Mexico is a country full of amazing culture and food. Vegetables play an important part of Mexican cuisine and cooking, but they are not always easy to find in supermarkets outside of Mexico.
If you’re looking to get a taste of authentic Mexican dishes while on vacation or if you just want to cook at home with ingredients that will make you feel like you’re actually back in Mexico,
then here is a list of the best Mexican vegetables you should add to your shopping list when visiting Mexico.
Alberjón is a popular Mexican vegetable dish made from fried corn tortillas. The basic recipe consists of fried corn tortilla strips topped with cheese and poblano peppers.
This is one of the most common Mexican recipes you can find in restaurants across the country. Alberjón is also served as a side dish when having tacos.
Alubias beans are often used in Mexican cuisine as both a main ingredient and a garnish. They have a mild flavor that goes well with spicy Mexican foods. You can either use fresh alubia beans or dry them, so they keep longer.
Amarillo is a Mexican spinach similar to Swiss chard. It has a light green color and tastes sweet. Amarillo can be found in many grocery stores.
It can be used in soups and stews since it adds a nice texture and flavor.
Ancho Chile Pepper
Ancho chile peppers are dried fruits. They are used in various types of Mexican cuisine, including sauces, salsas, chili con carne, enchiladas, tamales, and more.
Ancho chiles are small and round, which makes them perfect for adding heat to any recipe.
Ayocote morado (purple runner beans)
These purple beans come from the same species as kidney beans, though their size is smaller. Ayocotes are usually cooked like soybeans and served as snacks in Mexico.
Bayos gordo are large white potatoes that vary in size depending on how long they’ve been stored. Bayos gordo are commonly used in Mexican rice, and they go perfectly with chicken dishes and other seafood meals.
The calabaza squash is a gourd-shaped fruit that comes in different colors. Calabazas are very versatile because they can be eaten raw, boiled, baked, roasted, or even deep-fried.
You’ll typically see cebollas sold whole, but there are also ways to easily cut this onion apart. Cebolleta is a type of sliced onions that are frequently used in salsa, guacamole, and many other Mexican dishes.
This squash looks like a cross between a cucumber and zucchini. Chayote is typically peeled, diced, and added to salads or sometimes sautéed.
It’s a good source of vitamins A, B6, E, K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, folate, and fiber.
Chayote is a vegetable shaped like a pear, which means it has a thick skin surrounding a hard interior. Once peeled, chopped, and cooked, chayote is great in a variety of dishes.
Chile de árbol
Chile de arbol are plants that grow in Mexico. These red and orange colored peppers are grown in southern parts of the country, specifically Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Chile de árbol are usually found in markets throughout Mexico and some parts of Central America.
Chile Pasilla (Pasilla Chile)
The Pasilla Chile is a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine. It grows in small bunches and resembles an elongated bell pepper, hence its name.
Pasilla chiles taste like jalapeño peppers, although they’re hotter than regular jalapeños.
The Chipotle chili is the smoked version of the Jalapeño chili; however, it has a slightly sweeter and smokier taste.
The chipotle chili can withstand higher temperatures while still maintaining its heat level. This is why you can grill these peppers instead of roasting them over an open flame.
This bean is typically soaked overnight before being ground into flour. Col is used in mole poblano, menudo, and other foods.
Corn comes from Mexico. It is a popular food crop, particularly in northern regions such as Durango and Zacatecas. Corn can be steamed, grilled, poached, microwaved, or roasted.
Ejotes are corn kernels that have not yet been harvested. They are often found frozen in grocery stores. In addition to using them fresh, ejotes can be processed into polenta or masa harina.
An ensalada is just what it sounds like: a salad. Ensaladas are especially popular during the summer months. You can find them in most supermarkets all year long.
Espárrago blanco are pale green baby turnips that grow up to 3 inches long.
These veggies are quite delicious when prepared simply; however, they’re also good when combined with spices such as garlic, oregano, parsley, jalapeño, and tomatoes.
Flor de Mayo
Flor de Mayo is a flower bud that grows in May. Flor de mayo are available in specialty stores around the world. The flowers are commonly used in sauces, soups, and stews.
Garbanzo (chick pea)
The chickpea is another product that hails from Mexico. This food is high in protein, low in calories, and rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, and copper.
Chick peas are especially popular during the Lenten season.
Guajillos are dried chilies originally from Mexico. Guajillos are usually dark brown and have a pleasant, mild flavor.
They are extremely versatile since their flavors adapt well to many types of dishes. When choosing guajillos, look for those that feel firm but not too tough.
Habas (broad beans)
Broad beans are popular ingredients in Mexico. Habas come from the Americas. Broad beans are cooked in soups, stews, and salads.
Habichuelas are baby yellow squash similar to zucchini. They are best eaten raw and can be sliced thin then marinated in lime juice, salt, cilantro, and onion.
Also known as nopalitos, this vegetable is highly nutritious and contains antioxidants. Huauzontles are native to Central America.
Although they resemble prickly pear cactus, huauzontles don’t contain any of the spines. Instead, they have thorns.
These spicy peppers come from Mexico. Jalapeños are extremely hot, flavorful, and popular. Most people think of them as bell peppers, but they actually came from Mexico.
These spicy peppers can be used in salsas and sausages. There are two main varieties of jalapeños: one red and the other green.
Both have fairly equal amounts of spice and heat. If you want more heat, choose the green variety.
In Mexico, lechuga are very popular as an accompaniment to tacos, quesadillas, enfrijoladas, and tamales. Lechugas are spinach-like greens that are available fresh or frozen.
Jicama is a root vegetable native to Mexico. It’s shaped somewhat like a potato, with a rough skin that looks almost like sandpaper.
One of the reasons jicama is so widely consumed is because it is loaded with vitamins B6 and C. Jicama is sweet and crunchy and pairs well with other Mexican vegetables
Moro are popular in Mexico. Moro are large kidney beans. Their texture is slightly firmer than refried black beans. They can also be found canned or frozen.
As with most legumes, they are high in protein and fiber.
Negros (black beans)
Black beans are an important part of traditional Mexican fare. Black beans are native to Mexico. Black beans are a staple of Mexican cooking and considered a “national dish.”
They are served in burritos, refried beans, and bean soup.
Nopalitos (Prickly Pear Pads)
Nopalitos, or prickly pear pads, are great snacks in Mexico. They are the pads of the prickly pear.
Peruano is a small round white pepper. Peruano has a soft, aromatic flavor. Peruano comes from Peruvian and Central American cuisine.
Pinto (pinto beans)
Pinto beans come from Mexico and are popular ingredients throughout Latin America. Pintos are rich in protein and fiber. They are often mixed with rice and corn flour to make posole.
Purple Corn (pasilla)
This type of corn comes from Mexico. Pasilla kernels are purple when ripe. The color comes from anthocyanins, which give the corn its antioxidant properties. Green chili powder is made from pasilla chili peppers.
Poblano peppers come from Mexico. They are smaller than a bell pepper and darker. They taste sweeter than bell peppers and are good for roasting.
Pumpkin is another ingredient that comes from Mexico. These can vary in size and are orange, with a fresh flavor.
Pumpkin seeds are sometimes added to dishes such as soups, stews, and salads. Pumpkin seed oil is extracted from pumpkin seeds.
Sangre de Toro (kidney beans)
Kidney beans are native to Mexico and Peru. Kidney beans are used extensively as a food source by Mexicans and Native Americans alike.
They’re an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. Kidneys can be eaten plain, cooked into soup, stewed, baked, or fried.
Tomatillo is a fruit that grows on a vine similar to squash and cucumber. Tomatillos are commonly used in salsas, sauces, and purée. Tomatillos grow naturally in Mexico.
Vaquita (Calypso beans)
Calypso beans are a favorite snack in Mexico. Calypso beans are a variety of lima bean, but they have a unique shape and look — hence their name.
The bean is small and flat with a long thin tail. It tastes like lima beans but with a milder flavor. Calypso beans come from South America and are usually prepared in soups, stews and salads.
Vaquita Roja (red and white bean)
The red and white bean is a popular Mexican product. Red and white beans are a combination of two different types of beans: the red bean is from Peru and the white bean is from Mexico.
This type of bean is very versatile and can be used in many recipes including soups, stews or as a filling for tacos.
Carrots are a root vegetable found in many parts of the world. In Mexico, zanahorias are a common vegetable. They are used for both decoration and eating.
They are also one of the most well-known vegetables in Mexican cuisine. They are traditionally steamed before being cut lengthwise and then sliced into rounds.
Mexico has a large variety of vegetables at its disposal. Many of these vegetables have spread across the world and are some of our favorites today.
Some of these foods may not be as familiar to you, but if you think about it, there’s no reason why any of them couldn’t become your new favorite!
Whether you have heard about some of these vegetables or not, the next time you visit Mexico, it’s definitely worth giving them a try.
Just be careful of the spicy food if you consider yourself sensitive to spice! Have fun exploring what Mexico has to offer!