Rice, salsas, salads, and dips, these are the best Mexican side dishes to make any meal feel like a fiesta!
Table of Contents
- Which Mexican Side Dish to Serve
- What Makes a Great Mexican Side Dish?
- Mexican Side Dishes: Salads
- Mexican Side Dishes: Veggies & Beans
- Mexican Rice Side Dishes
- Mexican Dips as Side Dishes
- Salsa as a Mexican Side Dish
- Chips, Tortillas and Bread
- Mexican Side Dishes + Beans Printable Recipe
- The Full List of Mexican Side Dishes
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.
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.
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!
Tacos, enchiladas, burritos or fajitas are all popular main dish recipes that go well with Mexican rice.
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 Recipe. Made with crispy romaine, sweet corn, black beans, tomatoes, red onion and sliced avocado.
- Southwest Quinoa Salad. You can’t beat a dish that’s ready in half an hour. Easy, simple and delicious.
- Southwest Pasta Salad. Penne pasta, black beans, corn, peppers, cilantro, onions and tomatoes are tossed in a delicious and creamy avocado lime dressing.
- Mexican Street Corn Salad. This Mexican dish is also known as esquites and is popular for good reason with roasted corn, a creamy dressing a fresh taste.
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 Street Corn (Elote). The sweetness of corn is paired with a delicious cilantro lime crema sauce and crumbled cotija cheese.
- Easy Refried Beans. This Mexican side dish comes together in minutes and is made with canned beans.
- Fajita Veggies. These are great in a fajita salad, a chicken taco bowl or as a topping on steak tacos.
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 Recipe. It tastes just like the rice from Chipotle, but even better.
- Easy Mexican Rice. I love to include this rice in burrito bowls, chicken fajita bowls or with carne asada.
- Easy Black Beans and Rice. Made with aromatic, buttery black beans, cumin, and lime juice, this simple dish is great with almost any dish.
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.
- 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.
- Easy Salsa Verde Recipe. This green tomatillo salsa is perfect for chips, spreading over protein, or as a topping on salads.
- Pico de Gallo. I love serving this fresh and chunky salsa on beef tacos, BBQ chicken salad, chicken taquitos and taco lettuce wraps.
- Roasted Salsa Recipe. Made with freshly charred tomatoes, onion, garlic, shallot, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and spices.
- Restaurant Style Salsa. Made in the blender in less than 10 minutes!
- 5-Ingredient Grilled Pineapple Salsa. Tastes amazing served with grilled chicken, fish or pork.
- Mango Salsa Recipe. The fruit adds such a sweet and bright note to the salsa.
- Avocado Salsa. Chunks of avocado are tossed with plum tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, and cilantro.
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.
- Homemade Tortilla Chips. These are such a staple for a Mexican meal and can be used for dipping or adding a little crunch. Try tortilla strips to top any Mexican side salad or soup.
- Mexican Cornbread. Jalapenos add a little kick to this sweet and crumbly bread.
- Homemade Flour Tortillas. I use these to wrap main dishes, but also on the side when serving soup or something saucy for dipping.
Mexican Side Dishes + Beans
- 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
- ⅓ cup water , plus more as needed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans , or 3 cups cooked beans
- Fresh lime juice
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped cilantro
- 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.
- 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.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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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.