20 Easy Mexican (and Mexican-inspired) Dishes for Dinner Tonight
We know how it feels to crave chicken enchiladas or shrimp tacos. With these easy Mexican food recipes, you can get your fix — and so can your family.
I eat Mexican food almost daily, which is not terribly surprising as I live in Los Angeles and have two kids who love tortillas and cheese. Just this morning, I made egg tacos for my son. A go-to kid-friendly lunch is cheese quesadillas with slices of avocado on the side, all with a squeeze of lime. My pre-Covid late-night indulgence was the taco truck down the street — three fresh-off-the-spit tacos al pastor with big hunks of pineapple on top, plus salsa, white onions, cilantro, and radishes.
My mouth waters just thinking about them.
The good news is that with the dinner ideas we're about to sink our teeth into, my whole family can have Taco Tuesday any day of the week — and twice on Sunday (margaritas optional).
Mexican dishes can veer from time-honored handmade classics — hello, tamales and 20+ ingredient mole — to Tex-Mex or easy Mexican-esque riffs on other cuisines (I’m looking at you, Mexican lasagna). Most popular Mexican recipes seem to fall somewhere in between.
I keep a certain kind of pantry, so these dishes tend to come together quickly: I’m never without white corn tortillas, tortilla chips, a range of soft white and shredded cheese, pinto beans, rice, cumin, garlic, cilantro, green onions, red onions, and lime. With those on hand, I can easily transform last night’s leftovers — be it chicken, pork, steak, or fish — into tacos or enchiladas or fold them into a breakfast burrito or taco salad.
Here are 20 easy Mexican-inspired recipes to keep you inspired, whether you're looking for an effortless weeknight Mexican dinner or a flavorful appetizer for a potluck. Most of these are a cinch to double or triple, depending on the number of diners and whether you want leftovers.
Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
96,000 Yums can’t be wrong, right? It starts with the classic fajita ingredients — chicken breasts (or your protein of choice), peppers, onions, garlic, chiles, and cumin — but makes it way easier using everyone's favorite set-it-and-forget-it cooking method. The recipe’s mild and family-friendly as written, but you can always dial up the heat if you prefer. Fold the filling into flour tortillas and serve with the usual suspects: sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and cheese.
Skinny Mexican Casserole
This spot-on comfort food recipe from Damn Delicious needs a couple of fresh bell peppers — but otherwise keeps it simple with plenty of pantry items (green chiles, refried beans, enchilada sauce, all from the can). There’s no meat here, just a familiar mix of black beans, corn, peppers, onions, and garlic. Cheese and wheat tortillas round it all out.
Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole
Should you want a not-so-skinny Mexican casserole, this chicken-and-rice version from Yummly is a winner. Starting with cooked rice and chicken makes it an easy dinner option.
Mexican Street Tacos
Carne asada street tacos are a weeknight go-to in my household. This dinner recipe for beef tacos, also from Damn Delicious, has a truly tasty marinade: soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.
Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos
This entire article could just be about tacos — there are so many to love. This pulled pork recipe from Jessica Gavin features a mole-esque seasoning sweetened with raisins and full of chipotle spice. Serve with guacamole, cilantro, and lime. Leftovers, should you have any, are great with eggs the next day.
Sheet-Pan Fish Tacos
Using a sheet pan makes this yummy fish taco recipe from Yummly ideal for a crowd. Season the tilapia, then bake it for ten minutes, and you’re ready to assemble (add hot sauce to taste). The slaw is the clincher.
Mexican Pork Chile Verde
Go ahead and make this big batch recipe — you can decide what to do with the pork chile verde later. Isabel of Isabel Eats likes it as is with flour tortillas, but you can also have this traditional Mexican dish over rice or slip it into a burrito, taco, or whatever form of tortilla you prefer. Adjust the amount of jalapeños and poblano peppers depending on how much of a kick you want.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga
Similar to pork chile verde, this slow cooker chicken tinga recipe from The Kitchn can go anywhere — on top of tostadas, next to beans and rice, in a chicken taco, or on a sope. With a slow cooker, it couldn’t be easier to make one of my very favorite Mexican recipes.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
This quick Mexican side dish from Wonky Wonderful takes everything you love about Mexican street corn (minus the mayo) and puts it in a bowl — all the more convenient for sharing at your next big meal. If you don’t have queso fresco, you can substitute cotija or even feta cheese.
Do you need a recipe for crispy nachos? Not really. But this one from The Pioneer Woman will help you keep your proportions and layers straight. And the fresh pico de gallo is everything.
Best Chicken Quesadilla
There’s not much to a quesadilla — and perhaps that’s the point. This recipe from Chowhound is about as quick and easy as they come, and is a great use for leftover rotisserie chicken.
Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas
You can, of course, kick it up a notch. For the vegans in the house, the ubiquitous shredded cheese in many Mexican recipes is a no-go. Bianca Zapatka simply subs vegan cheese and embraces the flavorful combination of sweet potatoes, black beans, and corn (plus spinach for an even healthier profile).
Creamy Oven Baked Chicken Taquitos
Every time I order taquitos at a Mexican restaurant, I feel a little bit like a kid — in a good way. These oven-baked chicken taquitos are family-friendly and —if you double (or triple!) the ingredients — can easily feed the masses.
Easy Cheese Enchiladas
Enchiladas are always a crowd-pleaser. And this straight-up easy cheesy enchilada recipe from Yummly is a solid base for experimenting with your own variations.
Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas
For our vegan readers, here’s a hearty dairy-free take on enchiladas, also from Yummly.
Easy Burrito Bowl
If you're looking for a gluten-free burrito recipe, it's time to think outside the wrap. While this recipe from Eating Vegan with Me includes a veggie mince, you can really sub in whatever you like. Or better yet, lay out a make-your-own bowl bar — with all the individual ingredients and even some meat or cheese options — and let everyone make their own customized creations.
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
The Chef Next Door Michigan has updated old-fashioned stuffed peppers with a more Mexican flavor profile, which includes cumin, lime, and cilantro. Here, it's made with ground turkey, though ground beef (or any ground meat) will also taste fantastic.
If updating stuffed peppers with Mexican flavors wasn't adventurous enough, try your hand at a Mexican-esque lasagna. While some Mexican lasagna recipes feature tortillas, they have a tendency to disintegrate. To keep things intact, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe uses no-boil pasta and a Mexican-Italian mash-up of ingredients to create some serious comfort food.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
This easy (and affordable!) Mexican recipe from Spend with Pennies comes together in about 30 minutes. It’s really all about the toppings — from the DIY fried tortilla strips to the avocados, cilantro, and lime.
Mexican Black Bean Soup
Here’s another quick-and-easy Mexican recipe for a weeknight meal. This soup from Mexican Please starts with canned black beans, then lets you control the heat with as much chipotle in adobo as you like.