Cinco de Mayo Recipes: Tacos for One and All

If the fiesta is at your casa this year, delicious eats are crucial. These taco recipes range from crowd-pleasing favorites to the not-for-the-faint-of-heart—but all pair perfectly with margaritas.

05.04.12 8:45 AM ET

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is all about tequila, friends and, of course, food. Skip those frozen, store-bought taquitos and instead try these exciting taco recipes that run the gamut from mild to wild from the talented crews over at Rosa Mexicano and Dos Equis. If alligator or snail tacos aren’t your thing, go with the more traditional pollo or fish tacos. No matter your audience, this variety and range of ingredients and flavor combinations will leave everyone going back for more (so be prepared). And when diving into the kitchen for this holiday especial don’t forget that everything tastes better with a good cocktail.

The Perfect Tacos for the Cinco de Mayo Rookies:

The Classic Pollo Taco with a Twist


16 oz. chicken
3 cups marinade*
8 oz. sweet plantains, diced
1 cup chile de arbol salsa*
½ cup crème fraiche
12 mint leaves
12 tortillas

*For marinade:

Achiote paste (optional)
1 garlic clove
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups orange juice
1 cup white vinegar
Salt to taste

*For salsa:

2 oz. Chile de arbol
2 tomatillos
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp. water
Salt to taste


Blend all ingredients for the marinade in a blender until smooth. Pour marinade over chicken and refrigerate overnight. To make the salsa, toast the chiles until the oils and aromas are released. Do not burn or brown. Roast tomatillos and garlic until soft. Blend all until smooth, and add water and salt to taste. Bake chicken at 350 for 30 minutes. Once the meat is done, cut into chunks and sauté in juice from the pan until glazed and hot. Do not brown. To assemble taco place crème fraiche, salsa, chicken, and plantains in a tortilla. Garnish with mint leaf.

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The Fan-Favorite Fish Taco


3 filets fresh fish, try Snapper or Tilapia
3 cups tempura batter*
2 cups panko crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups red cabbage escabeche*
1 cup jalapeño tartar sauce*
1 bunch whole cilantro leaves
12 lime wedges for garnish
12 tortillas

*For tempura batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp salt
1 12-oz Dos Equis beer
½ cup water
½ cup seltzer water

*For red cabbage escabeche:

1 jalapeño pepper, julienned
½-lb purple cabbage, julienned
2 jumbo carrots, julienned
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar

For tartar sauce:

1 cup mayo
1 jalapeño, diced
1 white onion diced


To make the escabeche seed and julienne jalapeño, cabbage, and carrots. Place all in a mixing bowl and add wet ingredients. Mix well. Add sugar and salt to taste. Refrigerate for 2 hrs. For tartar sauce combine diced onions and jalapenos with mayo and mix well. Add salt to taste. For batter combine all dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk in wet ingredients slowly. To cook the fish lightly coat each fish portion in tempura batter. Lightly coat with bread crumbs. Fry in a pan with oil until golden brown. Remove fish and place on a paper towel. Season with salt while hot. To assemble taco place escabeche, fish and tartar sauce in a tortilla and garnish with cilantro and lime.

Exotic Tacos for the Adventuresome Eater:

Good ‘ol Fried Alligator with Chipotle Sauce


2 oz. buttermilk
1 oz. hot sauce
2 oz. alligator meat, cubed
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp chili powder
Chipotle sauce*
Pico de gallo*
Chopped lettuce
Sour cream
Corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

For chipotle sauce:

4 lrg tomatoes, roasted
1 small onion
2 chipotle peppers
4 garlic cloves
½ bunch cilantro
1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

For pico de gallo:

2 tomatoes, diced
¼ red onion, diced
½ small jalapeño
2 oz cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine buttermilk and hot sauce and add alligator. Marinade for 2-3 hrs. For pico de gallo mix all ingredients and set aside for 20 mins. For chipotle sauce combine first five ingredients in large pot and bring to a slight boil for 5 mins. Puree mixture in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and finish with lime juice. When it’s time for guests mix flour, cornmeal, chili powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat meat with mixture, then fry in 350 degree oil for 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Heat tortillas. Place meat on tortillas and add lettuce, chipotle sauce, pico de gallo and sour cream.

The Bizarre yet Delicious Snail, Shallot and Truffle Taco


2 oz. huitlacoche (corn fungus!)
1 lb snails
1 whole head of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 oz butter
4 tbsp shallots, chopped
2 shallots, whole
1 tbsp aniseed
1 lemon
1 tbsp cayenne
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp flour
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp cream
2 tbsp chopped epazote
12 white flour tortillas
Truffle oil to taste


Wash and clean huitlacoche then chop. Add half the garlic, half the butter, and 1 oz shallots to a frying pan and sauté until huitlacoche is tender. Set aside. Wash snails and sauté in remaining butter and garlic, 1 oz shallots, aniseed, lemon, cayenne and parsley until brown. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Slice 2 raw shallots into small rings. Combine 1 tbsp slt, 1 tbsp pepper, flour and cornstarch. Dredge shallots in mixture. Fry in oil until crispy and drain on paper towel. Remove snails and huitlacoche from their respective sauces and set aside in separate bowls. Combine the sauces in a pan. Add cream and cook until thick. Remove pan from the heat, add snails and huitlacoche, and toss until coated with sauce. Serve on warm white flour tortillas, topped with chopped epazote and crispy shallots. Drizzle truffle oil to taste.