One of the things I love about my country is the food. Mexican breakfast dishes are my favorite; here are some you need to try!
Mexican cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world, ranging from antojitos (on-the-go street food) to grilled meats, seafood ceviches and unique one-of-a-kind dishes like chile relleno (stuffed peppers). To help you better understand our cuisine, let’s start with breakfast and understand what Mexicans usually eat for breakfast.
Most Mexican breakfast dishes are hefty, full meals because we Mexicans believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We tend to have a big breakfast before leaving home for a long day of work, as we don’t know how late we will have lunch.
This is why you’ll find many restaurants in Mexico serving huge main courses for breakfast from 8am to 12pm. It’s become extremely popular to go out for breakfast with family or friends on Sundays in Mexico. Here’s a look at some of the most popular and traditional Mexican breakfast foods.
Table of Contents
- Mexican Breakfast Guide
- Top 25 Mexican Breakfast Dishes
- Mexican Breakfast: Egg Dishes
- Sweet Mexican Breakfast Dishes
- Enjoy Your Mexican Breakfast!
Mexican Breakfast Guide
What Do Mexicans Eat for Breakfast?
Breakfast is an important meal for us Mexicans, so we tend to have proper full meals as well as fresh fruit, bread, and juice — especially on weekends.
Some dishes are sweet, others are more savory with spicy salsa; there are special drinks that go with Mexican breakfast and there are even some regional breakfast specialties you’ll want to taste when traveling through Mexico. The southern Mexico states like Oaxaca and Veracruz in particular have unique breakfast dishes that you should try.
But regardless of where you go in Mexico, eggs are a common feature in Mexican breakfast, and so are tortillas (flat bread). Many breakfast dishes also include chicken or other protein and spicy sauce, because we Mexicans like to start our days with a kick.
Mexican Breakfast Etiquette
In Mexico, we tend to have desayuno the first thing when we wake up. Desayuno is more like a light snack to start their day. It’s usually simply a hot drink such as coffee or hot chocolate and a piece of fruit or a piece of sweet bread. Mexico produces some of the best coffee in the world; coffee geeks should check Coffeeness.
Between 9 a.m. and noon, we’ll then have almuerzo, a larger meal that includes savory dishes of generous portions. Below I will share the most traditional Mexican breakfast that are enjoyed for both desayuno and almuerzo. There are no strict food rules for breakfast in Mexico and many restaurants have all-day breakfast menus.
Top 25 Mexican Breakfast Dishes
This is the most iconic Mexican breakfast dish. Chilaquiles are made with a base of fried tortilla chips, and covered with a green or red salsa. They’re usually topped with eggs (scrambled or sunnyside up), chicken breast, chorizo (spicy pork sausage), and even cecina (corned beef) or grilled meat. This dish has so many variations that you can try a different recipe in every restaurant you visit. Undoubtedly, chilaquiles are the Mexicans’ favorite breakfast dish.
Tamales are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish made up corn flour or “masa” dough filled with sweet or savory fillings, wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf. Many other countries in Latin America also have their type of tamale, but it is widely believed that tamales originated in Mexico. Tamales are also one of the most ancient Mexican dishes, dating back to the prehispanic era.
You’ll find tamales more often in people’s home than at restaurants. Tamales can be stuffed with chicken, cheese with pepper, pork meat, and even eggs. There are also sweet tamales made with strawberries, pineapple, or even chocolate. The best tamales I’ve had were in Oaxaca, and stuffed with pollo con mole (chicken covered in a rich, savory sauce).
Molletes are essentially two small pieces of bolillo bread sliced lengthwise and partially hollowed, filled with refried beans, and topped with cheese and occasionally slices of jalapeño or serrano peppers. It’s usually served with pico de gallo, which is made of diced pepper, tomato, and onion.
You can also find sweet molletes, with the same type of bread but topped with butter and sugar, or strawberry jam, honey, or dulce de leche (caramelized milk candy). Even though molletes originated in Mexico City, there are many variations of it in different parts of Mexico.
Many Mexican dishes have names that can confuse you if you speak Spanish and this one is an example. Guajolote means turkey, but a guajolota actually doesn’t have any turkey meat in it. It’s essentially a sandwich with tamales on the inside (it can be fried or not).
You can find guajolotas in almost every place that sells breakfast in Mexico City, it is a hugely popular Mexican breakfast dish in the capital city. Spend a few days in Mexico City and I promise you’ll become a fan of guajolotas.
Another traditional Mexican breakfast dish, pellizcadas are a fusion of a sope and a taco. It’s a thick corn tortilla previously fried in pork fat and topped with a stew like chicharrón en salsa verde (pork rinde in a green sauce). “Pellizcada” means “pinch” so you’ll have a pinch of piquant zing with this breakfasst. Pellizcadas originated in Veracruz, but you can find them in restaurants and traditional markets all across Mexico.
Tlayudas are my personal favorite Mexican breakfast food! Originally from Oaxaca, tlayudas are huge corn tortillas covered with beans, chorizo, Oaxacan cheese, and many other ingredients that’ll make delicious combinations; just like pizza. They’re so big that they’re perfect for sharing. The best place to try tlayudas is in Oaxaca’s Mercardo 20 de Noviembre, where tlayudas are grilled on the comal ( smooth, flat griddle).
This is another example of food with the name of an animal you won’t eat. A tecolote is an owl, but you won’t eat one if you order a tecolote in a restaurant in Mexico. Tecolotes are actually a fusion of molletes and chilaquiles, with bolillo bread covered in frijole beans and grilled cheese, topped with tasty chilaquiles.
Entomatadas are basically tortillas covered in tomato broth made with salt, garlic, onion, oregano, and pepper. Inside the tortillas, you can have chicken, beef, cheese, smashed beans, or other kinds of delicious stew. There are other versions of entomatadas, for example, enfrijoladas (covered in beans instead of tomato sauce) and enmoladas (covered in mole, a delicious concoction made of chocolate and different kinds of peppers).
Pambazos are another regional specialty from Veracruz, but you’ll also find it all over Mexico. A pambazo is essentially a sandwich made of a particular type of bread stuffed with potatoes and chorizo and then drenched in a guajillo sauce, served with lettuce, cheese, and cream. There’s no way you’ll end up hungry still after having pambazos.
Enchiladas are also one of the most popular Mexican breakfast dishes, and you can have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enchiladas are made up of corn tortilla rolled around a filling, and drenched in a savory sauce. The tortillas can be filled with various ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or combinations. There’s a wide variety of enchiladas, but if they have grilled cheese over them, they’re known as enchiladas suizas (because of the Swiss cheese).
If you have a strong hangover from partying too hard the night before, most people in Mexico will suggest having a birria for breakfast. Birria is a stew originally invented in Jalisco, and it can be made with any kind of non-poultry meat. This meat is spiced up with pepper, cumin, and ginger, and then slowly baked (traditionally, inside a hole in the ground) into a thick, red stew. It’s served in a bowl and you’ll eat it with corn tortillas. This is probably the heaviest Mexican breakfast dish you can eat.
12. Menudo or Pancita
In Mexican cuisine, menudo or pancita is a traditional soup made with cow’s stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base. Menudo takes a long time to prepare as the tripe takes hours to cook. It includes many ingredients and side dishes, and is garnished with chopped onions, chiles, cilantro, and often with lime juice.
Menudo is normally a spicy soup commonly eaten at breakfast in winter. This dish is another remedy for a hangover if you had too much tequila the night before.
Don’t be mistaken: barbacoa and barbecue are not the same thing. Barbacoa is actually similar to birria but it’s a dry version. Their style of preparation is similar, but barbacoa is traditionally made of lamb meat and cooked in an underground oven until very tender and succulent.
Today the term is also sometimes used for a similar preparation made on a stovetop or in a slow cooker. People from Hidalgo pride themselves on being the best barbacoa makers in the country.
14. Tacos de Carnitas
Mexican antojitos (street food) are popular breakfast food too; tacos for instance are commonly eaten in the mornings. Tacos are carnitas are generally tacos with pork meat. There are different kinds of carnitas according to which part of the pork you prefer, for example, buche (stomach), tripa (intestines), nana (uterus), nenepil (stomach and uterus), bufe (lungs), cachete (cheek) and other parts.
Carnitas are prepared in giant pots and you can taste them in almost every traditional food market in Mexico, but the best ones are said to be in Michoacán and Guanajuato (here’s our guide for visiting Guanajuato).
Mexican Breakfast: Egg Dishes
15. Huevos Rancheros
Perhaps the most well-known Mexican breakfast dish outside of Mexico, huevos rancheros (translated as “rancher-style eggs”) are simply fried eggs on slightly toasted tortillas, covered in a spicy sauce, with smashed frijoles beans and avocado on the side. You can also have this with scrambled eggs instead of fried ones.
16. Huevos Divorciados
Huevos divorciados (translated as “divorced eggs”) is a variation of the huevos rancheros, the difference lies in the presentation and the use of two different salsas; one egg is covered in salsa roja (red sauce), and the other one is covered in salsa verde (green sauce), and they’re separated by a wall of smashed beans and tortilla chips.
17. Huevos Motuleños
Mexico’s Yucatan region has many delicious traditional dishes and this Mexican breakfast is a specialty of Merida. This particular style of eggs includes a tomato sauce, black beans, pork ham, and sweet peas, and fried eggs are served over corn tortillas. Sometimes, this dish will include banana, cheese, and hot salsas. Trying huevos motuleños is definitely one of the things you must do in Merida.
18. Huevos a la Mexicana
Huevos a la Mexicana is the most quintessentially Mexican breakfast egg dish as it prepared with the staples of Mexico. The dish is basically made up of scrambled eggs with diced tomatoes, onions, and pepper. This tasty dish has all the colors and flavors Mexicans are proud of; they’re called Mexican-style eggs for good reason.
19. Huevos Ahogados
Translated to mean “drowned eggs”, huevos ahogados are simply eggs poached in a sauce . To prepare it, you’ll first start by heating up a green or red sauce in a pot until it’s hot, and then adding some eggs into it and letting it cook over low heat. Even though this is a very traditional Mexican dish, it takes inspiration from poached eggs, a European way of making eggs. Huevos ahogados is a fusion of culinary traditions; it’s nutritious and delicious!
Sweet Mexican Breakfast Dishes
There are all kinds of pastries you’ll find around in Mexico called pan dulce, which people enjoy over desayuno with a cup of coffee, glass of milk, or hot cocoa. Conchas are the most popular kind of pan dulce. A concha is basically a spongy round bread coated with sugar, resembling the texture of a seashell (that’s what concha means). You can dip your concha in a cup of milk, coffee, or hot cocoa. I like to have a concha with refried beans (some may find it weird, but you’ll love it if you try it).
21. Pan de Yema
This is a specialty of Oaxaca. Pan de yema is simply bread made of egg yolk. It’s sweet and you can have it with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. One of the best things to do in Oaxaca is visiting Mercado 20 de Noviembre market and trying this bread. You can thank us later!
Mexican Breakfast Drinks
The most traditional Mexican breakfast drink is definitely the atole. It’s a prehispanic drink made by boiling corn dough in water until it becomes thick, and then adding some cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices. You can also find atole made with fruit pulp. It’s traditionally sweetened with brown sugar, and it can have milk. Atole and tamales are like the dynamic duo of traditional Mexican breakfast.
23. Café de la Olla
Café de la Olla is a traditional coffee prepared in a clay pot and it gets its particular taste thanks to the use of brown sugar, cinnamon, and clove. Some people like adding cacao to the mix. If you’re a coffee lover, café de la olla will blow your mind; it has a touch of sweetness and spice, and its aroma will awaken your senses.
Champurrado is an atole with a chocolate base. The rich and comforting Mexican drink hot drink is especially delicious in cool mornings but is also great to keep you warm right before going to sleep on cold winter nights. This delightful concoction may sometimes include hints of cinnamon, anise seed, or vanilla for added flavor. To enhance its thickness and flavor, you can also incorporate ground nuts, orange zest, and even eggs.
25. Hot Chocolate
People in Mexico have been drinking hot cocoa since ancient times. Fun fact: it was the Spanish Conquistadores who added milk to this drink traditionally made with water. Hot chocolate is perfect for pan de yema and other kinds of pan dulce pastries. Mayordomo, a hot chocolate chain from Oaxaca, is my favorite spot for hot chocolate.
Enjoy Your Mexican Breakfast!
A traditional Mexican breakfast is always packed with nutrition and flavor. Whether you like it sweet or salty, there’s a huge variety of Mexican breakfast dishes you can have around the country. Be sure to try our suggestions or ask for the specialties of the area you’re visiting, I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Did I miss any of your favorite Mexican breakfast foods? Which of these Mexican breakfast dishes do you like most? Share with me in the comments field below.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- 25 Mexican Antojitos to Try in Mexico
- 30 Mexico Fun Facts
- 15 Best Mayan Ruins in Mexico
- 20 Safest Cities in Mexico
- 30 Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico to Visit
- Oaxaca Road Trip: My 10-Day Oaxaca Itinerary
- 10-Day Yucatan Itinerary
- 10-Day Guanajuato Itinerary
- 10-Day Copper Canyon Itinerary
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