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These crowd-pleasing shrimp quesadillas with spinach and black beans work equally well as a quick dinner or a casual party appetizer. They’re SO good. Don’t miss them. Or try these equally delicious vegetarian refried bean quesadillas.

a shrimp quesadilla with spinach topped with sour cream, pickled onions, and scallions on a blue background
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Why we love this recipe

I don’t quite know why, but shrimp and garlic and spinach smothered with cheese just does it for me. Sounds a little wonky, maybe, but it works. This is not the first time I’ve been jazzed enough about this combo to post a recipe about it, and it won’t be the last. This shrimp and spinach quesadilla is:

  • Ready in about 20 minutes
  • Easy to scale up or down to suit the size of your crowd
  • Equally great as a main dish or an appetizer

I first published this shrimp quesadillas recipe here back in 2017. I’ve updated the post for clarity and adjusted the quantities a bit, but the recipe remains essentially the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Small shrimp work perfectly here and are less expensive. I usually keep a couple of 2-pound bags of wild-caught gulf white shrimp in the freezer, from the frozen seafood section at Whole Foods. They’re already peeled and cleaned, and they defrost quickly. The ones we buy are 61-70 or 71-90 count per pound.
  • Flour tortillas make great quesadillas, though you can use corn or other gluten-free ones if you prefer. The recipe calls for 8-inch tortillas for individual servings, but you can use half the number of burrito-sized ones to cut into wedges and share, if you prefer.
  • Mexican-style shredded cheese blend makes things easy and tasty, but you can use jack or pepper jack, cheddar, or any other cheese that melts well and has an amenable flavor profile.
  • I use sweet smoked paprika (also called pimentón). You can use a hot variety for slightly spicier quesadillas if you prefer. This ingredient is optional in this recipe.
  • Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make an easy and fabulous batch of shrimp quesadillas. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the cheese evenly over half the tortillas. Arrange the beans over the cheese.
  2. Sauté the garlic in a bit of safflower oil. Add the shrimp, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, and cook until shrimp is just opaque. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. If there’s any liquid, drain it.
  3. Divide the shrimp and spinach mixture among the quesadillas and top with the remaining cheese and then the other half of the tortillas.
  4. Cook in a dry pan until the cheese is beginning to melt and the underside is toasty, then flip once and cook until cheese is fully melted. Cut into wedges and serve with your preferred toppings.

Expert tips and FAQs

How should I top them?

Crema or sour cream (thinned with a touch of milk or water to crema consistency, if you feel like it) makes a great topping. We really love to add pickled onions, too, but you don’t have to.

Can I make shrimp quesadillas in advance? What about leftovers?

These quesadillas will be at their best shortly after cooking, but you’ve got options for getting them ready in advance.

You can prep and assemble them and store, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for up to a couple of days or in the freezer for a few months, then cook and top right before serving. (To freeze, wrap well and place on cookie sheets until frozen solid to preserve their shape.)

Or you can cook them up to a few hours in advance and reheat in a 300°F oven right before serving.

Leftovers (especially if not topped) will keep for a few days in the fridge. You can reheat them in a toaster oven or 300°F oven before serving.

More easy Mexican-inspired favorites

a shrimp quesadilla with spinach topped with sour cream, pickled onions, and scallions on a blue background

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a shrimp quesadilla with spinach topped with sour cream, pickled onions, and scallions on a blue background
4.60 from 15 votes

Shrimp Quesadillas with Spinach and Black Beans

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This easy crowd-pleaser works equally well as a quick dinner or a party appetizer.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) safflower oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds wild shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, optional but fab
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces (280 grams) baby spinach
  • 8 8- inch flour tortillas
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 15.5- ounce 440 gram can black beans
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) sour cream
  • Pickled onions, optional

Instructions 

  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high.
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add shrimp. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook, moving frequently around the pan (or flipping once if they’re large and fit in a single layer), until just opaque in the center — a couple minutes total, depending on size.
  • Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Drain and discard any liquid.
  • Arrange four of the tortillas on a work surface. Using about 2/3 of the cheese, sprinkle each tortilla evenly, leaving a slight border around the edge to account for melting. Top each tortilla evenly with beans and the shrimp and spinach mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then top each with one of the four remaining tortillas.
  • Wipe the pan clean and place over medium heat. One at a time, cook quesadillas until tortillas are browned in spots and cheese is fully melted, flipping once. (See note 6 below for oven instructions if you prefer.)
  • To serve, cut into wedges. Stir a tablespoon of milk or water into the sour cream and drizzle over quesadillas. Sprinkle with pickled onions if using.

Notes

  1. Small shrimp work perfectly here and are less expensive. I usually keep a couple of 2-pound bags of wild-caught gulf white shrimp in the freezer, from the frozen seafood section at Whole Foods. They’re already peeled and cleaned, and they defrost quickly. The ones we buy are 61-70 or 71-90 count per pound. If you use much arger shrimp, consider cutting them in half lengthwise either before or after cooking (it only takes a minute) so they’ll be flatter and better spread throughout the quesadillas.
  2. Flour tortillas make great quesadillas, though you can use corn or other gluten-free ones if you prefer. The recipe calls for 8-inch tortillas for individual servings, but you can use half the number of burrito-sized ones to cut into wedges and share, if you prefer.
  3. Mexican-style shredded cheese blend makes things easy and tasty, but you can use jack or pepper jack, cheddar, Swiss, or any other cheese that melts well and has an amenable flavor profile.
  4. I use sweet smoked paprika (also called pimentón). You can use a hot variety for slightly spicier quesadillas if you prefer. This ingredient is optional.
  5. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  6. To cook quesadillas in the oven, preheat oven and two sheet pans to 400°F. Spray hot pans with cooking spray. Place two quesadillas on each sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake about 5 minutes more. (If you’re the type of cook who likes top-secret pro-tip life hacks, you can bake your quesadillas between two sheet pans to crisp both sides at the same time and not have to flip them.)
  7. Crema or sour cream (thinned with a touch of milk or water to crema consistency, if you feel like it) makes a great topping. We really love to add pickled onions, too, but you don’t have to.
  8. Shrimp quesadillas will be at their best shortly after cooking, but you’ve got options for getting them ready in advance. You can prep and assemble them and store, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for up to a couple of days or in the freezer for a few months, then cook and top right before serving. (To freeze, wrap well and place on cookie sheets until frozen solid to preserve their shape.) Or you can cook them up to a few hours in advance and reheat in a 300°F oven right before serving.
  9. Leftovers (especially if not topped) will keep for a few days in the fridge. You can reheat them in a toaster oven or 300°F oven before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 476kcal, Carbohydrates: 49.7g, Protein: 40.3g, Fat: 15.9g, Fiber: 11.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Mexican-Inspired
Cuisine: Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.60 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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