May 5th is all about celebrating Mexican culture – and that’s what we’re especially interested in here in Texas (it’s an important part of our state’s culture!). That’s why we’ve put together 17 incredibly delicious Cinco de Mayo recipes for your upcoming festival. For those unfamiliar with the story, Cinco de Mayo began in honor of the unlikely victory of the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Interestingly, the holiday is not actually celebrated in Mexico (they lost the war just 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 delicious delicacies, even if a little enjoyment has nothing to complain about. Especially since nowadays it feels like the official prelude to warm summer days and offers a break from the everyday life of our news cycle. And yes, of course, it’s also a welcome excuse to whip up some delicious Mexican-inspired dishes and a jug of margs.
This year we’re not going to let the quarantine stop us from celebrating Cinco de Mayo with our friends and family (thanks, Zoom!). Instead, we use them as a welcome reason to celebrate and as an exciting change from our everyday daily meals and routines.
The heart of the celebrations is always a delicious meal. That’s why we’ve rounded up our best Cinco de Mayo food ideas with apps, main dishes and of course margaritas! Keep scrolling for the list and let us know in the comments how you’re going to party at home.
Main courses and starters:
In case you thought Cinco de Mayo was only starting for happy hour (aka margarita clock), this insanely well-baked egg dish should convince you to start the festivities first of this year’s AM. I’ve long been a fan of baked eggs and vegetables (hello, Shakshuka) and it seems almost every culture has its own version. This one cannot be overlooked.
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When we say “Mexican food” in Austin, we usually mean “Tex Mex”. And for most, the idea of Tex Mex is usually reminiscent of melted cheese, fatty fat, and sugar-filled margaritas. Don’t get us wrong, there’s a time and place for all of this (aka later tonight) but for lunch why not keep it light and healthy? That way, you’ll be ready to bring the good stuff to market later without feeling guilty. Not all Cinco de Mayo foods have to be large, complete meals.
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Okay, let’s first say, I never really feel guilty about eating guacamole. Healthy, fat-filled avocados, fresh coriander and tomatoes, refreshing lime juice – what is there not to love? But since my guac is often accompanied by tortilla chips and margaritas which aren’t that good for you, I like to wrap up some additional health benefits where I can.
I recently started adding a stealth ingredient to add extra vegetable protein to my guac so I wouldn’t feel so bad if I accidentally eat chips and guac for dinner. Fold some green peas into the mixture.
Health benefits aside, they add delicious power and satisfying sweetness to the texture. Because yes, green peas are of course really cute!
People tend to have strong feelings for their guacamole: there are purists who ask little more than avocado, lime, onion, and cilantro, and then there are the creative versions with toasted corn and black beans – I’ve even tried a few Guacs topped with crab meat. Let’s face it, I’d love to have one of them, but I’m pretty proud of this signature recipe. If you are looking for a classic, popular guac this is it. It’s one of our must-have appetizers from Cinco de Mayo!
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A refreshing twist on your classic guac – this recipe for mango chipotle guacamole is sweet, tangy and oh so delicious. Avocados, cherry tomatoes, mango and coriander together make the perfect bite (with a light kick!). That’s why this is one of our favorite simple cinco de mayo recipes.
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With these stuffed enchilada boats, I can satisfy my cravings without the carbohydrate crash after eating. I use all of my favorite seasonal ingredients and have leftovers for days. The filling can easily be adjusted to suit your individual taste preferences or dietary restrictions.
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Mexican Street Corn is a classic in our house every summer, and for me this recipe is perfection. There is one caveat: everyone has aioli on their fingers and corn on their teeth. You need to be somehow aware of the fact that when you eat, you will be in a total mess. I finally had the brilliant idea of taking the corn on the cob off the corn and turning this recipe into a salad that’s perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any other Mexican menu this summer.
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Simple is not always boring. I’ve done this for so many pool parties and backyard grills, and it always makes for big raves. When cooked on an outdoor grill, it’s one of the most stress-free meals to serve a crowd. Just add in fries and salsa, maybe some Mexican street corn, and good margaritas.
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These toasted vegetarian tacos are crispy, fresh, and sure to make you feel full (without feeling like you need to get horizontal right away). They consist of fresh, hearty vegetables and are rounded off with a delicious chipotle mayo and a pinch of fresh lime juice.
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Even when we are in a clean eating mode, we never let this interfere with our weekly taco addiction habit. These roasted cauliflower tacos have become our house favorites during the week. They happen to be vegan, gluten free, and full of all sorts of ingredients that are good for you.
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My current favorite answer to the “What to cook for dinner tonight?” Puzzle. These five-ingredient fajitas! I call them that because they are literally made entirely on a sheet pan, and when you line that pan with foil or parchment paper, there is no more dreaded post-dinner cleanup. The key to making a recipe more complex with just a few ingredients is how you season it. This meal calls for boneless and skinless chicken breasts, peppers, onions, and taco seasoning, but don’t be fooled – they are far from boring!
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I’ve experimented with a healthier taquito recipe, and this version of tequila-iced chicken and black beans is the result – they’re baked instead of fried for a crispy taquito without the fat factor.
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I firmly believe that everyone should make churros at home. There are few things in this world more indulgent than biting into a warm churro that’s freshly fried and generously doused with a crispy, fragrant layer of cinnamon sugar. When done right, they’ll be crispy and sweet and soft on the outside with a slightly eggy taste in the middle. And really, I promise, getting 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 edges are sweet, salty, and have a lot going for them.
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This Garden Margarita is a take on your traditional green celery juice, but with a mezcal twist. At Vibrant, Houston’s newest health restaurant, we can’t get enough of this refreshing cocktail.
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One thing I love about this recipe is that it relies entirely on the sweetness of the frozen watermelon. Often times I order a margarita in a restaurant and it’s sweet. I love that I can completely control the sweetness without even having to add any sweetener. This means that it is important to get your hands on a watermelon that is reaching its maximum ripeness. But don’t worry, if you find yourself with a less-than-outstanding melon, you can always add a dash of simple syrup or a dash of honey to liven things up. The mint is completely optional and a bit goes a long way, but I love the garden fresh flavor it adds. And the tequila? That is self-explanatory.
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A simple, no-frills margarita made from agave nectar. That’s right, no sweet and sour or triple seconds in this mix my friends – and it really makes all the difference. When I feel like it, I’ll toss in a few blackberries and blend them into the bottom of the glass for a dramatic color and deeper flavor. You can always double up this recipe, add ice, and mix everything together for a frozen treat. But if you crave the classic, all you 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 simply tossing the cut jalapeños into the mix and letting them sit overnight gives the drink the perfect amount of kick – and on party day all you have to do is pull the pitcher or punch bowl out of the fridge and drink upstairs!
This post was originally published on April 27, 2020 and has been updated since then.