Side Dishes

What to Serve With Tacos: 14 Traditional Side Dishes

Take taco time to the big time with awesome side dishes!

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated September 23, 2022

Do you have trouble figuring out what to serve with tacos? While tacos are delicious on their own, it can be hard to find the right side dish to make a complete dinner.

what to serve with tacos

Tacos are a traditional Mexican dish that’s become popular north of the border, too. You take a very small soft tortilla (either wheat or corn), add some filling, pinch the top, and eat it with your hands.

In Mexico, tacos are considered antojitos, which literally translates to “snacks,”. And you can find stalls selling them in the streets all over Mexico. But now tacos have become a popular food worldwide.

Fillings can be anything, but some of the most popular are chopped pork, cheese-stuffed peppers, scrambled eggs and green beans, or potatoes and chorizo. And then you top the tacos with condiments like salsa, pickled jalapeños, or diced onion.

Depending on the fillings you use, you might want to pair different sides. For example, you might want a heartier side for fish tacos, but a lighter side for pork tacos.

A fresh salad is a good option for veggie-lovers, but you don’t have to stick to just lettuce! Instead, try a corn salad or jicama-mango slaw.

Or for a more filling dish, you could make seasoned rice, refried beans, or sweet potatoes. And don’t forget the tortillas!

Plus, the best tacos always have salsa. So, try a fresh tomato or tomatillo sauce.

For your next Taco Tuesday or Mexican fiesta, whip up a couple of these easy sides. All of your amigos will love them!

what to serve with tacos _

01. Esquites (Mexican Corn Off the Cob)

What’s better than corn on the cob? Corn off the cob — Mexican style!

This Mexican street corn salad is one of my favorite dishes because it’s creamy, salty, and a little bit sour. And it’s really easy, especially if you use canned corn.

There are a couple of ingredients that may be a bit tricky to find, but you can easily sub others.

For example, this recipe for Mexican corn salad calls for crema; but if you can’t find that, sour cream will do in a pinch. And for queso fresco, swap in any crumbly cheese.

And don’t forget to add a dash of chili powder for a kick!

02. Refried Beans

Frijoles refritos, or refried beans, are a staple of Mexican cuisine. And you can even put them in your tacos!

But refried beans are a wonderful side dish (or bean dip!) because the creamy texture and earthy flavor complement numerous taco fillings.

You can adjust the seasonings of the beans to suit your own tastes. For example, you can add a few epazote leaves to the boiling bean water for a more intense flavor.

This is one of those delicious recipes that’s really healthy and will fill you up with fiber. So, serve the beans at every meal with tortilla chips or Mexican rice!

03. Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Don’t open a jar when you can make this homemade salsa! It’s a delectable combination of smokiness, sourness, and spice.

First, roast your veggies until they char — that’s what gives you a ton of flavor. Then, blend everything in your food processor.

It’s so easy! And it’s the perfect condiment for many different tacos or by itself with tortilla chips.

Also, tomatillos are pretty sour on their own. But if you need a little extra tang, a squeeze of fresh lime juice will hit the spot.

04. Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Move over, butter. It’s time to dress up corn on the cob Mexican-style!

Elotes are a classic Mexican street food: you slather grilled corn with mayonnaise, cheese, chile, lime, and salt. This recipe riffs on that one by mixing sour cream with the mayo for an added zing, and tossing on some garlic and cilantro.

If you can’t grill the corn, it’s fine to boil it. But then adding a pinch of smoked paprika will give you that fiery taste.

This recipe tops the elotes with tangy cotija cheese. But if you can’t find that, milder queso fresco cheese will work too.

05. Classic Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe (Pico de Gallo)

What’s a taco without salsa? And this particular salsa adds great texture and freshness to any taco.

Pico de gallo is a simple mix of fresh tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, lime, and salt. Because it has such a clean flavor profile, you can put it on almost anything.

For instance, it’s perfect on deliciously-seasoned ground beef or grilled chicken. Or, make it a full side dish by turning it into a salad — just add black beans and your favorite chopped veggies.

Regardless of what you’re serving, pico de gallo is a must-have on any taco bar.

06. Mexican Sweet Potatoes

I love roasted sweet potato pieces because they’re sweet, filling, and you can top them with almost anything. In this case, they’re seasoned with a perfect balance of sweetness, salt, and spice.

You can also make this Mexican yam recipe as a vegetarian taco filling instead of a side dish. If you do that, you might want to make a mix of roasted veggies, including cauliflower or carrots.

Whether you serve it as a side or a filling, top the yams with lime juice, red onion, or pepitas.

07. Cilantro Lime Rice

This rice recipe is one of the best sides for tacos because it’s flavorful, but it won’t overshadow the tacos. Plus, it’s really easy to make!

Rice is a staple of Mexican food, and the cilantro and lime juice really lift the dish. So, use this recipe as a base for refried black beans or with chicken fajitas if you skip the tortillas.

You can make this really easily in a rice cooker or Instant Pot. And if you have leftover white or brown rice from another meal, you can just add the cilantro and citrus for a no-fuss side dish.

08. Spicy Mexican Rice

If you thought rice was bland, guess again! This side dish recipe uses habanero hot sauce to take this grain to the next level.

It’s a very flavorful rice dish, and It goes really well with steak, fresh veggies, or black beans. But if you want to play around with the seasonings, try adding chili powder, ground cumin, or fresh cilantro on top.

And for a vegetarian version, just swap veggie broth and boullion for the chicken versions. Also, if you don’t have fresh tomatoes, a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce will work instead.

09. Mexican Coleslaw

Can’t decide between taco salad and traditional coleslaw? Then try this Mexican coleslaw!

It has all the flavors of a taco salad, but the creamy dressing and crunchy texture of coleslaw. And you can find most of the ingredients pre-packaged, so it’s a breeze to throw together.

If you want to play with the recipe, try adding chopped spicy peppers, sweet onions, or pinto beans. Almost anything will go well with this tangy dressing.

10. Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe

4 ingredients + 5 minutes = cheese heaven. This queso blanco is one of those Mexican side dishes you’ll want to make for every occasion.

Simply heat American cheese, milk, butter, and canned chopped jalapeños, and then stir them together. Finally, pour the sauce over enchiladas or nachos — or eat it by the spoonful like I do.

It’s also great as part of a dip trio with pineapple salsa and salsa verde.

If the dip sits out for too long at room temperature, it can harden a bit. But if that happens, just reheat it in the microwave and it will melt again.

11. Mango Salsa

Tired of tomatoes? Skip the pico de gallo and make mango salsa instead.

Sweet mangos (Ataulfo are my favorite) are the base for this delightful condiment. Then, you add red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice.

Make sure you let the salsa sit for at least half an hour in the refrigerator so the flavors have a chance to meld. Then, put it on everything!

This would be a great topping for a savory taco. Just add a sprinkling of queso fresco, cotija, or even feta cheese for the perfect bite.

12. Corn Pudding

While this side dish isn’t strictly Mexican, it celebrates corn in a different way. It’s a classic Southern pudding that’s a little bit sweet and very creamy.

For me, this is pure comfort food, and it goes with anything. But it’s especially delicious with tacos and spicy salsa because the sweet corn cools your mouth down.

If you like to experiment in the kitchen, you can also add herbs, spices, or cheese for even more flavor. And it doesn’t matter whether you use fresh corn or frozen, because they’ll both taste amazing.

However, keep in mind that you can’t freeze the leftovers because that will destroy this dish’s beautiful texture.

13. Jicama With Mango Slaw

Mango and jicama are a heavenly match. While they’re both sweet, mango is soft and jicama is crunchy.

Plus, the citrus, ginger, and chile dressing will excite your taste buds.

The dressing has a simple base of orange juice and olive oil with a few other flavorings. And it’s good on any salad!

So, if you can’t find jicama or mangos, make a garden salad with cherry tomatoes and candied pecans, and pour this dressing on top. However, I highly recommend trying the full slaw if you can find the ingredients.

14. Classic Guacamole

Creamy guacamole is the perfect appetizer for any party and the perfect complement to any taco night!

This is a simple recipe, but the flavors are perfectly balanced. However, if you want to adjust it, try adding some freshly-ground black pepper, diced mango, or chopped jalapeños.

Also, try to make this right before serving, because otherwise, the top of the dish will turn brown. It will still taste delicious, but it doesn’t look quite as nice.

What to Serve With Tacos: 14 Traditional Side Dishes

Directions


  1. Pick sides to go with your favorite tacos.

  2. Prepare the dishes.

  3. Invite your friends and family to have a fiesta!

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