When it comes to Mexican breakfast dishes that you must try in Mexico, there are literally dozens. As far as most Mexicans are concerned, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day.
Most people will treat themselves to a hearty breakfast when they wake up, and this is often made up of several small dishes including eggs, a serving of fresh, tropical fruit, and a pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread).
It is then all washed down with a steaming hot cup of coffee or an agua fresca. (An agua fresca is a traditional Mexican drink made by blending water with fresh fruit juices and sugar).
Going out for breakfast and brunch is a big thing here too, particularly at weekends. On Sundays in Mexico, everywhere from Mexico City to Merida, you will see large groups of extended families going out for breakfast together.
In cosmopolitan districts of large cities like CDMX and Guadalajara, a lot of breakfast spots also serve a lot of international options. For instance, eggs benedict, acai bowls, etc.
But when in Mexico, you should eat like the Mexicans! That is precisely what this guide is designed to help you do.
There are also a lot of popular Mexican chain restaurants that are mostly frequented around breakfast time. La Casa de Los Abuelos (translation: the grandparent’s house) is one of the most beloved nationwide and has hundreds of branches all over the country.
Mexican Breakfast Dishes
So what Mexican breakfast dishes should you try during your time in Mexico? Some of the best options are detailed below.
Do also keep in mind that the cuisine in Mexico varies from state to state. For instance, Yucatecan food is very different from food that you would find in Jalisco or the north of Mexico.
Similarly, Chiapescan cuisine (from Chiapas) is notably different from North Mexican cuisine. So, this may affect your ability to find certain dishes in certain places.
Most main Mexican breakfast dishes are very savory and often spicy. For instance, it is not unusual to dig into a mountain of enchiladas filled with chicken for breakfast here. In other countries, that may seem more of a lunch or dinner-time option.
The idea is to have a meal that gives you a lot of energy for the day ahead. Then, you enjoy smaller meals as the day goes on.
Chilaquiles are one of the most popular (and delicious!) Mexican breakfast dishes. These are homemade maize tortillas that are fried and then cooked in salsa.
There are two distinctly different versions of the dish. Namely, chilaquiles rojos and chilaquiles verde. Chilaquiles rojos are cooked in tomato-based salsa.
The salsa is made using ripe, fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, guajillo chiles, chiles de arbol, and vegetable stock, then seasoned with oregano, salt, and pepper. After the tortillas are added, the dish is usually topped with sour cream, chicken, and freso queso.
Of course, if you don’t want chicken, eggs and avocado are popular alternatives. Or you could just enjoy the chilaquiles as they are with salsa and cheese!
Despite the common addition of chili, chilaquiles rojos are usually not spicy. They may have a little bit of a kick, but they usually boast a rich, flavorful tomatoey taste that is somewhat comparable to a tomato-based pasta sauce.
An alternative to chilaquiles rojos are chilaquiles verdes. The dish is the same principle but the sauce is green and not red and uses completely different ingredients, making for an overall different dish.
The green sauce here is made with tomatillos, onion, cilantro, garlic, and green chilis. Again, salsa verde generally isn’t spicy but its ingredients makeup usually gives it something of a more tangy, zest flavor than salsa rojo. Enjoy topped with cheese and chicken, fried egg, avocado, or a topping of your choice.
Traditional Mexican enchiladas are a filling meal to start your day with. Chances are, any enchiladas you dig into here are completely different from those you have eaten outside of Mexico.
These breakfast treats have been enjoyed in Mexico for thousands of years and it is believed that the Aztecs were actually the first people to make them. They called them chīllapīzzali in Nahatual, meaning “chili flute”.
The main ingredient at that time, as the name suggests, was actually chili. They would then fill corn tortillas with vegetables, spices, seafood, and other ingredients.
Today, chicken enchiladas are arguably the most common. However, you can find enchiladas filled with all manner of meat, vegetable, and cheese combinations.
They are then topped with either salsa rojo or salsa verde, both of which are very similar in preparation and taste to the salsas that are used to make chilaquiles. Enchiladas are commonly served with a side of frijoles (beans) and occasionally, mole.
Molletes are a type of open-faced sandwich that is often enjoyed at breakfast time in Mexico. This simple dish is usually served “con frijol y queso” (with beans and cheese).
It is very simple to replicate yourself too. Refried beans are spread over a halved bolillo bread roll before it is topped with melted cheese (commonly manchego) and then a tomato salsa made by blending tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
This dish originated in Northern Mexico. However, you can find it at breakfast restaurants, coffee shops, and sometimes, street food stalls, all over the country.
Traditional Huevos Rancheros
Huevos rancheros are “ranch eggs”. Often, when you order egg-based Mexican breakfast dishes, you will be asked how you like your eggs.
But the traditional way to eat huevos rancheros is to enjoy your eggs fried. This dish dates back to the 16th century and was a staple for ranchers and farmworkers.
They would wake up excruciatingly early in the morning, grab a light snack and go out to work on the farm. Then, later in the morning, they would tuck into what was essentially a second breakfast.
Usually, that second breakfast was huevos rancheros. If you have grown up in the United States or elsewhere in the Americas, you may have encountered this before.
Many visitors to Mexico tried it and fell in love with it and now it is often sold in some variation or another in random diners and cafes across the North American continent. To make the dish, 2-3 fried eggs are laid on top of lightly toasted corn tortillas that are doused with a homemade tomato sauce. Refried beans are served on the side, as is customary for most breakfast dishes in Mexico.
Huevos Motuleños is an egg dish that originated in the city of Motul, in the heart of the Yucatan state. People across the Yucatan rave about them and you will find this dish featured on virtually every breakfast menu in every cafe across all places in the Yucatan, Campeche and the nearby state of Quintana Roo.
There is also a lot of drama surrounding it! Nobody is sure who the first inventor of the dish was, however, it is said to have been invented in Motul. Recently, residents of the nearby town of Telchac Puerto have started coming forward and saying that they were the ones that invented it.
Perhaps we will never know for sure. However, the must be a reason that the eggs are called Huevos Motuleños and not Huevos Telchac Puerto, huh?
Huevos Motuleños are made by serving fried eggs on top of tortillas that have been slathered with a layer of refried beans and cheese. They are then topped with salsa rojo, ham, and peas, and served with plantains.
Sometimes additional toppings and spices are added and every restaurant places its own unique spin on the dish. There is even a festival dedicated to these eggs! It takes place every July in Motul.
Huevos con Longaniza
Huevos con longaniza is another regional specialty dish that is found throughout the Yucatan peninsula. The dish is prepared with a type of chorizo known as “longaniza” that was first invented in the little town of Valladolid, close to Chichen Itza and Izamal.
The sausage shares its name with the longaniza chorizo from Spain, but the two delicacies are markedly different and not to be confused. Valladolid sausage is made by smoking pork meat that is colored red with achiote.
The result is a bright red, ultra-flavorful spiced sausage. Huevos con longaniza is prepared by making scrambled eggs with fried red onion and a generous amount of chopped longaniza. Again, frijoles are served on the side.
Huevos a la Mexicana
Huevos a la Mexicana is one of the most popular Mexican breakfast dishes all over Mexico. Eggs are scrambled with fresh, chopped tomatoes, green chilis, and onion. They are topped with cilantro and seasoned with salt and pepper and are good to go.
Huevos Divorciados are “divorced eggs”. Two eggs that were apparently once good friends but now sit apart on the plate.
The dish is not to be confused with huevos rancheros, although there are some similarities between the two. Here, two eggs are fried and set on top of tortillas.
However, one is slathered with salsa rojo and one is slathered with salsa verde. The ingredients are supposed to be set out on the plate in such a way that the two different sauces don’t touch.
You will often see this dish served with all kinds of interesting and thoughtful presentations as you travel around Mexico. Some places build a little wall of refried beans (frijoles) to stop the eggs and salsas from touching. Others place the eggs at diagonals to each other on the plate.
Plata de Fruta (Fruit Platter)
Mexicans will often eat a plata de fruta (fruit platter) alongside their main breakfast dish – either as a starter or as something to be enjoyed on the side. This is usually ordered for the table and shared among friends/dining companions.
Sometimes, Greek yogurt and granola are also given. Whatever fruit is served depends on the region and what is in season at that time. This is commonly tropical fruits such as papaya, mango, melon, and watermelon, along with sliced apples and bananas.
If you spend any time exploring the Mexican state of Chiapas, you will note that a lot of Yucatecan and typical Mexican delicacies can be found in this region too. Chiapescan cuisine is massively underrated and few people are aware of the delicacies it boasts.
Unfortunately, because many of the main tourist destinations in this area attract predominantly western tourists (e.g. San Cristobal de las Casas), finding authentic Chiapescan food can be trickier than you would imagine. To do so, you have to be willing to venture away from the main tourist areas or to smaller settlements like Comitan de Dominguez and Chiapa de Corzo.
Arguably, huevos chiapanecos (Chiapas eggs) are the least exciting of the dishes available here but they are worth a try when breakfast time rolls around if you want something truly authentic and local. These eggs are served with toastadas that are torn into pieces and then lightly fried in oil.
Then, refried beans are added and the eggs are served with a generous slice of avocado, cream, cheese, onion, and chili. Yum!
Mexican hot cakes are very similar to American breakfast pancakes, with the main difference being that hot cakes are thicker. Virtually every hotel and restaurant serves these at breakfast time.
The “original” recipe hot cakes are vanilla flavoured and can be topped with any manner of salsa and syrups. A Mexican favorite syrup topping is cajeta – a thick, syrupy sweet caramel sauce made with goat’s milk.
You can also find various flavored hot cakes, just as you would American pancakes. For instance, blueberry hot cakes, choco chip hot cakes, etc.
Quesadillas are a quick and easy Mexican breakfast favorite. You are probably no stranger to this dish that is made from tortillas (either flour or corn) and melted cheese (typically Mexican manchego).
You can make a serving of quesadillas in less than five minutes and perhaps that is why they are so popular on work days. Some people also like to enjoy quesadillas on the side of their egg dishes, and then take the eggs and topping and roll them in a cheese-filled tortilla. You can add avocado on the top, or whatever else you like.
Mexican breakfast tacos
There is no such thing as a bad time to eat tacos and Mexican breakfast tacos are a huge part of the food culture here. As a matter of fact, you will not only find taquerias and taco stands that serve breakfast tacos but many that are only in operation during the early hours of the day.
Expect to find dozens of different concoctions. Usually, 3 or 4 tacos are enough to be full.
Expect to encounter breakfast tacos filled with eggs and vegetable pairings. For instance, eggs with spinach. Papas con chorizo (potato with spiced chorizo sausage) are also very good.
You will be presented with a selection of different salsas that you can add to the top of the tacos – typically habanero sauce and salsa verde, but occasionally ranch too. A lot of places will still serve “regular” tacos first thing in the morning too. So if you want tacos arrachera at 9 am, it’s possible and nobody is judging!
Conchas and pan dulces
Pan dulces are Mexican sweet breads that are often served at breakfast time alongside eggs and fruit platters, or as a standalone light breakfast along with a coffee. Mexican bread dates back to pre-Hispanic times, but it wasn’t until the Spanish conquistadors arrived and introduced wheat to the natives that the bread as it stands today, was introduced.
There are so many different types of Mexican sweet bread and they are often produced in various unique shapes and styles. Some are reminiscent of French pastries and are made using puff pastry.
For instance, Mexican chocolatinis are pan au chocolat-style puff pastries. Arguably the most famous Mexican sweet bread is the “concha”.
It is a shell-shaped bread (i.e. conch) that is topped with sugar and flavorings. Sometimes conchas are topped with a layer of chocolate or vanilla icing and people often like to cut them in half and fill them with butter or jam.
Cafe de Olla
Cafe de Olla is a quintessential Mexican coffee beverage that is commonly enjoyed at breakfast time. The coffee is prepared a specific way, using an earthenware cup which locals believe adds to the final flavor of the drink.
To make it, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon and water are boiled. Coffee is then added and the drink is poured through a strainer before being served in a specialty cafe de olla cup.
The drink has a strong cinnamon flavor and is particularly enjoyable when consumed in high-altitude areas during the cold winter months. Mexican coffee is excellent and few people are aware of the fact that the country is the largest producer of organic coffee in the world!
Oaxacan, Veracruz, and Mexican Chiapas coffee beans are considered the best and are often used to prepare cafe de olla. Cute cafe de olla cups can be found in most mercados and many homeware stores and they make great souvenirs from your time in Mexico.
Have you traveled to Mexico before? Which Mexican breakfast dishes did you try and which were your favorites? Any contenders for the best Mexican breakfast?
Have a wonderful time traveling here! Buen Viaje! Xo