New Mexican cuisine

New Mexican cuisine


noun | encyclopedia/cuisine

Definition of New Mexican cuisine

New Mexicans traditionally eat two meals a day in the morning and night, snacking throughout the day is normal, the large assortment of dishes geared towards breakfasts and dinner, and snacking, are evidence of this. It is now also common for an American lunch to be included into the daily routine, this has lead to an increase of lunch related food items. One traditional definition of a meal in New Mexico is that it includes a main entree, usually revolving around red and/or green New Mexico chile, with sides of papas (potatos), pinto beans, New Mexico style tortillas or sopapillas, and/or sometimes Spanish or Mexican style rice. There is a recurrence of several American and traditional Mexican meals that are incorporated into New Mexican cuisine.

Examples of New Mexican cuisine

New Mexico chile

New Mexico Chile. Cultivated in New Mexico in the Rio Grande valley, and throughout New Mexico, for about half a millennia. Introduced from Mexico by the Spanish during the colonial Santa Fe de Nuevo México culture. Traditionally chile is served in green to red varieties, it grows from green and becomes red as it matures, green chile is roasted and peeled which is them served whole, diced, or as a sauce, and red chile is dried which is then later re-hydrated and served as a sauce.

Side Dishes

Breads. The most common breads found in New Mexican cuisine are tortillas and sopapillas. Tortillas in New Mexico are  usuallyeither flour or corn tortillas, specifically New Mexico style flour tortillas or yellow or the unique blue corn tortillas. Sopapillas, a form of Indian Fry Bread, are a puffed soft fried bread.

BeansCorn, and Squash. The most common beans in New Mexican cuisine are pinto beans, with black beans being uncommon. The most common forms of corn New Mexican cuisine corn is hominy and sweet yellow corn; and for squash its the yellow squash and zucchini.

Posole and Calabacitas. Posole is a dish prepared with hominy, New Mexico chile, and pork; there is also a kosher version made with chicken, and a vegetarian version that focuses more on the chile peppers. Calabacitas is a squash centered dish, prepared with yellow squash, zucchini, sweet yellow corn, and New Mexico chile.

Piñon. Pine nuts are a common snack, and as a flavoring. An example of it being used as a flavor is its usage by New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company.


Dishes in bold are quintessentially New Mexican. In that they are part of the New Mexican cuisine tradition, dating to the New Mexico colonial era, territorial phases, and prior to circa 1850.

Dishes in italics are modern essentials. In that they are part of the foods of the pre and early statehood phase, dating from the late territorial phase, Route 66 New Mexican, and prior to the 1950s.



  • Burritos
  • Calabacitas
  • Carne asada steaks with red and/or green New Mexico chile
  • Green chile burger and green chile cheeseburger
  • Green chile roll
  • Green chile stew
  • Grilled chicken, usually shredded, with green New Mexico chile or red New Mexico chile
  • Meat; while primarily beef and chicken, local fish, buffalo (bison), duck, venison, elk, and prairie dogs are also used
  • Mushrooms
  • New Mexico roll
  • NM style enchiladas
  • NM style fried chicken
  • NM style tacos
  • NM style tamales
  • Pecan green chile roll
  • NM style Posole/Pozole
  • Steak in the rough
  • Stuffed sopapillas

Fish and Seafood

  • Bass; largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass
  • Catfish; channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish
  • Crappie; white crappie
  • Crawfish; southern plains crawfish, western plains crawfish
  • Longnose gar
  • New Mexico shrimp
  • Northern pike
  • Panfish; bluegill, green sunfish, longear sunfish, white bass, and yellow perch
  • Salmon; coho trout and kokanee salmon
  • Striper
  • Trout; brown trout, gila troutrainbow trout, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and brook trout
  • Walleye


  • Biscochitos
  • Fudge
  • Piñon
  • Sopapillas; as a side bread, or sometimes served with honey for dessert.
  • New Mexico style tortillas; corn tortillas and flour tortillas are common as a side bread.


  • Chocolate elixers
  • Tea (cinnamon tea, sun tea)


  • Beer
  • Gin
  • Liquer
  • Margarita
  • Wine
  • Whiskey
  • Vodka

Origin of New Mexican cuisine

New Mexican cuisine originates from the foods of the Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache blending with Spanish and Mediterranean techniques from Europe. Being prepared in the traditions of Mexico, and served in the American chuckwagon-style.

First Known Use: 20th century.


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