Where has the time gone? Not only is it May, but it’s time for us to celebrate Cinco de Mayo again—although we don’t necessarily need an excuse to indulge in tacos and margaritas. Before we break out our party gear (and our ultimate Cinco de Mayo party menu), here’s a mini history lesson on exactly what we’re celebrating. Many Americans mistakenly think this holiday is the Mexican Independence Day, but it actually commemorates a large Mexican military victory against the French during the Franco-Mexican War. Although it’s celebrated in parts of Mexico, it’s not a national holiday there, and we actually tend to celebrate it in a bigger way stateside.
Now that you know what all the partying is about, we’re happy to introduce the ultimate Cinco de Mayo menu so you’ll have little (or zero) planning to do. From pitcher-style margaritas for simple serving to crockpot chalupas for easy prep, we’ve rounded up the ultimate Cinco de Mayo recipes whether you’re throwing a party or just celebrating at home with your family.
What to Sip On
We love the idea of make-ahead margaritas so you can actually enjoy your shindig (or relaxing night at home). A homemade simple syrup isn’t too sugary sweet when paired with tequila and fresh lime juice (a citrus juicer is key to getting out all the flavor from the fruit). Rim whatever glasses you’ll use with salt, and you’ll be good to go.
Not everyone is a fan of tequila, so you need something milder to keep on hand. A white peach–infused sangria garnished with ripe cherries is the perfect springtime cocktail. All you need to do is combine a bottle of white wine, a bottle of sparkling peach juice, slices of fresh peaches, slices of fresh pears, 10 to 15 cherries, and some sprigs of fresh mint. Refrigerate for as little as an hour—or let it sit in the fridge overnight for maximum deliciousness!
What to Snack On
No Cinco de Mayo party is a success without some guac and chips. But let’s be honest—this is the time to break out the good stuff. A simple recipe calls for cubed fresh avocados, de-seeded and diced tomatoes, an onion, some sliced jalapeño, fresh cilantro, sea salt, and lime juice. Smash the avocados to start, and then add all other ingredients. Side note: To keep your guacamole from becoming brown, a simple trick is to keep one or two of the pits in the bowl along with your dip.
What to Dine On
It’s taco time… this time with carne asada meat topped with french fries. We like that it’s totally hands-off for most of the day. The steak can be prepped in the slow cooker while you do other things. What we (and your guests!) will especially appreciate are the piles of toppings, including Mexican-spiced russet potato fries, homemade pico de gallo, and an avocado-jalapeño-lime queso dressing.
Chalupas—a Pueblan street food featuring fried tortillas topped with shredded meat and all the fixings—are what people in Mexico actually eat to celebrate the holiday. This version can be made in bulk in your crockpot. Just let the pork shoulder simmer for six to eight hours on low so it shreds easily (plus, light beer gives it a nice flavor). Then, right before serving, bake some tortillas that will serve as your shells. Top with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, the works. Ta da!
What to Indulge In
Since there is no such thing as too many tacos on Cinco de Mayo, serve a taco-inspired ice cream dessert (is there anything more Instagrammable?). Fried taco shells dipped in chocolate. Homemade creamy coconut milk ice cream. A banana salsa and peanut garnish. Need we say more?
If you need more taco inspo, be sure to read about fish taco recipes you'll want to make for dinner tonight.