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These easy mulitas are essentially quesadillas – but they’re extra, if you know what I mean. Just look at those layers! Make them with leftover birria meat, pork carnitas or even carne asada steak.
Mulitas are one of my favorite ways to use up leftover meat while also treating myself to food that feels like it’s straight out of a Mexican restaurant. Corn tortillas are stuffed with leftover meat, cheese, and refried beans, then fried in olive oil until golden. Once everything is fried, that top layer of crispy tortilla is pulled pack so that you can stuff guacamole and pico de gallo inside the mulita. Finish everything off with some sour cream on top, more guacamole and salsa, plus a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Sounds tasty right? That’s because it is my friend! This recipe has #allthethings.
What is a Mulita? How is it Different from a Quesadilla?
Mulitas are Mexican “sandwich tacos” that are similar to quesadillas. Both of these dishes fill tortillas with cheese, then warm everything on the stove until the cheese has melted. You can make both of them with corn or flour tortillas, as well as add other things like meat, guacamole, sour cream, salsa etc.
The main difference between mulitas and quesadillas is that mulitas are fried in oil, while quesadillas are simply warmed on the grill. They also usually include Oaxaca cheese vs. quesadillas, which can be made with any kind of cheese.
Mulitas are street food and the word “mulitas” literally means “little mules.” This name refers to the way tortillas are stuffed with fillings and then transferred from the street vendor to the consumer. The tortillas carry all the fillings to the consumer just like a mule carries things.
What’s in a Mulita?
One of the best things about mulitas is how easy they are to customize wit your preferred fillings. Here is a quick run down of options! If you scroll down to the recipe card below you’ll also see what I put in the mulitas shown here.
- Meat: Usually mulitas have meat in them, though you could also use cooked tofu. For carnivore options I recommend leftover birria meat, pork carnitas, diced carne asada steak, choliro or cochinita pibil. For a vegetarian option, you could also use tofu that you have leftover from other dishes, or use vegetarian chorizo.
- Cheese: Traditionally a mulita will include Oaxaca cheese, which is a kind of Mexican cheese that melts like mozzarella. If you can’t find Oaxaca cheese, the closest equivalent is Monterey Jack cheese. You can add other kinds of cheese to compliment the Oaxaca, such as cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend.
- Beans: You can use refried beans (frijoles refritos) or frijoles de la olla. You can also use canned refried beans.
- Other fillings: You can get creative here! I have added leftover Mexican rice and vegetarian “dirty” rice to mulitas, for example.
- Toppings & Garnishes: These are stuffed inside the mulita after it has been fried, then also added on top. Guacamole and pico de gallo salsa are favorites, along with fresh, chopped cilantro, sour cream and lime wedges. You can also add pickled red onions!
Adding Some Spice to Canned Beans
You don’t have to do this step, but I like to add some extra spice to canned refried beans for another layer of flavor. Here’s how:
- Empty a 16-oz can of refried beans into a small skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika along with a pinch of kosher salt and a dash of ground black pepper.
- Mix everything up with a spatula or wooden spoon, and heat until the beans are warm.
- Use them in your mulitas!
This extra step takes less than 5 minutes and makes these mulitas even more delicious!
Mulitas have so much to them that they are pretty much a meal in and of themselves. But perhaps you are serving them at a Mexican themed gathering and want to add some other things to compliment the mulitas? In that case, I recommend crispy flautas, tacos dorados or quesabirra tacos.
For drinks, I recommend mango mojitos, frozen strawberry margaritas or pomegranate margaritas. For the kids, a refreshing Roy Rogers drink or an Arnold Palmer drink is always fun!
Can I Store and Reheat Leftovers?
Mulitas are best eaten right after they are made, but if you really must store extras, do so before you add the extra toppings. (So before you add guacamole, salsa, sour cream etc.) Let the mulitas cool, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheat them in an oven at 350F for about 10 minutes. Then proceed to add your garnishes/toppings as usual.Print
This easy mulitas recipe is a great way to use up extra meat and also treat yourself to a super satisfying Mexican dinner!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 mulitas
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover birria meat*
- 8 corn tortillas (2 for each mulita)**
- 1 cup Oaxaca or Monterey jack cheese
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup refried beans, frijoles de la olla with the liquid drained off, or use your preferred brand of canned refried beans
- Olive oil, as needed for frying
- For serving: guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, lime wedges
Line a large plate with paper towels. Set aside.
Warm the oil. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. You will need to do this for each mulita.
Assemble the mulitas. For each mulita, spread 1/8 cup of refried peans on one tortilla. Top with about 1/3 cup of meat. Spread the meat out a bit so that it covers the entire tortilla. Add about 1/4 cup of the oaxaca cheese, 1/8 cup of the cheddar cheese. Top with another tortilla. Brush the top of this tortilla with a bit of olive oil.
Fry the mulitas. Place the mulita in the heated oil with the tortilla that has the beans on it on the bottom. Cook over medium heat until the cheese starts to melt, then carefully flip the stuffed tortillas over with a spatula. Gently press the tortillas down with the back end of the spatula. Keep flipping the stuffed tortillas until the cheese is melted and the edges of the tortillas are golden and crispy.
Drain. Transfer finished mulita to the lined plate to drain while you finish the remaining mulitas. Depending on how large your skillet is, you may be able to do two mulitas at a time.
Serve! Place each mulita on a plate and gently lift the top tortilla. Add guacamole and pico de gallo to the inside to taste. Close and top with a sprinkle of the remaining oaxaca cheese, additional guacamole, pico and sour cream to taste. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
*You can also use pork carnitas or carne asada steak!
**You can also use taco sized flour tortillas. Taco sized tortillas are about 4-5 inches in diameter.
Keywords: mulitas, mulitas de birria, carnitas mulitas, carne asada mulitas