Our Best Mexican Appetizers and Sides (They Go with Everything!)
Mexican Red Rice
One of our all-time favorite Mexican side dishes has to be red rice. The ancho chile pepper, chicken broth, and a jar of salsa give this Mexican rice recipe the classic savory and spiced flavor we love. Once it's done, it's almost indistinguishable from the rice you order at your favorite restaurant.
Pickled Red Cabbage and Pineapple Slaw
Whether you're spooning this slaw onto tacos or enjoying it as a side dish, the refreshing recipe is a great companion for a super-spicy meal. Even better, this slaw is full of yummy, good-for-you ingredients like red cabbage, fresh pineapple, and shredded carrots. Serve it as one of your Mexican appetizers or save it for a side—the beauty of this slaw is that it's delicious any way you eat it.
Mexican Fruit Cups with Honey-Lime Syrup
Give pineapple, papaya, and strawberries a makeover by drizzling these fruit slices with a zesty dressing. Personally, we'd add them to our list of healthy Mexican appetizers to kick off a meal, but they're so tasty that you might mistake them for dessert. There's no better way to ensure that everyone at your table gets a serving of fruit on Mexican night!
All-Time-Favorite Chili con Queso
Chile-Cumin Roasted Chickpeas
Enjoy these spicy chickpeas as a quick snack, or serve as an appetizer and watch them disappear. This make-ahead Mexican appetizer recipe will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, which makes them great for getting a leg up on party prep. Just be prepared to hand out the recipe—all your guests will be asking for it.
No plain-Jane lettuce here. This easy salad recipe is brimming with watermelon, avocados, and tomatillos, and flavored with tangy lime-and-jalapeno vinaigrette. Plus, it's easy to serve a few bowls of this salad as Mexican cold appetizers to cleanse everyone's palate before bringing on the heat later in the meal.
Black Bean Salsa
Want Mexican appetizer ideas that go outside the box? Rather than using tomatoes for your salsa base, opt for this hearty black bean salsa with a garden-fresh twist from chopped cucumbers and green onions. Ready in 20 minutes, this salsa recipe is an easy way to top off tacos or freshen up enchiladas.
Corn Cups (Esquites)
Mexican corn is a must whenever you're planning traditional Mexican appetizers and side dishes. This recipe takes a few cues from Mexican street corn, with a little less mess than corn on the cob. Once you've cut the corn off the cob, dress it up with Mexican crema, queso fresco, and ground ancho chile pepper.
Roasted Pumpkin Guacamole
Baked Sweet Potatoes
With just 15 minutes of hands-on time, you can have a gorgeous and healthy Mexican recipe that's full of South-of-the-Border flavor. A dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of jalapeños and queso fresco turn tender sweet potatoes into a flavor-packed side. This Mexican side-dish recipe would go great alongside beef tinga or barbacoa.
Seared Scallop-Tequila Shooters
Hot and Chunky Guacamole
This ceviche recipe is full of fresh ingredients—avocado, serrano chile peppers, mango, ahi tuna—making it one of the best Mexican appetizers to serve before a heavy meal. The tomatillo-avocado dip even has some similarities to guacamole. Be sure to let the tuna and mango marinate for a few hours for the biggest flavor.
Jalapeño-Peach Wonton Poppers
Filled with a spicy jalapeño cream cheese and dipped in a zesty chile-peach sauce, these poppers are just plain irresistible. The crisp wonton wrappers give an Asian twist to this gourmet Mexican appetizer, and they're easier to fill than traditional jalapeño poppers.
Sikil Pak is a traditional Mexican dip recipe made with nutty roasted pumpkin seeds. With its creamy texture and chive- and orange-infused flavor, it’s a unique alternative to salsa or guacamole. This a great Mexican-theme appetizer for when you want to shake up your usual dinner routine.
Mexican Green Rice
Other Mexican sides and appetizers aside, no meal is complete without a bowl of lightly spiced rice. This green rice recipe gets its name from the salsa verde the rice is cooked in. Everyone will want to add a generous scoop of this side to their plate, no matter what Mexican entreé is on the menu.
It's not a party unless you're serving meatballs. This Mexican meatballs appetizer brings a little heat to each bite, thanks to chipotle chili peppers mixed into the tomato sauce. You can get a jump-start on your party prep when you add this appetizer to the menu—they'll keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a month.
Tequila Shrimp Nachos
After one bite of this nacho recipe, you’ll know: It’s party time. Piled high with juicy shrimp, fresh heirloom tomatoes, and a drizzle of tequila, this appetizer may keep you from getting to the main course. We'd be happy to eat this Mexican shrimp appetizer as our meal.
Grilled Corn Salsa
Every fiesta needs a bowl of salsa, and we think this spicy, lime-infused recipe deserves a spot on your menu. With smoky grilled corn and sweet peppers, it's a fresh take on everybody's favorite dip. Adding those extra veggies makes it a slightly healthier Mexican appetizer, too!
Onion-Jalapeño Corn Bread
Jalapeño peppers embolden this corn bread recipe that is made (conveniently) in your slow cooker. Add it to your list of easy Mexican appetizer ideas, because once you pour in the batter, you can walk away and work on the rest of the feast.
Queso Chihuahua Polenta
When craving hearty Mexican sides that pack some protein and fiber, devote 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time to this satisfying side. The creamy Mexican dish features a comforting blend of sweet corn kernels, shredded Chihuahua cheese (found alongside other Mexican cheeses in well-stocked grocery stores), and quick-cooking polenta. Serve it with grilled steak or shrimp skewers for a hearty, fiesta-ready meal.
Every Mexican restaurant we've ever been to has had refried beans as a side, so of course we had to include them here. If you want to learn how to make them at home, this simple recipe is the best way to learn. After all, this Mexican side dish has only five ingredients (one of them is water) and three steps, so you'll master it in no time.