Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in the USA and is fast gaining popularity the world over. This is largely attributed to the presence of fresh, tangy, and zingy ingredients throughout Mexican cuisine.
There are records dating back to 500BC methods for tortilla production and so it’s fair to say that there is not much that Mexicans do not know about corn. Used as a base for many of the carbohydrates used in dishes- from softshell to hardshell tacos, tortillas, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos.
Pair this superfood staple with the fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood available in Mexico, you can only expect the best culinary results.
If you are not in Mexico, you can access most of the ingredients from specialty grocers or from the exotic food aisles in supermarkets. Although, these days where is Taco Tuesday not a thing?
We cannot get enough Mexican-themed food and that is why this list that we have put together includes 40 of the best classical dishes such as authentic carnitas, carne asada, and Elote as well as some adaptations and using of the core ingredients in Mexican cooking to make unique Mexican-inspired dishes.
The first recipe that makes it onto our top 40 list is a Mexican favorite- Barbacoa-Style Pork. Here pork shoulder (or butt) roast is braised slowly for hours in chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and flavored with stock, vinegar, and spices including bay, cumin, cloves, and oregano.
It is then served with lashings of lime juice and fresh cilantro. This tender and flavorful meat dish can be used to create burrito bowls, fill tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas- you name it; this meat can be added to it.
What is great about it is that it is also such a low effort to make.
Another classic and family favorite- this recipe uses flank steak as the protein in the fajitas which is marinated in a combination of Fajita seasoning (look forward to smoked paprika, onion, and garlic powder, and lots of chilies), lime juice, fresh cilantro, and some other core Mexican ingredients, for between 2-8 hours- achieving the most tender steak strips.
Fajitas are a great addition to dinner parties as you can get fun and interactive by doing a “build-your-own-fajita”. The steak is best served with pico de gallo (tomato salsa), cooked bell peppers, tortillas, tostadas, guacamole, and rice.
Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos
The next recipe on our list is chili lime tacos paired with sweet and tangy mango salsa. The combination of the creamy, rich shrimp, the heat of the chili, and the zing of the lime pair fantastically with the sweetness of the mango making you want to eat more and more.
They are also quick and easy to make so should be added to your weekly staples. For extra heat, drizzle over your favorite hot sauce when serving!
Looking for a hearty breakfast meal? Look no further than with this Mexican-inspired breakfast burrito recipe. Stuffed to the brim with scrambled eggs, chorizo, potatoes, pico de gallo, avocado, and Mexican cheese, these are honestly good to eat any time of day as they are quick to make and satiating to eat.
They are versatile and the ingredients can be changed up a bit- for example using ham or bacon instead of chorizo, using refried beans or kidney beans instead of potato or even making use of yams- the possibilities are endless and will be endless yum too!
Looking for an emergency meal for when your friends pop over for an unexpected visit? If so, this taco skillet recipe has got you covered. It only takes 30 minutes to make, is packed full of veggies, and is super cheesy and gooey making you want to reach for more.
The nature of this dish also ensures versatility and so you do not have to stick to the veggies and protein in the recipe. This is a one-pot wonder to die for!
Pulled Chicken Burrito
Whether you are doing it the long way by cooking and shredding chicken yourself or using store-bought pre cooked shredded chicken, this recipe is still super easy to make and will be loved and enjoyed by the whole family.
Accompanied by salsa, trusty guacamole, sauteed peppers, and pinto beans, they are a filling and delicious mid-week alternative.
Grilled Chicken Street Tacos
The flavors in this taco dish will transport you straight to a street food stall in Mexico without actually having to go to Mexico at all.
It is also a pretty low-effort meal; all you have to do is marinate the chicken in some quintessential Mexican ingredients for a few hours, you then grill the chicken and place it into tacos along with any toppings you desire. For the toppings, it is recommended to keep it simple by using fresh red onion, cilantro, avocado, and lime.
Carnitas or Mexican pulled pork is possibly the most popular and sought-after Mexican dish. It is also an easy-to-make family favorite and an absolute classic. The boneless pork roast is slow cooked on a low heat in delicious Mexican flavors until tender.
The pork is then pulled apart and broiled until crispy on the outside. Like the Barbacoa pork, it is extremely versatile and can be used in almost any way, and is an obvious addition to your playbook.
This next recipe on our list is tacos with steak and Chimichurri sauce. A Chimichurri sauce is a vibrant mixture of parsley, chili flakes (fresh and dried), garlic, oregano, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil which you can easily make from scratch and it does not even require a food processor (although it helps!).
The steak is cooked until medium rare and placed on top of tortillas that have been lightly toasted to give off a smokey flavor and can be topped with any toppings of your choice.
What would Mexican cuisine be without the classic Carne Asada? Well, just a little less bright in our opinion. This dish is full of flavor and is only made up of a handful of simple, fresh ingredients. It involves making a marinade featuring cilantro, olive oil, soy sauce, orange and lime juice, jalapenos, cumin, and garlic.
The flank steak is then marinated in half of the marinade for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) and then grilled until the desired doneness. The cooked and rested steak is then served with the rest of the marinade and can be served with any staple carbohydrate or side salad.
Elote (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)
Man oh man, this is sweetcorn or another level. Elote is juicy corn on-the-cob snack to go sold by street vendors all over Mexico. In this dish, the corn is char-grilled and covered in a creamy, tangy sauce made up mostly of mayonnaise and sour cream.
The covered corn is then coated in a mixture of cotija cheese and cilantro mixture and finished off with chipotle powder sprinkled over the top. The next time you attend a barbeque, pull this dish out of your sleeve and wow everyone- they will be thankful for your efforts.
Easy Taco Bowl
Bowls are an effective way to incorporate nutrient-dense foods and ingredients into one meal. The concept can be adapted and made vegan for example, by using tofu instead of ground beef, cutting out the cheese, and swapping out the black beans for other legumes of your choice.
In this recipe, we have spiced ground beef paired with sweetcorn, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, rice, and black beans. It is a satiating and delicious mid-week hero to try out and adapt to your liking.
Although a lot more effort than most of the recipes featured on this list, tamales are an absolute show-stopper. If making these babies seems overly intimidating for you, we have a step-by-step recipe to follow which makes it child’s play.
Tamales are basically dried corn husks that are soaked, then masa (a corn-based dough) is spread over the top and then a filling is placed on top of the dough. These are then wrapped up into a little burrito and tied together and steamed until cooked.
The filling is easily customizable to your preference or dietary preferences and the tamales themselves are freezable so you can make a huge batch and store some for a later date.
Embodied with bold Mexican flavors, this comforting soup consists of beef and rice meatballs cooked with a mixture of potatoes, carrots, and zucchini in a rich tomato-based broth.
It is a recipe that will become a family staple in no time and is dead easy to make the rice and beef meatballs are super light and tender they pair perfectly with the rich broth.
Gooey, cheesy, and chickeny are words that come to mind when describing this dish. This quick and straightforward recipe is basically chicken fajitas with an extra tortilla on top toasted together.
Quesadillas can be served with any accompaniment but favorites are pico de gallo and the famed guacamole which is something that even children will enjoy!
Margarita Grilled Chicken
Time to jazz up your average grilled chicken dinner. This Chili’s restaurant copy involves the rubbing of the chicken breasts in taco seasoning and olive oil which gets baked and then covered with toppings of salsa, corn, black beans, and plenty of cheese.
These then get grilled and served on a bed of rice and fresh pico de gallo. Yum!
This integral part of the Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa can also work well with other types of tacos or over-backed fish or chicken.
It is dead easy to make and is best made when mango is in season- the summer months- to get the best sweetness to go with the savory flavors presented in the salsa and the dishes the salsa is served with..
Pico de Gallo
This Mexican cuisine staple is easily found in the supermarkets but making your own is just as fast and easy and will have extra flavor.
This condiment is so versatile and can be used in many Mexican dishes as discovered above but is also great as a standalone dip that can be enjoyed with crisp tortilla chips.
Crispy fried tortillas stuffed with tender shredded chicken, Mexican flavors, and lots of different cheeses, this is a no-brainer addition to our list. Considered a Tex-Mex dish, they are easy to put together and you can stylize the fillings with anything you like.
If you are not a fan of frying the Chimichangas in oil, you can always bake or air-fry them instead!
This loaded soup consists of a tomato and pepper base-broth that is topped with all the ingredients you would normally use to fashion a taco together- ground beef, corn, beans, cheese, guacamole, sour cream; you name it.
The toppings used in the soup are variable and can be made according to your dietary preferences quite easily.
Originating from the beautiful country that is Peru, ceviche is a dish that is made from raw fish or shrimp which is marinated in citrus juice. The acidity levels of the citrus used (usually lemon or lime) cure the fish and is served as an appetizer.
This shrimp ceviche recipe takes no more than 10 minutes to make combining the cured shrimp with avocado, tomato, cilantro, and red onion, and can be served over tostadas or as a dip for tortilla chips.
With this dish, the secret to its success lies within the marinade. The marinade is similar to that of the marinade in the Carne Asada recipe with the addition of achiote powder, smoked paprika, and the omission of soy sauce.
The achiote powder gives the main kick of flavor and a beautiful red color which is imparted to the chicken. The longer the marination time, the better the chicken is.
This beautiful, smokey, and juicy grilled chicken can be served with rice, refried beans, guacamole, or in tacos.
Mexican Street Tacos
What is the difference between these street tacos and regular tacos? Well, everything happens a lot quicker on the street. The marination time for the skirt steak in this recipe only takes about an hour and all ingredients are cooked in a flash.
The tortillas are also charred to get a smokey flavor and when served with the meat and fresh chopped onion and cilantro, you won’t regret your decision to make these for your meal at all!
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Using two of the most vibrant ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and complete with crispy, sticky skin and juicy tenderness inside, this is a midweek must-cook.
The chicken thighs marinate in no time and all you have to do is make up the marinade, cover the thighs with it and oven bake until done. Because it is so flavorful, it can be served with a side of steamed rice to be fully appreciated.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Hollowed out and filled to the brim with ground beef, onions, bell peppers, and classic Mexican spices, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven, these stuffed Poblano Peppers are healthy and hearty meal ready to eat pretty much all day every day.
Basically just toasted or deep-fried tortillas, tostadas make the crunch base for all manner of Mexican toppings- think refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, cheese, avocado, guacamole, chimichurri, and pico de gallo all on top of this crunchy and totally moreish tortilla.
Tostadas can be served with just about any of the Mexican recipes detailed in this list and is an asset to your repertoire.
A ground beef classic resembling that of a ground beef ragu. It is a popular dish that is served in one variation or another across Latin America. Some versions of this dish include ingredients like raisins or olives in the mixture.
What makes this dish quintessentially Mexican is the use of chipotle and other peppers to give it a kick of flavor. It is inexpensive as its featured ingredients, other than the beef, are: potatoes, carrots, and pea.
This recipe is so versatile and can be served with eggs as a part of breakfast or in a breakfast burrito or even with tacos or tostadas. This recipe can be frozen and therefore you can make a large batch and use it for up to six months making it an ideal dish for large families.
The biggest hurdle in achieving a perfect enchilada dish is the creation of a great sauce. Once this is done, everything else is easy to put together.
The sauce is tomato-based, flavored with all your usual suspects that make Mexican cuisine great plus the extra addition of cocoa powder gives an earthy and rich flavor to the sauce.
For protein, anything from shredded chicken, ground beef, or pork can be used and even extra beans or tofu or other vegan alternatives are suitable to use as this sauce goes with pretty much everything. This chicken enchilada recipe is restaurant quality at home!
Camarones a la Diabla
Spicy deviled shrimp is a Mexican staple that is a guaranteed winner amongst the spice lovers out there. The juicy shrimp are cooked in a bright and spicy red chili pepper sauce that focuses on using a combination of rehydrated guajillo and chile de Arbol peppers as well as juicy, ripe Roma tomatoes.
This can be served as an appetizer with tostadas or tortilla chips or as a main with rice.
Chili Verde is an authentic and traditional pork stew that is slow-cooked until the pork is melt-in-your-mouth tender and falling apart. The sauce that goes in the stew is made from iconic tomatillos, onions, garlic, poblano, and jalapeno peppers.
It is often served with fresh limes, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, cheese, and crunchy veg such as radish. If you are pressed for time, swap home-made chili Verde for a store-bought salsa verde
Originating from the time of the Aztecs, you cannot get more authentic Mexican meals. It is a hearty, wholesome bowl of broth that features slow-cooked pork shoulder or butt roast, a range of guajillo and ancho chilies, tomato sauce, and lots of chicken stock as well hominy which is alkali-treated corn kernels.
What is great about this dish, other than it being relatively low effort, is that it is topped with all kinds of fresh, crunchy vegetables such as cabbage and radish to counterbalance the richness of the soup.
Queso Fundido with Chorizo
Looking for a quick and easy dip to serve up at your next dinner party? Well, look no further than Queso Fundido with Chorizo. It is quite literally melted cheese placed on top of a dish of pico de gallo, topped with chorizo.
The key to this dip is in the melting- beer is added to a saucepan and simmered for a few minutes, to which the cheese mixture is added a little bit at a time to ensure it is well blended and smooth. The dip is usually served with tortilla chips.
These cheese-stuffed, egg-battered, roasted poblano peppers fried to a golden brown color, are great bar snacks and go well with Mexican beer but can be easily made from the comfort of your own kitchen. They are sometimes served with red or green salsa or can be wrapped in a tortilla with refried beans to make burritos.
Mole Chicken Tacos
Mole sauce is a traditional Mexican sauce used in many dishes that usually takes days and a bucket load of ingredients to get the right combination of flavors.
The mole used to marinate the chicken in this recipe takes but 20 minutes to create with all the flavor notes of a good mole: nuttiness, chocolatey notes, a slight sweetness, and an overall rich sauce. It features ingredients such as jalapeno, almond butter, cocoa powder, and your usual Mexican spice additions.
The mole is then mixed in with the shredded chicken and served on tacos with any toppings you desire.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
For those busy weeknights, this sheet pan alternative to chicken fajitas takes no time to make and means less washing up after the fact. It is also a dish that even kids will eat so it is really a perfect, Mexican-inspired lazy dinner for those crazy days.
It also makes use of very few ingredients and the veggies can be swapped out for other alternatives; depending on what you have in the fridge, of course.
Carne Asada Nachos
Next on the list is an appetizer to die for. Carne Asada Nachos- also known as loaded nachos is another one-tray-wonder of a dish that makes for easy sharing between friends and family.
Tortilla chips are placed in a sheet pan, topped with Carne Asada (see recipe above) and sharp cheddar cheese, and baked until the cheese is gooey. This is then loaded with toppings of your choice and served with a huge side of guacamole.
The ultimate Mexican breakfast/ brunch dish. This recipe starts off with a base of fried tortillas, fried eggs, beans, avocado, pico de gallo, cilantro, and Ranchero Salsa. Ranchero sauce is an onion and tomato sauce that is seasoned with jalapenos and chipotle peppers.
Other toppings can include Mexican Crema and cotija cheese. This recipe is super quick to whip up and you have of course the option to purchase the pico de gallo and salsa from the store to save even more time and effort.
Salsa Taquera (Chili de Árbol Salsa)
Mexico is famed for its range of chili peppers that are used in the cuisine and so it comes as no surprise that Mexican food lovers like it hot.
If you are one of those die-hard spice fans, this traditional Salsa Taqueria (salsa for tacos) is an ideal addition to any of the Mexican dishes you may cook. Featuring the red-hot Arbol chilies, which are five times as hot as your average jalapeno pepper, as the star, the salsa is made by blending the chilies with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and a hint of lime.
Super quick and easy to make and will up your taco game from lukewarm to flaming hot!
Birra is a classic dish that is traditionally made with goat or lamb meat but can also be made with pork or beef (like this recipe) and consists of braised chuck roast in a mix of dried chilies and herbs and spices.
The braised meat is then shredded, and stuffed into a corn tortilla and this is then dipped in a Birra-broth which is the liquid the meat was cooked in, and deep-fried until the tortillas are crisp and golden and then dunked in broth again while eating.
The Birra tacos can be served with any toppings such as pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, and lime to add another layer of flavor.
Last on the list is an admittedly Spanish-origin dessert but is too good to exclude from this list and the Spanish influence on Mexican cuisine is obvious throughout- from its use of spice to subtleties in the preparation of ingredients.
This custard-style dessert topped with a caramel sauce is rich and creamy and a great finish to any one of the above dishes.