7 Last-Minute Mexican Dishes for Your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Cinco de Mayo is every bit as fun as Fourth of July for me. I love the excuse to eat tortilla chips and drink margaritas almost as much as I love the excuse to don red, white, and blue attire and put a sparkling patriotic headband in my hair. It might not hold that much historical significance for Mexico (or at least I've been told), but that's OK. We'll celebrate anyway.
If you're throwing a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, these 7 super-fast recipes are ready in less than 30 minutes.
Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos
A hefty amount of toasty cumin adds deep flavor to quickly seared shrimp, while a wee bit of ground red pepper punches above its weight, contributing a fair amount of heat. Don’t worry, though—once the shrimp gets tossed into corn tortillas with avocado, rice, and beans, the heat is muted so the tacos are perfectly seasoned. Be sure to reserve a bit of the bean liquid before you drain the beans; that liquid helps bring the chunky mash together. If your family doesn’t love shrimp, you can make the tacos with an equal weight of cubed, boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
View the recipe: Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos
RELATED: 100 Healthy Mexican Recipes
Quick Chicken Fajitas
For a casual, fun get-together, set up a make-your-own-fajitas bar with the chicken filling, avocado cream, sour cream, and any other toppings you love, like pico de gallo, sliced fresh jalapeños, or crisp radish slices. The recipe serves 4, but you can easily double it to feed a larger crowd. For a quick, easy side, combine shredded red or green cabbage, toasted hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and crumbled queso fresco. Toss with a simple dressing of lime juice and olive oil.
View the recipe: Quick Chicken Fajitas
Creamy Chicken Quesadillas
The classic quesadilla gets kicked up a notch with a creamy, béchamel-like sauce. A saucy base helps the cheese go further and keeps the chicken from drying out. If any dish called for a dash of your favorite hot sauce, this would be it: Just a little cuts through the creamy filling and packs the right amount of heat. For golden, crisp tortillas, coat both sides of the uncooked quesadillas with cooking spray instead of coating the pan. Serve the quesadillas with black beans and Spanish-style rice. You could also try a heartier green like kale or chard; wilt these first before adding to the chicken mixture.
View the recipe: Creamy Chicken Quesadillas
Go beyond guacamole with these sweet salsas:
Shredded Chicken with Avocado Nacho Salad
Dinner doesn't get any easier than this five-ingredient salad. And it's bursting with Super Bowl Sunday potential.
View the recipe: Shredded Chicken with Avocado Nacho Salad
Fish Tacos with Sweet Pickle Sauce
The creamy sauce offers a cool counterpoint to the bold blackening spices. Not in the mood for tilapia? The recipe is also great with chicken, sliced flank steak, or shrimp. Toss some avocado, tomato, and cilantro into the mix, and you're ready to knock Taco Tuesday out of the park.
View the recipe: Fish Tacos with Sweet Pickle Sauce
RELATED: Our Best Margarita Recipes
20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas
Like lasagna, enchiladas are a surefire family favorite and can also be a labor of love. Between braising the meat; simmering the sauce; and rolling, filling, and layering several tortillas, the preparation alone takes more time than most cooks have on a busy weeknight. Our version takes just 20 minutes from start to finish. Kids can help by pulling the chicken into large shreds and tucking the rolled tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish. Use your leftovers again during the week: Cut corn tortillas into quarters, and bake until crisp; then use the shredded chicken and any other ingredients you have on hand to build nachos on a baking sheet. Serve the enchiladas with a salad of fresh orange, avocado, and crisp lettuce.
View the recipe: 20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas
Cheesy Chicken Fajitas
Chicken taco meets 7-layer dip in this fiesta of a skillet supper. You can swap in black beans or kidney beans for the pintos. For extra zest, serve with cilantro and lime wedges. Savor all the flavors of Taco Tuesday without any of the guilt. You can easily make vegetarian fajitas by removing the chicken and adding sliced zucchini, diced carrots and potatoes. Convert taco night into a buffet taco bar and let everyone build their own fajita.
View the recipe: Cheesy Chicken Fajitas