Rivaling pizza for worldwide popularity, tacos offer an equally diverse range of ingredients to fill a corn or flour tortilla.
At their most fundamental and authentic level, tacos are
Mexican street food, served from food stalls to eat standing up or sitting on bar stools.
While taco stands exist everywhere today, tacos are also the most popular menu items at sit-down Mexican restaurants. Tacos may be perfectly satisfying handheld meals on their own, but if you like a leisurely dining experience, you’ll want some sides.
Below, I’ll cover numerous side dishes for tacos that act as great flavor compliments and even added garnishes to elevate your Taco Tuesdays.
A staple at any Mexican food restaurant in the U.S., chips and salsa is the quintessential pairing that completes any Mexican food dining experience.
This recipe from Food Network has you fry thick triangles of corn tortillas to create the perfect restaurant-style chips.
They hold up well under the weight of the chunky tomato and jalapeno salsa.
other salsa recipes to mix up your normal pairing!
Traditional tacos in Mexico consist of a corn tortilla, protein, and a garnish of cilantro, onion, and lime juice.
This recipe mirrors the flavors found in an authentic Mexican taco.
Scallions, fresh cilantro, red pepper flakes, lime juice, and diced garlic are thrown in raw while the rice is piping hot, causing the ingredients to cook into the rice.
Nearly as beloved as tacos themselves, guacamole is the gold standard of dips.
No matter how much you make, it will all be devoured. It’s even fun to make, mashing the buttery avocado with garlic and lime juice into a chunky, creamy paste.
This recipe from Food Network star Alton Brown adds an extra spicy kick to the standard recipe, with cayenne, cumin, chopped cilantro, and jalapeno.
Mexico is one of the top mango producers in the world, its biggest seller being the super-sweet, low-acid, yellow Atatulfo mango.
You’ll find these favorite Mexican mangos at your local grocery store to use in this perfectly balanced and fresh mango salsa recipe.
It combines chunks of mango with avocado, cucumber, onions, peppers, garlic, and lime for a zesty and texturally diverse garnish. I love it on a fish taco.
The only thing more delicious than corn on the cob is roasted corn smothered in mayo, cheese, lime juice, and chili powder. That’s how you get it on the streets in Mexico!
This recipe is an ode to the Mexican esquite, using yellow corn kernels instead of hominy for a sweeter foundation that neutralizes the spicy diced jalapeno, pepper flakes, and chili powder.
This very filling side dish for tacos could be a meal on its own.
This recipe is essentially a Southwestern take on a loaded baked potato, smothering baked sweet potato halves with corn and bean salsa, a creamy cilantro dressing, and hot sauce.
This recipe has the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy.
Meaning “rooster’s beak” in Spanish, Pico de Gallo got its name from the way consumers used to eat it by taking small “pecks” with their fingers to transfer the garnish to their plates.
Pico de Gallo is as essential to Mexican cooking as the mirepoix is to
Cajun cooking in my opinion.
The combo of tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and lime juice goes with everything, from tacos to enchiladas.
This simple, five-ingredient recipe mimics a pico de gallo recipe, substituting the tomatoes for diced pineapple.
The acidic sweetness in pineapple makes this salsa even zestier than a mango salsa.
I like serving pineapple salsa as the sweet option for my taco bar spread.
Mexican rice is the typical side dish for most Mexican meals, served alongside refried or charro beans.
This traditional Mexican rice recipe uses tomato bouillon, giving the rice its orange color.
The key to the best Mexican rice is frying the rice in hot oil before adding the rest of the aromatics, veggies, and cooking liquid.
I’ve given you Mexican rice, so it’s only logical that Mexican beans will follow.
While traditional black beans are scratch-made, this recipe gives you a shortcut by calling for canned beans.
It even uses the liquid of the beans as a salty base to season the adobo, chipotle, and fire-roasted tomatoes.
This comforting casserole is more authentic than the cold street corn salad in my opinion because Mexican street corn is a hot dish.
This casserole doubles up on moisture by adding both mayo and sour cream.
The tangy sour cream with the chunks of queso fresco melted to bubbly perfection puts this casserole a cut above the rest.
This colorful salsa recipe has one of the more complete flavor and texture profiles on my list.
Plus, it’s a great option as a taco filling for vegetarians.
Using canned and drained black beans and corn as the foundation, this salsa adds a slew of fresh peppers, onions, spices, and lime juice.
Cheesy bean dip is another catch-all dish that is as tasty as an appetizer as it is a side dish or even
a taco topper.
It is a gooey, cheesy bean casserole, combining pinto beans with sour cream, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar and jack cheese.
This dip is best fresh out of the oven when the cheese is bubbling. It’s worth burning the roof of your mouth over!
A Tex Mex take on Mexican street corn, this ultra-rich casserole has a trifecta of dairy products. It combines heavy cream, cream cheese, and butter with frozen corn and diced fresh jalapeno.
If that wasn’t enough dairy for you, this casserole gets a hefty helping of shredded cheddar cheese. I like to add cayenne to give it a bit more of a kick.
This easy Mexican-inspired slaw is even better than its classic coleslaw counterpart. It’s lighter and zestier, too!
Using the same classic coleslaw mix of cabbages and carrots, this slaw uses
a Greek yogurt-based sauce seasoned with cumin, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and scallions.
It tastes wonderful as a fresh side dish or taco topper.
Marrying the universally beloved cuisines of Italy and Mexico, this taco pasta salad makes the perfect taco side dish.
Leftovers make the perfect Tupperware lunch to bring with you to work.
This recipe uses a thick, creamy sauce of mayo, sour cream, taco seasoning, and ranch seasoning to coat the pasta. The mix of fresh veggies, herbs, and Mexican corn adds a much-needed crunch.
This lettuce-free salad reminds me of the Mexican version of Greek salad.
It’s a veritable rainbow salad, using sweet yellow and red cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, and avocados.
The balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing add more sweetness than a squeeze of lime.
Just as you’ll often see corn tortilla strips adorning Southwestern salads, this creamy and decadent corn salad comes dusted in crushed Fritos.
The corn salad is a combination of corn, diced peppers, and onions tossed in a creamy ranch and mayo dressing.
I love the use of taco seasoning to impart Mexican flavors like cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.
This recipe is perfect in its simplicity, combining cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and corn with a drizzle of lime juice, olive oil, and seasoning.
It takes no more than 10 minutes to prepare and is a fresh and healthy side dish for tacos.
I like to add slices of black olives for a little saltiness.
Many of the best taco fillings are
Since the grill’s already smoking, you can make some room for this easy grilled vegetable recipe from
Food Network star Giada de Laurentis.
It calls for eggplant, squash, bell peppers, and asparagus brushed with olive oil and seasoned, but you can use
any grill-friendly vegetables.
I love to create a zesty lime and cilantro dressing to drizzle over them.
A popular breakfast taco pairing, papas con chorizo is a dish with pan-fried potatoes and spicy, crumbly Mexican chorizo.
This recipe fries onions and jalapenos in with the chorizo for added flavor.
I love this side dish as a guisado for a breakfast taco brunch buffet.
A rich, filling, and healthy soup, spicy black bean soup is full of cooked veggies blended with canned black beans and vegetable broth.
This recipe uses a mirepoix base, adding cumin and red pepper flakes for a Mexican flavor profile.
Delighting in a cup of this spicy black bean soup alongside a plate of tacos is as delicious a pairing as grilled cheese and tomato soup!
Salsa verde means “green sauce,” describing its green ingredients, which generally include tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapenos.
This tomatillo salsa verde chars green tomatoes in the broiler instead of boiling them. I think the charred tomatillos add a unique smokiness to the salsa.
The depth of flavor with the sweet green tomatoes, tart lime juice,
spicy peppers, and the sharp bite of raw onion makes salsa verde the perfect garnish for tacos.
An unconventional salsa verde, this green sauce gets its coloring from the unlikely pairing of avocado, kiwis, and peppers.
It’s a chunky salsa that’s closer to the mango and pineapple salsa than to a traditional salsa verde.
Kiwis are a subtly sweet tropical flavor that works well with tangy and spicy ingredients.
Gazpacho may be
a Spanish dish, but you can use it as a Mexican side dish. This recipe blends cucumber with green grapes, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar into a cold, savory smoothie.
Since the recipe calls for a topping of cooked shrimp, I suggest adapting the gazpacho into a topping for fried shrimp tacos.
If you love cornbread, this corn pudding recipe is a cross between cornbread and a creamy corn souffle.
Using cornbread muffin mix, kerneled corn, and creamed corn with butter, sugar, and eggs, this corn pudding has a dense and moist texture.
You can add a Mexican twist by using Mexican corn, jalapenos, and canned green chilies.
Stuffed bell peppers are a hearty meal baked into a roasted red pepper.
Every culinary tradition has some form of stuffed pepper, and this Mexican take uses taco seasoning to flavor the ground turkey, black bean, and rice filling.
The shredded cheese topping binds all the ingredients together. I would use half of these stuffed bell peppers as fillings for my tacos.
Complete your meal with these sides for tacos! These classic Mexican sides and inventive Southwest style dishes are perfect for
all types of tacos.
Check out other side dishes on our blog, like
the best sides for pork chops or side dishes for pizza – another famous food!
1. Choose your favorite recipe.
2. Gather the necessary ingredients. 3. Prep and cook your recipe. 4. Enjoy!
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