow/unbaked to golden brown to burnt pretty quickly.

6. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. (It tastes better the next day, actually.) Cut into slices and serve with coffee.

13 thoughts on “Quesadilla Salvadoreña

  1. OMG- this looks delicious- am DROOLING- I love trying new things to eat with my morning tea and this is getting bumped on the list. How long do you think this could keep? A few days in a tightly sealed container?

    • I’m used to having this with coffee but let me know how it is with tea :) … I think it would keep for a few days as you said. The ones sold at the Latino market are often simply wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and they probably weren’t made the same day since they come from bakeries a couple hours away.

      When I make quesadilla at home, it usually doesn’t last much longer than 48 hours because we eat it, so I don’t have personal experience keeping one longer than that ;)

  2. Sweet! I am an American living in El Salvador, where if you get lucky on a long-distance bus some rural ladies will board with big quesadillas in hand and cut you slices for a dollar apiece. It’s the best.

  3. Hi Tracy. I just put mine in the oven…so I’m just waiting to start trying it with a nice cup of coffee…! Thanks for your recipe. I will let you know how it went. Saludos!

  4. Pingback: Quesadillas | Latinaish

  5. I’m a Spanish teacher, and for our Día de Comida we have a similar recipe, but it’s Honduran. When I tell them it’s Honduran Cheesecake, I have to explain that it’s not like their typical creamy cheesecake. I get mixed reviews on whether they like it or not. Some kids can’t get over the fact that it has Parmesean cheese in it! I love it! I’ll have to look back at the recipe to see how different it is from this one.

    • I wonder how opinions might change if you tried introducing it as a type of “cheese bread” instead of using the word “cake” and mentioning cheesecake, (which gives them a certain expectation.) … Cheesecake has such a specific flavor so maybe that’s why they’re disappointed by quesadilla. It would be interesting to use different terms for introducing it to different classes and then take a poll to see how much that cheesecake expectation influences opinions!

      I haven’t tried Honduran quesadilla but I imagine it’s quite similar :)

  6. I have three words for this recipe: OH MY GOD!!! This is incredible delicious. As a Salvadoran, living in El Salvador, this is the very first time i enjoy eating quesadilla! And this is the very first time i find a recipe that actually works! Thanks a lot!! The only thing is that i made them individual, like an standar cupcake size, so the bake time is a little different. I bake them for 30 minutes at 325, but they were still raw, so gave them 15 more minutes and they sunk in the middle. So i’m gonna make another batch untill i get them perfect! Probably will increase a little the temperarure :) thanks again!!

    • This comment made me so happy, Adelita! I hope you figure out the temperature for cupcake size quesadillas – if you do, please share it here for others who want to make smaller ones like you. Saludos!

  7. I must say, this was so delish! I baked it at night and it was all gone by the next day. My family enjoyed it so much even said it took them back to their good memories of salvodarian sweet treats. I substitute the cheese for store brand parmesan cheese and come out great! Thanks for the recipe!

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