WHAT IS MEXICAN FOOD?
Mexican dishes originate from Mesoamerican cuisine, which included cultures such as the Maya and the Aztecs, and it evolved to incorporate additional influences all over Mexico as well as Spanish and South/Southwest American cuisine. Popular Mexican food ingredients include corn (AKA maize, from the Maya), beans, avocados, tomatoes, cactus, and of course, the chili pepper. Mexican foods use an aromatic blend of herbs and spices complemented by variety of chiles that really awaken the senses.
MEXICAN FLAVOR STORIES
Learn more about Mexican food and try your own easy Mexican dishes.
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WHAT ARE MEXICAN SPICES?
Traditional Mexican herbs and spices focus on aromatic characteristics. You won’t go wrong including any of these in your pantry:
Learn more below about herbs and spices for Mexican food and see what you want to start stocking regularly in your pantry.
The Mexican Oregano variety is related to lemon verbena. It brings citrus and anise flavors, and is much more pungent than Mediterranean oregano. Try Oregano Leaves.
McCormick chipotle chili peppers begin as whole jalapeño peppers grown in the hot, sunny climate of Mexico. We harvest them as whole pepper pods, and then gently smoke them over a wood fire before they’re dried and ground. Today’s cooks prize chipotle pepper for its rich flavor, smoky sweetness, and gentle heat. Try Chipotle Chili Pepper and discover Chipotle flavor combinations.
Cumin is in chili powder, taco seasoning and most every Mexican and Southwest-inspired dish. Chili, salsa, fillings for tacos and empanadas, tomato sauce for enchiladas, mole sauce—all call for lightly toasted cumin seed. Try Ground Cumin or Cumin Seed and learn more the flavor profile for Cumin Spice.
Chile peppers are the base for much of Mexican cuisine. This spicy blend of chilies and other spices makes cooking Mexican-inspired dishes easy. Try Chili Powder or Mexican Chili Powder, which is extra hot with additional cayenne. Learn more about Chili Powder ingredients and taste.
Your favorite Mexican recipes are another perfect home for roasted garlic. Taco and burrito fillings, salsa and guacamole are just a few ideas. The strong flavor of garlic powers many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Garlic powder makes it easy to amplify the savory warmth of taco fillings made with beef or pork and cooked tomato sauce for burritos. Try Garlic Powder or Roasted Garlic Powder. Learn more about using garlic powder versus cloves.
Sesame seeds bring nutty, toasty flavor and a crispy crunch to sweet and savory dishes from around the globe. It's great for Mexican mole and adobo sauces. Try Sesame Seeds.
Dried smoked poblano peppers, known as ancho, are especially popular in Mexican cuisine. From rice and beans to mole, ancho lends a sweet, smoky, and mildly spicy flavor to many dishes. Try Ancho Chile Pepper Seasoning or learn more about Ancho recipes.
Cinnamon brings a toasty undertone to savory dishes in many cultures and is great for Mexican chili. Add roasted Cinnamon for greater richness and depth to your Mexican dishes. Try Ground Cinnamon or Roasted Cinnamon. Explore other ways to use Roasted Cinnamon, which is especially popular to use while roasting nuts and seeds.
EASY MEXICAN INSPIRED DISHES
- Easy 15 minute Jalapeno Meatloaf
- Get Roasted Corn Pico De Gallo in 30 minutes using your grill
- 5m Easy Mexican Rice
- Capirotada: Easy 25 minute Mexican Bread Pudding
- Flan Napolitano in 15 minutes for those who like caramel and cream cheese
- Queue up Margaritas and Tacos for Your Next Taco Drink
- Curry and Cocktails: 10 minute Mango Lime Margarita
- 10 Easy Mocktails including a Paloma Drink (add tequila as needed)
- Try winter appropriate Zero-Proof Cocktails in colder weather
- Make your own Creamy Mexican Hot Chocolate
These foods may use ingredients that are unique to Mexico, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to try them at home.
- Often praised as one of the best sandwiches, originating from Puebla, try Pelonas Poblanas (Pueblan-Style Beef Sandwiches). To make this at home, depending on the availability of specialty Mexican ingredients, you can substitute the Pelonas rolls for easier-to-find Bolillo rolls (without sesame seeds).
- Consider sampling the wide variety of street foods available across Mexico. Traditional favorites like tacos, enchiladas, taquitos, and more will taste different when sampling authentic Mexican ingredients and cooking methods.
IF YOU LIKE SPICY MEXICAN FOOD, TRY THESE CUSINES NEXT:
Switch up some of the herbs and spices for a different take on your favorite dish. If you like Mexican for its spicy food, find cuisine-based spices lists for these top-spicy cuisines:
- Use more Curry and the savory side of Cinnamon in Chinese cuisine.
- Blend hot and cool flavors of Thai cuisine.
- Discover the diverse, region-based spices of Indian cuisine.
- Learn about the chili pepper Gochugaru in Korean cuisine.
- Peruvian will give you a reason to get that smoked paprika.
- Discover more Japanese Meals in our Beginner's Guide to Japanese Cuisine.
Look through more of our cuisine-focused flavor guides to find more recommended spices, herbs, cooking techniques and recipes inspired by each cuisine.
Want to create a meal plan for your Mexican recipes? Need help planning your weekly meals and want to try new recipes? Save your favorite food, dessert, drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner.