Top 15 Cinco de Mayo Food Traditions to Try This Year

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start planning your menu! Why not try some new Cinco de Mayo food traditions this year to celebrate this Mexican holiday?

From street tacos to flan, we've got you covered. This blog post will discuss 15 of the best Cinco de Mayo food traditions to try this year. So, what are you waiting for? Start cooking.

History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army's victory over the French Army on May 5, 1865, at the Battle of Puebla. Winning this battle was a major victory for the Mexican Army during the Franco-Mexican War.

While Cinco De Mayo isn't a major holiday in Mexico, it's evolved into a key celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the U.S.

Some think the holiday commemorates Mexican independence, but it celebrates a single battle. Mexican lawyer and member of the Zapotec tribe was elected president of Mexico in 1861.

But Mexico was impoverished and in debt to the European governments. Because they had no money, they defaulted on debt payments to multiple countries.

As a result, Britain, Spain, and France sent armies to Veracruz, Mexico, to demand repayment of those debts. Spain and Britain made arrangements, but Napolean III, the ruler of France, decided to take land in the country.

A well-armed French Naval fleet arrived in Mexico and stormed Veracruz, forcing the president and his government to retreat. Napoleon III believed that their victory would be quick. They marched to Puebla de Los Angelos with 6,000 men to do battle against 2,000 Mexican men the president rounded up.

The two armies battled for a full day after fortifying the town. The French finally gave up after losing almost 500 soldiers, while the Mexican Army lost less than 100 men. The Battle of Puebla may not have been a huge strategic victory, but it was a symbolic win for the Mexican government.

Cinco de Mayo Food History

The history of Cinco de Mayo food dates all the way back to the Battle of Puebla in the early 1860s. It features authentic Mexican food that commemorates the Mexican victory over the French. It also celebrates Mexican culture with the tastiest Mexican food.

Americans observe the holiday by cooking traditional dishes that reflect the diversity of Mexican food, from deep jungles in the interior to the coastline. Many of the foods showcase unique flavors from the Puebla area of Mexico.


Guacamole is a traditional Mexican dish with avocados popular all over the United States. But we aren't talking about the Guacamole you buy in the store. You want to make your own at home, and you can create authentic guacamole with very few ingredients.

This Guacamole recipe will be hit with everyone, whether it's a Cinco de Mayo party or supper at home.


Gorditas are another traditional food eaten in Mexico that even Taco Bell cashed in on. You can fill the shells with everything from beef to chicken to refried beans.

Getting Gorditas, tacos, and more from markets and food stands is a fond memory many Mexican-Americans have. And like many great recipes, the simpler it is, the more the natural flavors come through.

This Gorditas de Maiz recipe is perfect to fix to celebrate Cinco de Mayo food traditions.


This Mexican dish is a delicious pork stew cooked low and slow. The longer you cook it, the more tender and buttery the meat will get, and the flavor profiles develop.

Kick your pozole up a notch with some heat by adding a chili puree like the recipe below calls for. Different chiles give the soup a unique flavor that's a combination of smoky and mild fire.

You can also make Chicken Pozole in the slow cooker if you prefer a different kind of meat.

Fresh Salsa Recipe with Tomatoes

There's nothing better than dipping a crunchy tortilla chip in homemade fresh tomato salsa. This quick fresh salsa recipe calls for tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, and green bell peppers.

If you prefer your salsa hotter, just add more jalapenos. With simple, delicious flavors, it's no wonder why salsa is a favorite appetizer at Mexican restaurants.


Mole is a timeless Mexican classic that is a great recipe to serve on Cinco de Mayo. Mole takes a while to prepare and cook, but it's worth all the work you put in. Often the best mole comes from someone with years of experience who doesn't use a written recipe.

You can make several kinds of mole:

             Yellow mole

             Green mole

             Mole de Teloloapan

             Oaxacan-style mole

             Mole Xiqueno

Most people are familiar with Mole Poblano, the dish made with the Poblano Pepper. Some Moles contain chipotle peppers for a distinct hot mole sauce, while others use peanuts or crackers instead of almonds or bread.

This tasty mole recipe will be a family favorite if you've never served it before.


Tamales are the perfect meal to celebrate Cinco de Mayo food traditions for many. The ones made in the U.S. are usually wrapped in corn husks which is the method used in Northern and central Mexico.

This Tamale recipe uses banana leaves to wrap and cook the cornmeal dough and filling in. The filling consists of braised pork and guajillo, and chipotle chiles.

Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are savory, crescent-shaped pastries filled with a variety of ingredients such as:








You can fill these with several ingredients to create a rich, tasty treat.  This Beef Empanada recipe uses ground beef, garlic, cumin, onions, and achiote as a filling.


Flautas are the rolled tacos that some people call Taquitos, depending on where you grew up. This dish is versatile, and you can fill it with anything. Flautas would be a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo food traditions and are good to take to a party celebrating the holiday.

This Flautas recipe uses chicken as a filler along with black olives.


Flan is another one of the Cinco de Mayo food traditions people make for the holiday. It's an easy sweet Mexican dessert to make that will be a hit at any party or Cinco de Mayo celebration.

This Flan recipe is made from cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla. It's topped with a thin layer of caramel that makes this decadent dessert a favorite for everyone.


If you're looking for a different traditional Mexican dish to celebrate Cinco de Mayo food traditions besides tacos, making Chilaquiles is a great option. This delicious meal usually consists of fried tortilla chips with cheese and sauce.

We found a list of 13 different Chilaquiles recipes that include different ingredients such as eggs, shrimp, black beans, and even tofu.

Mexican Street Tacos

Mexican Street Tacos are another popular street food that comes with different ingredients like shrimp, beef, and chicken and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and even sour cream.

This Carne Asada Mexican Street Tacos recipe is perfect if you're having a Cinco de Mayo party. It makes 32 tacos.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros is a popular dish perfect for starting your celebration of Cinco de Mayo food traditions. It's a traditional breakfast recipe made with eggs, beans, Cotija cheese, and warm corn tortillas.


Barbacoa is another amazing Mexican dish with a savory flavor. Barbacoa beef is a popular ingredient in tacos and is perfect if you want to make street tacos or regular ones for Cinco de Mayo.

This marinade and rub is perfect for Beef Barbacoa and can help you create a delicious meal to celebrate Cinco de Mayo food traditions.


If you're looking for a different traditional Mexican dish, then making homemade Huaraches may be the right choice for you. Huaraches are oval-shaped masa cakes made from water and masa harina. You can top them with vegetables and meat to make something similar to a pizza.

The dish is named after the Mexican word for sandals because that's what the cakes look like. This Huaraches recipe gives you step-by-step instructions for making Huaraches as well as some for the toppings you can make for them.


No celebration of Cinco de Mayo food traditions would be complete with Margaritas! These Margarita recipes are perfect for parties celebrating the holiday.

Some of the recipes included are:

             Strawberry-Cucumber Margaritas

             Mango Margaritas

             Pomegranate Margaritas

             Chipotle Margaritas

And more.

Final Thoughts on Cinco de Mayo Food Traditions

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is also about celebrating the Mexican traditions and culture that make the Mexican people so unique. It's also to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla.

Whether you choose to make street tacos, beef empanadas, or one of these other delicious dishes, we know any one of the recipes on this list will be a hit.

And if you're celebrating the holiday with gifts, don't forget Gift Card Granny is the best place to find gift cards for friends and family.

This year remember the people that fought for Mexican independence while you're celebrating popular Cinco de Mayo food traditions.

You may also be interested in this post on the best Cinco de Mayo activities for kids this year.