Mexican cuisine ranks amongst the top five popular cuisines in the world. According to a 2019 report, 230.9 million US citizens admitted to actively using Mexican food and ingredients.
Not to be confused with Tex-Mex, authentic Mexican food is an eclectic mix of Aztec, Mayan, and Iberian cuisines.
This cuisine resulted from the intermingling of pre-Columbian local staple foods with the foods brought over by Spanish conquistadors. Many of the foods we enjoy today, such as chilies, beans, and corn, originate from Mexico.
Many of the foods we associate with Mexico are more popular in the United States than down south. Mexican cuisine is diverse and varied, with Oaxaca reflecting indigenous tastes and the Yucatan region boasting a strong Mayan and Caribbean influence.
So, if you’re looking to try your hand at cooking authentic Mexican food, we’ve compiled a list of the cookbooks you must have!
What You Need To Consider Before Choosing A Cookbook?
To avoid buying another cookbook that will gather dust in the kitchen, read on:
Experience eating Mexican cuisine is almost as informative as experience cooking it; if you know your way around the kitchen, your pallet will dictate the recipe.
If you’re starting out with Mexican food, you might want to grab a cookbook that’s meant for beginners.
You don’t want an expert cookbook that expects you to bake your own tortillas and make your own mole sauce. Otherwise, you may be put off from cooking Mexican food before even trying your hand at it.
Authenticity refers to something that is an original and not a copy. To achieve that with Mexican cooking, you have to make everything from scratch.
Some authors are incredibly meticulous about their recipes and can go as far as to tell you where your produce should come from.
Others do not gloss over details and allow you to use store-made tortillas and salsas in your recipe.
There should be no hard-and-fast rules with food, and you should be able to choose how authentic you want it to be!
There are the usual Mexican dishes with international appeal, such as tacos and empanadas, then there are the slightly lesser-known regional dishes, such as enmolada and posole.
Chances are, you won’t need a cookbook to make tacos and empanadas, but if you’re looking to cook a spread of authentic Mexican food, you have to decide on which region you will be cooking dishes from.
Each region of Mexico has its unique blend of recipes, some even asking for completely different ingredients for the same dish. For example, tortillas in northern Mexico are often made of flour.
In contrast, a tortilla without corn would be tantamount to blasphemy in the south. As we mentioned, Oaxacan cuisine can be entirely unrelated to Sinaloan cooking.
Some people prefer the recipe instructions in their cookbooks to be complemented with pictures. It makes it easier for them to follow the steps and know that they’re in-sync with the recipe.
Do you feel that cookbooks should have more words and fewer illustrations? Or you prefer pictorial cookbooks? Choose your cookbook accordingly.
Best Mexican Cookbooks of 2020
Our list for the top Mexican cookbooks encompasses all types of Mexican cooking, from tacos to unique slow cooker recipes!
Best easy-to-make recipes
Rick Bayless is an acclaimed American chef based in Chicago who specializes in Mexican cuisine. He has been touted as America’s foremost authority on Mexican food, spending six years in Mexico studying the food.
This book is filled with recipes that appear on the 26-episode PBS show, Mexico: One Plate At A Time, hosted by Rick.
The book is divided into four sections. Rick Bayless takes us through ninety recipes of starters, and meals, such as Shrimp Ceviche Salad and Chipotle Steak.
While you’re cooking one of the recipes, watching Rick cook the same dish will help you perfect it, as the book accompanies the show to provide impeccable directions.
Rick has designed all recipes to be cooked with-in 30 minutes, and he also keeps the dishes as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as he can. He encourages you to start with raw ingredients, take your time, and enjoy the full experience.
Why Buy This?
None of the recipes require you to slave over a hot stove or conduct extensive preparation. What’s more? They’re fresh, authentic, and nutritionally balanced as well!
- Easy, simple recipes
- Calls for easily procured ingredients
- Authentic Mexican recipes
- Recipes that take less than 30 minutes
- Not as detailed
- Does not delve into regional cuisines of Mexico
My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats (Fany Gerson)
Best authentic confectionary recipes
If you have a sweet tooth and you’re a Mexican food enthusiast, this is the book for you! This cookbook combines the love of food and the culinary research that goes behind crafting it. The author is a pastry chef, born in Mexico City, and in this book, she has cataloged confections from her native country.
After spending two years in a Mexican culinary school, she moved to the US, where she has worked as a pastry chef in many high-end restaurants. For this book, she spent a year traveling through Mexico, researching regional confectionaries.
The introductory chapters spend some time tracing the sweets to their ethnic origins, taking us through their symbolism and evolution. The cookbook delves into authentic Mexican sweets, breaking away from “Americanized” Mexican desserts. It takes readers beyond the sensibilities of a tres leches cake to recipes such as guava caramel pecan rolls and hibiscus ice pops.
Why Buy This?
The recipes in this book incorporate local fruits, such as arrayan and soursop, and give us a little insight into techniques and methods native to the country, such as wrapping marzipans. The vivid style of this cookbook makes it a must-read for anyone who loves Mexican desserts.
- Provides a historical background to recipes
- Takes into account local techniques of preparation
- Some recipes appeal only to trained tastebuds
- Calls for local, indigenous ingredients which may be hard to source
Best authentic Mexican street food recipes
If you haven’t yet tasted authentic Mexican street food, don’t worry; let Hugo Ortega bring it to you!
The most quintessential and popular dishes in Mexican cuisine have evolved from local street food. Most native Mexicans will tell you that there’s nothing like eating fresh tamales from a street vendor.
Hugo Ortega was born in Mexico City. Like many immigrants, he started from scratch and worked his way up. He now runs four Mexican themed restaurants in Houston and makes a great effort to capture the essence of Mexico’s street cuisine in this cookbook.
Hugo shares the stories behind the dishes and offers them a tribute to the many vendors and cooks of Mexico who keep the street food scene alive.
Why Buy This?
The cookbook contains a collection of recipes from tacos and masa-based foods to recipes you wouldn’t have heard of in the United States, such as tlayudas, cocteles and bebidas. Plus, the colorful photos of food trucks and street stalls will make you feel like you’re right there in Mexico City or Guadalajara.
- Gives you a feel for the real street food scene of Mexico
- Delves into authentic Mexican street food
- Some ingredients may be hard to source outside of Mexico
Best Mexican cookbook for beginners
Most cookbooks throw recipes at readers and expect them to understand them. But this book is different.
Of course, all Mexican cookbooks do gloss over the same techniques and ingredients. But very few make sure to lead the reader through the recipe step by step. This is precisely what this book does, hence the name 9 Easy Steps!
Patrick Calhoun has spent two years in Mexico, exploring and taking in the nuances of Mexican cuisine. And that experience shines through wonderfully in this cookbook, where he has framed every recipe in a step by step manner.
Adding to the step-by-step experience are illustrations that accompany the recipe. The recipes are also straight-forward, making sure that even a college student in their dorm can whip them up!
Why Buy this?
Mr. Calhoun’s enthusiasm shines through as he breaks down Mexican food into seven main sauces and teaches you how to master them as beginners. His recipes don’t stress over exact measurements and allow you to add in your local ingredients.
- Recipes follow a step by step procedure
- Recipes do not stress over an exact measurement
- Easy for beginners
- Pictures to keep the recipes interesting
- The recipes are basic
- Does not delve into regional cuisines of Mexico
The Mexican Slow Cooker: Recipes for Mole, Enchiladas, Carnitas, Chile Verde Pork, and More Favorites (Deborah Schneider)
Best for slow cooker Mexican recipes
When we think of Mexican food, we think of wraps, tacos, and fried tortillas. This cookbook takes a break from that and ventures onto the road less traveled.
The author, Deborah Schneider, takes us on a journey of slow-cooked Mexican foods such as moles, sopas, carnitas, and enchiladas.
If you want easy-to-eat, easy-to-make recipes that you can whip up for a picnic or a hike, this book is not for you. However, if you’re after a slow-cooked dinner to invite the entire family for, the recipes in this cookbook will do you good.
Most Mexican cookbooks recommend canned ingredients for things that are considered time-consuming to make. This book is a far cry from that. The offside is that recipes in this often call for intense preparation that may take hours.
Some recipes may even ask you to roast and peel your chili peppers and brown your meat. All in all, it might take you 4-6 hours to prepare a meal from this cookbook.
The Mexican Slow Cooker contains upwards of 15 recipes for soups and features a few salsa and taco recipes, which do not require slow-cooking methods.
Why Buy This?
If you’ve recently bought a slow-cooker or have one rusting in the pantry, order this book and make use of it! Deborah Schneider teaches you how to use one pot to create unique Mexican experiences while also providing recipes that elevate the same-old of Mexican cooking!
- Features an extensive list of slow-cooked Mexican dishes
- Keeps every recipe authentic
- Features unconventional recipes
- May be hard for beginners to follow
- Every recipe requires a lot of time
Best cookbook for regional delicacies
Diana Kennedy has long been an authority on Mexican cuisine. She published her book, The Cuisines of Mexico, back in 1989 when the world had not quite realized the wonders of Mexican food.
She has since gone on to write several other cookbooks on Mexican cuisine.
This cookbook is an amalgamation of her three best-selling books: The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book, and Mexican Regional Cooking, besides a few other fresh regional recipes from Mexico. Diana Kennedy once again reestablishes herself as the go-to authority on Mexican cuisine through this cookbook.
Why Buy this?
This book effectively captures the essence of Mexican food. It does a good job of highlighting the country’s regional delicacies and some of Diana’s unique recipes like Calzones del Diablo (devil’s calzone).
- Extensive recipes
- Covers regional delicacies
- Better reserved for experts
- Recipes may be too vague for novices
- No pictures
Best Mexican cookbook for those on a schedule
This cookbook comes from the host of the popular PBS series, Pati’s Mexican Table. The author is an expert on Mexican food, and through her recipes, she attempts to show people how easy it is to cook at home.
The recipes do not call for heavy sauces, deep-frying, or complicated techniques. They are surprisingly simple and fresh, skipping the spiciness of popular Mexican dishes.
The author tries to incorporate fresh produce easily found at your local grocery store and tries to shape her recipes around a home cook’s packed schedule.
Why Buy This?
If you’ve seen the show, the recipes in the book are much easier to execute. This adds to an already simple list of recipes that anyone can whip up with relative ease!
Some unique dishes you’d find in this cookbook are Divorced Eggs and Oaxaca style Quesadillas. The recipes even include a few holiday specials like a Mexican thanksgiving turkey.
- Simple recipes
- Calls for easy, local ingredients
- Incorporates recipes for holidays
- Not authentic for experts
A good cookbook is an investment, and with Mexican food, it is like an in-depth education in the sights, smells, and tastes of Mexico.
You now know which cookbook to pick up when you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food.