24 Recipes for a Festive Cinco de Mayo Menu

Everything You'll Need for a Fun and Festive Cinco de Mayo Meal

Corn, Green Chile, and Cheese Tamales

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that commemorates the Mexican army's victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Although a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, the day is a popular celebration in the United States. And what better way to celebrate than to eat delicious Mexican food? We've gathered a variety of tasty dishes that are sure to be popular at your Cinco de Mayo gathering. From tacos and enchiladas to guacamole and pozole, you really can't go wrong. Just don't forget the margaritas.

  • 01 of 24

    Crispy Homemade Tortilla Chips

    Crispy homemade tortilla chips recipe

    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

    Making your own tortillas is really easy and fun, and besides, nothing you buy in a bag can compare with fresh, warm, crispy tortilla chips that you made with your own hands. All you need are corn tortillas, salt, and oil. (You can also make your own corn tortillas.

  • 02 of 24

    Easy 30-Minute Mexican Enchiladas

    Easy 30-Minute Mexican Enchiladas

     The Spruce

    Ready in a mere 30 minutes and with just a handful of ingredients, these enchiladas are infinitely customizable. Have some leftover shredded chicken, pork, or beef? Throw it in. Or for a vegetarian option, add sliced, sautéed peppers and onions or mushrooms. There's a green version, too.

  • 03 of 24

    Carne Asada Tacos

    Carne Asada Tacos

     The Spruce

    Carne asada is a simple, marinated beef dish that's bursting with flavor. It makes the ultimate filling for a taco, especially when topped with a sprinkle of onions and fresh salsa. If you've got an Instant Pot, you can use it to make carne asada as well.

  • 04 of 24

    Best Guacamole

    Simple guacamole recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The word "guacamole" comes from Nahuatl (the language spoken by the ancient Aztecs and still very much alive in Mexico today) and translates loosely as "avocado sauce." There are as many versions of guacamole as there are cooks—from simple mixtures to more elaborate with spices, chiles, and fresh veggies.

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  • 05 of 24

    Pozole de Pollo (Chicken Pozole)

    Chicken Pozole recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Pozole is a popular Mexican comfort food and for good reason. It's a warm and hearty soup traditionally made with pork and hominy, a chewy kind of plumped dried corn. Made with chicken, this recipe offers variations for green and red pozole.

  • 06 of 24

    Birria

    Mexican Birria

     The Spruce

    Birria is a labor of love, but it's not hard to make, and it's worth the time spent. It is traditionally made with goat meat, which can be hard to find, so you can substitute pork or beef instead. Start your birria the day before you plan to eat it so that the meat can marinate overnight for the best flavor.

  • 07 of 24

    Mini Chipotle Chicken Taquitos

    Mini Chipotle Chicken Taquitos

     Leah Maroney

    For a crowd-pleasing appetizer, make mini chipotle chicken taquitos. The crunchy, handheld roll-ups are extra tasty when dipped into guacamole and sour cream.

  • 08 of 24

    Refried Beans

    Refried Beans

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

    A classic Mexican side dish, refried beans go great with just about everything. The idea is pretty simple. You take cooked pinto beans, add flavor, fat, and liquid, then mash them to your desired consistency. Serve them as a simple side dish or incorporate them into burritos, nachos, huaraches, layered dipspupusas, and casseroles. 

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  • 09 of 24

    Taco Sauce

    Homemade taco sauce

     The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    This easy taco sauce recipe can become the springboard for hundreds of Mexican dishes. It starts with tomato sauce and canned green chiles cooked with spices. The heat level from the jalapeños is entirely up to you.

  • 10 of 24

    Easy and Delicious Queso Dip

    Easy and Delicious Queso Dip

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    For an appetizer that's sure to be a hit, make homemade queso blanco dip and serve with crisp tortilla chips. Melted white cheeses and a spiced white sauce are combined to make a creamy, gooey dip that's also great on nachos.

  • 11 of 24

    Instant Pot Carnitas

    Instant Pot carnitas in flour tortillas.
    Diana Rattray

    In Spanish, carnitas means cooked shredded pork often served in tacos. While traditional recipes require a low and slow cooking method, this Instant Pot version is much quicker, resulting in a flavorful meat that works perfectly in a soft taco topped with homemade pickled onions.

  • 12 of 24

    Tres Leches Pastel

    Tres Leches Pastel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Tres leches translates to three milks, and this ultra-moist cake has all three. Sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream combine in a soaking sauce that gives this classic style of tres leches cake a dense, extremely moist texture, more akin to custard than traditional light and fluffy cake.

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  • 13 of 24

    Mexican Enchiladas

    Enchiladas

    Leah Maroney

    This recipe shows you how to make authentic Mexican enchiladas with your choice of filling, whether it's meat, sautéed veggies, cheese, or a combination. You can make your own enchilada sauce or use store-bought for a quick meal.

  • 14 of 24

    Chiles Rellenos (Stuffed Mexican Peppers)

    Mexican Chili relleno
    Lynne Mitchell / Getty Images

    Deep-fried and stuffed with cheese, no one will be able to resist chiles rellenos. Make them fresh so they're nice and crispy and the cheese is salty and melty. Add a dollop of refried beans or shredded meat to your peppers if desired.

  • 15 of 24

    Corn, Green Chile, and Cheese Tamales

    Corn, Green Chile, and Cheese Tamales

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    If you want to impress a Cinco de Mayo crowd, it doesn't get much better than homemade tamales. They take some time and planning, but they're fun to make and worth every minute. Although most have meat in them (pork, chicken, or a combination) this recipe offers a vegetarian option if you replace lard with vegetable shortening, and use water instead of chicken broth.

  • 16 of 24

    Instant Pot Barbacoa

    Barbacoa tacos with fixings.
    Diana Rattray

    Beef barbacoa is a braised meat dish that's tender, flavorful, and an ideal filling for tacos and burritos. Cooking it in the pressure cooker makes it much quicker and easier while still producing delicious results. Try it on nachos, too.

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  • 17 of 24

    Easy Mexican Mole Sauce

    Flavorful Mexican Mole Sauce

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Mole is a complex, creamy sauce made from a long list of ingredients including chiles, aromatics, nuts, dried fruit, and spices. This simplified recipe still delivers on flavor, and it's perfect spooned on top of chicken.

  • 18 of 24

    Mexican Brownies

    Mexican Brownies

     Leah Maroney

    Adding a little cinnamon and cayenne pepper to gooey, chocolatey brownies adds just the right amount of spice. If you're short on time, use a boxed mix and add the spices before mixing.

  • 19 of 24

    Tacos al Pastor

    Tacos al Pastor

     Leah Maroney

    Tacos al Pastor is traditionally made by marinating pork in a chipotle mixture and placing it on a rotating spit with pineapple. While this version doesn't require a spit, it has all the flavors you want and is easy to make at home. Instructions are included for slow cooking and pressure cooking.

  • 20 of 24

    Mexican Cowboy Beans With Longaniza Sausage and Poblano Peppers

    Mexican Cowboy Beans With Longaniza Sausage and Poblano Peppers

     Nancy Lopez-McHugh

    Known in Mexico as frijoles charros, pinto beans cooked with Mexican sausage and peppers make a flavorful side dish. If you can't find longaniza sausage, substitute Mexican chorizo instead. If you'd prefer to use your slow cooker, try this similar bean dish.

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  • 21 of 24

    Mexican Ceviche-Style Shrimp Cocktail

    Mexican Ceviche-Style Shrimp Cocktail

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

    Ceviche is popular on the coasts of Mexico where seafood is plentiful. For a fresh and tasty appetizer, combine shrimp, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and a tomato-based sauce. Double or triple the recipe if you're feeding more than two.

  • 22 of 24

    Salsa Fresca (Fresh Tomato Salsa)

    Tomato and strawberry salsa
    DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images

    Just a few fresh ingredients and some chopping are all it takes to make homemade salsa. Use the highest-quality tomatoes you can find for the best results, or make a green salsa instead (or go all-out and make both). It's great as a dip or a topping.

  • 23 of 24

    Easy Ground Beef Tacos

    Easy Ground Beef Tacos

     The Spruce

    While they are nontraditional, hard-shell ground beef tacos are an American favorite and are a total melding of cultures, they're also sure to please the whole family with their crunchy, savory goodness.

  • 24 of 24

    Churros: Cinnamon Sugar Fried Doughnut Sticks

    Typical Spanish churros
    Justoperez / Getty Images

    Sometimes called a Mexican doughnut, churros are the ultimate treat. Light and crispy with a dusting of cinnamon sugar, they can be dipped in a chocolate or caramel sauce or eaten as is. Just make sure they're still warm.