When any holiday involves food, everyone wants to celebrate it—and Cinco de Mayo is no different. From nachos to street corn to warm, homemade tortillas, you really can't go wrong. As much as we love flavored margaritas and Americanized Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico's victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, is also a chance to celebrate an incredible culture.
Personally, I think the best way to spend a cultural holiday like this is to eat food associated with it. Not only are you learning a little more about a culture, but you also get a good meal out of it that might even expand your palate. If you're not sure what to make this year, I rounded up the 10 most popular traditional Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes on Pinterest that are perfect to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo.
1. Street corn that tastes like it's from a taco truck
Grilled corn on the cob, (also known as elote), tastes even better when it's smothered in garlic mayo, lime juice, and cotija cheese. This Mexican Street Corn from Little Spice Jar is delicious and reminiscent of Mexican food truck-style food that's hard not to love. To get the best grill marks and smokey flavors, grill your corb cobs on the best charcoal grill we’ve ever tested.
2. Simple, yet delicious guacamole
Guacamole is a staple for Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants alike. But it's also surprisingly easy to mess up—too much lime, not enough seasoning, or worse, overripe avocados can ruin one of the most quintessential Cinco de Mayo dishes. This Ultimate Guacamole from Kitchen Swagger makes it hard to mess up, with super simple ingredients that make it delicious. Be sure to use an authentic molcajete mortar to create the best texture.
3. A traditional, no-frills margarita
No Cinco de Mayo is complete without at least one margarita. The key to making a good homemade margarita is to keep things simple. This year, skip the fancy flavors and add-ins and go back to the roots. These Traditional Margaritas from A Farm Girl’s Dabbles are made with four ingredients. That means less sugar, and more importantly, less chance of getting a hangover (or at least a less horrible one). For the perfect, crunchy ice to go with your cold drink, you’re going to want to invest in the Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which makes ice that more closely resembles snowballs than ice cubes.
4. A sweet Mexican drink
Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made with a rice base—and it’s delicious. This authentic version from My Latina Table goes well with any Cinco de Mayo meal and can be enjoyed by itself or in a refreshing iced coffee. Plus, you can add shredded coconut or almonds to it for extra texture. Use a professional blender—like our favorite—to ensure every sip is smooth and delicious.
5. Juicy pulled pork with a kick
These Crispy Pork Carnitas from Cafe Delites somehow manage to be both juicy and crispy. The recipe calls for orange juice and cola, which gives it an unforgettable flavor. The key is to cook the meat in a slow cooker and finish it off in a cast iron skillet. It's good on its own or on a sandwich, but most importantly, it's one of the best taco fillings.
6. Tamales that satisfy your corn craving
Enjoying corn tamales should not just be limited to date night at your favorite Mexican restaurant. These Authentic Corn Tamales from Must Have Mom require ingredients you can buy at a bodega or a grocery store with a robust Hispanic section to create a truly authentic dish. To make these tamales, you need to ground up fresh corn kernels, so make sure you have a powerful food processor.
7. A flavorful soup you can eat with chips
Chunky and crunchy come together in this delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup from Carlsbad Cravings. Loaded with shredded chicken, black beans, sweet corn, and fire roasted tomatoes, it’s filled with flavor. Bonus: it’s freezable, so you can store your leftovers in the best food containers we’ve ever tested, if there are any in the first place.
8. Chilean style empanadas
Empanadas make the perfect handheld appetizer or each a few for a meal. These Pork Empanadas from Gringalicious are super simple and will appease the pickiest of eaters. Bake them on baking sheets that distribute heat well to assure they’re evenly cooked.
9. Food truck-style chicken tacos
Bring a Mexican food truck into your home (not literally, of course) with these Mexican Chicken Street Tacos from Cooking with Cocktail Rings. They're simple with chicken thighs, onions, and cilantro, but cooking the chicken with garlic, onion, cayenne, and paprika dials up the flavor. You won't need cheese or sour cream on these bad boys, but you’re going to want a sharp chef’s knife to chop through all that chicken.
10. The best Spanish-style dessert
Lightweight and gooey with a decadent caramel flavor, flan is the perfect dessert to eat on Cinco de Mayo. This recipe for "The World's Best Baked Flan" from One Chopping Board will surely impress everyone you're feeding. Use a good mixer stand mixer to avoid creating too many bubbles when mixing your ingredients.