Mexican is one of those all-time classic cuisines that’s internationally adored. Our southern neighbors certainly know how to make easy food taste unbelievably good, and we Americans have taken their cuisine in with open arms and mouths.
Simple and honest meals that suit being picked up and gobbled down, Mexican is comfort food at its best with an emphasis on flavor and bringing the heat.
There are two very different styles of Mexican food here in America. There’s the heavy Tex-Mex style which fuses the southerners’ love of meat and cheese with the flatbread and spice of Mexico.
Now we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with this style of Mexican, but we’re looking to shine a light on the more traditional Mexican meals that really do get served, en mass, in food establishments south of the border.
You know, the real deal pollo asada, pork posole, and huevos rancheros dishes that pack an honest punch and kick in every mouthful. This article is an ode to the roots of Mexican cuisine that just so happened to change the world of food through a serious love of eating and eating well at that.
Grilled corn is a great addition to any party where the coals are hot and the grill is sizzling, but throw a few Mexican-inspired ingredients in the mix, and you have something rather special.
Brush each corn husk with a good layer of olive oil and then grill for 20 minutes until they’ve turned a golden crispy color.
After that, all you got to do is lather each of the husks with a lime and spice-infused cheesy, sour cream mix before serving. This can be served as a side dish to the main event or as a fully-fledged appetizer, the choice is yours.
2. Avocado Dip
This ain’t no standard guac, this is a seriously stacked avocado dip that tastes as it should – spicy and Mexican. With lime, cilantro, jalapenos, and two potent little poblano peppers, this is a powerful avocado recipe that could be the perfect sparring partner with a first course of crunchy totchos.
Don’t waste your time with that run-of-the-mill guacamole recipe you’ve been running, skip the cliché, and give your guests something to sing about even before the stacked enchiladas make an appearance.
Taquitos are a guaranteed home run of an appetizer. What are taquitos you may be asking?
Well, taquitos are basically a mini version of the taco, which makes them an easy, mouth-watering appetizer that everyone can enjoy. Because if people can’t trust an innocent little taco, then what can they trust?
Mix a little sour cream, cheese and spinach through the shredded chicken, roll up the corn tortillas and shallow fry them in some oil to get their outer shell extra crispy and their inside extra gooey.
4. Red Salsa
No Mexican feast is complete without a good portion of salsa that’s cozied up next to a greater portion of corn chips.
This spicy red salsa recipe is super easy to prepare and, considering all the compliments it will bring in, is well worth the extra time spent instead of buying an inferior store-bought salsa. The secret to this salsa is it must be hand-chopped – no exceptions.
By hand chopping it in a rough and ready kind of way, you’re opening up the real possibility for people to bite down on a decent chunk of jalapeno that has some fresh cilantro stuck to it, and that is a pairing that everyone will remark about.
5. Vegan Queso
Ok, so this may not be the most authentic recipe on our list, but by and gosh, it may just be the healthiest. This cashew-based queso is completely vegan and comes gluten-free, paleo, and fits into the Whole30 diet if you’re that way inclined.
Aside from the creamy blended cashews, this dip is also loaded with spices like turmeric, cumin, chili powder, and ground cilantro. The dedication to spice and flavor is instantly noticeable and makes this queso a creamy vegan delight to dip until your heart and belly are content.
Chalupas are a typical bite-size snack down in Puebla, bearing very little resemblance to the oversized variation that Taco Bell has been running. This authentic recipe will walk you through how to make the chalupa shells and what ingredients are best sprinkled on top.
The trick with chalupas is less is more. Don’t overload them – leave room to bite down on the crispy tortilla and really enjoy it for what it is – a simple appetizer to put your appetite on notice.
Cochinita Pibil is a pork lover’s dream that comes direct from the Yucatán Peninsula of southeast Mexico. Yes, you may need to marinate the pork shoulder for 13 hours, and yes, you may need to wrap the pork in actual banana leaves prior to roasting.
However, do these two things and this traditional dish of the Yucatán will leave you and whoever is lucky enough to sample your cochinita in a state of bewilderment.
This dish suits being snacked on in a casual setting just as much as it suits being the center of attention at a lively Cinco de Mayo festivity, the choice is yours.
This is another classic appetizer from the Mexican state of Puebla. Puebla is known for its food, having an endless amount of high-quality, rich dishes to its name, that, for Mexican purists, can quite obviously only originate out of Puebla.
This creamy roasted potato recipe is super simple and that is the point. Peppers, onions, potatoes, and Mexican-style cream are all you need to create this people-pleasing appetizer from scratch in under 30 minutes flat.
Chicken tinga is an essential street food of Mexico that can be bought on just about every corner, the country over. Spicy, shredded chicken wrapped in a corn tortilla. Often in Mexico, this is what you will be served, and always in Mexico, you will walk away satisfied.
This chicken tinga recipe has jazzed up the original recipe by adding avocado, cotija cheese, radish, lettuce, and tomato. However these toppings are optional, so if you want the classic, just skip the colorful stuff and stick to the spiced and shredded chicken – you won’t be displeased.
10. Tetelas Oaxaca
This Oaxacan appetizer is a super easy one to put together and can, quite convincingly, be munched down at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Tetalas are traditional triangle-shaped corn tortillas that have been stuffed with black beans and cooked on a grill.
If you’ve got a griddle at home, this will work almost as well as the grill and is a lot quicker and easier to heat up and get cooking. Serve your tetalas with a Mexican-style cream, crumbled cheese, and a side of salsa to really set the oceanside Oaxacan scene.
Posole is a traditional Mexican brothy stew that’s made with shredded pork, hominy, and red peppers. This rich brothy stew is perfect for warming the bones on a chilly winter’s night at home.
If you’re looking at the ingredients list with a puzzled look as to what hominy is, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Hominy is canned corn kernels that have been through a unique process that gives them a more puffy and meaty texture – perfect for stew. A spicy pork stew that tastes of Mexico and keeps the winter blues away, need we say more?
If you love the flavors and smells of Mexican cooking but don’t so much fancy the carbs that go with it, this salad is for you.
This is a lean and mean skirt steak and avocado salad that’s packed full of protein and takes no more than 20 minutes to put together. This will suit anyone who loves food that tastes like real food but is also trying to be healthy.
Sure, you could find a lighter salad than this one. But if you actually want to be full from lunch and power through your afternoon of work, then this simple Mexican salad will quickly become part of your weekly food plan – trust us on that one.
Yes, there’s a lot of meat-centric meals in Mexican cuisine, but there are also just as many delicious vegetarian and vegan alternatives too. These black bean, corn, and spinach enchiladas are another 20-minute meal that’s ideal as a quick lunch on the run, or as a hearty veggie dinner for two.
The recipe makes four enchiladas with a total of 484 calories per serving. Light yet filling, these bean enchiladas aren’t overly spiced either, which means they are likely to be enjoyed by children and anyone else who’s not overly enamored by spice.
14. Chiles En Nogada
Chiles En Nogada is a festive Mexican dish that proudly represents the green, red, and white of the Mexican flag. This recipe is based on a timeless family recipe from Yuriria in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato.
Dating back to the 1950s, the recipe is a multigenerational secret that has recently been let slip for anyone with a passion for Mexican cooking to try.
The dish features large meat-filled poblano chiles that are swimming in nogada (a walnut cream sauce). Garnished with the vibrant red of pomegranate and deep green of parsley, the dish almost jumps up off the plate and straight into the “Jarabe Tapatío” (the national dance of Mexico).
Is there anything more daring than starting your day with a stacked refried bean burrito? A delicious and defiant act that fills the belly and sets your day straight (no health kicks found here).
This morning burrito is loaded with refried beans, homemade salsa verde, scrambled egg, and the ingredient that no burrito is complete without – cheese. Make up a big batch of the pungent, zesty salsa, and fill your boots all week long with the stuff.
Not one for the faint of stomach, this classic Mexican soup is filled with tripe, chorizo, and ham for a very acquired but ultimately delicious taste. During the Spanish rule of Mexico, the city of Veracruz was one of Spain’s main ports, and this soup is heavily influenced by this connection.
Similar to the Spanish soup “Callos a la Madrileña”, the Mexican version uses a dried chili pepper known as “Ancho chile” for color, instead of paprika and saffron. It is a meaty soup with a big heart and a long history that makes good use of the whole pig, stomach, and all.
17. Pollo Asada
The poultry version of the classic Mexican dish “Carne Asada”, Pollo Asada is, simply put, grilled chicken at its best. All you have to do is marinate your chicken pieces in olive oil, garlic, onion, orange, lemon, and lime juice, with a few spices for seasoning for a minimum of two hours.
Once your chicken has had time to soak up the bitey marinade, chuck it on your broiler for 25 or so minutes until the chicken is cooked through and its skin is crisped golden.
Serve this authentic chicken with a few of the sides and dips further up this list to really get into the swing of Mexican cuisine.
18. Tacos Al Pastor
Slow-cooked and marinated pork and pineapple tacos are the kinds of tacos that we can get on board with. The homemade achiote paste that turns into your marinade may take a bit of time to get right the first time you make it.
However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to call upon this delicious pork taco recipe to impress your family and friends whenever taco night is calling.
19. Huevos Rancheros
Probably the most widely-eaten Mexican breakfast dish, Huevos Rancheros is a hearty morning meal to fuel the body for a long day of work or play.
Translating to “Rancher’s Eggs”, this is a humble dish that has been feeding the Mexican people and especially hard-working ranchers and farm hands for many, many years.
This recipe is a traditional one that dates back to the 1950s when it started gaining traction as a legitimately tasty late morning breakfast – long before brunch was cool.
Refried beans, sunny-side-up eggs, tortilla, and a large pile of salsa are all you need for an authentic Huevos Rancheros – none of the fancy after-market garnishings are needed for this one.
When it comes to Mexican food, sometimes not overcooking or thinking things is the best policy. This simple shrimp taco recipe can be confidently made in 15 minutes and requires no prior planning or marinating.
It does require a decent-sized skillet (preferably 12 inches), to give the deviled shrimp some space to fry. If you’re a pescatarian who’s looking to get some protein in and wants a simple and honest taco recipe that scores fairly well on the carb front, this is it.
21. Crab Empanadas
Sticking with the sea-fairing theme, crab empanadas are regularly served at beachside bars and restaurants up and down the east coast of Mexico. Empanadas are a great midday snack that can be picked up, dipped in sauce, and munched down without a piece of cutlery in sight.
If crab isn’t your thing, then swap it out for shrimp or your favorite fish to personalize your seafood empanada experience. Make enough of them and they can quite easily turn into a main course for a Mexican-inspired dinner party with a few easy side dishes in accompaniment.
22. Caramel Flan
Because of its Spanish influence, flan is a hugely popular dessert in both backstreet eateries and fine dining restaurants in the heart of Mexico City. Although it may not scream Mexican cuisine straight away, the rich sweetness of its caramel can help to soothe the palate after a spice-heavy meal.
The beauty of flan is that even though it can be a daunting undertaking, it is actually much easier to make than chefs let on, and you’ll already have most of its ingredients in your kitchen ready to whisk and go-go.
23. Mexican Churros
Churros are another delicious delicacy that made their way across the Atlantic in colonial times. Traditionally a Spanish and Portuguese dessert, churros are now one of the most popular desserts in all of Mexico.
And do you know what the best thing about churros are? You can, without too much judgment, buy and enjoy a cone of them at any time of the day.
Churros are streetfood at their best – warm, sweet, and packaged in a way that makes walking and eating not just doable but pleasurable. Give this classic churro recipe a try at home and get inspired to set up your own churro stall at your local food market, they’re that good!
As the namesake gives away, these cookies are typically served at Mexican weddings. However, you certainly don’t need to be invited to an authentic Mexican wedding to be munching these delightful little rolled cookies down.
With this traditional recipe, you can make your own at home. And, if you show self-control, you can quite conceivably reap their sweet rewards every day of the week, one ball at a time, good luck!
If you haven’t quite got your empanada fix just yet, then this sweet empanada recipe will surely do the trick. While empanadas are known more as a savory dish, with the right ingredients, their crispy outer shell can offer the perfect backdrop to a deliciously sweet filling.
This recipe makes a whole stack of pineapple empanadas to keep the family happy as they snack their little hearts out while watching an after-dinner movie.
Knowing the importance of corn within Mexican culture, it makes a lot of sense that they would figure out how to make corn taste delicious as a dessert too, now doesn’t it?
The Mexican corn cake is a sweet, after-dinner treat that a lot of Mexicans grow up eating and loving. Using not one, not two, but three different corn products, if you aren’t someone who likes corn, then maybe it’s best you skip this recipe and head straight for the churros.
If you do like corn, then you really must try these sweet and buttery corn cakes as they will highlight just how versatile and delicious corn can be.
Horchata is for anyone who prefers their dessert to come in drink form. No list of authentic Mexican recipes would be complete without a traditional Horchata recipe slipped in there.
Yes, we did wait until the bitter end to include it, but don’t think that means we aren’t head over heels about this creamy sweet drink.
The two flavors that come through strongest in real Horchata are vanilla and cinnamon, which can be put down to the real vanilla and cinnamon sticks that are used to make it taste genuine.
Choose something a little bit different next time you’re scratching your head about dessert and watch as your homemade Horchata gets slurped down at record speeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mexican cuisine known for?
The three staple ingredients of Mexican cuisine are corn, beans, and chillis. A lot of Mexican cuisine is, therefore, humble food that doesn’t require too much time or money spent on it.
Of course, it is also known for its meat, with some insanely good slow-cooked pork, chicken, beef, and seafood dishes to its name too. It is fresh, colorful, and lively food that is loved the world over for being full of character and flavor.
What is the most eaten food in Mexico?
The base ingredient of the tortilla, corn is without a doubt the most consumed food in Mexico. Tortilla comes in all shapes and sizes, from mini taquitos, tacos, fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, the list of classic Mexican dishes that come wrapped in a corn tortilla is somewhat endless.
Corn isn’t just used for tortillas either, being a big feature in fillings, toppings, and desserts, or just grilled and eaten straight off the cob. Whichever way you’re eating it – corn is Mexico.
What is the most popular Mexican food in America?
Depending on who you ask and where you ask it, you’re likely to get a different response from this question almost every time. However, surveys don’t lie and it has been proven that fajitas are the most consumed Mexican dish in America.
Being a big player down in the Tex-Mex food scene, fajitas are a staple on every Mexican menu, and we just can’t get enough of them. Tacos are definitely next in line and are probably the most consumed Mexican food of California, which has a world-famous Mexican street food scene.
Mexico is a large and unusually long country, stretching some 1,800 miles from its northwest to southeast tip. Its unique geographical location means that Mexico has many climates that can grow a wide variety of food types.
Its energetic cuisine has been able to flourish from this, with tropical growing seasons in the south and a more temperate climate in the north.
This delicious list of the best Mexican recipes found online strived to pay homage to the amazing Mexican people, their iconic culture, and their heavenly food. By showcasing a variety of dishes that, once put together, do a pretty good job at highlighting just how special Mexican cuisine can be.
So whether you were looking for a simple salad to kickstart your week the Mexican way. Or, if you were looking to bring the heat to a Cinco de Mayo, three-course Mexican feast, we hope you managed to find some inspiration from the recipes above.
The only thing left to say is adiós and buena suerte (goodbye and goodluck)!