8 Sweet and Savory Mexican-Inspired After-School Snacks

Girls eating tortilla chips

Rob Lewine / Getty Images

The concept of “after-school snack” is not as highly developed in Mexico as it is in the United States, probably for the simple reason that most children in that country eat their main meal of the day shortly after arriving home from school. However, snacking, in general, is big in Mexico—as the wide array of street foods available nearly everywhere attest.

If you are looking for something a little different for an after school (or before school or after work or just any time) snack, peruse this list for some delicious inspiration.

  • 01 of 08

    Fruit Salad

    bowl of fresh fruit salad
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Mexicans are great snackers on fruit, as the iconic and ubiquitous dish known as Fruit Pico de Gallo shows. To make it like it is served by street vendors there: cut spears of barely-ripe fresh fruits/vegetables (try two or more of the following: watermelon, cantaloupe, jicama, cucumber, mango, pineapple, coconut, papaya) and place them, standing up, in a disposable cup. Add salt and/or powdered Piquin chile pepper to taste, then squeeze fresh lime juice over it all. Eat with your fingers or a fork. Super refreshing.

    For a little more elaborate and complexly flavored fruit salad, do not miss the Morelian Gazpacho recipe.

  • 02 of 08

    Seeds and Nuts

    Toasted pumpkin seeds with other fall foods on table

    Sara Lynn Paige / Moment / Getty Images

    Little packets of seeds and/or nuts are sold on almost every street corner in Mexico. Take a clue from these vendors and roast some pumpkin seeds to keep in a jar for your next snack attack, or try candied peanuts (cacahuatate garapiñado), which are similar in concept to Boston baked bean nuts. Sunflower seeds, roasted garbanzo or fava beans, and sugared almonds are other possibilities. Or how about some mixed nuts, with or without peanuts, sprinkled with salt, powdered chile pepper, and fresh-squeezed lime juice?

    Nut brittles are common in Mexico, too. Try classic peanut brittle or pumpkin seed brittle to start with.

  • 03 of 08

    Keto Tortilla Chips


     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    These keto tortilla chips are an easy replacement to corn tortilla chips, with only six keto-friendly ingredients. They are packed with finger-licking flavor, which is exactly what you want in a good chip. 

  • 04 of 08

    Ate With Cheese (Ate con Queso)

    Quince paste

    Richard Jung / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    Ate, as it is known in Mexico, is a paste made of fruit (commonly guava or quince) that is enjoyed in many parts of Latin America as an appetizer, dessert, or snack. It is known as guava paste in some other countries. It can often be found either in cans or packaged in plastic in Hispanic grocery stores or the international aisle at your supermarket.

     Ate (pronounced AH-the) goes extremely well with most kinds of firm white or light yellow cheese, so slice some panela, Mexican Manchego, or Chihuahua cheese and top with similarly-sized slices of ate—or cut both ingredients into cubes to spear on a toothpick.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Marie Cookies

    Galletas Maria

    Nacho on Flickr / cc by 2.0

    Whether you call them galletas Maria, Marie biscuits, or Maria cookies, these unassuming little wafers are a staple in many a Latin American pantry. Thin, flat, and only slightly sweet, they are great alone or spread with peanut butter and/or jelly. A slightly more sophisticated topping would be a slice of cheese and a thin slice of guava paste or quince paste (called ate in Mexico; see above). But perhaps their greatest moment comes when dunked into a glass of milk or a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. 

  • 06 of 08


    Nachos with toppings

    EasyBuy4u / Getty Images

    This Tex-Mex classic works wonderfully as a hearty snack. Make some ingredient-rich Nachos With Toppings, or keep it simple and spread some tortilla chips in a single layer on a plate, top with shredded cheese, and microwave in 15-second increments until cheese is melted.

  • 07 of 08

    Corn Griddle Cakes (Gorditas de la Villa)

    Gorditas de la Villa

    Robin Grose

    They look a little like silver dollar pancakes, but these slightly sweet goodies are made with corn masa and brown sugar. Eat your corn griddle cakes plain, spread them with jam, or dip them into a little syrup or sweeten

    ed condensed milk. They are best when eaten freshly made and warm, so plan to make these when you have a little time to dawdle over your snack.

  • 08 of 08

    Salsa and Chips

    pico de gallo

    The Spruce

    If you are craving a bracing, salty snack, you can’t go wrong with salsa and chips. Your only problem will be choosing which salsa and what “chips” to choose.

    Salsa in Spanish just means “sauce,” and Mexican cuisine is chock full of many different kinds of table and cooking sauces. There is, of course, your basic simple chopped fresh salsa, which is known and loved in Mexican restaurants all over the world. Another option would be Tropical Mango Salsa—or how about some Cranberry Salsa at holiday time?

    Then, of course, there are the avocado sauces (the meaning of the word guacamole): simple basic guacamole, sriracha-mole, vegan black bean guacamole, and even tomatillo guacamole, which is hybrid guacamole and salsa.

    As for dippers, you can use store-bought tortilla chips or make your own totopos. Tired of regular chips? Branch out and use some Mexican chicharrones, either the traditional kind (fried pork rinds) or the modern commercially-made wheat-based puffed snack thingies. Want fewer carbs? Use thin slices of fresh jicama instead of the chips.