So you wanna get Mexican food recipes? Get ready to expand your culinary horizons and discover the many different cuisines that this country has to offer. Each region of Mexico offers its own unique blend of flavor profiles but the essence of Mexican food is fresh ingredients prepared in a simple way.Most people think that Mexican food has to be spicy but aficionados know that fresh herbs, fruit, seafood and vegetables are the foundation for an authentic Mexican dish. Certainly it is true that Mexicans do love the jump that a habanero, serrano, chipotle or jalapeno pepper adds to a meal but they prefer to use the heat as a condiment rather than the focus of your palate.To begin your journey to understanding and preparing Mexican food in an authentic way, you will need to become familiar with common terms, tools, and ingredients, know how to obtain recipes for yourself and gain confidence in your own kitchen skills so that you can prepare appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts that will delight your family.


Comal- A cast iron griddle used for making tortillas and roasting vegetables.

Masa - A generic term for dough that is made from ground grain mixed with water.

Harina - Flour made from different grains. For example, Masa Harina is made from ground corn, Masa Trigo is ground wheat commonly used for making flour tortillas, Masa Nixtamalera is made from hominy boiled with lime.

Tortilla - A thin flatbread made from corn or flour.

Carne - A generic term for all kinds of meat.

Frijoles - A generic term for beans of all kinds and a common source of protein.

Queso - A generic term for cheeses of all kinds.

Mole - Mole is a highly complex, dark sauce made from chiles, nuts, spices, fruits, vegetables, chocolate and seasonings.

These terms are just the beginning. An excellent and far more complete list of Mexican cooking terms can be found at


Cazuela - A shallow cooking pot with handles usually made from clay. Used for simmering meats and moles over a fire.

Olla - A deep cooking pot usually made from clay. Used for cooking stews and soups (caldos).

Tortillero - A tortilla press commonly made from wood but also metal. Used to press a ball of Masa flat so that it can be grilled.

Molino - A food mill used to grind spices and grains.

Molcajete and Tejolote A mortar and pestle usually made from volcanic rock. Used to grind spices and grains.

A far more complete list of Mexican cooking tools and places to buy them online can be found here.


Chicken, pork, seafood and beef

Pinto beans



Cheese-usually goat or anejo








A more thorough list of common Mexican ingredients can found here.


Visit the Library

The library provides you with access to a variety of books for the best price conceivable, free. You can also stay as long as you like and return as often as possible. Even without a library card, you can photocopy recipes without having to check out the book.

Buy Some Books Online or in Local Book Stores

Visit some local bookstores to browse through cookbooks at your leisure. Well written recipe books not only have recipes but also provide information about the region that the recipe comes from and traditional lore about the individual dishes. Cooks of all kinds delight in the history of different cuisines and use that information to impress their guests and satisfy their intellectual curiosity. If you prefer to buy books online, here are some recommended links to retailers:

Look online

One of the greatest resources for cooking is the Internet. Try these great sites:

Ask your friends

Perhaps a co-worker has brought Mexican treats into work. If you have eaten someone else's Mexican food, ask for their recipes. They may even offer to make it with you for the first time. Tamales especially can be a fun group activity.

Visit Some Authentic Mexican Restaurants

Ask your Latin friends about where their families go to eat Mexican food. Chances are, they will recommend privately owned mom-and-pop types of places where the recipes have been prepared in the same ways for generations. Visit several and find authentic culinary delights that are off the beaten track and draw inspiration from the dishes that they prepare. Also, if you are regular customers, the proprietors may be more inclined to share some of their secrets.

Visit a Mexican Grocery Store

Indulge a whim and stop at a grocer that specializes in Mexican foods. You will find all sorts of new vegetables and spices to try. Most of these stores are independently owned and the proprietors are likely to be right behind the counter. Ask them about their favorite products and use their recommendations to gain insight into how to prepare some of the items that are unfamiliar to you.


Burritos- A tortilla wrapped around a filling of meat, beans, rice and vegetables.

Chalupa- A fried tortilla topped with meat, vegetables and cheese.

Enchilada- A tortilla dipped in a chile sauce wrapped around a filling of cheese and meat or beans, sometimes topped with more cheese and sauce.

Flauta- A tortilla wrapped around a meat or bean filling which is then fried.

Gordita- A sandwich made from fried flatbread that forms a pocket. The pocket can be stuffed with anything filling that you like.

Quesadilla- A tortilla filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables then folded over and cooked on a griddle.

Tacos- A tortilla folded in half with a filling of meat or beans and cheese.

Tamales- Masa in a corn husk wrapped in a packet filled with meat or beans and vegetables which is then steamed.

A more complete list of Mexican entres and recipes can be found here


Caldos Hot and cold soups made from seafood to vegetables and everything in between.

Ensaladas A generic term for salads of all kinds. Commonly dressed with fresh lemon or lime juice.

Arroz - Rice that is usually browned in oil in a skillet before being cooked with stock, vegetables and eggs.

Frijoles - Usually black beans or pinto beans that have simmered in onions and broth and then partially mashed.

The generic terms provided here are just the tip of the volcano! Follow this link to learn more about Mexican side dishes


Dulce de Leche - Generally made from boiling milk and sugar or slowly cooking sweetened, condensed milk.

Churros- A doughy pastry that is fried and sprinkled with cinnamon or served with chocolate dipping sauce or honey. These are often compared to doughnuts as they are usually eaten in the morning.

Arroz con Leche - Rice cooked with milk and sugar, sometimes served with cinnamon and eaten warm.

These are just a sample of what Mexicans make to satisfy their sweet tooth. A better list of Mexican sweets and the recipes for them can be found here.