Put a spin on basic quesadillas by jazzing them up with some leftover smoked ribs dripping with melted cheese and smothered in sauteed onions and peppers. These cheesy smoked ribs quesadillas can also be made with just about any of your other BBQ leftovers!
Cheese? Yes, please! Smother anything with oozy, stretchy cheese and I’m in. These Cheesy Smoked Rib Quesadillas are certainly no exception. I made these with leftovers from the Smoked Baby Back Pork Ribs my husband smoked for dinner last night. But these are so delicious and indulgent and really easy!
Most of the work comes in the prep. Just get your peppers and onions sliced, your cheese shredded, your beans heated and seasoned, and you ribs deboned and chopped and that’s about 75% of it right there.
Now, there are a TON of ways to vary this:
- Beans or no beans (and how to season them)
- types of cheese
- types of meat
- Peppers or no peppers
I decided on ribs because we wanted a little variety in our leftovers. These are also delicious with chicken or steak as well! I also have a recipe for Leftover Smoked Brisket Taquitos. You could take some leftover ribs and put them in those taquitos, or you could take the leftover brisket and put it in these quesadillas. Those would BOTH be delicious!
Assembling your cheesy smoked rib quesadillas
Now, once you have all your ingredients prepped, it’s time to assemble!
- Heat the tortillas. After about 10-15 seconds in the microwave and they’ll be much more pliable and less likely to break.
- Use block cheese. Pre-shredded cheese may save some time with the prep, but it never melts quiiiite as well as block cheese (however, if it’s all you have, it’ll do).
- Soften the butter. Get that butter super soft, just before the melting point. That way it will smear over the tortilla effortlessly.
- Go easy on the butter. You really only need a really thin layer. It doesn’t take much to get a crispy golden brown.
- Only butter half at first. You can butter the other half while it’s in the pan.
Once you have your stuffing layered up and half of the quesadilla buttered, carefully use both hands and hold the quesadilla closed while you put it in a warm pan. It should only take about 3 minutes to cook.
Be careful that it’s not too hot! You don’t want the tortilla to burn before the cheese has had time to melt!
Flip, and cook for about another 3 minutes.
When both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove your quesadilla and cut it! I like to use a pizza cutter, but a big sharp knife will work too.
These Cheesy Smoked Rib Quesadillas are fantastic with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, or queso. Pick your dipper and get going!
Cheesy Smoked Rib Quesadillas
- 2 large, burrito flour tortillas
- 5-6 leftover ribs, chopped about 1 cup
- 4 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 3 fresh jalapeños, cored and sliced
- ½ Can Refried Beans
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp salsa or hot sauce
- 2 tbsp butter softened, but not melted.
- In a small saucepan, heat refried beans over medium heat. Stir in cumin and hot sauce/salsa. Reduce heat to low.
- In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers. Saute until completely soft (about 10 minutes). To speed up the process, periodically add a tablespoon of water and cover. The water will steam up right away allowing the peppers and onions to soften.
- When the onions and peppers are soft, add chopped rib meat. Saute for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Heat a large flour tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften. Remove from microwave and smear about 2-3 tablespoons of beans on half of the tortilla. Layer on about ⅓-1/2 cup of rib meat and peppers. Add a layer of shredded cheese.
- Fold the other half of the tortilla over. Smear a thing layer of butter on half.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the folded quesadilla buttered side down. While the quesadilla is cooking, butter the other side.
- After about 3 minutes, flip and cook for about another 3 minutes. Tortilla should reach a nice golden brown. Repeat the process for the other tortilla unless your pan is large enough to fit two. Mine isn't!
- Serve with your favorite dippers (sour cream, guacamole, salsa, queso) and enjoy!
We really enjoyed these, perhaps too much…. The recipe is great as is, but opens the door for creative adaptation. The cumin in the beans is perfect for our taste.
Lynn L. says
OMGoodness, these were SO good!! We actually made them twice in one week!
Super good! We made BabyBackRibs for a large crowd and had lots of leftovers so we looked for a new recipe idea to work with, System of a Brown to the rescue, can’t wait to try more of your creations! Thank You!
Excellent tasting and very easy to prepare
Okay, first bite I wasn’t sure but then I loved them! My big kids liked them too (the little ones were scared off by quesadillas with more than just queso in them 😉 but they were a hit and my leftover ribs that I was worried about wasting were utilized! Woo hooo!
Karen C. says
going to try it tonight, but i’m sure it will be a hit.
only change i will make is that i take bush’s medium chili beans, warm and mash them and they are tons better than canned refried beans…
or no beans at all.
Fantastic Recipe, wouldn’t change a thing. My husband loved it!
Lisa Brown says
I’m so glad you loved it! It’s one of our favorites here!
Sarah Snedden says
So, I was super nervous my fiancé would not like it. He’s a super picky eater!, so I did a taste test during the day! He came home after work and Ladies and Gentlemen, we didn’t make it to the bedroom upstairs!!! Yum Yum!!!!
Lisa Brown says
Best comment ever! hahaha! SO glad it was a success! 🙂
I’ve never written a comment on a good blog. Avid barbecuer and found this recipe looking for something new to do with leftover ribs. First, let me say, this is brilliant. I went in expecting it to be just the sum of its parts but it was much greater. Second, I never thought about punching up refried beans. It seems so obvious now but I always considered them to be as good as they were going to get (which is not great) from the can. I used roasted tomato and Poblano salsa from my garden. Game changer. We smoke ribs several times a month. This is going right at the top of the recipe list for leftovers. Just found your blog today but you’ve got a fan for life.
Lisa Brown says
Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m so glad I gave you some good ideas that you enjoyed! We smoke meats a ton here and I’m always trying to find something to do with the leftovers. This is one of my faves. I’m glad you enjoy the blog! I’m struggling to keep up with posting these days being a teacher and managing all this back to school craziness, but I’m trying to keep at it!
Cindy H. says
This recipe was amazing! Kids tried it, kids loved it! Husband said it tasted as good as something he would order from a restaurant. Thank you for a delicious, unique way to use up leftover rib meat. I might make ribs just to have leftovers for this recipe!
Lisa Brown says
Thank you so much for the feedback! I’m glad you and your family enjoyed it!