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15 Cinco de Mayo recipes

Cinco de Mayo is a sure sign that summer is knocking on the door. Longer, warmer and hopefully lazier days are about to unfold. Cinco de Mayo is purely a fun celebration about food, friends and perhaps a margarita or two. Here are our favorite Mexican recipes and cocktails to help you plan your Cinco de Mayo menu.

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Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos | Something New For Dinner

Slow cooker shredded beef tacos with mango & burrata

I hope you don’t miss out on this recipe. It is one of my favorites this year. I slow cook a beef brisket with an unusual broth of red wine, tamarind concentrate, lime juice, reconstituted dried chiles and spices. After 8 hours of gentle heat, I remove the fork-tender brisket and shred it. The broth gets skimmed of fat and reduced over the stove and is then poured back over the shredded brisket. The tacos are layered with shredded beef, fresh mango, creamy burrata cheese and salsa. Is your mouth watering yet? It’s an odd, but delicious combination. I recommend you buy the biggest brisket that will fit in your slow cooker. You can freeze any leftovers (yeah right!) for a future meal.




Chorizo & Potato Enchiladas | Something New For Dinner

Chorizo and potato enchiladas

These enchiladas are my idea of Mexican comfort food. The spicy chorizo is tempered by the potatoes and melded with some sharp cheddar cheese and Mexican crema.


Chicken & Tomatillo Enchiladas | Something New For Dinner 

Chicken and tomatillo enchiladas

These lighter enchiladas are layered with chicken, easy homemade roasted tomatillo sauce, poblano chiles and a medley of Monterey Jack cheese and queso fresco.


 Fish Tacos | Something New For Dinner

Fish tacos with cilantro chile marinade 

This fish taco recipe by Lourdes Castro is from her cookbook Simply Mexican. These tacos are a healthy, quick, and delicious alternative to fried Baha-style fish tacos. It is one of those recipes you will keep in your menu rotation. I’ve been making them for years.



Killer Chicken Tacos | Something New For Dinner

Killer chicken tacos 

These veggie dense, spicy chicken tacos are easy and healthy. I found Jill Hough’s recipe in the June 2006 edition of Bon Appetit. These tacos are also worthy of a place in your menu rotation.


Chipotle Steak Salad | Something New For Dinner

Grilled chipotle glazed steak salad 

This salad-for-dinner is another great recipe from Lourdes Castro. Chipotle chile gives this salad a wonderful smokey flavor. A word of caution: it takes very little chipotle chile to create a great smokey flavor. Use too  much and your dish will get very hot very quickly. I recommend you marinate the steak for at least three hours and overnight if you have the time.


Chicken Tortilla Soup | Something New For Dinner

Chicken tortilla soup 

For years I searched for a great tortilla soup and could never find one that was quite to my liking. So I began experimenting and over the years developed this recipe. I have to say this is great tortilla soup, maybe even the best tortilla soup. I load the soup with vegetables and toasted, hand-ground spices and provide an array of garnishes so each guest can customize their own bowl. The key is to serve this soup with plenty of lime wedges. Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. You will be glad you did.


Chicken Tomatillo Soup | Something New For Dinner

Chicken, chile and tomatillo soup 

This flavorful chicken soup is hardy enough to serve as a complete meal. Loaded with roasted peppers, chiles, beans, tomatillos and an array of aromatic spices, this soup is just what the doctor ordered. Make a big batch and stock your freezer.


Fresh Ceviche | Something New For Dinner

Fresh ceviche 

I love ceviche any time of the year. In fact I like to serve it during the Christmas season because of its seasonal red and green color. Ceviche works as an appetizer, but I can also make an entire meal out of it. There is no better way to eat fresh fish, particularly if you serve the ceviche with some crispy corn tortilla chips and a cold margarita. Here is my simple ceviche recipe.


Jicama Salad | Something New For Dinner

Jicama, cucumber and citrus salad

This salad was inspired by the street vendors who sell fresh fruit in Mexico and also here in Southern California. It is a fresh salad that is delicious as a snack by itself or as an accompaniment to a Mexican meal.


Grand Marnier Flan | Something New For Dinner

Grand Marnier Flan

This orange-scented flan is the perfect way to end a meal. This is another one of those recipes I have been making for a good 25 years and it always garners a lot of love from my guests.


Cinco de Mayo cocktails

Cinco de Mayo would not be Cinco de Mayo with out a little tequila. Here are our three favorite tequila drinks plus a new one I haven’t photographed yet.


Perfect Margarita | Something New For Dinner

My perfect margarita 

Everybody has their own idea about what makes a perfect margarita. Rocks or frozen? Fresh squeezed lime? With or without salt? Ratio of tequila to lime? I spent a long time analyzing the variables (it's a hard job but somebody’s got to do it!) and this is what I came up with for my perfect margarita. Check out the recipe for the secret ingredient that really makes this margarita smooth.



Jalapeno Margarita | Something New For Dinner

Jalapeño Margarita 

If you like a little spicy kick, this is a great margarita. Because you muddle the jalapeño and remove it from the drink, you only get the essence of the jalapeño. It is not as fiery as it sounds, particularly if you seed the jalapeño before you muddle it. 



Paloma Cocktail | Something New For Dinner 

Paloma cocktail


Just as Cinco de Mayo is not really celebrated in Mexico, margaritas are also not very popular in Mexico. The most popular cocktail in Mexico is the Paloma, a grapefruit and tequila cocktail with a salted rim. I like to use fresh grapefruit and rim my Palomas with Tajin, a blend of lime, chiles and salt. 


St. Rita

Eric Otten, the director of Something New For Dinner's video It All Starts Somewhere, taught me how to make this aromatic riff on a margarita. Sorry no photos yet. Here is the recipe:

  • 1.5 ounces silver tequila
  • 1.5 ounces St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • Juice of 1 lime

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour tequila, St. Germaine and lime juice into the shaker and give it a vigorous shake until condensation appears on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a glass. Can be served on the rocks or martini style. Tajin also makes a nice salt rim for the St. Rita. In fact, I like Tajin on all margaritas as well as Bloody Marys.


Have a wonderful Cinco de Mayo!



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