Cook Up a Fiesta for Cinco De Mayo

Uno, dos, tres, quatro, CINCO!

The fifth day of the fifth month is more than just May 5, it's also the festive Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo.

The holiday commemorates the Battle of Pueblo, where a small band of Mexican soliders pushed back advancing French forces in 1862.

(Interesting fact: This is not Mexican Independence Day, that’s celebrated September 16).

Today, the holiday has become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, especially for Mexicans living abroad and in the United States. If you live near a major city, you can probably find a Cinco de Mayo fiesta (party) featuring mariachi bands and lots of traditional foods.

But no need to leave the comforts of your kitchen. You can create your own fiesta of dips and chips, perfect for little hands to help create, with our easy recipes below. We think they'll make your whole family say: "Mmm, Cinco de Mayo qué bueno está!" (Mmm, Cinco de Mayo is yummy!)

Fiesta Dips for Cinco de Mayo

(recipes courtesy of Saveur)

These dips are both creamy and rich and perfect for dipping tortilla chips, either blue or yellow. But try cutting up some jicama, a crunchy white tuber found throughout Latin America, or carrots and celery for colorful (and nutritious) dipping options.


Don’t have a mortar and pestle? Don’t’ worry, we used a big spoon and sturdy bowl and got great results.

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped white onion
  • 3 firmly packed tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium-ripe hass avocados
  • 3 tbsp. diced tomato

1. Grind 1 tbsp. of the onions, 1 tbsp. of  the cilantro, jalapeño, and salt together in a molcajete (mortar and pestle) until all the ingredients are well ground. (Alternatively, use a fork to mash the ingredients to a paste in a wide bowl.)

2. Cut avocados in half. Twist the halves to separate them and remove the pit with the tip of the knife. Place an avocado half, cut side up, in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through its flesh down to the skin, without cutting through the skin. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same fashion.

3. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete or bowl. Repeat with remaining avocado halves. Gently fold the avocado into the chile–onion paste, keeping the avocado pieces fairly intact.

4. Add tomatoes, remaining 2 tbsp. of the cilantro, and remaining 1 tbsp. of the onions.

5. Fold together all the ingredients. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

6. Serve immediately, directly from the molcajete (or bowl), with tortilla chips.

Chile and Cheese Dip *

Even our friends at Saveur couldn’t’ find a substitute for the easy melting Velveeta in this classic American-Mexican dip; a perfect dish for this festive holiday.

  • 1  10-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • (preferably Ro*Tel brand)
  • 2 tbsp. lager-style beer (such as Corona), chicken broth, or white grape juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. Velveeta cheese, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup grated aged monterey jack cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 lime
  • Tortilla chips

1. In a 2-qt. saucepan, stir together diced tomatoes and green chiles, beer, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

2. Add Velveeta and whisk until melted. Transfer dip to a serving bowl and top with monterey jack cheese, scallions, cilantro, tomatoes, and jalapeños. Squeeze the juice of lime over the top. Serve with tortilla chips.

*Note: you may want to cut down, or leave out, the jalapeno in these recipes if your kids aren’t’ used to spicy foods.