Why a Mexican Food List is Useful
If you are discovering the world of Mexican cuisine, you will find a Mexican food glossary very handy indeed. A lot of Mexican recipes are quite easy and you will already be familiar with the required ingredients, but there are some, which you might not know.
Authentic Mexican recipes are usually “authentic” because they use the correct ingredients. Whether that is a specific type of chili, an unusual Mexican vegetable, or a particular cut of meat, it is worth knowing a few basics before you start making Mexican recipes, just so you can make the traditional recipes taste as authentic as you can, and so you can make any necessarily ingredient substitutions with confidence.
How to Pronounce Mexican Words
Our Mexican food glossary has a pronunciation guide, which is useful if you are going to be asking for a certain ingredient in a Mexican grocery store, just so that you can be understood. Of course, there are some Mexican pronunciations you will already be familiar with.
There is a world of difference between a mole (a small, furry, burrowing mammal) and a spicy Mexican mole (pronounced moh-lay) sauce, even though the spellings are the same!
You do not need to learn Spanish to make Mexican recipes although there are probably more Mexican recipe websites in Spanish than in English so it might help if you are looking for something in particular or if you only know the Spanish name of a particular recipe.
However, a lot of ingredients, even those used to make traditional Mexican recipes, are widely available outside Mexico because of the recent surge in popularity of Mexican cuisine. Mexican food is slowly finding popularity around the world as more and more people make the discovery that Taco Bell is certainly, not what authentic Mexican food is all about!
Learn More About Mexican Dishes
Mexican cuisine is fun to prepare and great to eat, but your experience is much better if you have a good knowledge of Mexican ingredients and cooking methods before you begin. Looking up any unfamiliar ingredients or cooking methods in a Mexican food glossary will teach you new facts about Mexican food and keep you interested in this delicious cuisine.
Do not be put off making a recipe just because you do not understand what one of the ingredients is – look it up in our Mexican food glossary. The key to making traditional Mexican dishes is to use the best ingredients, the right food preparation techniques and the correct cooking methods, and a food glossary can explain some of these.
Authentic Mexican food is well worth making and if you have to look up a few things in a food glossary that will not take long. Too many people assume that the offerings of Tex Mex restaurants and Mexican fast food chains are all that Mexican food is about, which is a real shame because traditional Mexican food has so much to offer. If you enjoy flavorful food which is easy to prepare and nutritious too, you are going to be amazed at the wide variety of Mexican recipes that you can make.
A Comprehensive Guide to Mexican Food Types
Below you will find a comprehensive guide to Mexican food types and Mexican food terms. Our Mexican food glossary is designed for the non-English speaking person that wants to cook award winning Mexican food recipes but is finding it hard to figure out the many Spanish terms.
This guide will help you make sense of it all complete with phonetic English spellings and annunciation spellings after every term to help you pronounce all the terms you need to make wonderful Mexican recipes in your own home.
We hope this makes it easier for you and you try some of those wonderfully delicious Mexican foods you were scared to try before because you could not figure out the Spanish terms. The list is alphabetical so it should be quick and easy to find what you are looking for.
The Complete List of Mexican Foods
Achiote (ah-chee-oh-tay): – A Yucatan style paste made from spices, ground annatto seeds and vinegar or lime juice.
Adobo (ah-doh-bo): – A chili based, smoky flavored sauce with onions, spices, garlic and tomato.
Albondigas (al-bon-dee-gas): – Meatballs.
Al Carbón (al car-bon): – Any kind of meat cooked over wood coals or charcoal.
Al Pastor (al pass-tor): – Any kind of meat cooked Middle Eastern style over a spit.
Anaheim (ah-na-hime): – Long thin chilies used for making chile rellenos.
Ancho (ahn-cho): – A dried poblano chili.
Annatto Seeds (ah-nah-toh seeds): – Small ground seeds used to make achiote paste.
Asada (ah-sah-dah): – Broiled or roasted.
Agave (ah-gah-vay): – A plant native to Mexico with flat, wide leaves that are pointy on the ends. The heart is used to make good quality tequila.
Barbacoa (bar-bah-coh-ah): – Meat, usually wrapped in cactus or banana leaves, cooked over an underground pit.
Bolillo (boh-lee-yo): – A crispy, coarse, bobbin shaped white bread roll.
Borracho (boh-rah-cho): – This word literally means drunk but is used for Mexican recipes where wine, beer or spirits are an ingredient.
Burrito (buh-ree-to): – A flour tortilla stuffed with ingredients.
Cajeta (cah-heh-tah): – A confection made of goat milk and sugar. Also called dulce de leche.
Carne (car-nay): – Meat, pork or beef.
Ceviche (seh-vee-chay): – Raw fish marinated in lime juice, combined with onions, chili, spices and tomato.
Cerveza (ser-vay-sah): – Beer.
Chalupa (chah-loo-pah): – A filled, crisp, shallow corn cup.
Chayote (chah-yo-tay): – A kind of squash.
Chicharrones (chee-chah-roh-nays): – Deep fried pork rind.
Chilaquiles (chee-lah-kee-lays): – Fried pieces of tortilla with a mild red sauce and cheese topping. Popular for breakfast or as an appetizer.
Chile Rellenos (chee-lay ray-yay-nos): – Anaheim or ancho chilies without skins, battered and stuffed with meat or cheese, covered with a lightly spiced red sauce.
Chili (chih-lee): – The powder from dried chile peppers.
Chilorio (chee-loh-ree-oh): – A northern Mexican meat filling made with shredded boiled pork fried with spices and ground chilies.
Chimichanga (chi-mee-chan-gah): – Deep fried burritos filled with meat.
Chipotle (chih-poh-tull): – Smoked jalapeņo chili peppers.
Chorizo (choh-ree-zo): – Chili and spice flavored fresh sausage.
Cilantro (sill-ahn-tro): – A fresh herb used for aromatic seasoning.
Comida (coh-mee-dah): – Meal.
Conejo (coh-nay-ho): – Rabbit.
Cordero (cor-deh-ro): – Lamb.
Costillas (cos-tee-yas): – Ribs.
Cotija (coh-tee-ha): – An aged, crumbly white Mexican cheese.
Cream (creh-mah): – Cream.
Dulce (dull-say): – Sweet in flavor or a type of candy.
Elote (eh-loh-tay): – Fresh corn.
Empanadas (em-pah-nah-das): – A pastry filled with fruit, meat, fish or cheese. Popular in Spain, Chile, Peru and Argentina as well as Mexico.
Enchilada (en-chi-lah-das): – A softly fried corn tortilla dipped in red sauce and stuffed with shredded beef, chicken or cheese.
Epazote (eh-pah-zo-tay): – A wild herb used to flavor Mexican stews and soups. Epazote grows wild all over North America.
Escabeche (eh-scah-beh-chay): – A combination of vinegar, oil, seasonings and herbs used to pickle Mexican foods such as jalapeņos.
Esquite (eh-skee-tay): – A corn based snack topped with chili, lime juice, salt or grated cheese.
Fajitas (fah-hee-tas): – Grilled meat, fish, chicken or cheese on a corn or wheat tortilla.
Flauta (flow-tah): – A long flour or corn tortilla stuffed with chicken or beef then deep fried.
Frijoles (free-ho-lays): – Beans, normally pinto, black, bayo or kidney beans.
Guacamole (gwah-kah-moh-lay): – A dip made of mashed avocado, chili, onion, tomatoes, lime juice and spices, served with tortilla chips.
Guajillo (gwah-hee-yo): – A medium hot dried chili.
Gusanos de Maguey (goo-sah-nos day mag-way): – Worms that live in agave plants. Considered a Mexican delicacy when fried. Also found in mescal to denote the agave plant used.
Habanero (hah-bah-neh-roh): – The hottest Mexican chili pepper in existence.
Harina (hah-ree-nah): – Flour.
Helado (eh-lah-do): – Ice cream.
Horchata (or-chah-tah): – Soft drink with ground rice and water or melon seeds and juice.
Huitlacoche (weet-lah-koh-chay): – A Mexican food delicacy. Smoky sweet flavored maize kernels.
Hueso (weh-soh): – Bone.
Hueve (weh-voh): – Egg.
Jalapeño (hah-lah-peh-nyo): – A medium hot chili pepper.
Jícama (hee-kah-mah): – A tasty, crunchy white root served sliced and sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice.
Langosta (lan-goh-stah): – Lobster
Leche (leh-chay): – Milk
Leche Quemada (leh-chay kay-mah-dah): – Burnt milk. Known also as cajeta.
Lechuga (leh-choo-gah): – Lettuce.
Legumbre (leh-gum-bray): – Vegetable.
Licor (lee-kor): – Liquor.
Mariscos (mah-ree-skos): – Seafood.
Masa (mah-sah): – Dough made from ground cornmeal, water and lime. Used to make corn tortillas.
Menudo (meh-noo-doh): – Medium spiced, robust soup made from hominy, tripe, spices and onion.
Mescal (mess-kal): – Distilled liquor made from different kinds of agaves.
Mexican Salad: – A tasty salad featuring Mexican ingredients such as ground beef, cheese, olives, onion and avocado.
Mexican Soup: – A soup recipe including Mexican ingredients such as corn, chicken, cheese and chili pepper.
Mexican Torte: – A Mexican sandwich served on crusty white bread known as bolillo.
Mojo de Ajo (moh-ho day ah-ho): – Anything cooked in a garlic sauce.
Molcajete (mohl-kah-heh-tay): – The stone mortar used to grind chili peppers for salsa recipes.
Mole (moh-lay): – A dark sauce with nuts, fruit, spices, chili, chocolate, vegetables and seasonings.
Mollete (moh-yeh-tay): – A bolillo bread roll which is toasted and covered with refried beans, salsa and cheese.
Nogada (noh-gah-dah): – Sauce made from ground walnuts.
Nopalitos (noh-pah-lee-tos): – Prickly pear cactus leaves chopped up.
Papadzules (pah-pah-dzoo-lays): – A Yucatan dish of stuffed corn tortillas topped with tomato sauce and pumpkin seeds.
Pasilla (pah-see-yah): – Long, thin, dark chili pepper.
Pato (pah-toh): – Duck.
Pavo (pah-voh): – Turkey.
Pepitas (peh-pee-tas): – Unhulled pumpkin seeds for making mole verde.
Piñones (pih-nyoh-nays): – Pine nuts.
Pipian sauce (pih-pee-yan sauce): – Sauce like mole made from ground pumpkin seeds or squash seeds and other nuts.
Poblano (poh-blah-no): – Dark green fresh chili pepper.
Pozole (poh-zoh-lay): – Medium spicy soup with chicken or pork, onion, spices and hominy.
Postre (poh-stray): – Dessert.
Pulque (pul-kay): Fermented drink with agave. First used by the Mayans as a medicine.
Quesadillas (kay-sah-dee-yas): – Wheat, flour or corn tortillas stuffed with cheese.
Roasted Peppers: – Roasted bell peppers or chili peppers.
Rompope (rohm-poh-pay): – A thick, sweet alcoholic drink with egg and vanilla.
Salchicha (sahl-chee-chah): – Sausage.
Salsa (sahl-sah): – Sauce.
Sangría (san-gree-yah): – A Spanish drink made with wine, brandy, fruit juice, fruit and either Cointreau or Triple Sec.
Sangrita (san-gree-tah): – An accompaniment to tequila made with orange juice, chili powder, grenadine and often tomato juice.
Serrano (seh-rah-no): – A small, green hot chili from northern Mexico.
Sopa (soh-pah): – Soup.
Taco (tah-koh): – A fried corn tortilla, folded in half and stuffed with cheese, meat, lettuce, tomato and slasa. Can also be served soft, stuffed with various ingredients.
Tamale (tah-mah-lay): – Corn tortilla dough stuffed with meat, fruit or vegetables, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed.
Taquito (tah-kee-toh): – A small taco made with a corn tortilla, stuffed with meat, rolled up and fried. Like a miniature flauta.
Tequila (teh-kee-lah): – Liquor made from blue agave juice which only grown within a hundred miles of Guadalajara.
Tiburón (tih-buh-ron): – Shark.
Tomatillo (toh-mah-tee-yo): – Like a small tomato, a flavorful fruit in the gooseberry family which is used in Mexican sauce recipes
Tortilla (tor-tee-yah): – A thin, flat round unleavened bread. Made of harina for flour tortillas or masa for corn tortillas.
Tostada (tos-tah-dah): – A fried corn tortilla. Usually topped with meat, beans, lettuce, tomato and salsa.
Vino (vee-noh): – Wine.