May fifth is all about celebrating Mexican culture—and we get especially into it here in Texas (it’s a majorly rich part of our state’s culture!) That’s why we’ve rounded up 17 incredibly delicious Cinco de Mayo recipes for your upcoming feast. For those who aren’t familiar with the history, Cinco de Mayo began in honor of the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Interestingly enough, the holiday isn’t actually celebrated in Mexico (they lost the war mere days later.) But it remains an excellent reason to celebrate Mexican culture and the people who have enriched our country, like Dolores Huerta, Sandra Cisneros, and many more. It doesn’t just have to be about the tasty delights, though there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little indulgence. Especially since nowadays, it feels like the official kick-off to warm summer days ahead and offers a respite from the grind of our news cycle. And yes, it obviously also happens to be a welcome excuse to whip up some delicious Mexican-inspired dishes and a pitcher of margs.
This year, we aren’t letting quarantine keep us from celebrating Cinco de Mayo with our friends and family (thanks, Zoom!) Instead, we’re using it as a welcome reason to celebrate and an exciting change up from our day-to-day meals and routines.
The centerpiece of the festivities is always a delicious meal, so we’ve rounded up our best Cinco de Mayo food ideas complete with apps, mains, and of course, margaritas! Scroll on for the list, and tell us how you’ll be celebrating at home in the comments.
Mains and Appetizers:
In case you thought that Cinco de Mayo didn’t start until happy hour (aka margarita o’clock), this insanely good baked eggs dish should convince you to kick off the celebrations first thing in the AM this year. I’ve long been a fan of any type of baked egg and veggie concoction (hello, shakshuka) and it seems that just about every culture has a version of its own. This one is not to be missed.
Around Austin, when we say “Mexican food,” we typically mean “Tex Mex.” And for most, the thought of Tex Mex usually brings to mind melted cheese, soppy grease, and sugar-filled margaritas. Don’t get us wrong, there’s a time and a place for all that(aka later tonight) but for lunch, why not keep it light and healthy? This way you’re ready to bring on the good stuff later on, guilt-free. Not all Cinco de Mayo foods have to be big, full meals.
Okay, let’s start by saying: I never really feel guilty about eating guacamole. Healthy fat-filled avocados, fresh cilantro, and tomatoes, refreshing lime juice—what’s not to love? But since my guac is often accompanied by not-so-good-for-you tortilla chips and margaritas, I like to pack in some extra health benefits where I can.
Recently, I started adding a stealth ingredient to give my guac some extra plant-based protein so I don’t feel as bad if I accidentally, you know, eat chips and guac for dinner. Fold some green peas into the mix!
Aside from the health benefits, they add a delicious heftiness to the texture and satisfying sweetness. ‘Cause yes, green peas are naturally really sweet!
People tend to have strong feelings about their guacamole: there are the purists who demand little more than avocado, lime, onion, and cilantro, and then there are the creative versions with roasted corn, black beans—I’ve even tried a couple of guacs topped with crab meat. Let’s be honest, I’d happily eat any of them, but I am pretty proud of this signature recipe. If you’re looking for a classic, crowd-favorite guac, this is it. It’s one of our must-have Cinco de Mayo appetizers!
A refreshing twist on your classic guac—this mango chipotle guacamole recipe is sweet, spicy, and oh so delicious. Avocados, cherry tomatoes, mango, and cilantro all combine together for the perfect bite (with a slight kick!) That is why this one of our favorite easy Cinco de Mayo recipes.
With these stuffed enchilada boats, I can satisfy my cravings without the post-meal carb crash. I use all my favorite seasonal ingredients and have leftovers for days. The filling can easily be altered to fit your individual taste preferences or dietary restrictions, too.
Mexican Street Corn is a classic at our house every summer, and to me this recipe is perfection. There is one caveat, that is: everyone ends up with aioli on their fingers and corn in their teeth. You kind of have to embrace the fact that you’re going to be a total mess while eating it. I finally had the brilliant idea to take the corn off the cob and turn this recipe into a salad that’s perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any other Mexican-themed menu this summer.
Simple doesn’t always equal boring. I’ve made this for so many pool parties and backyard barbecues, and it always garners major raves. Plus, if you’re making it on an outdoor grill, it’s one of the most stress-free meals to serve a crowd. Just add chips and salsa, maybe some Mexican street corn, and good margaritas.
These roasted veggie tacos are crunchy, fresh, and will keep you feeling full (without feeling like you need to get horizontal immediately). They are made of fresh, hearty veggies and topped off with a delicious chipotle mayo and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Even when we’re in clean-eating mode, we never let that get in the way of our weekly taco
addiction habit. These roasted cauliflower tacos have become weeknight faves at our house, and they just so happen to be vegan, gluten-free and packed with all kinds of good-for-you ingredients.
My current favorite answer to the “what to cook for dinner tonight” conundrum? These five-ingredient sheet pan fajitas! I call them that because they are literally made completely on one sheet pan, and when you line that pan with foil or parchment paper, the dreaded after-dinner clean-up becomes nonexistent. The key to making a recipe with only a few ingredients taste more complex is all in how you season it. This meal calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, bell peppers, onions, and taco seasoning, but don’t be fooled—they are anything but bland!
I’ve been experimenting with a healthier taquito recipe, and this version with tequila-glazed chicken and black beans is the result—they’re baked instead of fried for a crispy taquito without any of the greasy-factor.
I’m a firm believer that everyone should be making churros at home. There are few things in this world that are more indulgently satisfying than biting into a warm churro, freshly fried and generously doused in a crunchy, fragrant coating of cinnamon sugar. When done right, they’re crisp and sweet on the outside and soft with a slightly eggy savoriness in the middle. And really, I promise, doing it right isn’t as complicated as you might think.
A delicious (and super Instagrammy!) twist on your classic Cinco de Mayo drink—these prickly pear margs are sweet, salty, and pack a punch.
This Garden margarita is a take on your traditional green celery juice, but with a mezcal twist. Taken from Vibrant, Houston’s newest health restaurant, we cannot get enough of this refreshing cocktail.
One thing I love about this recipe is that it relies solely on the sweetness of frozen watermelon. Oftentimes I order a margarita at a restaurant and it’s sweet. I love that I can have complete control over the sweetness, without actually having to add any sweetener at all. This does mean it’s important to get your hands on a watermelon that’s at its peak ripeness. But no worries, if you find yourself with a less-than-stellar melon you can always add a splash of simple syrup or a squeeze of honey to liven things up. The mint is totally optional and a little goes a long way, but I love the garden-fresh flavor it adds. And the tequila? Well, that’s self-explanatory.
A simple, no-frills margarita made with agave nectar. That’s right, no sweet-and-sour or triple sec in this blend, my friends—and it really makes all the difference. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll drop in a few blackberries and muddle them in the bottom of the glass for dramatic color and deeper flavor, and you can always double this recipe, add ice and blend it all together for a frozen treat. But when you’re craving the classic, all you really need is fresh limes, agave syrup, and good silver tequila.
I love grapefruit, and I love a margarita with a spicy kick, so this recipe is pretty much my ideal cocktail. And it’s amazing how just throwing the sliced jalapeños into the mixture and letting them sit overnight infuses the drink with the perfect amount of kick—and on party day, all that’s left to do is pull the pitcher or punch bowl out of the fridge and drink up!
This post was originally published on April 27, 2020, and has since been updated.