We’ve gathered all of our favorite Cinco de Mayo recipes for the grill in one place. Here you’ll find just about everything to plan your menu to celebrate this amazing occasion!
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican heritage and culture observed on the 5th of May each year. This day marks the Mexican army’s victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Though a minor holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become popular in the United States and worldwide, often associated with colorful parades, delicious food, and lively gatherings.
To help you get into this festive occasion’s spirit, we’ve compiled a list of the best grilled and smoked Cinco de Mayo recipes. We’ve covered everything, from traditional Mexican dishes to fun party ideas. So grab a margarita and get ready to celebrate!
What types of grilled foods are served for Cinco de Mayo?
Grilled foods are popular for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, especially in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., where outdoor cooking goes hand in hand with the festivities. Various types of grilled chicken, beef, corn, and other vegetables, fruit, and more are offered at Cinco de Mayo gatherings. Let’s not forget the beer and cocktails, either.
Easy Queso Dip
There are few things I love more than well-made queso. This recipe is easy, but the results are simply amazing. I like to use this easy queso dip as a base and add extras like smoked brisket, corn, or cooked chorizo to change it up. You can also enjoy it just as is with freshly made tortilla chips. If you’re craving some Tex-Mex, scoop a big ole dollop of this easy queso dip onto your nachos, tacos or french fries. Yum, queso never tasted so good!
Sazon Grilled Chicken
Sazon Grilled Chicken is simple to make and incredibly flavorful. These chicken thighs and drumsticks are coated with homemade sazon, then grilled over charcoal. Serve with sliced avocados for a delicious addition to any Cinco de Mayo menu!
Cast Iron Jumbo Shrimp
These cast-iron jumbo shrimp are marinated in lemon juice, spices, garlic, shallots and cooked hot and fast on the grill. We leave the shells on these shrimp, adding a little extra flavor to the sauce during the cooking process. Plus, it’s fun to slurp all that seasoned goodness off of them. YUM!
Smoked Beef Tri Tip
If you are unfamiliar with this cut of meat, it is also known as a triangle roast. Used in Santa Maria Barbecue, this cut of beef lends itself well to simple and complex flavor profiles. For this tri tip recipe, we are using a more complex spice blend. However, you can use a simple salt and black pepper rub.
Mexican Rotisserie Chicken
Pollo asado is a beloved Mexican and Latin American dish that involves marinating chicken in a citrus-spice mixture, then grilling or spit-roasting until tender and juicy. This dish is a popular street food item, but it also appears at backyard BBQs and festive gatherings like Cinco de Mayo. Serve this chicken with warmed corn tortillas, Mexican rice, chopped tomato, red onions, sour cream, and beans. The taste is amazing!
Mexican Street Corn
This flavorful grilled Mexican Street Corn (elotes) is topped with a creamy sauce, spices, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Serve this delicious corn on the cob alongside grilled and smoked meats. It’s also a great meal option for the vegetarians in your group.
Smothered Smoked Brisket Burritos
Smothered brisket burritos are a great way to use up leftover BBQ brisket! These hearty burritos are truly the perfect comfort food. What is even better is that you can make a homemade enchilada sauce or use your favorite store-bought brand. The same goes for the refried beans and rice! After trying these, you’ll see why it’s on our list of Cinco de Mayo recipes on the grill!
Sinaloa chicken is a popular Mexican street food chicken marinated in citrus and chilis, then grilled over a live flame. Traditionally, the chicken is spatchcocked, grilled, then cut in half lengthwise, and sold. This recipe calls for a whole cut-up chicken, but you can certainly use the traditional spatchcock method. Use the leftovers to make delicious chicken taquitos served with homemade guacamole.
Easy Carne Asada
This quick and easy carne asada is simply fantastic! Marinate the meat the night before, grill it hot and fast, and use it in tacos with pico de gallo, quesadillas, salads, rice bowls, or your favorite Mexican recipes..
Frozen Smoky Margaritas
If you’re a fan of classic margaritas but are interested in trying something new, this frozen smoky margarita might be what you’re looking for. This recipe infuses traditional margarita ingredients with smoke, adding complexity and depth to the cocktail.
Smoky Chipotle Skirt Steak
These flavorful Smoky Chipotle Skirt Steaks are marinated in a fantastic cumin-chipotle mixture then grilled hot and fast. They are simply delicious and work well sliced and served with rice and beans or diced and added to tacos. Divine!
Jalapeno Popper Corn Dip
Cinco de mayo means lots cookouts and parties, and this jalapeno popper corn dip is a game-changer. This jalapeno popper dip is easy to assemble and cooks in just 30 minutes. Amp up your appetizer game and wow your guests with this fabulous dip! This recipe makes enough for 8 people, but you can easily double the recipe for a larger crowd.
Fire Roasted Salsa
The vegetables for this salsa starts over hot coals infusing them with a smoky flavor. This salsa recipe is simple to make and a great starting point for beginner cooks. Make it the day before, store in the fridge, and enjoy!
The Best Salmon Tacos
We admit that we prefer the fish grilled rather than fried. For that reason, we’ve come up with a great way to cook fish on the grill without risking the fillets breaking apart . Using a cast-iron skillet helps streamline the process and produces a delicious crust on the fish. Our best salmon tacos are seasoned with Latin-inspired spices, and the flavor is fantastic! For this recipe, we recommend using a 12″ cast-iron pan.
Grilled pineapple’s caramelized and smoky flavor complements many dishes, including dreamy desserts, savory grilled meats, pizzas, tacos, and refreshing salads. Add a light cinnamon-sugar dusting right before serving, or top with grated Mexican chocolate. Whether you’re an experienced grill master or novice cook, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for using grilled pineapple. Fire up your grill and savor all this tropical fruit has to offer!
Grilled Steak Tacos
This grilled steak taco recipe is perfect for casual gathering and quick meals. Coated with a delicious seasoning rub, grilled, then sliced and served on warmed tortillas. Top this tender steak with fresh guacamole for a delicious treat.
Cilantro-Lime Chicken Breasts
These grilled cilantro-lime chicken breasts are fragrant, juicy, delicious, and easy to make. Serve them right off the grill with your favorite vegetables sides, or use them in wraps, salads, tacos, or chicken enchiladas.
Achiote Shrimp Skewers
Delicious marinated shrimp grilled to perfection. Achiote adds a red color and has a subtle smoky flavor, but isn’t overpowering. These grilled shrimp skewers are great as a main course or appetizer for Cinco de Mayo.
These Tequila-Lime Wings are amazingly delicious, and the flavor combination is fantastic! They make one heck of an appetizer too. Get these wings marinating 2-4 hours before any gathering, and throw them on the grill right before your guests arrive. These tequila-lime wings are so good; you might end up making a double batch!
Now that you’ve perused this list of the best Cinco de Mayo recipes, it’s time to light up your grill or smoker, and explore this treasure trove of Mexican flavor inspiration! Don’t forget to grab some churros or tres leches cake for the occasion.