When Cinco de Mayo rolls around, the urge strikes to break out the chips and salsa. After all, the American love affair with Mexican food goes back many, many decades and it’s still going strong.
Think of Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity to explore Mexican culture and cuisine. The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, in which a far outnumbered Mexican army defeated French forces on May 5, 1862. It, contrary to popular understanding, is not Mexican Independence Day.
- If you want to learn more about modern Mexican cooking check out our guide here.
- Read our interview with the world renowned chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Gabriele Cámara.
The recipes we’re sharing here are some of our favorites, whether you’re having a weeknight family dinner or a casual party.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
A fun project, and not nearly as hard as you might think! In the mood for flour tortillas? We have a recipe for those, too.
Corn tortillas for the win! A good tostada stands up against any number of more involved dinners and takes just minutes to assemble. Top this version with avocado, tomato, lettuce, refried beans, and cheese.
How to Make the Best Guacamole
This "can't-eat-just-one-dab" guacamole recipe made with ripe avocados can accompany many of your Cinco de Mayo dishes. Or, just serve with tortilla chips.
A perennial favorite when eating out, carne asada is easy to make at home. Marinated and grilled skirt steak is thinly sliced and served with warm tortillas, avocados, and pico de gallo.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
Instant Pot Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)
Normally, making carnitas is an hours-long affair. Here, you let a dry rub sit on the meat for up to an hour before searing, then let the pressure cooker do its magic. The result? Succulent, flavorful pork.
Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
Just right for a family meal. Use tomatillos to make your own salsa verde or save time and use jarred sauce (about 2 cups should do it).
Pozole Rojo (Mexican Pork and Hominy Stew)
Start with dried chiles and puree them for an earthy, deeply flavored stew studded with pozole (hominy) and tender chunks of pork. Perfect for making a day ahead.
Once you make your own refried beans, you’ll never think of canned ones the same again. These freeze well, too!Continue to 9 of 25 below.
If you need a side for your tacos or enchiladas, Spanish rice made with chicken stock does the trick. Or, use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian.
Baked Chicken Taquitos
Cook your own chicken or use store-bought rotisserie chicken in these family-pleasing taquitos. Leftovers freeze well.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Meaty roasted sweet potatoes and protein-packed black beans fill warm tortillas for a hearty meal. Top with avocado slices, salsa verde, and cilantro.
Sear flavorful, marinated chicken in a skillet then sauté onions and colorful bell peppers in the same pan for fajitas. Serve in warm flour tortillas.Continue to 13 of 25 below.
Crispy Fish Tacos With Red Cabbage Slaw
Take your Cinco de Mayo tacos up a notch with this crispy fish version with a pile of sweet and sour red cabbage slaw on top. They're satisfyingly crunchy.
Vegetarian Banana Leaf Tamales
Vegetable-packed tamales made with prepared tamale masa and homemade red chile sauce are a bit of work, but they freeze well, so make a lot at once since you're doing the work.
Mexican chilaquiles are a great way to use up leftover corn tortillas. Simmer in sauce and top with eggs or beans. Breakfast is ready!
Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
This Mexican street food staple is slathered with a crema and mayo sauce then sprinkled with cotija cheese and optional chipotle pepper. Yum!Continue to 17 of 25 below.
Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa)
A scoop of pico de gallo makes most anything come alive, from tacos to tostados.
Sopa Seca de Fideo with Tomatillos
If you’re looking for a wonderful Mexican side dish, look no further than this recipe made with thin noodles cooked in broth and tomatillo sauce. It takes about an hour but it’s worth every minute.
Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Add a little zip to any of your favorite Mexican recipes with this homemade red chile sauce made with dried Ancho chiles. Use with tamales, enchiladas, and more!
Enfrijoladas with Black Beans, Avocado and Cotija
Corn tortillas are dipped in a black bean sauce, folded in half, and then topped with cheese, sliced avocado, and cilantro. It’s healthy, filling, and deeply satisfying.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
Variations of this rice-based drink are common in many Latin American cultures. Made from rice and cinnamon, horchata is light and refreshing on hot days. Drink it as-is or add a little of your favorite alcohol. Whip up a batch and keep it ice cold in the fridge to enjoy all week long.
Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)
Use dried hibiscus blossoms (look in the Latin food aisle, or order online) to make this stunningly tart, ruby-hued agua fresca.
Just three simple ingredients—tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice—go into these classic cocktails, so use a quality tequila. Salted rim is optional.
Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches is at once light and deceptively rich. Be careful, it’s easy to inhale a slice in seconds! A sponge cake soaks up a milk syrup, and it’s all topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.Continue to 25 of 25 below.
Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
Our smooth, custard-based chocolate ice cream gets spiced up with cinnamon and a little cayenne.