Squash Blossom Quesadillas Recipe

This post is also available in: Español

Inspired by the classic flavors of Mexico’s “Tres Marias” quesadilla stands, we created our version of squash blossom quesadillas with Oaxaca cheese. The crispy fried quesadillas with zucchini flowers are the quintessential Mexican treat everyone must try at least once.

two blue plates with squash blossom quesadillas

What is squash blossom or zucchini blossom?

Squash blossom or zucchini flowers in Spanish are “flor de calabaza.” These edible flowers are a staple of many Mexican dishes like squash blossom quesadillas, soups, and pastel Azteca, a Classic ingredient in sauces and raw applications for salads.

a vase with squash blossoms in water

Squash blossoms are the edible flowers of the Cucurbita species, particularly Cucurbita pepo, which produces zucchini (courgette), spaghetti squash, and many other types of squash. If you haven’t tried these flowers, you must.

a collage showing how to clean the zucchini flowers

The season for zucchini blossoms runs very short, but they are worth it. When you see them at your local supermarket, snatch a package or two. If you cannot find them raw, Amazon and local Mexican groceries sell the squash blossoms canned. Not the same, but when craving zucchini blossoms quesadillas, this is the best option.

a plate with fresh squash blossoms or zucchini flowers

Make the delightful squash blossom quesadillas at home!

Cook the must-try crispy handmade corn masa fried quesadilla with seasonal edible flowers. The masa has nixtamalized corn. We like using the Nixta masa from Maseca. Below are my tips on how to make the best squash blossom quesadillas at home.

ingredients for making fresh masa
step by step on how to make fresh masa

Quesadillas are quintessential street food. Many think making fried quesadillas is difficult, but it is not. Follow a few essential steps and achieve the perfect masa consistency for delightful squash blossom quesadillas.

This recipe contains Amazon affiliate links. As Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

SHOP FOR THE INGREDIENTS OR THE EQUIPMENT

a tortilla maker and queso oaxaca
a collage on how to make fried quesadillas with fresh corn masa

Tips for making fried squash blossom quesadillas using fresh corn masa.

  • For the best results and authentic flavor, use Nixta Masa from Maseca. Find it at Walmart.
  • For one cup of masa, use one cup of warm water or more.
    • Depending on the porosity of the masa and the brand you chose, you might need more water.
    • Some masa harinas are coarser than others and need more moisture.
    • The texture of the masa must be like playdoh.
    • Rest the masa for a minimum of 30 minutes.
    • Keep it covered with a cloth or a plastic cling.
  • For a crispier fried quesadilla, add rice flour to the mix.
    • Another option is to add a small portion of plain mashed potatoes.
    • If using mashed potatoes, make sure the potatoes aren’t lumpy.
    • The masa will require more mixing time, but the additional work is worth it.
  • Salt and baking powder are essential. One for flavor and the other for a puffy quesadilla.
  • Cooking oil allows the masa to be smoother and malleable. It also helps to keep the masa moist.
  • Use good cooking oil for frying. We like corn oil, but vegetable oil works well too.
    • The best temperature for deep-frying using corn oil is between 350-375°F.
    • Use a thermometer or drop a small piece of corn tortilla. If it browns fast, the oil is ready for frying.
    • Avoid using peanut oil as it reaches higher temperatures and will burn the squash blossom quesadillas.
  • The squash blossoms must be cleaned and stemmed.
    • Save the stems and use them for broths. They provide a nice flavor to chicken soup.
    • We use the squash blossoms raw as they cook during the frying process.
  • Choose a cheese that melts. We recommend Oaxaca cheese. It is milky, melty, and somewhat sweet.
    • Replace the Oaxaca cheese with mozzarella or queso fresco (however, this one doesn’t melt.)
a plate with fresh fried quesadillas

Origin of the quesadillas in Mexico.

The name quesadilla is the diminutive of the word “quesada” a Spanish cheese pastry. Brought by the Spaniards to Mexico during the miscegenation between the European and pre-hispanic cultures.

Those who read that the word quesadilla comes from the Nahuatl quesaditzin, an invention many took seriously, proving that not everything you read on social media or the internet is necessarily true.

In his book “Historia Gastronómica de La Ciudad de México,” Salvador Novo highlights that Spaniards were responsible for the fusion of their cuisine by using the New World’s local ingredients and products.

a top shot of zucchini flower quesadillas

Along with pork, the conquest also brought cattle, wheat, and milking cows, introducing the tradition of European cheese and bread crafting and using these ingredients in baking, meals, and quesadillas.

Northern states consume grilled quesadillas made with flour tortillas and melty Chihuahua or asadero cheeses. While in other states, making grilled and fried quesadillas using corn masa, queso fresco, and a stringy cheese called Oaxaca are common in the Center and South of Mexico.

Quesadillas are a yummy treat. However, these became street food as a way for homemakers to generate income out of the porch or at the corner of the street.

queso Oaxaca on a white plate

Quesadillas are available all over Mexico, but the most famous quesadillas come from outside Mexico City in a small town called “Tres Marias.” Locals traveling to Cuernavaca or Acapulco by car stop to eat one or two of the best freshly made quesadillas with a cafe de olla for breakfast or lunch.

Quesadillas with or without cheese?

There has been a social media debate about quesadillas not including cheese. Based on Mexican culinary history, there are two cookbooks (Nuevo Cocinero Mexicano – 1888 and La Cocinera Poblana – 1907), stating quesadillas could have cheese and other fillings.

two plates served with food

The most popular quesadillas where cheese is optional are those filled with sesos (brains), refried beans, mushrooms, huitlacoche (Mexican truffle), picadillo, potato mash, chorizo, rajas (roasted poblano strips with onions), calabacitas (zucchini) and corn, chicharron, and our favorite squash blossom quesadillas.

In Mexico City, quesadillas do not necessarily have cheese. Made by hand with fresh masa (blue or white corn) with an elongated form and then folded to cook over a comal (griddle), or come small with a round of fresh masa stuffed, folded, sealed, and then deep-fried. However, some street food stands use premade corn tortillas for crafting grilled or fried quesadillas.

a hand holding a quesadilla showing the melted cheese inside

Depending on the state, quesadillas could be molotes or empanadas. Puebla is the birthplace of the molote, a large elongated crispy fried quesadilla filled with tinga or melty cheese. You can find the recipe in my cookbook, “The Best of Mexican Cooking.” In Oaxaca, empanadas (quesadillas for us) cook on a griddle, and the masa has heirloom corn only available in that area.

a plate with fried squash blossom quesadillas

Squash Blossom Quesadillas Recipe

Chef Adriana Martin
Inspired by the classic flavors of Mexico's "Tres Marias" quesadilla stands, we created our version of squash blossom quesadillas with Oaxaca cheese. The crispy fried quesadillas with zucchini flowers are the quintessential Mexican treat everyone must try at least once.
5 from 49 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer or Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican Cuisine
Servings 8 quesadillas
Calories 1269 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Bowl
  • 1 Measuring cup
  • 1 Stainless Steel Dutch Style bread Dough Whisk for pastry
  • 1 Plastic wrap
  • 1 Tortilla press
  • 1 Deep frying pan or a Dutch oven

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups masa harina Maseca Nixta Masa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice flour or 2 tablespoons of potato mash
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Royal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water add water as needed
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil or pork lard
  • 1 bunch fresh squash blossoms stemmed and cleaned
  • 1 1/2 cups Oaxaca cheese shredded
  • 4 cups corn oil or frying oil (not peanut oil)

Instructions
 

To make de masa

  • Add the masa harina, rice flour, baking soda, and salt and combine using a whisk.
  • Slowly add one cup of water and mix. Add more water as needed and continue hydrating the masa.
  • Incorporate the corn oil and continue kneading until getting a playdoh consistency.
  • Wrap the masa in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before using.

To make the quesadillas

  • Remove the masa from the plastic wrap, knead and divide into 7-8 pieces.
  • Form small masa balls and set them aside. Cover them with a damp cloth or plastic.
  • Use the tortilla press to make small thick rounds.
  • Stuff each round with two squash blossoms and shredded Oaxaca cheese.
  • Fold and seal the quesadillas pressing down the edges. Set them aside.
  • Add the frying oil to a deep-frying pan. Allow the oil to warm at medium-high heat. When the oil reaches a temperature between 350 and 375°F is ready for frying.
  • Drop each quesadilla into the hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until fluffy and golden brown.
  • Place the fried quesadillas on top of paper towels to remove excess oil.
  • Eat the quesadillas warm and serve them with a side of your favorite salsa and crema Mexicana. We suggest salsa verde.

Video

Notes

Tips for making fried squash blossom quesadillas using fresh corn masa.
  • For the best results and authentic flavor, use Nixta Masa from Maseca. Find it at Walmart.
  • For one cup of masa, use one cup of warm water or more.
  • Depending on the porosity of the masa and the brand you chose, you might need more water.
  • Some masa harinas are coarser than others and require more moisture.
  • The texture of the masa must be like playdoh.
  • Rest the masa for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Keep it covered with a cloth or a plastic cling.
  • For a crispier fried quesadilla, add rice flour to the mix.
  • Another option is to add a small portion of plain mashed potatoes.
  • If using mashed potatoes, make sure the potatoes aren’t lumpy.
  • The masa will require more mixing time, but the additional work is worth it.
  • Salt and baking powder are essential—one for flavor and the other for a puffy quesadilla.
  • Cooking oil allows the masa to be smoother and malleable. It also helps to keep the masa moist.
  • Use good cooking oil for frying. We like corn oil, but vegetable oil works well too.
  • The best temperature for deep-frying using corn oil is between 350-375°F.
  • Use a thermometer or drop a small piece of corn tortilla. If it browns fast, the oil is ready for frying.
  • Avoid using peanut oil as it reaches higher temperatures and will burn the squash blossom quesadillas.
  • The squash blossoms must be cleaned and stemmed.
  • Save the stems and use them for broths. They provide a nice flavor to chicken soup.
  • We use the squash blossoms raw as they cook during the frying process.
  • Choose a cheese that melts. We recommend Oaxaca cheese. It is milky, melty, and somewhat sweet.
  • Replace the Oaxaca cheese with mozzarella or queso fresco (however, this one doesn’t melt.)
  • Pair the quesadillas with Mexican crema, salsa verde, and shredded lettuce. 

Nutrition

Calories: 1269kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 12gFat: 128gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 34gMonounsaturated Fat: 67gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 614mgPotassium: 75mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 73IUVitamin C: 0.04mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 2mg
Keyword corn masa, fried, masa, quesadillas, squash blossom
Tried this recipe?Mention @adrianasbestrecipes or tag #abrecipes on Instagram
adriana martin holding an edible bouquet of flowers
My favorite bouquet of flowers is those that you can eat!
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23 Comments
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Moop Brown

5 stars
I’ve never seen quesadillas like this before but think this is such a unique way to eat quesadillas.

Alex

5 stars
Yum, yum, yum! These quesadillas were amazing. I was unsure if my kid would be willing to try them but he did and we all really enjoyed them.

Erin

5 stars
Oooh! I didn’t know you could eat the blossoms until yesterday when I came across your post. I made these quesadillas and they were great! Such a great use of the blossoms we used to compost!

Loreto and Nicoletta

5 stars
We love squash blossoms and yours look spectacular! Never thought to use them this way, but it is making me want them. Thanks so much for this. Will have to wait till next summer to try when blossoms are in season!

Ashley

5 stars
I’ve never tried squash blossoms, but these look like such a great way to enjoy them!

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