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Best Mexican Side Dishes

Rice, salsas, salads, and dips, these are the best Mexican side dishes to make any meal feel like a fiesta!

A collage of photos showing Mexican side dishes.
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Which Mexican Side Dish to Serve

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Mexican food. I have written about it being one of my family’s favorite cuisines for years. It can, however, be tricky to know what to serve on the side of some of the entrees.

For instance, what do you serve with baked chicken chimichangas? Easy chicken flautas? Or easy crockpot chicken fajitas? Salad is always a winner, but I also like to serve dips and salsa as a side.

Here are some of my top Mexican side dishes to help make your next meal super easy. I also highly recommend ending on a sweet note with a Mexican dessert, like tres leches cake, homemade churros, or Mexican wedding cookies.

What Makes a Great Mexican Side Dish?

This is such an important question, since Mexican side dishes are often an afterthought to the main entree, especially those that already feel like a meal. There are 3 simple questions that I like to ask when deciding what to pair with whatever Mexican dish I am making.

  • Is the main dish mostly meat? If this is the case, I will choose Mexican sides that are a salad or even a veggie side dish to help lighten the meal and add a bit of freshness.
  • Would it benefit from a sauce or dip? I like to serve salsa or dips as Mexican side dishes for entrees that could use a little extra flavoring or sauce. I try to make sure the dip or salsa doesn’t share too many ingredients with the main recipe, especially those with cheese.
  • Does it need a starch or bread? Rice is a staple in Mexican cuisine as a side, and works really well with entrees that are spicy or rich. Don’t forget that bread can also be a great Mexican side, especially for entrees that you can sop up any sauce or soup.

FAQs

What’s a good side dish for tacos?

For taco Tuesday and beyond popular sides to go with tacos include refried beans, rice, pico de gallo or a side of queso and tortilla chips. For taco salad, guacamole is also a must!

What do you eat with Mexican rice?

Tacos, enchiladas, burritos or fajitas are all popular main dish recipes that go well with Mexican rice.

What are traditional sides dishes for Mexican food?

Classic Mexican sides dishes include chips and salsa, Spanish rice, cilantro lime rice or even a fresh Mexican street corn salad. Refried beans is popular because it is not only tasty but inexpensive.

Mexican Side Dishes: Salads

Salads are one of my favorite side dishes for Mexican meals, as they add brightness and texture that can’t be beat.

Mexican salad in white bowl on marble countertop.

Mexican Side Dishes: Veggies & Beans

When in doubt about what to serve on the side, reach for veggies or beans to make it a complete meal.

Mexican Rice Side Dishes

I love serving rice alongside some of the saucier Mexican main dishes. These recipes are so good, however, they could almost be the main meal.

Cilantro lime rice in a white bowl.

Mexican Dips as Side Dishes

It may seem strange to serve a dip as a side instead of as a Mexican appetizer, but I am such a fan of having these dips as a topping or adding a side of homemade tortilla chips for dipping during dinner.

homemade guacamole recipe
  • Best Guacamole Recipe. Just takes 10 minutes to make using ripe avocados, lime juice, red onion, garlic, cilantro and a spoonful of salsa.
  • Cream Cheese and Chili Queso Dip. Such an easy recipe and adds so much flavor to any dish.
  • Homemade Queso Blanco Dip. Five simple ingredients is all it takes to make a dip that can be used on top of so many Mexican entrees.
  • Bean Dip with Cream Cheese. Made with refried beans, salsa, green chiles, sour cream, taco seasoning and 3 kinds of cheese.
  • Cheesy Hot Corn Dip. Sweet corn is baked with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, green chilies and jalapeno to make a killer side or appetizer.
  • Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Dip. This Mexican side dish could be a meal in itself, but works really well as a side with a lighter entree.
  • Ceviche. A restaurant quality dip that is so easy to make at home with shrimp!

Salsa as a Mexican Side Dish

Though salsa is a staple as a topping, it is worth including it as a side when there are so many variations and ways to add flavor to your meal.

Salsa verde being dipped with a chip.

Chips, Tortillas and Bread

Don’t forget to serve a side of something crispy or crumbly. I always like to have something for sopping, dipping, or buttering for the table.

sliced cornbread in pan

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A collage of photos showing Mexican side dishes.

Mexican Side Dishes + Beans

5 from 17 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Not sure which Mexican side dishes to serve? No need to worry! The options are endless, but there is an easy way to decide which ones to make. One of my favorite side dishes is these easy refried beans that are ready in about 15 minutes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil , or lard
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt , plus more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder , or taco seasoning
  • cup water , plus more as needed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans , or 3 cups cooked beans

Optional additions:

  • Fresh lime juice
  • Shredded cheese
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, salt, and chili powder. Cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Pour in the beans (I usually leave 1 can with juice and drain the other) and water. Cover and cook 5 minutes until heated through.
  • Remove the lid and turn the heat to low. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the beans until you reach your desired consistency. You can also use an immersion blender if you prefer a smooth consistency. Bring to a light simmer for 2 minutes. Add a splash more water if too thick or let simmer longer to allow more moisture to evaporate if too thin.
  • Remove from heat and season to taste. Stir in any additions listed above, if desired.

Notes

Substitutions + Additions: 
  • Onion: Feel free to add in 1/2 cup chopped onion before cooking the garlic. Cook until translucent and then follow recipe as stated. 
  • Lard: A lot of recipes call for lard and you can definitely add it in, if preferred. I don’t usually have this on hand, so I like to use olive oil. 
  • Spice: Feel free to season to taste. If you like the beans a little spicier, add in a little extra chili powder and ground cumin. 
  • Beans: You can also swap for black beans, if preferred. Feel free to drain and rinse them, if desired. Make sure to add in closer to 1/2 cup water. 
Storage: Store in a covered container up to 5 days. If the beans seem dry, add in 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.04g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

The Full List of Mexican Side Dishes

Click on the links below to find the recipes for all of the delicious Mexican side dish recipes mentioned above.

Slice of tres leches cake with strawberries on a white plate.
Tres Leches Cake Recipe
This tres leches cake is SO much easier than making from scratch and tastes equally as delicious! It's perfectly light and refreshing with the best sweet flavor.
Total Time: 55 minutes
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Homemade churros on a plate.
Homemade Churros
These easy homemade churros are to die for and are the perfect dessert! They are soft and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Total Time: 40 minutes
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homemade tortilla chips
Tortilla Chips Recipe
These homemade tortilla chips are so light, airy and crispy whether you make traditional tortilla chips or baked tortilla chips.
Total Time: 20 minutes
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slice of cornbread on white plate
Mexican Cornbread
Mexican cornbread is a simple, sweet, and spicy cornbread with a buttery soft crumb. It's made with creamed corn, honey, cheddar and jalapenos, and tons of flavor! 
Total Time: 40 minutes
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mexican street corn
Mexican Street Corn
This Mexican street corn is the perfect crowd pleaser! Elote is a favorite side dish with grilled on the cob topped with a cilantro lime crema sauce and crumbled cotija cheese.
Total Time: 20 minutes
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Refried beans in a white bowl with a chip dipped in.
Easy Refried Beans
Are you looking for a quick and easy side dish to serve with your next Mexican-inspired meal? These easy refried beans are ready in about 15 minutes thanks to the help of some pantry staples. Delicious and nutritious, this bean recipe is a must-try!
Total Time: 15 minutes
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fajita veggies in white bowl
Fajita Veggies
This simple and versatile mix of sizzling, sweet, and smoky fajita veggies is a quick, healthy, and tasty addition to so many dishes!
Total Time: 8 minutes
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Cilantro lime rice in a white pot.
Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
Cilantro lime recipe is soft, fluffy and so easy to make at home! This side dish is a Chipotle copycat recipe that adds fresh, bright flavor to all your Mexican favorites.
Total Time: 25 minutes
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Mexican rice in a bowl with spoon.
Mexican Rice Recipe
This easy Mexican rice is full of authentic restaurant quality taste and ready in just over 30 minutes. It's a simple recipe that is the perfect side dish for taco Tuesday or to serve with any of your favorite Mexican meals!
Total Time: 40 minutes
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Black beans and rice in a black pot.
Easy Black Beans and Rice
There are plenty of ways to use an easy black beans and rice dish whether as a side, a main, in a burrito, or a bowl. Made with aromatic, buttery black beans, cumin, and lime juice, this simple dish is about to become your new favorite dinner staple!
Total Time: 30 minutes
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Mexican salad in white bowl on marble countertop.
Mexican Salad Recipe
This Mexican salad is a great side dish to any Mexican meal or summer barbecue. It's fresh and flavorful made with chopped romaine, beans, veggies, avocado and a cilantro lime dressing!
Total Time: 20 minutes
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quinoa salad
Southwest Quinoa Salad
This southwest quinoa salad makes a delicious and flavorful side dish or main meal. You can feel great about eating this healthy, protein-packed salad all summer long!
Total Time: 30 minutes
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southwest pasta salad in bowl
Southwest Pasta Salad
Tender penne pasta, black beans, corn, peppers, cilantro, onions and tomatoes tossed in a delicious and creamy avocado lime dressing. This southwest pasta salad is easy, healthy and full of Mexican flavors!
Total Time: 30 minutes
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pico de gallo recipe
Pico de Gallo
This pico de gallo is easy to make with fresh simple ingredients like tomatoes, onion, lime, jalapeno and cilantro! Serve with tortilla chips or any Mexican dish.
Total Time: 5 minutes
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roasted salsa in a bowl
Roasted Salsa Recipe
Easy roasted salsa made with fresh charred tomatoes, onion, garlic, shallot, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and spices. This delicious Mexican appetizer has TONS of flavor and is the perfect way to showcase those fresh summer vegetables!
Total Time: 25 minutes
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Salsa in a white bowl.
Restaurant Style Salsa
The absolute BEST restaurant style salsa that's made in the blender in less than 10 minutes! Easy, authentic and full of Mexican flavor. 
Total Time: 5 minutes
Read more
salsa verde
Salsa Verde
Easy salsa verde recipe with a touch of sweet and spicy! Enjoy this homemade tomatillo salsa with tortilla chips or with your favorite Mexican dish.
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Read more
This grilled pineapple salsa is super easy to make and jam packed with flavor – and only takes 5 ingredients to make. It's perfect for summer BBQs as either an appetizer or also tastes amazing on top of hot dogs.
Pineapple Salsa
This grilled pineapple salsa is super easy to make and jam packed with flavor. Takes only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes!
Total Time: 15 minutes
Read more
mango salsa in a white bowl
Mango Salsa Recipe
The BEST mango salsa that's fresh, full of flavor and combines a little heat with a little sweet. This easy recipe makes the perfect snack, appetizer or topping!
Total Time: 35 minutes
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Scooping avocado salsa with a tortilla chip.
Avocado Salsa
This avocado salsa is fresh and flavorful with chunks of avocado, tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, and cilantro then tossed with vibrant lime. Perfect for scooping with tortilla chips!
Total Time: 15 minutes
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homemade guacamole
Best Homemade Guacamole
This is the best guacamole recipe that is easy to make with ripe avocados, fresh lime juice, red onion, garlic, cilantro and salsa. Add to tacos or scoop it up with tortilla chips!
Total Time: 10 minutes
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cream cheese and chili queso dip in a cast iron skillet
Cream Cheese and Chili Queso Dip
Super easy and delicious chili queso dip with amazing flavor. Can be made in the skillet, slow cooker and even the microwave!
Total Time: 15 minutes
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Dipping a tortilla chip in a bowl of queso blanco.
Queso Blanco Recipe
This queso blanco dip takes just 5 minutes to prep and only 5 ingredients to make. This creamy white cheese dip is seriously the best ever!
Total Time: 50 minutes
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Bean dip and tortilla chips.
Bean Dip Recipe
This is the best bean dip with cream cheese recipe! Made with refried beans and 3 kinds of cheese, it's the perfect party dip served warm with tortilla chips.
Total Time: 23 minutes
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Corn dip in a cast iron skillet.
Hot Corn Dip
Creamy and cheesy hot corn dip is packed with flavor from cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese then green chilies and jalapeno add the perfect kick. A crowd-pleasing appetizer!
Total Time: 40 minutes
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Chicken enchilada dip in white baking dish.
Chicken Enchilada Dip
The most amazing cheesy chicken enchilada dip you will ever make! Loaded with shredded chicken, cheese, enchilada sauce and flavorful Mexican spices.
Total Time: 35 minutes
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