Arriba! Cinco de Mayo Recipes for Your Mexican Fiesta

By Fabiana Santana

Cinco de Mayo is the day of the year when everyone is Mexican, and while for most that might mean margaritas and nachos, for foodies it means indulging in sinfully delicious treats like tequila lime shrimp and rum and tequila spiked cocktails with a twist.

If you need inspiration for you Cinco de Mayo party, look no further. Marcella Valladolid is an expert in Mexican cooking and she’s got the cooking show to prove it. She’s dedicated her culinary career to creating gourmet, but easy, Mexican recipes that anyone can make at home.  She was raised in Tijuana, Mexico and landed her first job working at her aunt’s cooking school in Baja, Mexico. And even though she is a  professionally trained chef in both culinary and pastry arts (she attended the Los Angeles Culinary Institute & graduated from the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris), the heart of her cooking is based on what she learned at home.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that, in order to create an authentic Mexican meal, people have to have exotic ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen,” she says. It’s what she calls “every day cooking” that she hopes to share with people on her Food Network show Mexican Made Easy. “I love the idea of sharing my everyday style of cooking with people and showing how easy and accessible real Mexican food can really be. It is, after all, one of America’s favorite ethnic cuisines.”

But, she stresses, if there is one thing you take away from her show, it needs to be this:  “there is no yellow cheese in real Mexican cooking.”

Tequila Lime Shrimp Recipe by Marcella ValladolidTequila Lime Shrimp Recipe

Chef Marcella Valladolid


  • 1  pound large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons  Salt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1/4 cup Sauza Blanco Tequila
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 3/4 cup crema or sour cream


  1. Toss shrimp with salt, green onions, lime juice, kosher salt and 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper.
  2. Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté shrimp, turning, until pink and just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat and add Sauza blanco, then increase heat to medium-high. Tilt skillet over gas burner to ignite tequila (or ignite with a long match; use caution, as flames may shoot up high). Cook, shaking skillet gently once or twice, until flames subside.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in crema. Serve sprinkled with chili powder.

If you must…then these are the nachos to celebrate with.

Rachael Ray’s Super Nachos Recipe

Ingredients:Rachel Ray's Super Nachos Recipe

  • 2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different flavors, such as blue corn, red corn, yellow corn, lime flavored, chili flavored or black bean chips — pick 2 favorites

Pico de Gallo Salsa:

  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves, finely chopped — substitute parsley if cilantro is not to your liking
  • Salt

Beef and Beans Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark chili powder
  • 1 1/2 ground cumin, half a palmful
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you medium to hot heat level
  • 1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained

Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded, about 2 1/2 cups

Additional toppings to choose from, optional:

  • Sour cream
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped black olives
  • Diced pimento
  • Sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice
  • Hot pepper sauces


  1. Arrange a mixture of 2 varieties of corn chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.
  2. Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.
  3. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and saute 2 minutes, then add meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.
  4. In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and add flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.
  5. Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the pico de gallo. UBER NACHOS! Serve immediately as is or, garnish with your choice of extra toppings from the toppings list.

More Cinco de Mayo Recipes from

Cinco de Mayo Drinks

Cocktails to Shake Up Your Cinco de May Fiesta

Guy Fieri’s Mojito Chicken