10 Healthy Mexican Recipes (That Taste Amazing!)
We rounded up some of our best Mexican recipes from the Cook Smarts meal plan service. These recipes feature fresh produce, vibrant flavors, and (often) a spicy kick — if that’s your style! They include huevos rancheros, slow cooker carnitas, taco salad, chilaquiles, and carne asada tacos, to name just a few.
As a meal plan service, we get a lot of member requests for Mexican recipes. Is it any wonder? Mexican flavors are comforting and bright. They’re juicy pulled pork tacos with fresh corn tortillas, enchiladas in rich chile-infused red sauce with a spicy kick, flavorful refried beans paired with soft fried eggs, and colorful salads piled high with veggies and cheese. They’re meals that taste like a celebration any night of the week.
Mexican recipes are full of spices such as cumin, chili, oregano, jalapeño, and cilantro, and rounded out by the citrusy, slightly bitter flavor of fresh lime juice. They often use fresh and/or dried chiles. Mexican food also makes liberal use of corn tortillas, which show up fresh in tacos and alongside plates of meat and veggies; crispy (often fried) in meals like tostadas, huevos rancheros, and flautas; or very crispy — tortilla chips — used to dip bites of food or crumbled atop salads or soups.
Surprisingly, by taking a few clever shortcuts, many Mexican recipes can be made quickly, even on busy weeknights. Here we’re sharing 10 of our favorite Mexican recipes (and Mexican-inspired recipes!) from the Cook Smarts meal plan archives. These include favorites such as carne asada tacos, slow cooker carnitas bowls, taco salad, chilaquiles, and a taco-inspired Mexican soup.
Ready to get serious about your Mexican cooking? Download our printable Mexican pantry list below. It’ll help you stock up on many of the common Mexican ingredients you’ll use in these recipes, as well as a few you may not be familiar with.
Mexican Pantry Staples
This Mexican Pantry Essentials Guide will teach you about the main pantry staples for Mexican cooking so you can enjoy authentic dishes any day of the week!
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Carnitas, a Mexican-spiced version of pulled pork, is extremely common in Mexican cuisine. It’s also extremely versatile, showing up in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, nachos, and more. For this easy dinner, you’ll slow cook pork with garlic, jalapeños, and spices, then use it to make burrito bowls. We use quinoa as the base of the bowls, but feel free to sub the more traditional rice instead. The slow cooker carnitas bowls are then layered with the rich pork, creamy avocado, fresh-made corn salsa with shallots, bell peppers, and fragrant cilantro leaves. They’re finished with a dollop of sour cream, and served with tortilla chips for dipping. It’s a satisfying, well-balanced Mexican meal, and because the slow cooker does most of the work, it’s also quick to put together!
There’s something about the variety of flavors and textures in a hearty dinner salad that we just love, and this taco salad is no exception! Mexican spices flavor sautéed ground turkey, which is used to top the crisp bed of lettuce along with bell peppers, tomatoes, avocado, and olives. Cheese adds richness, and crumbled tortilla chips give the salad a great crunch. But the best part of all has to be the honey-adobo dressing, which ties the meal together with smoky, spicy flavors from the adobo sauce. This veggie-heavy meal takes just 30 minutes to prepare, making it an ideal way to satisfy your Mexican food cravings on a weeknight.
Crisp tortillas are topped with spiced mashed black beans, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and more in this fun Mexican dinner. We have you toast the tortillas in the oven brushed with oil rather than frying them to keep this meal on the healthier side — and to take advantage of the fact that your oven will already be preheated to roast potatoes. The delicate fingerling / new potatoes are spiced with chili powder and lime juice, a classic Mexican flavor combination. This meal earned an average of 5 stars from our Cook Smarts members, who loved that they could swap out the tostada toppings or side dish to meet their own dietary needs and preferences.
All right, so fajitas are known for being more Tex-Mex than Mexican, but the flavors and spices come straight from Mexican cuisine. We give this meal an additional twist by serving the fajitas as a salad, creating a colorful, nutrient-rich dinner. Delicious adobo lime vinaigrette will serve double duty as a marinade for the steak and a salad dressing, saving you time on prep. Rather than sautéing the bell peppers, onions, and steak in a skillet, as fajitas are usually prepared, we have you broil them in the oven, which gives them the same lightly blackened appearance and tender texture while being easy and hands-off. You’ll toss the baby kale and some shredded cheese with vinaigrette, then top it with the veggies and steak, and finish it off with a scoop of fresh-made guacamole.
We shortcut this Mexican dish of rolled, crisp tortillas filled with chicken and cheese by starting with precooked rotisserie chicken. Assembly is quick and easy, then you’ll shallow-fry the flautas to golden perfection. They’re served with a side of roasted coriander-spiced green beans with a squeeze of lemon, along with salsa and sour cream for dipping. For extra flavor, try adding other Mexican spices (refer to our infographic guide above) to the shredded rotisserie chicken, and feel free to swap out the green beans for a side salad to make this meal fit your preferences.
No list of Mexican recipes is complete without carne asada tacos! Carne asada is steak marinated in a citrusy marinade, which is then grilled and sliced. It’s commonly served on its own with side dishes, or used in tacos, as we do in this recipe. The marinade is really what sets carne asada apart, featuring garlic, cilantro, orange juice, and lime juice that add bright flavor and tenderize the sometimes tough meat. We provide both stovetop and grill options for cooking the carne asada, then it’s served in tortillas alongside fresh pico de gallo, crumbled queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy with cumin- and paprika-spiced zucchini spears on the side.
This traditional Mexican breakfast makes a great comfort food dinner too — and takes only 30 minutes to prepare. “Huevos Rancheros” translates to “ranchers’ eggs,” so named because the dish is popular among rural Mexican farmers. And that’s no surprise: It’s a hearty meal, but not too heavy, and it’s inexpensive to make. In our Huevos Rancheros recipe, corn tortillas are broiled until crispy, then topped with fried eggs, salsa, and avocados, and served with sour cream for dipping and a side of refried beans. You’ll also add fresh flavor with a side of homemade lime slaw with a hint of cumin.
Enchiladas is one of the most well-known (and well-loved) Mexican dishes, so of course we had to include it on our list! This recipe has a twist, though: Instead of rolled enchiladas, which can be laborious to make and often split as they’re being rolled, we have you cook these enchiladas casserole style with chopped tortillas stirred in. By starting with store-bought enchilada sauce, you’ll save additional time, making them ideal for a busy weeknight. Although we love restaurant enchiladas, they’re often quite heavy, so we gave these one more Cook Smarts twist, adding in kale, zucchini, and corn along with ground beef for a well-balanced meal.
Another breakfast-for-dinner meal, chilaquiles consist of crispy corn tortilla pieces in a spicy sauce with a variety of toppings. In our version, we have you start with a store-bought red enchilada sauce to save time, which is combined with spiced ground turkey, bell peppers, and onions. It’s served simply, with sour cream and green onions, but what really makes this version stand out is the curtido. Curtido is a spicy pickled slaw — technically it’s Salvadoran, not Mexican, but contains flavors you’ll commonly find in Mexico, including red cabbage, shredded carrot, jalapeño, and oregano. And no Mexican meal would be complete without a squeeze of lime over everything!
This Mexican soup contains all the fixin’s of a classic taco — spiced ground beef, green chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, corn, and more — but in a warm, spicy broth instead of a tortilla or crispy taco shell. One thing we love about Mexican food is the wide variety of chili peppers, both fresh and dried, that are used in the cuisine. We use canned green chiles in this soup for a fresh, bright flavor that’s easy to find and easy to use (no chopping required!). The soup is topped with some flavorful extras, including cilantro, cheese, and tortilla chips, for a restaurant-worthy bowl.
Want more Mexican recipes and other great dinner ideas? Our meal plan service offers 4 meals per week with the choice of original, gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian versions, as well as an extensive archive of past recipes. All of the recipes and techniques mentioned above are a part of the service. For more info and to get a taste test with a free 14-day trial, sign up here.