This collection of Cinco de Mayo recipes will enhance your celebration with mouthwatering Mexican food to satisfy a wide range of palates. From drinks to desserts and everything in between, this guide will help you build the perfect Cinco de Mayo menu for family and friends.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. But in this day and age, most people who “celebrate” this holiday do so in order to enjoy delectable Mexican dishes and libations.
Whether you’re born and bred Mexican, or simply someone who appreciates the culture and food, there are many ways to celebrate this date in history.
As an American, I enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine and also Tex-Mex food. This is more of a hybrid, Americanized variation using some non-authentic ingredients and techniques. Regardless of the authenticity of these recipes, I can assure you they are delicious! Any combination would be a welcome addition to your Cinco de Mayo menu.
Planning your Cinco de Mayo menu
Putting together a menu for any occasion can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. I love planning theme-specific dinner parties that span the globe. My Cinco de Mayo recipes are perfect for any Mexican fiesta, big or small.
Depending on the year, Cinco de Mayo may fall on a weekday or weekend. If it falls on a weekday, you may be tempted to “celebrate” the occasion on the weekend because it’s easier to plan a menu. Keep in mind that there are a lot of make-ahead Cinco de Mayo recipes that can make a weekday celebration just as easy.
For chicken enchiladas you can use a rotisserie chicken from your local supermarket to save time. Then just shred the meat, roll it up in corn tortillas, top with sauce, cheese, and bake!
Various salsas and sauces can also be made in advance and refrigerated for days before serving. If anything the flavor will improve with time!
To build a good Cinco de Mayo menu, first determine if you’d like a simple dinner or a party. If it’s just your family or a few close friends, a single entree or maybe two options will suffice. You can expand your menu with a delicious margarita and a festive dessert.
If you want to go big, and plan a party for a large group, might I suggest a taco bar. Yes, it’s not a novel idea, but it’s popular! People love tacos. I share several taco varieties below, and you can easily mix and match fillings and toppings. I also love doing a nacho bar for parties. Homemade nacho cheese sauce is great for make-your-own nachos.
Although I love a classic margarita, it’s fun to change things up. When I go to my favorite Mexican restaurant I usually order flavored margaritas depending on my mood. It’s so easy to think outside the box with these great margarita recipes in all different colors and flavors.
Prickly Pear Margarita
One of my favorite fruity cocktails by far is the Prickly Pear Margarita. This vibrant pink concoction is even more delicious, and easier to make than the green-hued standby.
These creative Tamarind Margaritas feature a vibrant Indian/Asian influence through the addition of tamarind. Tamarind is a fruit pod native to Asia and Northern Africa, but also very popular in Latin America where it's called tamarindo. These refreshing cocktails are sweet-tart and delightfully boozy with a hefty mix of tequila and triple sec!
Regardless of the size of your party, there’s always room on the menu for salsa, guacamole, and other delicious sauces and dips. When I claim my guacamole recipe is the world’s best, I really mean it. The combination of garlic and ground coriander somehow create the most magical, flavorful guac I’ve ever tasted. Give it a try!
The mole poblano is a bit of a project compared to the other quick and easy recipes below. You’ll need to plan a day to make it, but it makes a lot and freezes really well! If you plan ahead you can whip up enmoladas (enchiladas with mole sauce) on a weeknight with hardly any last minute effort on your part.
World’s Best Guacamole
Truly the world's best guacamole! This slightly chunky guac is super garlicky, and extremely easy to make in no time at all. It's great as a snack, and excellent dolloped atop a plate of nachos.
If you’re hosting friends, I’ve got some really fun composed nacho recipes for you to try. I also highly recommend the easy and comforting sopa de lima (or lime soup) which follows. I actually prefer to to a classic tortilla soup, but I’ll let you be the judge.
Duck Carnitas Nachos
An elevated twist on a classic carnita, these complex nachos are topped with succulent duck, black beans, radishes, and so much more.
Sopa de Lima is a bright and citrusy chicken soup that will tantalize your taste buds. Whether you're coming down with a cold, or craving a light but comforting soup, this recipe is easy and delicious.
Tacos are my jam. You’ll find that there are a lot of taco recipes on Mission: Food. They are extremely versatile and popular for people of all ages and food preferences. You can also take any of the following taco fillings and turn them into taco bowls. Just make some rice for the base, or use lettuce to make more of a taco salad bowl. Then add whatever else you like and dig in!
Chicken is one of my favorite proteins for tacos since it’s relatively lean, readily available, cooks fast, and is considerably cheap (compared to beef short ribs for example). You can grill, saute, or braise it for the fillings that follow.
Tangy Achiote-Rubbed Grilled Chicken Tacos
These easy Grilled Chicken Tacos marinate in a tangy combination of orange juice, apple cider vinegar, achiote/annatto and other spices. They are truly a breeze to make! This recipe yields a super juicy and flavorful grilled chicken perfect for loading up your tacos!
There are countless ways to make chicken tacos, but these adobo tacos are flavorful and easy enough for a weeknight. You can make the marinade ahead of time, and even freeze it! Then just marinate your chicken in the adobo paste and cook until juicy. Delicious!
These low-and-slow cooked Braised Chicken Tacos put the comfort in comfort food. Tequila and beer combine with broth, tomatoes, and spices to yield an unctuous, decadent braised chicken taco filling. It will skyrocket your tacos to another dimension of flavor.
Beef tacos are totally classic! Ground beef filling is a standard for easy weeknight tacos. You can make your own taco seasoning with a well-stocked spice rack. If you want a more decadent beef filling, give these braised short rib tacos a try!
Ground Beef (or Turkey) Tacos
Making your own taco seasoning is way easier than you'd think! Make these easy ground beef tacos for Taco Tuesday, or taco any day. You can also make these simple weeknight tacos with ground turkey for a lighter option.
Not all tacos are created equal. These Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos are the crème de la crème of beef tacos. If you want a spicy and sophisticated taco filling, look no further than these slow-cooked, braised short rib tacos!
In my taco cooking repertoire, seafood tacos were a bit late to the game, but I fell in love hard and fast. My grilled fish tacos are a “copycat” Disney recipe, and one of my all-time favorites. They are super easy, and extremely delicious! My shrimp tacos are fast and easy, and quite light. You really can’t go wrong with either.
Grilled Fish Tacos
These easy Grilled Fish Tacos feature crunchy citrus slaw, flaky fish, and tangy cilantro-lime mayo. All wrapped up in soft tortillas, they are delicious replicas of the fresh fish tacos at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.
I have plenty of love on the Cinco de Mayo menu for my vegetarian friends. These meatless tacos are full of flavor and creativity. The mushroom tacos in particular are very fast to make, while the sweet potato and cauliflower taco recipes provide layered, complex flavors.
Sweet Potato Tacos
Hailing from Los Angeles's popular Guerrilla Tacos, these creative Sweet Potato Tacos pack tons of flavor into each vegetarian bite. Sweet potatoes are boiled, then seared in butter, topped with homemade almond salsa, salty feta, and crunchy corn nuts. What a delicious hand-held delight for your next Taco Tuesday!
These robust vegetarian tacos are flavorful and meaty without the meat. The mushroom filling is easy and cooks very quickly, while the spicy avocado-tomatillo salsa is great for topping, and also for dipping chips on the side.
Hailing from Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles, this recipe for Cauliflower Tacos is a delicious diversion from the traditional meat-filled varieties. Doused with curry powder, and served up with olives, dates, and pine nuts, these tacos will tantalize the taste buds of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Although I spent a lot of time discussing a myriad of taco options, I also have some delicious Cinco de Mayo recipes at your disposal for enchiladas and burritos. A couple of these enchilada recipes are Americanized, with BBQ and Buffalo chicken flavors, but they are a lot of fun especially if your guests are novice Mexican food eaters.
Meanwhile, the chicken burritos mojados are truly outstanding, and worth the extra work involved. You can make all the filling components in advance, and assemble and bake your burritos the day of your Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Mushroom, Black Bean, and Cheese Enchiladas
You won't miss the meat in these easy vegetarian enchiladas stuffed with umami mushrooms, hearty black beans, and gooey cheese. I include an easy, homemade red enchilada sauce recipe, but you can always use store-bought sauce to save time.
These delectable baked burritos are stuffed with succulent chicken, fragrant Mexican rice with pinto beans, and cheese. They are topped with a colorful medley of sauces that replicate the colors of the Mexican flag. Not only are these Chicken Burritos Mojados beautiful to look at, but they are out-of-this-world delicious!
Just because this is an “other” category doesn’t diminish how awesome these recipes are! In fact these are a few of my absolute favorites on this list. This pepito (or Mexican steak sandwich) is shockingly delicious and very easy to make. The beef cooks so quickly too, making these a wonderful weeknight option that thinks outside the box of typical Mexican cuisine.
The Mexican Hot Pockets hail from Disney Cruise Line. They are one of my favorite DCL recipes, and one I am so thrilled to be able to make myself at home. Meanwhile, the Veracruz-style fish is absolutely phenomenal, and also considerably quick-cooking and easy to make. I truly can’t think of a better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with any of these recipes.
Pepito (Mexican Steak Sandwich)
Philadelphia's got nothing on these amazing Mexican steak sandwiches. Filled with tender beef, creamy refried black beans, and luscious avocado, these easy-to-make sandwiches will be a hit on your next lunch or dinner menu.
A beloved offering from Disney Cruise Line, Mexican Hot Pockets are a breakfast staple at the Cabanas buffet. They a fun combination of taco meat with beans, and delicious cheese sauce! Wrapped up in a grilled tortilla, they are great for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
Delicious, easy, and fresh Veracruz-Style Fish features an aromatic sauce of tomatoes, olives and capers. Make it with whole fish or fillets for a fast and enticing meal hailing from Mexico's coastal region.
For a sweet finish, I’ve got some fun dessert options that are great for any Mexican-themed gathering. Whether you’re into cupcakes or pies, I’ve got you covered with these straight-forward and delicious recipes.
These delightful cupcakes truly encompass the beloved flavors of a classic margarita. You can easily make them without the booze, and still enjoy a sweet treat.
What are your favorite Cinco de Mayo recipes? Do you plan something special every year? Leave me a note in the comments! And don’t forget to Pin this post or share it with your friends on Facebook using the social share buttons below.