You can’t go wrong with the apps and snacks angle for pleasing a crowd, especially if you plan on making Cinco de Mayo a reason to share festive fiesta foods. We rounded up all of our favorites. And since Cinco de Mayo as we celebrate it in America is more of a fanciful concoction (it’s not widely observed in Mexico), we added some less-than-authentic Americanized foods as well. Seven-layer bean dip, anyone?
If you’d like to use Cinco de Mayo as a prompt for exploring the diverse foods and regional dishes of Mexico, you’ll find those recipes here, too. As you make them, savor the flavors and traditions we love thanks to our neighbors south of the border, who are so much of our culture today.
The Best Guacamole
Deceptively simple, the best guacamole relies on the best avocados for a creamy texture. For a well-balanced flavor, season to taste with salt and lime juice. Dip a chip in there for your teste test so you get a good idea of what it’ll taste like when you serve it, but this stuff is so good you’ll want to eat it straight from a spoon.
Taquitos de Pollo
Author Jennifer Zyman ate these often in her childhood home. “Growing up, my Mexican mom announcing she was making taquitos was music to my ears and a cause for celebration. The crispy, rolled-up pockets of goodness were an everyday thing because it was easy for her to prep over the course of the day while still managing two daughters.” These are easier to make than you’d think, especially if you use rotisserie chicken.
Elote (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)
Out-of-the-box riffs on this street food favorite abound, but you can’t improve much on the original. Grill ears of corn, slather with spicy mayo, and sprinkle with crumbly Cotija cheese. Then watch them disappear.
Cream cheese keeps this smooth and tangy queso dip from curdling, and Ro-Tel tomatoes and roasted chiles in a can make it extra easy to prep. Get your chips ready!
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Saucier than American shrimp cocktail, this beloved appetizer is cool and refreshing. You can almost make a meal out of it on a hot day.
7-Layer Bean Dip
Simply Recipes founder Elise Bauer prefers her refried beans warm, and that’s what sets this bean dip apart from the pack. Warm the dish with the beans, then add the remaining layers for a bean dip that will convert you for life.
The Ultimate Quesadilla
Don’t ask me over when you’re having quesadillas, because I will eat all of them. This quesadilla has extra texture from browning both sides of the tortillas before assembly. It’s the little things that make a difference.
World’s Easiest Salsa
This is the salsa to make when you can’t even. Use canned tomatoes and canned chiles and you’re done in minutes. The kicker here is that even with the ease, it’s still leagues better than any jarred salsa.
How to Make Homemade Tortilla Chips
Impress yourself and everyone else with homemade corn tortilla chips. They’re way easier than you’d think! And we have three methods: traditional deep-frying, baking in the oven, or microwaving.
Contributor Susy Villasuso explains what makes birria tacos unique. “The corn tortillas are coated with consomé, then they’re filled with birria meat and grated cheese. The tacos are fried in a hot, lightly oiled pan until golden brown. As if this doesn’t sound delicious enough, they are then served with a small bowl of warm consomé for dipping the tacos.” Make this specialty of Jalisco that’s a blend of new and traditional birria taco methods and find out for yourself what the fuss is about.
Cactus and Corn Salsa
This tangy salsa is a good way to try nopales, the prickly pear cactus paddles beloved in much of Mexican cuisine. Charred corn and green tomatoes (you could sub tomatillos) round out the flavors and textures.
The Best Nachos
When we say the best nachos, we mean the best nachos. Pre-toasting the chips and combining the refried beans and taco-seasoned beef are what make these so satisfying, delivering just the right amount and variety of toppings in every bite.
Does too much cheese threaten your love affair with queso dip? Dairy-free queso might seem like a contradiction in terms, but trust us. It’s tangy, creamy, and addictive. Bonus: you can make it ahead of time, and there’s not threat of it curdling.
Mexican Fruit Cocktail
Fruit salads in Mexico walk the line between sweet and savory. Hints of salt, onion, and cilantro really punch up the fruit. Want to make it extra? Sprinkle on some Tajín.