Look beyond the burrito, and cook up a traditional Mexican dinner with our selection of authentic recipes for tamales, tortillas, mole and chilli chocolate dessert. These recipes are all about using the core ingredients that underpin all traditional Mexican cooking: masa harina (corn flour) and a broad selection of chillies.
What are typical Mexican dishes?
- Tortillas: flat breads made from corn flour that can be used to make tacos or served alongside rich stews for dipping and mopping up every last drop of sauce.
- Tamales: these are individual rolled and steamed corn husks, with a corn flour and meat filling.
- Moles: ‘Mole’ simply means sauce, referring to the rich (often chilli based) sauces that are commonly served poured over meat.
- Tacos: made from tortillas which are folded in half, tacos are filled with spicy meat or beans.
- Refried beans: Soaked beans are boiled then mashed and fried with lard until dry and fairly solid.
Here are 6 of our most popular Mexican recipes to try
This homemade corn tortilla recipe is quick and easy to make, and a wonderful addition to a huevos rancheros breakfast – Mexican spicy tomato sauce with eggs – or a classic Mexican dinner.
Huevos Rancheros was a common brunch for Mexican farm workers, which then became a traditional North American and Mexican breakfast recipe. This bright and colourful dish brings rich contrast in every bite. Cut through the unctuous egg yolk and let it flow across the crisp fried tortilla.
Istmo, or Isthmus, style stew is a unique Mexican dish. It gets its name from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest part of Mexico. This part of the country saw a greater variety of ingredients than the rest of Mexico as it was a major trading route before the Panama canal opened. The diverse ingredients and long cooking time means that this stew was traditionally only cooked for weddings – in fact, another name for this dish is ‘wedding stew’.
Carnitas refers to the shredded crispy pork, so it isn’t a meal by itself, but you can make ‘carnitas fajitas’ using this recipe. The pork can be slow cooked a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator – and save the last step of frying the meat for just before you serve it. Add a little habanero chilli salsa or powder for extra heat, if you want something a little more fiery.
5. Mole Poblano
Mole poblano is traditionally served with turkey, braised in the sauce itself, however the mole works equally well with chicken. There is no consensus about precise ratios for the ingredients in mole poblano - Diana Kennedy's excellent book 'The Essentials Of Mexican Cuisine' notes that recipes in La Cocinera Poblana published in Puebla in 1877 use at least seven different spices, but not one includes cacao or chocolate. Mulato, ancho, and pasilla chillies appear in most recipes, though in different quantities, and occasionally with one chipotle blended in towards the end. Onion and garlic crop up, though sometimes one or the other, and tomatoes are occasionally replaced by tomatillos.
Ancho poblano chillies are known for their fruity, smoky flavour and mild heat. Ancho chillies are one of the most popular Mexican varieties – and often form the base flavour of chilli sauces or a basic mole, along with guajillo chillies. Soak the chillies to rehydrate, roughly chop and cook into Mexican stews or sauces. Or roughly grind the dried chillies and mix with salt, pepper, sugar, and dried herbs to make a Mexican spice rub. This Mexican-style black beans recipe is a comforting and healthy wintry dish.