Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas, or “yamadillas”, are an easy yet flavorful plant-based recipe made with sweet potatoes as a filling instead of cheese. Super simple and only 20 minutes!

three quesadillas made of sweet potatoes on a plate and a table with a lime and guacamole

Think you can't enjoy quesadillas without cheese? Think again! These delicious dairy-free quesadillas are loaded with beans, peppers, vegetables, and spices, and use sweet potatoes instead of cheese. Serve them as a quick meal or snack alongside pico de gallo and guacamole!

👉Here are three reasons why you should be making quesadillas with sweet potatoes:

  • They're packed with flavor. The filling is made with mashed sweet potatoes, fresh veggies, and beans that are combined with tasty seasonings like cumin, chipotle powder, and cilantro. It results in a delicious combo that you won't be able to get enough of!
  • They're easy to make. You can make these quesadillas when you're in a time crunch as they're ready in less than 30 minutes. Plus, you can save even more time by preparing the potato and vegetable mixture ahead of time for faster meal prep.
  • You can make them your own. Get creative with the vegetables you use to make quesadilla filling. We like grilled corn, peas, pinto beans, jalapenos, and mango. You can also experiment with serving them with different types of salsa and guacamole.

Ready to learn how to make vegan quesadillas with sweet potatoes? Let's do it!


🍠 Ingredients you'll need

You'll need a variety of ingredients to make these plant-based quesadillas, including the following:

  • Sweet potatoes: These serve as a great base for vegan quesadillas due to their “creamy-like” texture when mashed, which resembles cheese. Plus, their sweet flavor complements perfectly with the rest of the vegetables and seasoning.
  • Poblano pepper: You'll dice one poblano pepper before cooking it along with onion and tomatoes. Adds some heat to the quesadilla filling.
  • Red onion: If you prefer white or yellow onion, they will taste great in quesadillas as well!
  • Tomato: You can't go wrong with a little tomato flavor, which also brings some freshness to this recipe.
  • Black beans: Beans are a key ingredient, as they provide plant-based protein and are a good source of fiber. You can also use pinto beans, kidney beans, or refried beans.
  • Oil: We used olive oil in this recipe, which is used to cook the vegetables.
  • Cumin, chipotle powder, garlic, and cilantro: The seasonings that really bring the flavor to this Mexican-inspired dish.
  • Salt and pepper: Taste test at the end and add more if needed!
  • Flour tortillas: We highly recommend using flour tortillas instead of corn, as corn is usually very stiff and will tear when folded.
  • Lime juice: Drizzle a little lime juice over the top of the quesadilla for a flavor boost at the end!
  • Recommended tools: cast iron skillet or other environmentally-friendly cookware, kitchen knife set, cutting board, colander, saucepan
sweet potatoes, tomato, cilantro, red onion, limes, and a poblano pepper on top of tortillas on a white table

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Make the filling

The first step to making vegan quesadillas is to cook the filling, and in this case that means a mixture of mashed sweet potatoes, black beans, poblano pepper, tomato, onion, and spices.

Prep and mash the sweet potatoes: To make the filling mix, you will boil the peeled and diced sweet potatoes until they are soft but not overcooked and waterlogged, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and then mash them with a potato masher or a large fork (an immersion blender will also work), adding a bit of water if needed until the potatoes are smooth.

a blue colander with drained diced sweet potato on a kitchen counter
First boil the sweet potatoes and then mash until smooth

Cook the vegetables: While the potatoes are boiling, cook a diced poblano pepper, red onion, and tomato in a skillet, adding black beans, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper. When the vegetables have released their water, add them to the sweet potatoes and mix to combine. Do a taste test at this point and add more spices or salt if needed.

a close up photo of the inside of a white pot with mashed sweet potatoes, black beans, and chopped cilantro
Add the black beans, poblanos, onion, tomato, and cilantro and mix

2️⃣ Step Two: Assemble the quesadillas

Now it’s time to make the ‘dillas! Heat a cast iron skillet or other large pan over medium heat with a small amount of oil, then place a medium sized tortilla in the center.

a cast iron skillet on a stovetop with an open tortillas and sweet potatoes and black beans on top
Place the tortillas in the skillet and fill one half with potato mixture

Add a scoop of the potato mixture and spread on one half of the tortilla, then fold over the other half and cook both sides until crispy, about 1-2 minutes a side.

a folded tortilla filled with sweet potato and black beans in a black cast iron skillet on a stovetop
Fold the tortilla over and cook each side until crispy

Finally, remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut with a knife or pizza cutter. Serve with a side of salsa and guacamole and top with a sprinkle of cilantro and lime juice.


❓ Recipe questions + quick tips

What can you use instead of cheese in a quesadilla?

Although quesadillas are traditionally made with cheese, you can make them vegan by leaving the cheese out. Instead of cheese, you can use mashed sweet potatoes, hummus, refried beans, or avocado.

What vegetables go well with quesadillas?

Quesadillas taste great with just about any vegetable mixture. Peppers, corn, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini are some of our favorites. You can also make them with broccoli, cauliflower, and diced potatoes. Any type of bean goes well with quesadillas, including black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and refried beans.

Can you prepare quesadillas in advance?

You can prepare quesadillas in advance. The best way to do this is to make the filling ahead of time, then store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Take it out of the fridge (within 3-5 days) when you have time to assemble the quesadillas. You can also fully assemble quesadillas and store in an airtight container for up to four days in the refrigerator.

a blue plate with a cut vegan quesadilla with a bowl of guacamole and a lime wedge

👉 How to serve

These vegan sweet potato quesadillas are super simple to make and there are so many different ways that you can serve them.

  • As a quick meal. Quesadillas are one of our favorite vegan dinner recipes to make when you're short on time. The tasty savory flavors make them a great meal to eat for lunch or even breakfast, too!
  • Pair with guacamole or salsa. Round out the meal by serving quesadillas with guacamole or salsa! This will add extra flavor, texture, and nutrients to the dish.
  • Add rice and beans. One of the best sides to enjoy with vegan quesadillas is rice and beans! Serving quesadillas with these is as easy as it gets. You can even try them with our Mexican-Style Three Bean Salad.

🧊 How to store

Here are our best suggestions for how to save plant-based quesadillas if you have leftovers:

  1. Refrigerator storage: Store any leftover quesadillas in an airtight container for up to four days in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet for best results, or in microwave (quesadillas will be softer)
  2. Freezer storage: We do not recommend freezing quesadillas as their texture doesn't hold up well when thawed and reheated.

♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips

Trying to improve your green lifestyle? Us too! Here are some eco-friendly tips to get the most out of the ingredients when you make this recipe:

Make vegan quesadillas during sweet potato season: The best time to make vegan sweet potato quesadillas is when sweet potatoes are at the height of their growing season, which is August-December in California.

Save the veggie scraps: Any scraps that you have leftover from chopping and dicing the sweet potato, tomato, pepper, and onion should be set aside. You can use them to make food scrap vegetable broth or, at the very least, toss them in the compost bin.

Use leftover tomato and onion to make salsa: This recipe uses only half a tomato and red onion. You can use what's left of these vegetables to make salsa, pico de gallo, or guacamole to pair with the quesadillas. Try our Pineapple Pico De Gallo!

a plant-based quesadilla on a plate with cut quesadilla pieces on a table with small bowls of guacamole and salsa

More easy plant-based dinner recipes

👉 Check out our favorite simple vegan dinners that are short on time but big on flavor!

🍠 Looking for more recipes with sweet potatoes? Try our Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds or Spicy Sweet Potato Carrot Soup.

Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas (Yamadilla)

Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas, or "yamadillas", are an easy yet flavorful plant-based recipe made with sweet potatoes as a filling instead of cheese. Super simple and only 20 minutes!
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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons oil, divided
  • 1 poblano pepper*, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ½ tomato, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, 15-ounce can
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 whole garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 8 medium flour tortillas
  • 2 whole limes, juiced
  • Optional toppings: fresh salsa, guacamole, chopped cilantro

Instructions 

  • Cook potatoes: Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil and add sweet potatoes, cooking 8-10 minutes or until tender, but not overcooked and waterlogged. Drain, then add the potatoes back to the pot and mash until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed to get a smooth consistency. Set aside.
  • Cook vegetables: In a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat, then add the diced poblano pepper, red onion, and tomato. Cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the black beans, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes until vegetables release their water and beans are warmed, but not mushy.
  • Make filling: Next, mix the vegetable mixture with the mashed sweet potatoes and the chopped cilantro and mix until well combined. Taste test to ensure the flavor is to your liking, adding more cumin, salt, or chipotle powder as needed. Set aside.
  • Cook yamadilla: Reheat the skillet to medium-high with ¼ teaspoon oil, making sure to cover the bottom of the skillet completely with oil. Add a flour tortilla and spread a spoonful of the the potato mixture onto one half of the tortilla.** Fold over the tortilla and cook one each side until crispy, about 2 minutes each side. Repeat using ¼ teaspoon olive oil for all tortillas (oil helps the tortilla become crispy).
  • Garnish + serve: When tortilla is done cooking, remove to a plate. Drizzle with lime juice and serve with fresh salsa, guacamole, and chopped cilantro.

Notes

  • Recipe notes: *Omit or reduce the amount of poblano pepper if you don’t like spice. If omitting, use one bell pepper instead. **Don’t overstuff the tortillas as the mixture will squish out when eating. There may be leftover mixture after, depending on how much you use in each tortilla. This would be great on its own or mixed with rice as a leftover meal. 
  • Tools needed: large saucepan, large frying pan or cast iron skillet, cutting board, knife set
  • Prep ahead: Prepare the potato and vegetable mixture ahead of time for faster meal prep.
  • Leftovers + storage: Store any leftover quesadillas in an airtight container for up to four days in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet for best results, or in microwave (quesadillas will be softer).
  • Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is for one vegan quesadilla without salsa and guacamole.
  • Adapted from: Forks Over Knives

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1quesadilla, Calories: 253kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 278mg, Potassium: 615mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 16323IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 86mg, Iron: 3mg

UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in March 2020 and updated for clarity in September 2021.