Today is Cinco de Mayo, and of course I’m making Mexican for dinner tonight. I am making some of my favorite homemade tamales and serving them with a side of my guacamole, in addition to some Texas sheetcake brownies with a Mexican twist. There are so many great Cinco de Mayo recipes that it’s hard to choose just one for dinner.
Whether you are planning ahead or looking for something last minute you can throw together to celebrate, this roundup of Cinco de Mayo recipes will have you eating happy. Many are also allergy friendly and are noted as such.
Now eat up!
15 Cinco de Mayo Recipes
These homemade chicken tamales are my family’s favorite Mexican meal, hands down. They taste better than most restaurant tamales, and they aren’t that hard to make. A little practice, and you’re good to go. These were on my bucket list for a long time before I finally made them, but I’m so glad I did!
I love that I know exactly what’s going into my tamales, and you could easily modify them to be pork or ground beef tamales if that’s what you like better. They take a bit of time, but make a big batch then freeze them for another night. These are gluten free, soy free, and dairy free.
Don’t have enough time to make the authentic tamales? That’s ok. My quick weeknight version of skillet tamales is incredibly simple and is ready in time to feed the family. This is a great way to use your cast iron skillet, and again you can adjust the seasonings to reflect your family’s preferences.
I tend to make this with ground beef, but I’ve also done it with shredded chicken to switch things up a bit. It makes plenty for a hungry family, and I generally have enough leftovers for lunch the next day. This is also dairy free, gluten free, and soy free.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you aren’t out of luck. I may or may not have a mild obsession with tamales. I could eat them all day long. So when I wanted to switch it up from the skillet tamales but didn’t quite have the time or energy to make authentic tamales, I made individual tamale pies in ramekins.
This is absolutely the fastest way to get the flavor of tamales, and I whipped these up in under a half hour since I used a seasoned soup as my base to give everything great flavor. These are great to make and then bring to work for lunch and just heat the next day. If you cover them tightly, they freeze great. And yes, these are also gluten free, soy free, and dairy free.
What’s more traditional than guacamole? We eat it all the time, and I love this recipe because it has so much more flavor than just avocados. The orange juice is the secret ingredient that really gives it a wow factor. I’ll roast my tomatoes and pepper and onion when I have the time and set them aside in the fridge until I’m ready to make my guacamole.
You know a recipe is a winner when you can make a double batch and have it all disappear before the avocados start to turn brown. The lime juice in this recipe helps a ton, but you still want to eat this within a day of making it. That’s never been an issue around here. This is dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and corn free, as well as vegan.
I’m also a huge fan of salsas. I made a black bean and corn salsa the other day that was so good. It was vaguely reminiscent of guacamole with the addition of an avocado to it, but the focus was on the black beans and roasted corn I added to the tomatoes. Because I chose to use canned tomatoes, this salsa was ready in a flash.
Though it’s meant to be a dip, there is protein in the black beans and plenty of veggies in the rest of it, so technically you could consider this a meal. My 9 year old daughter certainly did. I also added this salsa to chicken tacos I made, and it was fantastic. In fact, my mom has asked me to make this again to bring for Mother’s Day. This is dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and corn free, as well as vegan.
My favorite Mexican street food is elotes. I love that living in Chicago means I can buy it all the time in the summer from various carts. This is another one of those items that I could simply eat all day, every day. The tartness of the lime mixed with the richness of the cheese and mayo and the charred corn and yum!
I’m not sure if it’s good news or bad news that it’s so easy to make elotes at home, but this is definitely a recipe I make on a regular basis. I may actually have to add it as another side dish tonight. Luckily, the ingredients are fairly common, and I have them all in my pantry right now. This recipe is gluten and soy free.
Another of my favorite Cinco de Mayo recipe ideas is to make avocado fries. Avocados always scream Cinco de Mayo to me, no matter how I serve them. These have few ingredients, and I bake mine, which means they aren’t at all greasy. If you’ve never had avocado fries before, you have got to try making these. It’s not at all what you would imagine.
I pair the avocado fries with a chipotle lime dipping sauce that is the perfect complement. I served these to friends who had never had avocado before and were quite leery of them. One bite, and they were hooked. These are dairy free, soy free, and corn free.
Spanish rice may have Spanish in the name, but this is definitely a more Mexican dish, and a perfect idea for your Cinco de Mayo recipes. I’m shocked to report that I have no photo for this recipe, but I will be sure to rectify that error shortly because I will be making this again very soon.
Spanish rice has so much more flavor than traditional rice, and it doesn’t take all day to make. Most of the time is simply left simmering on the stove where you’re free to do other things. The bacon and peppers and tomatoes in this really dress it up and make this a perfect side dish no matter what you’re serving for Cinco de Mayo. This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and corn free.
Now, I may be making tamales for dinner tonight, but another of my all time favorites was almost chosen instead. I can never order mole from restaurants because – all humility aside – the homemade mole I make is amazing. I’m always disappointed when I order it out. Instead, I make a batch of mole and divvy it up, freezing some, refrigerating some, and eating some immediately. This recipe makes a lot – which is good because it is a Sunday afternoon simmer on the stove all day type recipe.
Once you have it made – and I promise you the effort is worth it – it’s simple to heat it up a bit and add it over shredded chicken and rice, a burrito, or however you wish. I’ve shared some of my mole each year with my daughter’s teachers from her Spanish immersion school, and they are always amazed. It’s a good thing when a Mexican asks you for your recipe, right? This recipe is dairy free and soy free.
When I’m going to be gone all day but still have a craving for Mexican, my crock pot carnitas is without question my go to recipe. It has an amazing amount of flavor. This is one of those recipes that makes quite a bit of food, but you’re always surprised by how few leftovers there are. Yes, it was so good, you took just “one more bite” more than once.
Crock pot meals are my favorite, whether it’s cold and I want something hearty or hot and I am looking for a meal that doesn’t require me to turn on my oven or stove. Technically, it does require just a little bit of the stove to crisp up the carnitas once it’s cooked, but I’ll make an exception in the summer for this because it is so good. This is an amazingly kid friendly recipe and can be eaten in tacos or burritos, made into tamales (see above!) or just enjoyed by itself. This is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and corn free.
Tortilla soup is another traditional favorite. I have a couple different recipes, but this one where you throw everything into the crock pot in five minutes and walk away is the one I go back to time and time again. It’s a huge time saver, and the flavors are amazing.
By the time you come back at the end of the day, your chicken has absorbed all the flavors and is absolutely falling apart. All you need to do it add the crisped tortilla strips to your soup as you serve it, and you are ready to enjoy. This recipe is dairy free, gluten free, and soy free.
Another quick and easy favorite is my tomato lime chicken. This is a great crockpot recipe where all ingredients get tossed into the slow cooker in the morning, and you come home to a house that smells like your abuela has been working there all afternoon.
The chicken is so tender that it shreds itself when you lift it from the slow cooker. I tend to serve this on tortllas like a taco, but it is quite versatile and definitely full of flavor. The lime and tomato are a great combination, and kids love it, too, since it isn’t spicy. This recipe is dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and corn free.
If you’re looking for something that’s a twist on some Mexican favorites for Cinco de Mayo recipe ideas, these Mexican taco pockets fit the bill. I love taking cultures and combining them to create new dishes. Calzones are so much fun to eat, and my kids always love the surprise that comes inside them. It doesn’t get to be much more of a surprise to discover that there’s a taco inside instead of a pizza.
The crust takes the place of a flour or corn tortilla, and they are cheesy and gooey and oh so delicious. If you use a fast rising yeast, these can be made in under an hour, as they wouldn’t need to rise at all then. I used dairy free cheese in my daughter’s taco pocket, and she loved it, so this is definitely a recipe you can play around with to determine your favorite flavors. This recipe is corn free and soy free (and can be dairy free).
While you might traditionally think of churros as your go to Cinco de Mayo dessert, there are other great options out there, too. One of my all time favorites is avocado ice cream. I had it once in a gourmet ice cream shop where I tasted a few “unusual” ice creams, and it was so good I ordered it for my cone. Obviously, I had to recreate it at home.
This ice cream is incredibly creamy and is not a strong avocado taste, but it works beautifully in frozen form. Trust me. This is another of the recipes I served to friends who had never had avocados before, and after giving me a few looks and finally agreeing to taste it, they asked for seconds. This recipe is gluten free, corn free, and soy free.
And lastly, those Mexican sheetcake brownies I mentioned at the very beginning. With just a hint of chili powder to kick them up, these combine the best of chocolate and spice – just like so many Mexican dishes do from mole to hot chocolate and more.
These are made in a jelly roll pan, which means they make a decent quantity. I like to make these for entertaining because the recipe is fairly low maintenance and makes a lot of really good dessert that isn’t cloyingly sweet. They also freeze very well, which is a bonus if you want to keep them all to yourself. This recipe is corn free and soy free and can be made dairy free.