Mexican food isn't exactly a well-kept secret in America, but we do tend to emphasize only a small portion of the country's diverse food landscape. While tacos and enchiladas are undoubtedly great (and don't worry, we've got plenty of recipes for them), there's also a wealth of smoky stews, hearty tamales, and much more out there to discover. Among these 30 Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes, you'll find classics like chicken enchiladas along with lesser-known dishes like aguachile. We've even thrown in a couple of original innovations, like crispy cheese tacos and vegan chorizo that tastes and cooks just like the pork version.
Thin and Tender Flour Tortillas
When making tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, or a whole slew of other standards, good tortillas are crucial. Store-bought tortillas have a tendency to be dry or leathery, so we strongly recommend making your own. A mixture of flour, water, salt, and plenty of lard yields tortillas that are light and tender.
Tex-Mex-Style Soft and Chewy Flour Tortillas
Tex-Mex tortillas are thicker and chewier than their Mexican counterparts, thanks to the addition of baking powder. The heavier texture makes them perfect for scooping up queso—they can stand up to as much cheese as you throw at them.
Crispy Potato and Chorizo Tacos
Potato and chorizo is a great combination for tacos, but one that taco trucks often mess up by trying to rush the process. Getting it right takes time—cooking the chorizo longer than you think you need to makes it incredibly rich, and par-cooking the potatoes before frying gets them extra crisp.
Crispy Cheese Tacos
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla is the cheese that leaks out onto the pan, crisping and browning up during the cooking process. By heating cheese on its own in a skillet, then fusing it to a tortilla, you can make a taco shell with the same melty-crispy contrast built in, ready to stuff with whatever fillings you like.
Smoky Chicken Tinga Tacos
These earthy chicken tinga tacos are surprisingly easy, thanks to a couple of powerful ingredients and simple tricks. Canned chipotles in adobo add much of the dish's rich depth, and using canned fire-roasted tomatoes builds flavor, as does browning the chicken before poaching it in the sauce.
Real Tacos Al Pastor
Traditionally, tacos al pastor are made by cooking slices of pork shoulder on a vertical rotisserie—not exactly a tool that's in the arsenal of most home cooks. We first tried replicating this process in miniature on a grill, but it wasn't worth the time or effort. Much easier is roasting the meat in a loaf pan before re-crisping it in a skillet.
No-Waste Tacos de Carnitas With Salsa Verde
Much as with tacos al pastor, the traditional method for making carnitas—cooking a whole pork shoulder in a huge vat of lard—isn't quite practical for home use. By cooking the pork in a small casserole dish, you'll use way less fat and actually wind up with more flavorful meat. Broiling the carnitas before serving crisps them up beautifully.
Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken Enchiladas
Pressure cookers are magical—what else can transform chicken and raw vegetables into a tender, flavor-packed enchilada filling in just 15 minutes? Because the pressure cooker preserves moisture, the contents create their own intense sauce, with no other liquid necessary. After that, all you need to do is lightly fry the tortillas and assemble the enchiladas for baking.
The Best Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Inspired by enchiladas suizas and old-school enchilada casserole, these smoky, creamy enchiladas rely on a fairly modest amount of cream and cheese, instead highlighting a tart green tomatillo and poblano sauce.
Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas With Red Chili Gravy
Classic cheddar-filled enchiladas with red gravy are pure Tex-Mex comfort food. While Tex-Mex enchilada sauce is usually made with chili powder, here we go with whole dried chilies to produce a deeper, more vibrant flavor.
15-Minute Turkey Enchiladas
The typical method for making enchiladas—rolling up your fillings in tortillas and baking them in sauce—yields delicious results, but can be time-consuming. An easy shortcut is to roll the tortillas, fry them on two sides, and serve them with a sauce, like our complex mole poblano.
Tamales With Rajas and Oaxacan Cheese
The idea of making tamales at home can be intimidating, but once you get going, it doesn't take that long to wrap up these satisfying treats. The real fun is in deciding how to fill them—one option that's as easy as it is delicious is a simple pairing of sliced roasted poblanos (rajas) and mild Oaxacan cheese.
Tamales With Green Chili and Pork
If you've got the time and will to make a slightly more involved tamale filling, try a combination of green chili and pork. Smoky roasted poblanos and jalapeños, tart tomatillos, and fresh cilantro are a perfect match for our rich carnitas (you have leftovers from making the tacos de carnitas, right?).
Tamales With Red Chili and Chicken Filling
To give our red chili sauce a full, rich flavor, we toast the chilies before steeping them in water and pureeing them with garlic and cumin. Chicken thighs are then poached in the chili mixture until they're tender enough to shred by hand.
Cemitas (Mexican Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns)
One of our absolute favorite sandwich buns is the brioche-like cemita, a sweet and savory bun from Puebla. It's delicate, yet hefty enough to stand up to the mounds of fillings we tend to pile into a cemita sandwich. You can find decent cemitas in well-stocked Mexican groceries, or you can make your own rich and buttery version with this recipe.
Pueblan-Style Cemita Sandwiches
Once you've baked those beautiful browned cemitas, it's time to get filling. This recipe uses the traditional Pueblan components of breaded cutlet, avocado, Oaxacan cheese, and peppers. The most important ingredient, though, is papalo, a Mexican herb with a hard-to-describe flavor that's reminiscent of cilantro.
Roosevelt Avenue-Style Cemita Sandwiches
Though born in Mexico, the cemita has found a new life in New York City, especially along busy Roosevelt Avenue in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. Our version keeps the essential cemita bun and papalo, but is also packed to the brim with other ingredients: refried beans, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, chipotles, avocado, onions, and, frankly, whatever other filling you might be craving.
Chorizo-Spiced Pulled Pork With Mexican Street Corn Slaw
This recipe adds a Mexican twist to good old American barbecue. The pulled pork is cooked with spices like paprika, cayenne, and cumin to give it a distinct chorizo flavor, while the slaw mixes cabbage with corn, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese—the same ingredients you'll find in Mexican elotes. Serve the pork and slaw on burger buns if you want to skew more toward American barbecue style, or use them to fill tacos.
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de Camarones)
While Mexican shrimp cocktail—poached shrimp in a bright, citrusy tomato-based sauce— is a delicious, refreshing dish, the amount of ketchup that's typically used can make it unappetizingly sweet. Replacing some of the ketchup with tomato puree makes the simple sauce perfectly balanced.
Classic Shrimp Aguachile With Lime, Cucumber, and Red Onion
In most ceviches, the seafood steeps in citrus juice long enough to cure it, meaning that it's no longer truly raw. Aguachile, on the other hand, is served right after the fish is mixed with its marinade—usually a combination of chilies, lime juice, cucumber, and red onion. When shopping for this recipe, make sure to tell your fishmonger that you're planning to eat the shrimp raw so you get only the freshest available.
Scallop Aguachile With Jalapeño, Cucumber, and Avocado
Our scallop aguachile is very similar to the shrimp version, but with the addition of fresh cilantro. Here, we use the aguachile as a topping for tostadas, but feel free to serve it however you like.
Arctic Char Aguachile With Habanero, Jicama, and Lime
This one is less traditional than our other aguachile recipes, but no less tasty. We replace the cucumber with crunchy jicama, add extra flavor with coriander seed and mint, and use habanero chilies to crank up the heat. If you can't find sashimi-grade Arctic char, feel free to substitute salmon or another similar fish.
Better Than Chipotle's Beef Barbacoa
Traditional Mexican barbacoa is made by slow-cooking whole sheep in pits. We're guessing most Americans are more familiar with the braised beef barbacoa popularized by Chipotle, and that's what we've tackled here. To get a strong seared-beef flavor without overcooking the meat, we brown oxtails deeply in the sauce before adding raw chuck-eye roast.
Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas
There are a few easy tricks to making perfect fajitas: Start with skirt steak; marinate it in oil, chili powder, and an acidic component for up to 10 hours; grill it over super-high heat; and cut it against the grain. From there, all that stands between you and excellent fajitas are a pile of charred peppers and onions, a stack of good-quality tortillas, and plenty of guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.
Steak and Corn Salad With Tomatillos and Ancho-Chili Vinaigrette
We're all used to seeing tomatillos cooked down into salsa verde, but you're missing out if you've never tried them raw. Ultra-tart and citrusy, they're wonderful in a summer salad, accompanied by sliced steak, corn, cotija, and an ancho-and-lime dressing.
A variety distinct from the dried, Spanish version, Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage usually flavored with chili powder. In this variation, green poblanos and serranos substitute for the dried red chilies, giving the sausage a kick that doesn't overwhelm the flavor.
Vegan Chorizo for Omnivores
Made with tofu, tempeh, and lentils, this vegan sausage mimic comes stunningly close to its pork-based inspiration. Not only is it intensely flavored with dried chilies, charred poblanos, and other herbs and spices, but vegetable shortening gives it the creamy fattiness that's vital to good chorizo.
Quick and Easy Huevos Rancheros With Tomato-Chili Salsa
The key to making huevos rancheros on the fly for a last-minute Sunday brunch? Make the salsa with canned crushed tomatoes. They'll cook much faster than whole tomatoes, and a good fire-roasted variety (we're partial to Muir Glen's) will add extra depth to the dish.
Easy Pressure Cooker Green Chile With Chicken
A good pot of chicken chile verde takes all day to cook, right? Wrong. With the help of a pressure cooker, you can make a flavorful chile, loaded with tomatillos and green peppers, in under half an hour. The pressure cooker is so good at extracting flavor, you don't even need to brown your ingredients before adding them.
Mexican Tamale Pie (Cazuela de Tamal) With Black Bean Filling
True, making tamales doesn't have to be hard, but this tamale pie comes together with even less effort and supplies all the joys of tamales. You can fill it with just about anything; this version uses a simple mixture of black beans cooked down with chicken broth and ancho chilies.