22 Essential Mexican Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

Start with chilaquiles for breakfast, end with a tres leches for midnight snack.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. Though not a major holiday in Mexico, the fifth of May become a big celebration of Mexican heritage in the United States, especially in areas with larger Mexican-American populations. Below, please find some of our best Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes—from flavorful, salsa-drenched Mexican breakfasts to delicious Mexican dessert recipes that are sure to win over a crowd. Like a challenge? Try making your own masa by hand. And of course, we have tacos and margaritas, too.

Brisket Tacos

Rough-chopped and served on fresh, homemade tortillas is New York City chef Julian Medina’s way of showcasing brisket. Get the recipe for Brisket Tacos »

Grilled Mexican-Style Street Corn

Chef Chris Shepherd’s take on Mexican-style street corn is served off the cob and comes together easily for a tasty side dish. Get the recipe for Grilled Mexican-Style Street Corn »

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup (Sopa Azteca)

This simple pasilla chile- and tomato-based soup is ladled onto tortilla chips and topped with creamy avocado, jack cheese, and tangy Mexican crema. Get the recipe for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup (Sopa Azteca) »

Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos)

Inspired by the potato tacos at Loncheria Otro Rollo in Bakersfield, CA, this versio is stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and pan-fried until crisp. The accompanying smoky ranchero sauce also would be great on meat or fish, or spooned over eggs. Get the recipe for Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos) »

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Chile Ajo)

These classic Oaxacan-style enchiladas are stuffed with chicken and doused in a sweet chile-and-garlic sauce. Get the recipe for Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Chile Ajo) »

Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos

The man’s name was Ignacio Anaya. His nickname was Nacho. When asked what he called the dish he’d just wiped up, Ignacio replied, “Nacho’s especiales.” A balance of pickly, salty, cheesy, and crisp, this recipe—inspired by the Anaya’s—shows that simple can be preferable when it comes to nachos. Get the recipe for Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos »

Tomato and Orange Sangrita

This flavor-packed sipper is served alongside a neat glass of tequila at La Tequila in Guadalajara, Mexico. Do as many Mexicans do: A sip of tequila, a sip of sangrita, then repeat. Get the recipe for Tomato and Orange Sangrita >>

Coconut Horchata

This version of the classic Mexican rice-based drink is made with a mix of coconut milk and coconut water for a beverage that is both luxurious and refreshing. Get the recipe for Coconut Horchata >>

Nopalito Salad with Guajillo Chiles >>

Nopales are an essential part of the Oaxacan diet. With a meaty texture and tart flavor, raw, salted cactus paddles retain their natural vibrant color. Get the recipe for Nopalito Salad with Guajillo Chiles >>

Oaxacan Black Mole Sauce (Mole Negro)

This rich and fragrant sauce is labor intensive, bit it batches up easily and freezes well. Stock up! Get the recipe for Enmoladas with Oaxacan Black Mole Sauce (Mole Negro) >>

Sherry Tres Leches Gelatina

Gelatina is a lifestyle in Oaxaca, where it can be found in all shapes, colors, and flavors. Combined with the creamy tres leches layer, sherry creates a boozy and refreshing Creamsicle-like effect. Get the recipe for Sherry Tres Leches Gelatina >>

Yucatecan Tostadas Calabacitas Fritas >>

This squash salsa comes together quickly and is great as a dip or topping. Get the recipe for Yucatecan Tostadas Calabacitas Fritas >>

Chilaquiles

Canned chipotle chiles and chorizo are two of the ingredients that distinguish this central Mexican version of chilaquiles from other regional styles of the dish. Get the recipe for Chilaquiles »

Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder

Inspired by Mexican street vendors who artfully carve and serve mangoes on sticks, this recipe ups the ante with cilantro leaves and shaved coconut for a refreshing fruit salad. Get the recipe for Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder >>

Cochinita Pibil Tacos »

This pibil recipe, inspired by one used at Chando’s in Sacramento and prepared in a Dutch oven, pops with earthy achiote paste and citrus juices, yielding a luscious, spicy pulled pork. Get the Recipe for Cochinita Pibil Tacos »

Corn Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa

Get the recipe for Corn Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa »

Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas

These crunchy empanadas, featuring shells made with masa, lard, and salt, are filled with tender shredded beef tossed in a spicy salsa. You can prepare the masa and filling in advance, but don’t fill or fry the empanadas until just before eating. Get the recipe for Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas >>

Classic Margarita

This recipe proves that simple can be delicious. We recommend using Herradura Silver Tequila. Get the recipe for a Classic Margarita »

Red Chile Enchiladas

These saucy tortillas are stuffed to the ends with different cheeses and covered in a spicy chile sauce. Get the recipe for Red Chile Enchiladas »

Classic Guacamole

Grind your cilantro, onion, and chiles into a paste before folding in mashed avocado for the deepest flavor. Get the recipe for Classic Guacamole »

Mexican Braised Spare Ribs with Squash and Corn

Braise pork ribs with a homey, vegetable-rich sauce with a touch of heat, and use the leftovers for tacos. This is a classic recipe from Mexican cooking sage Josefina Velázquez de León. Get the recipe for Mexican Braised Spare Ribs with Squash and Corn »

Frida Kahlo’s Zucchini Salad (Ensalada de Calabacín)

The recipe for this simple salad of grilled zucchini, avocado, and salty, crumbled añjeo cheese was served at a dinner party attended by Mexican composer Carlos Chávez and Nelson Rockefeller. Get the recipe for Frida Kahlo’s Zucchini Salad (Ensalada de Calabacín) >>