Vacationing in Mexico is an exciting experience full of fun activities and tasty meals. But you don’t need to travel to Mexico to experience the most popular Mexican food, many of the best Mexican dishes are easy to prepare at home. But, of course, if you’d prefer to keep things simple, you can also visit a local Mexican restaurant!
Still, it’s an excellent idea to familiarize yourself with these meals before placing your order. This guide will explore the best Mexican foods, making it easy to choose dishes that suit your palate and preferences.
Popular Mexican Foods To Try in Mexico or At Home
Table of Contents
Traveling to Mexico? Check out these guides to help you plan your trip
1. Chiles en nogada
Let’s begin with Chiles En Nogada the most patriotic of Mexican meals made with the colors of the Mexican flag. Chiles En Nogada is made with green poblano chili peppers stuffed with a mixture of meats and spices known as picadillo. It is then topped with a white walnut-based cream sauce. Add the final layer to the bonanza of colors by adding a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and you have the colors of the Mexican flag creating this delicious Mexican favorite. Try it at home with this delicious recipe.
2. Frijoles Charros (Bean Stew)
Many of the most popular Mexican meals feature beans, but Frijoles Charros is a dish that makes beans the star of the show. This pinto bean stew takes several hours to prepare, as it’s best served after hours of slow cooking. Though the name may make you think it only consists of beans, this dish also contains roasted tomatoes, garlic, bacon, and chiles. The result is a thick stew with a touch of spiciness and plenty of savory goodness. This is one of those Mexican dishes that are easy to make at home, especially with this recipe.
3. Mexican Rice
Mexican Rice, also known as Spanish Rice is a staple in Mexican cooking that is slow-cooked in a crockpot. The main ingredients are fresh tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, and long grain rice simmered in a chicken or vegetable broth. You can then add in your favorite vegetables from peas, corn, carrots, or peppers. Feel free to add cumin and chili powder to taste and then slow cook it for 20 minutes topping with cilantro. If you are up for it, add jalapeño peppers for a bit of spice. It can be served as a side dish with tacos or you can eat it on your own. As we said, it’s a household staple that makes for a great snack.
Quesadillas are sandwich-like snacks made by compressing ingredients between two warm tortillas. They’re not only popular in Mexico but Mexican restaurants around the world. You can find quesadillas on the menu at almost every Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurant. These tasty tortillas are also entirely customizable, as you can put any combination of ingredients between them.
That said, beef, cheese, refried beans, and spicy peppers are common quesadillas ingredients with sour cream, guacamole, and sales on the side. If you’re able to get your hands on some flour tortillas, shredded Mexican cheese, and fresh jalapeno peppers, you can make quesadillas at home in just a few minutes for an easy snack. You can also use a corn tortilla as well.
5. Huevos Rancheros (Ranch Eggs)
There are tons of interesting facts about Mexico, but the origins of Huevos Rancheros might be one of the most fascinating Mexican legends. This egg-based dish dates back to the 1600s and was once primarily enjoyed by rural farmers and peasants. As such, it was a meal considered unappealing for affluent members of society. Well, that’s changed now!
Huevos Rancheros is exceptionally popular throughout Central, North, and South America due to its simple recipe and savory flavor. Made of fried eggs, soft tortillas, and a fresh Pico de Gallo topping, this dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
6. Menudo (Tripe Soup)
This Mexican meal may not be for everyone, as it contains tripe (cow stomach). That said, it’s one of the most widely enjoyed dishes throughout Mexico and Central America, making it a must for those looking to experience authentic Mexican cuisine.
The tripe does have a slightly rubbery texture, so it won’t melt in your mouth like other meat-based soups and stews. However, if you enjoy spicy foods, you’ll appreciate the chili powder base used to make Menudo.
Tamales are a popular Mexican street food due to their corn husk wrappers. If you’re planning on visiting Mexico, you’ll want to stop by a local food cart to try some for yourself! Unlike some Mexican foods, tamales date back to Mexico’s ancient past. Corn, one of the oldest still-grown crops in Mexico, is the primary ingredient used to make tamales.
Essentially, tamales are corn cakes wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaves during the steaming process. This husk also makes them easy to eat while on the go. While this isn’t an easy dish to recreate at home, you’ll find tamales in almost every restaurant throughout Mexico!
8. Chilli Con Carne (Chilli With Beef)
When the weather gets colder, it’s an excellent idea to prepare chilli for dinner. Chilli con Carne (chili with beef) is a fantastic meal that can warm you up from the inside, making it a top-notch wintertime meal. Made of kidney beans, ground beef, and diced tomatoes, this dish is incredibly flavorful, thanks to the addition of onions, garlic, and chili powder.
Still, if you’re in a hurry, Chilli con Carne might not be the best option. That’s because this dish is best when allowed to simmer for several hours. Taking the time to let the ingredients meld together ensures that each bite is warming and savory.
9. Pozole (Hominy Soup)
Mexican cuisine is a unique blend of Mesoamerican recipes and Spanish influences. But pozole is entirely Mesoamerican.Made of locally-grown hominy (maize kernels), pozole is a foam-like soup with a slightly sweet flavor. Rich and savory meats (like pork or beef) are often added to pozole to counterbalance its naturally sweet taste.
While this meal might be simple, it can fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied. Eating pozole is also an excellent way to experience authentic Mesoamerican cuisine, so be sure to try some when visiting Mexico!
10 Chicken Fajitas
Nowadays a Fajita is basically any type of protein that can be wrapped in a flour tortilla. Traditionally it was a snack that was served to Mexican ranch hands as partial payment in West Texas back in the 1930s. It was often made from the less desirable cuts of beef that were turned into something tasty by the ranchhands.
Since that time it has evolved into a really popular Mexican food in North America. It is usually served on a sizzling platter with onions and peppers along with the protein of choice ( most often chicken or steak though it can be served with just vegetables as well.) Pair that with toppings like shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole and you have a Mexican dish that you can easily make at home.
11. Torta Ahogada (Pork Sandwich)
If you have access to a crispy sub-style bread (like baguettes), you can make Torta Ahogada at home. That’s because this popular dish is essentially a Mexican pork sandwich! The shredded pork bites are marinated in a tomato mixture, imbuing them with a rich flavor that’s complemented by a small dash of vinegar and oregano.
Typically, this dish is served without lots of toppings. However, you can add chopped or sliced onions to complete the flavor profile and bring out the richness of the pork. If you don’t want to eat pork you can make the same with shredded chicken.
12. Caldo De Queso (Cheese Soup)
Caldo de Queso may have Spanish origins, but it’s a uniquely Mexican dish that you won’t want to miss. However, this soup might not be suitable for anyone who’s lactose intolerant, as its primary ingredients are cheese and milk. But if you’re in the mood for a hearty, cheesy soup, you can’t go wrong with Caldo de Queso.
It’s made using queso fresco (fresh cheese), thick-cut potatoes, and plenty of love. When it’s cold outside, there’s almost nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of this slightly salty savory soup. Add some corn tortillas on the side.
13. Pollo Asado (Marinated Grilled Chicken)
Cooking Mexican meals doesn’t have to be complicated. Pollo Asado is one of the simplest dishes you can prepare at home, though it’s best prepared on a grill. The primary difference between Pollo Asado and standard grilled chicken is the seasoning. Each chicken drumstick or thigh is smothered in a thick achiote paste (also called recado) before it’s seared over the grill.
This paste is made of vinegar, which softens the meat, and garlic, which gives it a more complex flavor. It also helps the chicken form a flavorful crust during the grilling process. After you’ve tried a bite of Pollo Asado, you may never prepare chicken another way ever again.
14. Elote (Grilled Corn)
Are you thinking of having Mexican food for lunch? If so, you can’t go wrong with elote! This simple dish is one of Mexico’s most popular street foods and is both sweet and savory.
Elote is essentially grilled corn on the cob seasoned with a uniquely Mexican mayonnaise sauce. After placing your corn cobs onto a hot grill, you’ll mix lime juice, chili powder, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. When the corn is adequately roasted, you’ll brush each cob with the mayonnaise mixture and sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves and grated cheese on top. This meal is easy, fast, and delicious.
15. Platáno Frito (Fried Plantains)
Are you looking for a straightforward Mexican snack? If so, you may want to try Platáno Frito. This dish is simple, as it’s chopped-and-friend plantains. Plantains typically have a slightly sweet, somewhat bitter taste when eaten raw. They can also be a bit chewy and thick.
But when you fry them, the small yellow bites become soft and savory, making them a treat for your tastebuds. You can whip up this Mexican snack in just a few minutes, making it an ideal option for those with limited cooking time.
If you’ve ever eaten at a Mexican restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ve tried enchiladas. After all, these tortilla-based delights are one of the most popular foods in Mexico and the U.S.! Like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, enchiladas come in many styles. Still, the one quality that unites all enchiladas is a soft tortilla that’s wrapped around savory ingredients.
Enchiladas are typically covered in enfrijolada (bean sauce), green or red salsa, or melted fresh cheese. They’re also filled with meats, rice, refried beans, cheeses, and hot peppers. Serve red or green salsa, sour cream, and guacamole on the side with hot sauce to taste.
17. Enfrijolada (Bean Sauce)
Enfrijolada is a black bean sauce often paired with popular Mexican meals, including enchiladas. It’s typically poured over a dish, covering it entirely in a protein-rich blanket of deliciousness. To make Enfrijolada, you’ll need fresh-cooked black beans and a food processor. Add the black beans to the food processor, and blend until the beans have a liquid consistency. You may need to add a little water to help them along.
Mexican cuisine is full of spices and sauces. Mole (pronounced moe-lay) is a popular and spicy sauce used to flavor Mexican meals, including enchiladas and quesadillas. The primary ingredients used to make mole are chili peppers, which give every dish a kick.
This sauce tends to get its coloration from the type of Mexican peppers used to create it, and there are several varieties of Mole to try. Because mole is made using Mexican chili peppers, making it can be challenging at home. Still, trying mole is a fantastic incentive to book a trip to Mexico!
There many different kinds of mole sound throughout Mexico, but Mole Poblano is probably from the Mexican State of Pueblo is the most notable. It is a combination of chilis and Mexican chocolate sauce creating a thick deep red or brown sauce mixed with spices, fruits, and seed cooked over a long period of time to create a thick and savory sauce.
19. Salsa Verde (Green Sauce)
Many people in the U.S. are familiar with tomato salsas and red salsa, but salsa verde is still relatively unknown. That’s a shame because this tangy sauce pairs well with almost every Mexican dish, from quesadillas to tamales. Salsa Verde (literally translated, green sauce) is made of green tomatillos, chopping onions, lime juice, garlic, and jalapeno peppers.
It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and undeniably delicious. You can make this bright green sauce at home using a food processor. You can also order it as a side dish for any main dishes at your Mexican restaurant, as it’s often paired with tortilla chips.
Another popular side dish is Guacamole. We simply love eating it with Fried Corn Tortillas for dipping. It’s one of the easiest Mexican recipes to make at home. All it takes is some fresh avocado, lime or lemon juice, salt, red onion garlic, and cilantro and you and a quick snack or appetizer. This recipe is easy and tasty.
21. Tacos Al Pastor (Shepherd-Style Tacos)
Tacos Al Pastor (Shepherd-style tacos) are extremely popular throughout Mexico and the U.S. Traditionally, these tacos are made with flattened pork shoulder or lamb, but you can make them using bacon or pork sirloin (or both).
Originating from Puebla, Mexico, these tacos are remarkable due to their simplicity and rich combination of flavors. Each soft flour tortilla cradles a helping of well-seasoned, slow-cooked meat and freshly-chopped onions. Like many other popular Mexican dishes, the best way to garnish these tacos is with a few cilantro leaves, and feel free to add some hot sauce to taste. Tacos are popular throughout Mexico and are popular street food.
22. Chilaquiles (Breakfast Tortillas)
While having Mexican food for dinner is a treat, you can also enjoy authentic Mexican meals for breakfast! Chilaquiles is one of the more popular breakfast dishes throughout Mexico and often features shredded chicken and scrambled or fried eggs.
To make chilaquiles, you’ll need to cut corn tortillas into quarters, place them into a hot oiled skillet, then cover them with tomato salsa. Then, depending on your preferences, you can use a different skillet to fry or scramble eggs to go on top. Fortunately, cooking chilaquiles takes less than thirty minutes, making it a fantastic breakfast for those who are short on time.
Burritos (which translates to tiny donkeys) date back to ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. However, the first burritos were very different from the ones enjoyed today. These thick corn tortilla wraps became popular among the Spanish Conquistadors during the 1500s. The invading Spanish soldiers filled their burritos with meats and cheeses.
Over time, the tortillas used to make burritos transformed from corn tortilla to wheat, resulting in the familiar flour tortilla used today. You can make burritos at home using flour tortillas, rice, beans, lettuce, shredded cheese, and your favorite meats. Add sour cream, guacamole, and salsa for more flavor.
24. Sopa De Lima (Lime Soup)
Mexico’s southern Yucatan Peninsula is full of amazing sights and experiences, and it’s also home to a unique subtype of food. The most popular dishes here tend to feature ingredients grown in the lush forests throughout the area, including limes.
One of the most well-known meals that originate from this area is Sopa de Lima (lime soup). While you might think this dish primarily consists of bitter limes, its primary ingredients include chicken, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro leaves. These savory components help balance the bitter tang of the lime juice, resulting in a balanced dish with plenty of depth.
25. Caldo De Res (Beef and Vegetable Soup)
Caldo de Res is one of the most popular dishes in Central and South America, especially during winter. This hearty and warming comfort food features filling ingredients like corn, beef shanks, carrots, and potatoes. Essentially, Caldo de Res is a Mexican beef-and-veggie soup. As you might expect, it’s best when allowed to cook slowly for a few hours. As such, it’s not the best choice for those looking to prepare a quick dish. However, you’ll be glad you waited when you take your first bite!
26. Cocadas (Coconut Balls)
Cocadas are some of the most popular Mexican desserts, though they weren’t popular among Mesoamericans. After all, coconut palms aren’t native to Mexico or Central America. Instead, coconut palms were brought to Mexico by Spanish explorers during the 1600s. Today, these plants continue to flourish throughout Central America. For that reason, cocadas are widely available throughout Mexico. However, they’re most popular during the winter holiday season. You’ll need milk, coconuts, and sugar to make these treats. After mixing these ingredients, you’ll shape spoonfuls and bake them for about fifteen minutes.
27. Deep Fried Ice Cream
Another popular dessert is deep-fried ice cream. If you haven’t tried it make sure to add it to your list of orders on your next trip to Mexico. The ice cream is first covered in a coating that consists of sugar and cinnamon, then deep-fried for about 10 seconds or less. It is then topped with whatever sweet topping you like and served in a deep-fried tortilla shell which is also covered in cinnamon. This Mexican dessert is as delicious as it sounds.
Mouthwatering Mexican Foods
These delicious Mexican dishes are a surefire way to enjoy the authentic flavors of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos. They feature some of the most beloved local ingredients, including tomatoes, corn, and chili peppers. Whether you’re planning a trip to Mexico and Central America or you’d like to try popular at home, you’ll want to be sure to experience each of these popular Mexican foods. Traveling to a foreign destination is one of the best ways to enjoy authentic cuisine.
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