Mexican food is the perfect blend of comforting and healthy, filling yet fresh. Meals that otherwise may seem heavy are offset by zingy lime and fresh coriander, creamy avocado and punchy jalapeno, which all comes together to provide you with a whole fiesta of flavour. Another perk of Mexican food is the fact that it’s incredibly versatile. Though it traditionally uses a lot of meat and carbs, you can easily tweak most dishes to be a bit lighter and healthier, or to cater for your own dietary requirements.
To whet your appetite, here are eight mouth-watering Mexican meals to make at home.
1. Huevos rancheros
If you enjoy eggs on the weekend but are a little bored of scrambling or poaching them and eating them on toast, then you might want to try making huevos rancheros. Huevos rancheros – which translates as “ranchers eggs” – is an authentic Mexican breakfast dish that was traditionally eaten on rural Mexican farms. Hearty, filling, protein-packed and delicious, huevos rancheros is a great way to start your day – and if you make this dish once, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll make it again.
The standard recipe for huevos rancheros consists of a freshly fried tortilla that’s topped with fried eggs, refried beans, fresh salsa and a rich and earthy tomato sauce, although avocado is commonly added too, as is some crumbled cheese – and a dusting of fresh coriander adds a lovely fragrant hint of flavour. Try this recipe from The Modern Proper, which uses salty cotija cheese and a dash of hot sauce for extra heat. If you’re vegan, or watching your cholesterol, you don’t have to miss out on the gorgeous flavours of this tasty dish: simply swap your eggs for scrambled tofu and add extra refried beans and avocado, like this recipe by Connoisseurus Veg.
For more inspiration on knocking up the perfect huevos rancheros, have a watch of the video below.
In Mexico, tacos are the ultimate street food, and no matter what time of the day it is, you can find people lining up by street stalls and carts to get their taco fix. Traditional Mexican tacos are made using soft corn tortillas – those crunchy yellow taco shells are a US invention! – and topped with fresh coriander, chopped white onion, salsa, guacamole, and a squeeze of fresh lime. The idea that tacos should be smothered with lettuce, cheese and sour cream is another American rather than Mexican culinary creation, but of course, these are your tacos and you can top them how you like.
Popular meat-based tacos in Mexico are taco pastor, which are made with marinated pork, taco asada, which are made with steak, and taco carnitas, which are made with shredded pork. Fish tacos are also really popular, particularly in coastal regions, as are vegetable tacos, which usually contain roasted veg like peppers, squash or courgettes. If you’d like to make some meat tacos, why not try these steak tacos by Damn Delicious? And if you’d like to make veggie tacos, you might want to try these refried bean tacos from Cookie + Kate.
For more taco ideas, have a watch of Jamie Oliver making some fish tacos below.
3. Mexican street corn soup
In Mexico, one of the most popular street food dishes – tacos aside – is elote, which is charred corn on the cob slathered with garlic, chilli, sour cream or cotija cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lime. But if you want to enjoy the gorgeous flavours of this snack in a more substantial form, then why not turn this traditional street food into a soup? Mexican street corn soup is packed with veggies and fibre, and while it’s healthy and summery, it also somehow manages to taste really indulgent, too.
To make Mexican street corn soup, it’s best to buy corn on the cob and then grill it until it’s charred, before slicing off the individual kernels. You can skip this process and use tinned or frozen sweetcorn, but if you want to get that wonderful charred flavour, grilling fresh corn is always best. Once you’ve cooked your other ingredients (usually potato, onions, peppers, garlic etc), add some corn and blend, before finishing with more sweetcorn on top, as well as some fresh coriander and crumbled cheese.
Try this recipe from Soup Addict, or watch the video below for more guidance.
4. Spicy Mexican rice
If you want to enjoy the flavours of Mexico but don’t fancy a tortilla-based dish – or you just have some white rice to use up – why not make some spicy Mexican rice? While Mexican rice is similar to Spanish rice, the flavours of each are very distinct. Both are made with rice, stock, tomatoes and onions, but where Spanish rice uses saffron for flavour and colour, Mexican rice uses cumin, which creates a deliciously deep taste and a lovely earthy aroma.
Mexican rice is super easy to make: you simply toss all your ingredients into a pan and saute until cooked. You can add your favourite veggies and spices to your rice, but traditionally this one-pan dish contains peppers, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, and jalapenos. Naturally gluten-free and vegan, you can add extra protein by stirring through kidney or pinto beans, crumbled cheese, or cooked chicken or prawns. This is a quick and easy dish that packs a real punch when it comes to flavour, and it works just as well as a vibrant and flavourful side dish as a simple yet delicious main.
Try this Mexican rice recipe from Damn Delicious, or watch the video below for more guidance.
Quesadillas might be simple, but that doesn’t make them any less of a treat. Described by Mexican chef Enrique Olvera as “the simplest of pleasures”, quesadillas are essentially just folded and toasted tortillas that are stuffed with cheese and other fillings. Though they’re viewed as Mexico’s version of cheese on toast, in Mexico City quesadillas don’t actually come with cheese, as locals there prefer to stuff their folded tortillas with squash blossoms, mushrooms and sliced peppers. But, whatever you choose to fill your tortillas with, quesadillas are a quick and delicious dish that make a great indulgent snack as well as a speedy and satisfying main.
To make quesadillas, simply toast a tortilla in a frying pan, then add some cheese; once it’s started to melt, you can add your other ingredients – usually meats like chicken or beef, or vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions and courgette. Then, fold your tortilla over, fry each half until crisp, and slice into triangles. You might want to try these easy chicken quesadillas by Delish, or these veggie quesadillas by Gimme Delicious. You can keep things plant-based by using vegan cheese, or make some Mexico City-inspired quesadillas and omit the cheese altogether.
To learn how to cook the perfect quesadilla, you might want to have a read of this article by The Guardian. Alternatively, have a watch of Jamie Oliver knocking up some quesadillas below.
6. Mexican black bean salad
If you’re in the mood for a light and refreshing dish that doesn’t compromise on flavour, then why not make a mouthwatering Mexican black bean salad? Perfect for summer, this dish is packed with health-boosting ingredients like avocados, black beans, red and green peppers, sweetcorn, red onion and tomatoes. And topped with a deliciously zesty coriander and lime dressing, it’s an ideal side dish for a picnic or barbecue – or it’s also great served as a dip for tortilla chips.
Another perk of this salad is that the longer it sits in the bowl, the more the flavours infuse and the tastier it is, so if you have guests coming over, you might want to make a bowl a day or two ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. The leftovers are incredibly versatile too; you can use it as a filling in other Mexican dishes, like burritos and enchiladas, or pile it on top of nachos to make them a bit healthier. If you’re planning on making a big batch to eat over a few days, just remember to leave the avocado out at first, and only add it when you’re ready to serve, otherwise it’ll go brown.
Try this recipe by Love and Good Stuff, or watch the video below.
7. Chilli con carne
Chilli con carne originated in Northern Mexico, and the Spanish term “chile con carne” was first recorded in 1857 in a book about the Mexican-American War. As it became more popular in Mexico, chilli began to travel north into the US, and the early 20th century saw the rise of “chilli parlours” throughout southern states like Texas (chilli con carne is now the official dish of Texas). Traditionally, chilli is made with beef, hot green chilli peppers, kidney beans, and tomatoes, though today there are many delicious variations.
One of the best things about chilli – aside from its taste – is the fact it can be a really healthy dish. Because it contains beans, chilli is high in both fibre and protein, and the addition of vegetables like peppers, onions and tomatoes, which are high in vitamin C, can help boost your immune system. To make a traditional beef chilli, why not try this BBC Good Food recipe? If you don’t eat meat, or are trying to cut down, you might want to make a chilli non carne; this veggie chilli recipe by Cookie + Kate is excellent.
While chilli is traditionally served with rice, you can always serve it with cauliflower rice instead if you want to enjoy a low-carb alternative. For more inspiration, why not check out Jamie Oliver’s chilli recipe below?
Enchiladas are one of the few tortilla-based Mexican dishes that actually benefit from a knife and fork – and that’s because this decadent dish is made up of stuffed tortillas that are then rolled up and smothered with a rich tomato sauce. Enchiladas are said to date back to Aztec times, when the practice of rolling food into corn tortillas is supposed to have begun – though in the centuries since then, they’ve become popular all around the world.
There’s an art to making enchiladas, and the sauce is a vital component. Though you can buy enchilada sauce in jars, making your own is much more satisfying (and healthier); why not try this enchilada sauce recipe by Gimme Some Oven?
You can stuff your tortillas with your choice of meat, veg or beans. Why not try making these chicken enchiladas by Tesco Good Food, or these black bean enchiladas by Cookie + Kate? Or you can keep things plant-based and make these vegan enchiladas by Oh She Glows. Whatever you choose to stuff your enchiladas with, just be sure to be generous with your sauce before you bake your wrapped tortillas in the oven!
To find out more about making traditional Mexican enchiladas, have a watch of the video below.
Do you have any favourite Mexican recipes? Or are you tempted to make any of our own suggestions? We’d love to hear about your favourite Mexican dishes in the comments below.