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Mexican Christmas recipes that will spice up your holiday menu

Tamale with corn leaf and sauces guacamole
Photo credit: LUNAMARINA/Getty Images

Mexican food is colorful, zesty and full of vibrant flavors. Whether you’ve been enjoying these Mexican Christmas recipes for years or you’re hoping to try something new this year, we have a collection of traditional Mexican holiday favorites that are sure to liven up all of your celebrations!

Feliz Navidad

We have compiled ideas for each course, including fresh and vibrant salad, warm and hearty soup, savory main dishes, and sweet desserts and cookies. We even have turkey (with a twist)!

Make all of them for a fulfilling Mexican feast, or just add a dish or two for some festive flair. Our south-of-the-border holiday collection holds a little something special for everyone.

So, as they say: Buen provecho!

Pavo en mole poblano

Turkey is not only a traditional holiday meat in America. It’s been a popular holiday main dish for centuries — and it’s said that Mexicans were the first to domesticate the bird.

This Pavo en mole poblano, or turkey in mole sauce, from The Latin Kitchen is the bird you know and love with one of the most complex and delicious sauces known to man. It even contains chocolate! Trust us, you have to try it to believe it!

Photo credit: The Latin Kitchen

Roasted pork leg

If you are looking for a roast that falls apart when it meets your fork and is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, then look no further than this Roasted pork leg from Mexico in My Kitchen. The marinade, made from flavorful spices and zesty orange juice, produces results that will have your guests raving.

Photo credit: Mexico in my Kitchen

Tamales

Tamales are a huge holiday tradition in many families both in Mexico and across the Southwest United States. A big part of the holiday fun is gathering together with friends and family for a tamalada — a tamale-making-party!

Tamales take time to make, but the results are well-worth the effort. Spending time in the kitchen rolling tamales assembly line style while enjoying conversation, drinks and laughter provides as much enjoyment as eating the final results.

This recipe for Hot tamales made with corn flour is from Mexico In My Kitchen. The tamales are filled with a spicy pork filling (which may be habit-forming).

Photo credit: Mexico in my Kitchen

Sweet coconut and pineapple tamales

Many people may not realize that tamales also come in a sweet dessert variety, like these Sweet coconut and pineapple tamales from Muy Bueno.

Photo credit: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Pozole rojo

Pozole (also spelled “posole” in the Southwestern United States) gets its name from one of its main ingredients: hominy (or “pozole” in Spanish). It’s a velvety and hearty stew brimming with slow-cooked flavor — a perfect winter warmer. Made with pork that is cooked until it is ultra-tender, it also combines the earthy flavor of hominy (dried corn soaked in lime juice), onions and the kick of chilies.

Pozole can be made in either of your favorite holiday colors — red or green. This Pozole rojo or Red Pork and Hominy Stew from Muy Bueno features lots of tender pork in a zesty red-broth base.

Photo credit: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Pozole verde de pollo

Want another take? This Pozole verde de pollo or Green Pozole with Chicken from Mama Latina Tips combines chicken and lots of fresh tomatillos.

Photo credit: Mamá Latina Tips

If you can’t decide, make one of each!

Ensalada de Noche Buena

Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, is a special night of celebration for families in Mexico. Many participate in processions through the streets, singing songs and remembering the story of how Mary and Joseph searched for lodging in the streets of Bethlehem. Traditionally a large celebratory dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve, before families attend midnight mass and then celebrate afterward with fireworks displays.

This Ensalada de Noche buena or Christmas Eve Salad from Muy Bueno is a light, creamy and refreshing side that pairs well with most any main dish.

Photo credit: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Bunuelos

Bunuelos from Que Rica Vida are a light, crispy and tasty dessert treat that will have everyone asking for more. These super-thin, fried pastries are enjoyed across Latin America and served with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and sugar or a hot sugar syrup. They are delicious enjoyed alone or with a piping hot mug of cocoa.

Photo credit: Que Rica Vida

Flour tortilla buneulos

If you’re pressed for time, these Flour tortilla bunuelos from La Cocina de Leslie use store-bought tortillas that will satisfy your cravings a little faster without sacrificing taste!

Photo credit: La Cocina de Leslie

Volteado de piña, or Pinapple upside down cake

Many people think of the pineapple upside down cake as a strictly American dessert, but it is equally beloved in Mexico. The fresh flavors of this fruity Pineapple upside down cake from La Cocina de Leslie combine with the warm butter and brown sugar topping to create the perfect end to any meal, north or south of the border.

Photo credit: La Cocina de Leslie

Rosca de reyes, or Kings cake

While many families in Mexico have adopted the tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas, traditionally gifts were given on King’s Day, Jan. 6, or Epiphany. These gifts were not delivered by a man in a red suit, but rather by the three wise men.

Today, many Mexican children get gifts on both days. They also usually enjoy a sweet, wreath-shaped bread, baked with a tiny figurine of Jesus inside. The person who finds the figurine is supposed to hold a tamale party for their family on Feb. 2 and will be known as the “Godfather of Jesus” for the next year.

These cakes are not just enjoyed on King’s Day, however. They can also be found for sale during the whole month of December. This delicious King’s Cake from The Latin Kitchen is loaded with dried candied fruits and is sure to become a fun family favorite.

Photo credit: The Latin Kitchen

Easy Rosca de reyes

If you are pressed for time, you can also make this time-saving version of Easy rosca de reyes buns from Growing up Bilingual. Using premade, store-bought dough, you can create miniature king cakes that also make it easy for kids to help with the baking!

Photo credit: Growing up Bilingual

Polvorones de canela, or Mexican wedding cookies

No holiday would be complete without cookies, and this rule also holds true in Mexico. These Polvorones de canela from Budget Bytes are a delectable holiday treat. They are light and crumbly but also buttery and crunchy, while also being coated with a layer of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

They are also known as a Mexican wedding cookies, and they taste like what would happen if a shortbread cookie married a Snickerdoodle, creating the ultimate cookie love story.

Photo credit: Budget Bytes

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