40+ Cinco de Mayo Appetizers to Get the Party Started
Get your party started on the right foot with one (or two, or three) of our favorite Cinco de Mayo appetizers. We've got salsa galore (we've got you covered whether you're looking for restaurant-style or something that incorporates the fresh flavors of spring), tons of amazing queso recipes (basic and spicy poblano), and SO. MANY. NACHOS (seriously, we've got a lot of nacho content). The point is, no matter what you're looking for, we've got the Cinco de Mayo appetizer recipes for your next fiesta.
Just like the dip at your favorite Mexican restaurant—only better! This fresh and spicy homemade salsa makes a big batch, but trust us, it won't last long.
Making homemade tamales is quite an undertaking. These little bites give you that same combination of soft, steamy masa dough and rich filling. To shave off even more time, use cooked chorizo instead of making a pork filling.
Quick and Easy Nachos
This platter of goodness represents the lowest-effort end of the homemade nachos spectrum. That said, “low-effort”—by no stretch of the imagination—means a low YUM-factor here. This Cinco de Mayo-perfect platter of beefy, cheesy nachos comes together quickly and relies largely on store-bought shortcuts.
Mini Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
Everyone loves enchiladas but all that rolling and filling can be a little labor-intensive on a busy weeknight. So we figured out a way to bake up a pan of delicious mini enchiladas in three easy steps! First, tuck small flour tortillas into two muffin pans and bake until browned to make crispy shells.
Skillet Nacho Dip
We took our favorite elements of cheesy queso dip and loaded beef nachos and combined the two into one epic skillet nacho dip, a one-pan main that couldn’t be more fun to eat.
Traditional meat-filled empanadas can be a double-whammy of fat and calories due to ground beef and a trip to the deep fryer; This air fryer twist is even healthier thanks to the addition of mushrooms, which lighten the filling while keeping it nice and moist.
Queso-Filled Mini Peppers
Tortilla chips usually go hand-in-hand with queso, but mini sweet peppers make a tasty and colorful bite-sized vessel for the rich cheese dip. Don’t worry if the queso looks a little broken when the cheese melts in the evaporated milk, the cream cheese will make it smooth again. Pickled jalapeños add a tangy note to the dip, but if you like your queso extra spicy, use finely chopped fresh jalapeños instead.
Basic Cheese Dip
Say hello to our best-ever basic cheese dip. So creamy, decadently cheesy, and perfectly easy to whip up at a moment’s notice, this simple cheese dip recipe is the one to keep on hand to address any and every queso craving.
Salsa gets a kick thanks to the addition of red grapefruit, navel oranges, and pomegranate anrils. Cilantro doesn't always appear in salsa, but here, paired with the tart fruits, it creates an explosive flavor that's equally good as a dip and a garnish. Lime juice, red onion and chopped jalapeño bring everything together.
Jalapeño Popper Dip
Creamy cheese, crisp bacon, and spicy jalapeño. What more could you want in a dip?
Sweet and spicy, this tropical treat is a perfect topping for tacos and grilled pork. If you don’t want to fuss with a whole pineapple, pick up pre-cubed or cored pineapple in your grocery’s produce section. Be sure to serve this salsa at room temperature for the most flavor. If making ahead, stir in cilantro just before serving.
Simply the Best Guacamole
Always remember: The best guacamole is the simplest guacamole.
Fresh Peach Salsa
If you need to use up a bunch of fresh peaches, this simple and delicious peach salsa recipe has you covered. The blend of sweet peaches, jalapeños, cilantro, and red onion makes for a summery twist on traditional tomato-based salsas.
Roasted Poblano Queso
Ever gotten your same old queso from the grocery store as a quick fix and find yourself wishing you had the warm, melty goodness of a homemade, authentic queso? Here’s your new go-to recipe for a roasted poblano queso that gives the perfect balance of gooey cheese and Latin flavors.
Yellow Corn Salsa
Spicy Grilled Corn Salad
Elote, Mexican-style street corn, inspired this tangy, smoky, slightly creamy side dish. Three jalapeños give this salad a real kick; make it milder by substituting mini sweet peppers. Serve this salad by itself at a cookout or alongside grilled flank steak and warm tortillas for an easy taco night.
Chile con Queso
Back in 1939, Sunset published a dip recipe from reader M.K.C. of Elk Grove, California, for La Salsa con Queso--"a lively dish from Mexico," it was described, made with canned tomatoes, diced American cheese, and a whisper of fresh chile.
Packed with subtle sweetness and heat, this watermelon salsa is a perfect accessory for grilled steak, chicken, or pork. Watermelon and jalapeños may seem like an odd combination, but both flavors complement each other spectacularly. Additional ingredients like nectarine, lime juice, and cilantro keep this mixture from tasting too much like watermelon. If you have more time, make sure the cilantro is chopped thinly and that the watermelon cubes are small enough so nothing will get stuck in anyone’s teeth or dampen the presentation.Try it with something salty, like chicken marinated in soy sauce or flank steak.
Sheet Pan Nachos with Chorizo and Refried Beans
Messy? Maybe. Worth it? Yes. The secret to fully loaded nachos that won’t fall apart in your lap? A mixture of salsa and refried beans acts like the “glue” to help the toppings stick to the tortilla chips.
Mexican Corn Salad
Mexican street corn morphs into an epic salad in this dish. Beautiful to behold, this salad shines thanks to the combination of colors and textures—crisp golden corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, peppery radishes, and creamy nuggets of cheese.
Mexican Street Corn with Crema
If you're in the market for a new favorite easy summer side dish, Mexican Street Corn is everything you’ve been waiting for. As if grilled corn on the cob isn’t delicious enough in its purest form, this flavor packed recipe balances the naturally sweet corn smoky chili powder and brightness from fresh cilantro.
7-Layer Mexican Dip
This is one of the most popular appetizer recipes for a reason! The fiesta will never end with this 7-Layer Mexican Dip. Your Cinco de Mayo guests will thank you.
Our version of this bar food favorite has half the sat fat, 450mg less sodium, and double the fiber compared to the classic. Notorious for being a calorie-and-sodium bomb, I gave these nachos a virtuous spin, slashing both calories and sodium by 40% without sacrificing their indulgent nature.
Super Crispy Chicken-Skin Nachos
For a show-stopping appetizer, these unlikely nachos are just what you need. If you have a local market that butchers their own meat, they will likely be able to sell you chicken skins for cheap. You can use either the thigh skins or the breast skins here, both will work great.
Street Corn Salad
Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites, combines the fresh flavors of summer in a bright, citrusy and irresistible dish. This summery side gets a pop of sweetness from the fresh corn kernels and a creamy, salty component from the crumbled cotija cheese. With just a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, the flavorful ingredients come together in one balanced bowl. This simple salad is easy to whip up for a last-minute cookout, and it can easily lighten up any heavy summer meal.
Spicy Chorizo Monkey Bread
Slightly spicy, cheesy and rich, this savory twist on monkey bread is tender on the inside and crispy on top. Fresh chorizo can be found at the grocery store or Mexican market, and the drippings are a perfect binding agent in the bread.
Sweet Potato and Chorizo Sausage Bites
In my hometown, you'll find a local twist on sausage balls, the ubiquitous Southern nibble. Sweet potato farmers' wives often mix a bit of roasted sweet potato into the dough. I've switched out breakfast sausage for peppery Mexican-style chorizo.
Black Bean Dip
Use leftover dip as a spread for sandwiches or burritos, or stir into a bean soup or chili for added body.
Southwest Black-Eyed Pea Dip
This cheesy appetizer will be the talk of any game day gathering. We took the ingredients in Texas caviar (a classic chilled Southern dip made with black-eyed peas) and turned them into a warm and gooey multi-layered dip topped with diced tomatoes, zesty cilantro, and spicy jalapeños.
Elote Corn Pudding
This creamy side is inspired by the iconic Mexican street corn snack. It gets lots of flavor from salty Cotija cheese; look for it with other Mexican cheeses in your grocery store. Or you can substitute queso fresco or feta cheese or grated Romano cheese.
Easy Chili-Bean Dip
Get your dip on with this super easy, 7-ingredient Tex-Mex dip. Just combine your ingredients and heat them together on the stove. Then top the creamy dip with any cheese – we love sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso fresco – along with black olives, green onion, and anything else that strikes your fancy. If you can’t find canned pico, you can use Rotel diced tomatoes, instead.
Goat Cheese Queso Dip with Vegetable Chips
This warm, tangy twist on fundido is perfect with sparkling wine; the bubbles help cut through the richness. We pair with veggie chips, but you can also serve with crudités for a fresher take.
Sweet strawberries mingle with lime and nutty coriander in this fresh take on salsa. Try this vibrant sauce spooned over pan-seared halibut or sprinkled with feta over grilled pork-and-zucchini kabobs.