Authentic Mexican Recipes

Corn, Green Chile, and Cheese Tamales

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Mexico is a fascinating country where over 65 languages are spoken and an array of traditions, styles of dress, and local cuisines are enjoyed. While staple ingredients include corn, beans, and chiles, there is incredible diversity in just how each region, city, and even household makes their food. So, while this article is thorough, consider it just a scratch on the surface of all the flavors Mexico has to offer.

  • 01 of 22

    Agua Tamarindo

    Tamarind beverage recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 

    In just about every restaurant or food stand in Mexico, you’ll find aguas on the menu. While recipes can vary wildly, an agua is essentially a blend of water and fruit. This recipe for agua tamarindo is commonly seen in the Yucatán and Chiapas states of Mexico, where tamarind easily thrives. 

  • 02 of 22

    Champurrado

    Champurrado chocolate drink recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Champurrado is a thick, chocolatey drink made with corn flour. Think of it as a cousin to Mexican hot chocolate, which tends to have a thinner consistency. For a touch of spice, cinnamon is also frequently added to champurrado.

  • 03 of 22

    Atole

    Atole basic recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Atole can be made with corn, oatmeal, or rice and flavored with spices, chocolate, or fruit. So while it's clear many variations exist, perhaps the most common preparation of atole uses corn flour and is spiked with cinnamon. 

  • 04 of 22

    Tepache

    Pineapple tepache recipe

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

    Although it’s evolved over time, tepache has been enjoyed since the pre-Colombian period. Primarily, tepache is made by slightly fermenting pineapple skins and cores before adding piloncillo and optionally, spices.

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  • 05 of 22

    Chilaquiles

    Chilaquiles recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    There are few things quite like freshly made tortilla chips, so if you’re interested in making chilaquiles, it makes all the difference to fry-up your own. Chilaquiles are popular throughout Mexico and are most often eaten for breakfast.

  • 06 of 22

    Pan Dulce

    Pan dulce recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 

    Commonly enjoyed as a light breakfast alongside coffee, pan dulce simply means "sweet bread" in Spanish. That said, this recipe is for a particularly popular bread, referred to as a concha.

  • 07 of 22

    Slow-Cooked Birria

    Birria with tortillas and lime wedges

    ALLEKO / Getty Images

    The state of Jalisco is located in Northern Mexico and while it's often recognized for its tequila, birria is another culinary gem. Traditionally made with goat or lamb, it's served in its own broth and meant to be scooped up in one delicious, messy taco.

  • 08 of 22

    Vegetarian Burrito

    Vegetarian rice and beans recipe

    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The farther north you travel in Mexico, the more the culture starts to blend with the US. Flour tortillas may be favored over corn and foods like fajitas and burritos are common.

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  • 09 of 22

    Tacos al Pastor

    Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Particularly popular in Mexico City, tacos al pastor are traditionally made on a vertically spinning spit, the trompo. They’re served with a touch of pineapple and salsa for a savory, sweet, and spicy experience.

  • 10 of 22

    Green Chile Tamales

    Corn, Green Chile, and Cheese Tamales

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Tamales are a labor-intensive dish, so they’re typically only enjoyed for special occasions or bought from vendors in local markets. They're a delicious and creative dish since you can fill your tamales with just about any ingredient you'd like. Sound inspiring? Try your hand at making green chile tamales or beef stuffed tamales.  

  • 11 of 22

    Homemade Carnitas

    Homemade Carnitas

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Made from pork, carnitas make for a rich, tasty taco. The state of Michoacán is most renowned for its carnitas, but no matter where you are you can usually ask for yours with a specific cut of meat or a mix of them all. 

  • 12 of 22

    Chilorio Pork

    Sinaloan Pork in Chile Sauce (Chilorio)

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Chilorio pork comes from the state of Sinaloa and can be used for a number of different dishes, including tacos, a stuffing for tamales, and tortas (sandwiches). It’s similar to an American-style pulled pork but uses a heavy dose of chile for smoky heat. 

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  • 13 of 22

    Caldo de Menudo

    Spicy Tripe Soup (Menudo)

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Mexican cuisine rarely leaves a part of the animal behind and one of the most popular examples of this is caldo de menudo, or tripe soup. Tripe turns tender when cooked low and slow, and it readily soaks up the flavors of what it's cooked with.

  • 14 of 22

    Rajas con Crema

    Rajas with poblanos and onion recipe

    The Spruce / Nita West

    Rajas con crema are simply strips of poblano chile, onion, and corn cooked in cream. Poblano chiles are very mild in heat, so the resulting flavor of this dish is actually sweet and creamy. Rajas con crema are tasty in tacos, with eggs, or in a tofu scramble.

  • 15 of 22

    Chiles Rellenos

    Chiles rellenos and mdash Mexican recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Chiles rellenos are native to the state of Puebla, but they're popular throughout Mexico. This recipe uses a poblano pepper, which is native to Puebla, but dried ancho or pasilla chiles may be used, as well. 

  • 16 of 22

    Trés Leches Cake

    Tres Leches Pastel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    The trés leches cake is popularly made for birthdays and special occasions in Mexico. A combination of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream are poured over the cake itself, resulting in a very moist, satisfying treat.

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  • 17 of 22

    Buñuelos

    Bunuelos fried Mexican food recipe

    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Buñuelos are fried doughnuts that are commonly eaten in many Latin countries. There are many takes on the basic recipe but in Mexico, they’re often rolled in cinnamon sugar or drizzled with a simple syrup made from piloncillo.

  • 18 of 22

    Elote

    Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    In Mexico, elote simply means corn on the cob. Elote is commonly sold as street food, where it's first boiled or grilled and then rolled in a variety of toppings. Similarly, esquites are corn with toppings, but the kernels are shaved off the cob and served in a cup.

  • 19 of 22

    Cemita Sandwich

    Cemita Mexican pulled pork sandwich recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The tortilla is to Mexican food what bread is to the French, but Mexicans also frequently enjoy tortas, too. One popular torta is the cemita sandwich, which is commonly served in Puebla for a quick meal.

  • 20 of 22

    Simple Mole Sauce

    Flavorful Mexican Mole Sauce

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Mole is an iconic Mexican sauce, known for its complex flavor and numerous ingredients. While a few states boast a signature mole, Oaxaca is probably the most famous for its moles. This recipe is a simplified version, though still very delicious.

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  • 21 of 22

    Pan de Muerto

    Mexican Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

    Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is actually celebrated over the course of a few days, where families gather and honor their ancestors. Several foods traditionally accompany the holiday, including pan de muerto.

  • 22 of 22

    Pozole

    Mexican pozole recipe

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Pozole is a stew made primarily with nixtamalized corn, which causes the corn to swell in size and take on a richer flavor and aroma. Spices, chiles, and pork or chicken are also frequently used, making pozole a full meal as opposed to a starter.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. O'Neill, A. (2021, September 14). Mexico: Distribution of Languages in 2005. Statista. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/275440/languages-in-mexico/. 

  2. Godoy, A., Herrera, T., & Ulloa, M. (2003). Bebidas Analizadas. In Más allá del pulque y el tepache: Las bebidas alcóholicas no destiladas indígenas de méxico (p. 21). essay, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas.