42 easy Mexican dinners

Crisp Crab Tacos, Chorizo-Beef Nachos, Turkey Enchiladas, and more flavors of the West

Shrimp "Ceviche" Tostadas

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Amy Machnak

Shrimp "Ceviche" Tostadas

Rethink the shrimp taco by using cooked shrimp and serving them as a quick tostada. They make a great no-cook appetizer or, if you eat a few, a fun dinner option.

Recipe: Shrimp “Ceviche” Tostadas

Vegetable Enchiladas

Photo by Iain Bagwell; styling by Dan Becker; written by Amy Machnak

Vegetable Enchiladas

Your typical vegetarian enchiladas are mostly cheese. That’s not the case with this version, loaded with fresh spinach, corn, and two types of beans.

Recipe: Vegetable Enchiladas

Chicken Tinga Tostaditas

Photo by Alex Farnum; written by Christine Ciarmello

Chicken Tinga Tostaditas

Popular in Mexico City and the state of Puebla, the spicy, smoky-sweet chipotle chile sauce called tinga transforms plain chicken into something addictive.

Recipe: Chicken Tinga Tostaditas

Carne Asada con Mojo

Photo by Alex Farnum; written by Christine Ciarmello

Carne Asada con Mojo 

Carne asada is a simple dish, but a well-balanced marinade and the right cut can make it memorable. Here we use easy-to-find skirt steak and a marinade combining orange and lime juices.

Recipe: Carne Asada con Mojo 

Enchiladas Suizas

Photo by Alex Farnum; written by Christine Ciarmello

Enchiladas Suizas

These decadent enchiladas are named "Swiss" because of all the cream and cheese they contain.

Recipe: Enchiladas Suizas

Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Stephanie Dean and Amy Machnak

Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls

These nacho bowls include chicken in a spicy sauce, tortilla chips, lettuce, and a squeeze of lime.

Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls 

Creamy Pumpkin Seed and Green Chile Posole

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Elaine Johnson and Amy Machnak

Creamy Pumpkin Seed and Green Chile Posole

A puréed salsa made with roasted pumpkin seeds helps give this posole a rich flavor and chowderlike texture.

Recipe: Creamy Pumpkin Seed and Green Chile Posole

Shrimp and Bacon Quesadillas

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Amy Machnak

Shrimp and Bacon Quesadillas

What's better than a shrimp quesadilla? One that has bacon, too.

Get the recipe: Shrimp and Bacon Quesadillas

Street-Snack Tacos Verdes

Photo by Lisa Romerein

Street-Snack Tacos Verdes

These tacos are deceptively easy to make. While the dish is a great party hors d'oeuvre, you can eat several and call it a meal.

Recipe: Street-Snack Tacos Verdes

Chicken Fajita Burritos with Feta Crema

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; food styling by Karen Shinto

Chicken Fajita Burritos with Feta Crema

These burritos have all the flavor of fajitas in an easy-to-eat wrap. Best of all, the meal comes together in 35 minutes.

Recipe: Chicken Fajita Burritos with Feta Crema

The perfect enchilada

Karen Steffens

Acapulco Enchiladas

Smothered in a smoky sauce and studded with crunchy almonds and olives, these enchiladas are a fun twist on a classic favorite.


Recipe:  Acapulco Enchiladas

Crab Tacos

Annabelle Breakey

Crab Tacos

Sweet crab in crunchy taco shells makes for a speedy weeknight dinner.

Recipe:  Crab Tacos

Margarita Chicken Wings

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Margarita Chicken Wings

Tangy, a little salty, and not too sweet.

Recipe: Margarita Chicken Wings

Mexican Tropical Chile Roast Chicken

Photo by Iain Bagwell; written by Elaine Johnson

Mexican Tropical Chile Roast Chicken

We took the flavors of a Western classic, Mexican rotisserie chicken, and put them in a brine to produce a succulent texture and meat infused with complex seasonings in addition to salt. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, cilantro sprigs, lime wedges, and chopped white onion.

Recipe: Mexican Tropical Chile Roast Chicken

 

Speedy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime

Photo by Leigh Beisch

Speedy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime

This dish, using canned hominy, takes a fraction of the time needed for regular posole. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Recipe:  Spicy Chicken Posole with Avocado and Lime

Black Bean Soup with Avocado, Orange, and Cucumber

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Amy Machnak

Black Bean Soup with Avocado, Orange, and Cucumber

The flavorful bean soup gets a fresh touch with a little salad for garnish.

Recipe: Black Bean Soup with Avocado, Orange, and Cucumber

Burrito de La Calle

Thomas J. Story

Burrito de La Calle

Enjoy our quicker adaptation of the amazing beef and bean burrito recipe from La Calle Asadero in Oakland.

Recipe: Burrito de La Calle

Lamb Shanks Adobo

Photo, Annabelle Breakey; food styling, Randy Mon

Lamb Shanks Adobo

Jeff Smedstad, chef-owner of Elote Cafe ($$; closed Sun; elotecafe.com) in Sedona, Arizona, learned the secrets to great adobos (a type of chile-rich sauce) in the markets of central Mexico. This lamb dish is adapted from one in his book, Elote Cafe Cookbook (Elote Cafe Publishing; $30).

Recipe: Lamb Shanks Adobo

Chicken Escabeche with Cilantro Black Beans

Photo by Alex Farnum, food styling by Karen Shinto

Chicken Escabeche with Cilantro Black Beans

This low-cal, tangy dish is based on a recipe in Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.

Recipe: Chicken Escabeche with Cilantro Black Beans

Shot-and-a-Beer Pork Stew

Photo, Annabelle Breakey; food styling, Randy Mon

Shot-and-a-Beer Pork Stew

San Francisco's Tacolicious ($$; tacolicioussf.com) serves this braised pork in tacos, but owner Joe Hargrave also makes it at home as a fall stew. The chiles fall apart as the dish cooks, giving the meat a mellow, earthy spiciness.

Recipe:  Shot-and-a-Beer Pork Stew

Cola Shredded Beef Tacos

Photo, Annabelle Breakey; food styling, Randy Mon

Cola Shredded Beef Tacos

This recipe is adapted from one in Amor y Tacos (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, May 2010; $19) by San Diego–based chef Deborah Schneider.

Recipe:  Cola Shredded Beef Tacos

Halibut Tostadas with Yogurt-Lime Sauce

James Carrier

Halibut Tostadas with Yogurt-Lime Sauce

We like to think of tostadas as salads with extra crunch. This version is topped with flaky halibut and a light and tangy dressing, making it a perfect healthy weeknight dinner.

Recipe:  Halibut Tostadas with Yogurt-Lime Sauce

Grilled Chipotle-Chicken Quesadillas

Dan Goldberg

Grilled Chipotle-Chicken Quesadillas  

Grilling quesadillas makes dinner a cinch to clean up. Storebought rotisserie chicken makes this cheesy favorite even faster.

Recipe:  Grilled Chipotle-Chicken Quesadillas

Tortilla soup

David Prince (Food Styling: Dan Becker; Prop Styling: Emma Star Jensen)

Tortilla Soup

Everyone can have this dinner in a bowl just how they like it. Serve the condiments on the side for a casual evening party.


Recipe: Tortilla Soup

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

Leo Gong

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

This tortilla tower is a show-stopper: dramatic, delicious, and oozing with melty cheese. Though the sauce tastes complex, it's made with canned chile sauce embellished with sweet spices, raisins, pine nuts, and smoky chipotle chiles. 

Recipe:  Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

Chorizo-Beef Nachos

Annabelle Breakey; Dan Becker

Chorizo-Beef Nachos

Crowd-pleasing nachos are a great weeknight meal when piled high with spicy chorizo, jalapenos, and creamy guacamole.  

Recipe:  Chorizo-Beef Nachos

Baja Fried-Fish Tacos

Dan Goldberg. Styling: Karen Shinto

Baja Fried-Fish Tacos

Look no further for the ultimate fish taco: This is the one you’ve been looking for. These fast and fresh SoCal classics are served with a crisp cabbage-cilantro slaw and an an addictive chipotle tartar sauce.

Recipe:  Baja Fried-Fish Tacos

Baja Light Fish Tacos

Photo by Leigh Beisch

Baja Light Fish Tacos

Grilled instead of deep-fried, and with a trimmed-down tartar sauce.

Special touch: Light Chipotle Tartar Sauce

  • 2  tablespoons  canned chipotle chiles, seeded, deveined, and rinsed
  • 8  ounces  (1 cup) plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4  cup  sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4  cup  chopped onion
Preparation: Purée all ingredients in a blender. Chill until used.

Recipe: Baja Light Fish Tacos

Green chile chicken enchiladas

Annabelle Breakey

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Full of tender chunks of roasted chicken, these spicy enchiladas are the real deal, topped with a green-chile sauce that’s got some kick. (For a milder salsa, use Anaheim chiles.) And don’t forget the luscious coat of melty jack cheese.

Recipe:  Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas 

Crisp chicken tacos

James Carrier (Food Styling: Karen Shinto; Prop Styling: Emma Star Jensen)

Crisp Chicken Tacos (Tacos de Pollo)

One bite and you won't want to go back to fast-food, especially after you realize how simple these classic crispy tacos are to make. Our version is perked up with a refreshing tomato-cucumber salsa.


Recipe:  Crisp Chicken Tacos (Tacos de Pollo)

Yucatecan Tostadas (Salbutes)

Annabelle Breakey

Yucatecan Tostadas (Salbutes

These crisp and refreshing tostadas are topped with quickly pickled onions and a refreshing cabbage slaw. Make them with leftover roast chicken or turkey for a quick weeknight meal.

Recipe:  Yucatecan Tostadas

Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream

Leigh Beisch

Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream

Bottled salsa and leftover roasted chicken or turkey make these enchiladas a weeknight snap. Serve with a shredded cabbage salad dressed with lime juice and cumin for a fresh, crunchy side.

Recipe:  Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream

Grilled Skirt Steak (Arracheras)

Annabelle Breakey

Grilled Skirt Steak (Arracheras)

Skirt steak cooks up super-quickly over high heat to produce a nicely browned crust ― slices of steak are especially good when marinated overnight in a tangy sauce. Serve these fajita-style with all your favorite condiments.

Recipe:  Grilled Skirt Steak (Arracheras)

Garlicky shrimp-cilantro tacos (Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo)

James Carrier

Garlicky Shrimp-Cilantro Tacos (Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo)

Buttery shrimp and melt-in-your-mouth onions are all these simple tacos need. Cook the veggies ahead of time, and you’ll need less than 10 minutes to cook the shrimp, tortillas, and put the tacos together.

Recipe: Garlicky Shrimp-Cilantro Tacos (Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo)

Green chile-chicken stew

Jim Henkens (Food Styling: Stacy Ducharme; Prop Styling: Molly Hurd)

Green Chile-Chicken Stew

This gently spicy "white chili" is best made up to two days ahead and reheated. Letting the flavors meld gives the most complex and delicious dinner. (And makes this recipe perfect for entertaining!)

Recipe:  Green Chile-Chicken Stew

Mexican Chopped Salad with Orange Cream

James Carrier

Mexican Chopped Salad with Orange Cream

This Mexican-inspired version of the Cobb salad is served with a refreshing orange crema dressing. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips.

Recipe:  Mexican Chopped Salad with Orange Cream

Grilled Sardine Tacos with Achiote, Lime, and Pineapple Salsa

Photo by Annabelle Breakey

Grilled Sardine Tacos with Achiote, Lime, and Pineapple Salsa

Along the Yucatán coast in Mexico, cooks often marinate oily fish like mackerel with citrus and achiote paste, made with annatto, garlic, herbs, spices, and vinegar.

Recipe:  Grilled Sardine Tacos with Achiote, Lime, and Pineapple Salsa

 

Shrimp, Ancho Chile, and Pasta Soup (Sopa seca de Camarones y Fideos) from Sunset.

Annabelle Breakey; Dan Becker

Shrimp, Ancho Chile, and Pasta Soup (Sopa seca de Camarones y Fideos)

Fideos are much loved in Mexico, where the short lengths of noodles form the basis of thick, delicious soups. This warm one-pot meal is a perfect pick-me-up on a cool night.

Recipe:  Shrimp, Ancho Chile, and Pasta Soup (Sopa seca de Camarones y Fideos)

Halibut Baked in Fresh Green Salsa

Annabelle Breakey; Dan Becker

Halibut Baked in Fresh Green Salsa

An easy, creamy tomatillo salsa tops this simple baked fish dish. Try using the salsa with other types of fish too ― or chicken. Or a corn chip. Or just eat it with a spoon.

Recipe:  Halibut Baked in Fresh Green Salsa 

Chicken with rice (Arroz con Pollo)

Leigh Beisch (Food Styling: Merilee Bordin)

Chicken with Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

We jazzed up this stand-by with lots of garlic, chiles, onions, corn, and tomatoes for an extra flavor punch.

Recipe:  Chicken with Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

Chile and Spice Grilled Turkey and Mole Gravy

Photo by Shelly Strazis; styling by Valerie Aikman-Smith

Chile and Spice Grilled Turkey and Mole Gravy

A chile-rubbed bird cooked on the grill and served with mole gravy makes for a richly seasoned dinner.

Recipe: Chile and Spice Grilled Turkey and Mole Gravy

Meatball Vegetable Soup

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Elaine Johnson

Meatball Vegetable Soup

Traditionally, this gently seasoned soup, called sopa de albondigas, is made with beef. This lighter version substitues ground turkey for the beef and adds fresh oregano.

Recipe: Meatball Vegetable Soup

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