While it is one of the minor-league holidays in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has progressed into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, predominantly in areas with large Mexican American populations.
Each year, on the 5th of May, Americans across the US take the opportunity to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parades, parties, mariachi music, folk dancing, Mexican food, and, of course, margaritas. But what happened on the 5th of May and what are we celebrating? For starters, it’s not Mexican Independence Day, as many people think.
Cinco de Mayo (the Fifth of May) is traditionally a Mexican holiday conceived to memorialize the unlikely 1862 victory of the Mexican army over French adversaries at the Battle of Puebla, which came after Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Mexican-American War and the Mexican Civil War. Since the battle, people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican borders have hailed Mexican resiliency by celebrating Cinco de Mayo soirees featuring traditional and not-so-traditional food fare. Our collection of food ideas features Tex-Mex cuisine favorites and recipes inspired by Mexican traditions and cultures. So put on your sombrero, ramp up that mariachi mix, and plan a delectable Cinco de Mayo party menu!
Looking for Cinco De Mayo gifts? Pick from these 10 perfect gifting ideas for the true Mexican foodie friend!
You cannot possibly celebrate Cinco de Mayo without guacamole. It is a perfect appetizer to begin any party since it takes no time to make. Here is a super simple and delicious guacamole recipe for you to try this 5th of May!
Pico De Gallo
I love my pico de gallo like I like my guac. Original, bursting with flavor and no cheese please! The perfect pico de gallo has each component clearly visible, yet so finely diced that I get some of everything with each spoonful. This classic dip adds a healthy, low-calorie punch of freshness to just about any taco or burrito. For a Cinco De Mayo evening, make this garden-fresh Pico De Gallo in under 10 minutes with Chef Ben’s recipe.
Chili Con Queso
Chile con queso has my heart. A more kid-friendly version of it has saved me on days my sick toddler refused to have a bite of anything other than chili con queso and tortilla chips. It’s also where I like to double up on the cheese. You can’t go wrong with Monterey Jack, Cheddar or even cream cheese in your chili con queso. Follow this masterpiece of a recipe for a creamy and buttery chili con queso to make this holiday even richer.
You cannot enjoy Cinco De Mayo if you are going to be stingy on the salsas. An expansive array of dips and condiments in varied hues– along with pickled jalapenos, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro and onions; all shiny and inviting is what comes to mind when there is talk of Tex-Mex. And that is how it should be. So we got one more for you. The Amarilla Salsa gives the zingy kick of roasted jalapenos and the caramelized sweetness of roasted tomatoes. Perfect to pair with tortilla chips or slather on tacos; this Amarilla salsa recipe should be your go-to for any Mexican-themed celebration. To take it up a notch, try this homemade roasted tomato salsa recipe, TexasRealFood style, by our very own in-house foodie, Sheryl.
Now I did say that there has to be a line of condiments on a Cinco De Mayo food table, but I never said you have to make your salsas from scratch. Texas has some of the best crafted, seasoned to perfection, artisanal Mexican dips and condiments you can find. Here are some of our favorites!
Making your own tortillas can be arduous and time consuming. Skip it, and instead, check out Siete Foods that offers grain-free, GMO-free tortillas, taco shells and tortilla chips. Make sure you have ample quantities on standby to last the evening. From Double-layer beef, Chorizo, Huevos Rancheros, to Chicken Tikka-the possibilities of making lip-smacking tacos are quite literally endless. If none of those are your style, here is my favorite ground beef taco recipe.
If you are looking to hit the local taquerias for Cinco De Mayo dinner, Velvet Taco and Trill Taqueria will have you struggling to decide from the dozens of mouth-watering filling options they have on their menu! If you happen to be in San Antonio on the 5th of May, check out these seven farm-to-table taquerias for the freshest tacos!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
While the tacos take center stage on Cinco De Mayo as the familiar choice, low key popular on this day are the stuffed bell peppers. Stuff ‘em anyway you fancy, top off with plenty cheese, bake to get the perfect char and you have a healthy, nutritious, and complete dish. Here is Chef Ben’s spin on the traditional stuffed bell peppers!
These soft pockets of tortillas filled with plenty of grated cheese,healthy veggies, and protein have seen me through several lunches during the pandemic. An inviting and complete meal for young(my children) and old kids(their father) alike, quesadillas are something they love putting together. It’s even more fun since there is no one correct way of doing them . If you must, make your own tortillas for a fresh texture that is moist and doesn’t turn painfully crisp as it cools. Here is a scrumptious quesadilla recipe made with local and seasonal veggies.
Enchiladas are, simply put, an addiction. Burritos filled with aromatic meats, veggies, and topped off with a luxurious slathering of cheese and chili sauce? Yes, that’s what I am looking for when I hear the name. The sheer comfort of a toasty warm enchilada makes it one of the must-have foods for Cinco De Mayo. In honor of the holiday, here is our favorite way to make enchiladas!
If making tamales from scratch isn’t your idea of a fun evening, Tamale Addiction offers handcrafted, organic, and non-GMO tamales that you can safely be addicted to!
Try your hand at making sweet or savory empanadas this Cinco De Mayo, and you will be surprised at how simple it is to create these half-mooned pouches of flavorful fillings. To give it a healthy twist, I make my empanada dough with whole wheat flour and semolina. Here is my take on the perfect empanada with a cheesy chicken filling. However, if you are looking for the best empanadas in town, not many can beat those found at Argentinian Taste, by chef Dan Barreto.
What are your favorite foods to eat on Cinco De Mayo? Let us know in the comments section!