How to Perfect the Art of Making Mexican Dishes

Green enchiladas Mexican food with guacamole and sauces on colorful table

There are over 38,000 Mexican restaurants spread out across the United States. It’s safe to say that Americans love their Mexican dishes, which can lead to many of us attempting to replicate them at home. However, more often than not, this results in less than thrilling plates of food.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By making a few changes, you can improve the flavor and authenticity of your Mexican cooking.

Try these tips the next time you decide to try your hand at cooking a Mexican dish.

Char the Salsa

Create the maximum amount of flavor in your authentic Mexican food by dry roasting the chilies, onion, and tomato. You’ll deepen the flavor profile and add a touch of smokiness. You can then add just the right amount of heat to your huevos rancheros.

To dry roast your ingredients, you’ll arrange them on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven. Cut the onion into quarters and bake at 400 degrees for two hours.

The chilies are faster in a 350-degree oven for about six minutes. Tomatoes are the most delicate and require roasting in a 350-degree oven for about four hours.

Use Plenty of Fresh Cilantro

Skip the spice jar and only use fresh cilantro. The jarred version has little to no flavor. Instead, grab a bunch from the produce section and chop it up.

Wait until right before you need to use it for the most robust flavor. Sprinkle it on your burrito, tacos, or quesadillas.

Squeeze Your Limes

Pre-bottled lime juice doesn’t pack the same zesty punch that freshly squeezed lime juice has. Lime juice balances the flavors by bringing out the more subtle notes. If you’re using bottled lime juice, this doesn’t happen, and your dish falls flat.

Use Pork Lard

It may have gotten a bad reputation, but pork lard is starting to come back around as a respected ingredient. This natural fat is perfect for cooking with and packs a ton of flavor.

The trick is to buy good quality pork lard. Avoid anything that says it’s hydrogenated.

This is a flavorless commercial imposter. You need to visit a specialty market, farmer, or butcher for the real thing.

Back off on the Cheese

Commercial chain restaurants tend to smother Mexican food in cheese and sour cream. These heavy ingredients are yummy but also smother the seasoning flavors. You don’t have to eliminate the cheese, but use it sparingly.

Careful With the Cumin

You’ll find a lot of tex-mex dishes that require ground cumin. However, this isn’t authentic Mexican cuisine.

True Mexican dishes use whole cumin, not ground. It’s also toasted and then added to the dish.

Cumin is a strong flavor. Too much, and it overpowers everything else. Use it sparingly and carefully.

Perfect Your Mexican Dishes

You don’t have to eat out to enjoy delicious Mexican dishes. By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll enjoy authentic, flavorful Mexican cuisine.

Check out our other cooking articles for more tips and tricks to getting the perfect authentic flavor in your cuisine.

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