Dust off that blender and get ready to whip up those margaritas, because Cinco de Mayo is upon us. Take advantage of the holiday to throw a Mexican celebration of epic proportions.
Apps and Dips
1. Chunky Guacamole
Of course this has to be first on the list. There are endless guac possibilities (guacamole with fruit in it…guacamole with cumin…poblano peppers!), but when in doubt, keep it simple. This classic and chunky recipe from chef Richard Sandoval uses minimal ingredients in the perfect amounts to let avocados star front and center.
2. Pico de Gallo
You could run to the store and pick up the pre-made kind…or you could quickly chop up tomatoes, onions, and cilantro and make your own. This recipe is super simple and positively sings with fresh flavor and heat. You won’t regret DIY-ing this one.
3. Guacamole Cups
They’re just as cute as they sound and couldn’t be easier. Simply throw together your favorite guac recipe and scoop into “cups” made from baked wonton wrappers for bite-sized guacamole and chips. Want to try your hand at a slightly more upscale version? Go with these veggie taco cups, which double as a healthy breakfast.
4. Fresh Herb and Tomato Salsa with Smoked Cheese
We know that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, but this chunky salsa recipe is so flavorful, we’re willing to break the rules and slip a little Italian-inspired dish into the mix. Serve the Caprese-salad-inspired mix on its own, or turn into a robust side or main dish by adding shredded chicken to it.
Combine fish (or shrimp) with lime juice and spicy chiles with this recipe from Rick Bayless and take your tastebuds on a refreshing trip south of the border. Bonus: It’s perfect for those experimenting with the paleo diet or who eat gluten-free. For an upscale splurge, try this lobster ceviche from “Lobster de Mayo” chef Howard Kalachnikoff.
6. Chicken Tortilla Soup
This recipe from the Pioneer Woman Cooks is a little labor-intensive, but the finished product is positively gorgeous and bursting with dimension and flavor thanks to cumin, chili powder, and garlic spicing up the chicken. Make extra for tomorrow’s lunch or another night, and experience even richer tastes when you dig into the leftovers.
7. Southwestern Black Bean Salad
This spicy, colorful salad makes the perfect warm-weather side dish. Loaded with black beans, corn, tomatoes, jalapeños, and avocados for a mix of crunchy, soft, sweet, and heat, it’s rich in antioxidants, low in calories.
8. Chickpea, Avocado, and Feta Salad
When you’re hosting a get-together, you need to get food on the table fast. This recipe is just the thing. Serve up a heart-healthy, filling combination of nutty garbanzo beans, buttery avocado, zesty lime, and salty, tangy feta to get the party started.
9. Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pesto
Liven up corn on the cob by throwing it on the grill and slathering it with delicious Mexican pesto. Made with pumpkin seeds, robust cotija, and cilantro, the piquant sauce with a touch of spice makes a great topping for meat and fish too.
10. Fiesta Lime Rice
Easy, easy, easy: Throw together leftover rice, canned black beans, tomatoes, scallions, and onions, and you have a fiesta-worthy side dish to balance out all the meat- and cheese-heavy dishes you’ll be serving for Cinco. It can also do double-duty in this stuffed peppers recipe.
11. Turkey Taquitos
Baked rather than fried, these light, flaky taquitos are super rica and insanely better than anything you’d find in the frozen foods aisle. They’re good with shredded chicken as well, and they’re husband- and kid-approved.
12. Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Guacamole
Fish tacos tend to be fried, but this recipe calls for breaking out the grill, which will help you save some calories. Topped with lime-spiked slaw, tomato, and the creamiest guac ever, you’ll make these all summer long.
13. Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos with Roasted Cranberry Pomegranate Salsa
According to recent stats released by GrubHub, the most popular taco filling is chicken, but we’re confident that will change after you try these. It’s a mouthful to say, but trust us when we say the savory, spicy, slightly sweet flavor of the quinoa, sweet potatoes, and pomegranates will win you over in a heartbeat.
14. Chicken Tinga Tacos
Adobo chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, sweet onions, and a little bit of garlic all work together in this recipe to give the chicken a robust, smoky note. Pile into a tortilla, top with cotija cheese, crema, and avocado, and you’ll have a restaurant-style meal in no time.
15. Chicken-and-Black-Bean Stuffed Burritos
Who doesn’t like burritos? While a typical burrito can set you back 1,200 calories (no joke!), these ones come in way under the wire at 354 calories per serving, yet they’re still loaded with all the good stuff: chicken, beans, salsa, and cheese.
16. 3-Cheese Mexican Frittata with Salsa Fresca
Cheese-lovers unite! This fritatta is so pretty to look at it, it almost hurts. Whether you’re having a boozy brunch or doing breakfast for dinner this Cinco de Mayo, you won’t be able to keep yourself from digging into this cheesy, gooey, savory recipe. It’s a bit indulgent, yes, but it’s a holiday.
17. Chile Colorado Con Carne
This recipe isn’t for the faint of heart! But if you can stomach lots of spicy chile, get ready to turn up the heat in the kitchen. This slow-simmered beef stew (a.k.a. guisada) is the epitome of Mexican soul food. You’ll want to dive into the bowl as it cooks thanks to the cumin, oregano, allspice, and cloves. Oh, and bacon and beer.
18. Vegan Mushroom, Kale, and Quinoa Enchiladas
Non-meat-eaters, rejoice! Give the Mexican staple a power food upgrade by skipping the meat and rice and using kale and mushrooms instead. Spoon out the slightly sweet, spicy red sauce included in the recipe for an extra layer of depth.
19. Chicken Enmoladas
It’s Mole Monday! If you can make enchiladas, you can make these babies. Drench them in a thick, velvety, and slightly chocolatey mole sauce that tastes as rich as it looks for a savory, chicken-filled dish that practically envelopes you in warmth and heat.
20. Caliente Viejo
The Manhattan meets the margarita for a spicy, sophisticated drink that skimps on calories—not flavor (or booze!).
Can’t leave los guaguas (babies) out of the action! This creamy horchata recipe tastes almost like a vanilla milkshake—with a dash of cinnamon and almond. Alcohol-free, kids of all ages will sip it up.
22. Skinny Sunrise Cocktail
As blogger Kristin Porter says, there’s no reason Cinco de Mayo can’t also be Shrinko de Mayo. Skip the heavy margaritas and beers for this vibrantly-colored drink instead. It will only set you back 145 calories, though it is a little high in sugar (most of it natural), so if you’re trying to be cognizant of your intake, remember to indulge in moderation.
23. Spiced Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Who knew avocado was so versatile? Use guacamole’s star ingredient to make quite possibly the richest, moistest cupcakes ever. There’s even avocado in the super silky chocolate icing, but all you’ll taste is yum!
24. Peach-Mango Riesling Granites
Remember when you were a kid, and you used to get ices or slushies every time you went to the beach or an amusement park? Enter the grown-up version: Simply blend together your favorite sweet wine, juice, and ice in a blender or food processor for a party-ready cool and fizzy dessert.
25. Margarita Mousse Bars
Have you ever noticed that when you stick the word “margarita” in front of something, it instantly becomes a hundred times better? Case in point: These margarita mousse bars are soft and pillowy, tangy and sweet, just a little bit boozy, and are completely out of this world. You’re not going to get better than these for Cinco de Mayo!
26. Baked Churro Donut Holes
Sweet, fluffy, cinnamon-y, cake-like, and churro-ish all at the same time, these bite-sized donut holes are a healthier alternative to the traditional sugary Mexican churro. These treats are easy to pop and therefore easy to overdo, so remember: Moderation is the name of the game. (Though we predict they’ll be so popular that you won’t even have time to be tempted to overindulge!)