Spices For Mexican Food

Mexican cuisine is very rich with many different flavours and textures, savoury dishes and aromatic herbs used in a variety of dishes for that authentic flavour. Their cuisine and Mexican seasoning is based on their ancient traditions from the Aztecs and Maya and from trends that came from the Spanish. When people think of the unique flavour of Mexican food straight away they think of it being really spicy.

Their food can be sweet, savoury, or spicy though and they use heaps of spices. Their food is colourful from their different varieties of vegetables. Each area in Mexico has there own specialities of traditional cuisines.

Spices For Mexican Food

Some of the most important spices and must-have ingredients that Mexican food uses are yellow annatto seed, spicy hot chillies, and Cayenne pepper. Cayenne is an orange powder that is made up of very hot ground chilli peppers.

An Aztec Emperor called Montezuma in 1519, was fond of a drink concocted from vanilla, and chocolate and was sweetened with honey. Vanilla is really important in the Mexican pantry. It’s been a staple of flavours of Mexico and has been used for cooking since the 16th century. Their sugar jars often contain a vanilla bean. This adds a wonderful aroma and flavour to the sugar.

In 1521 Spain invaded Mexico. Spanish food had a huge influence on Mexican kitchens. Spain brought over new fresh ingredients. An example of a Spanish dish that had an influence on Mexico is Gazpacho – one of the most popular Mexican dishes. It is a soup that contains tomatoes, chopped cucumber, onion, celery, and jalapeno. To have a seafood version people added shrimp.

Corn and beans are the main foods of indigenous Mexicans and were important in an Aztec diet. The Aztec people ate dishes with chilies and herbs. Tortillas which are used as a wrap was linked to the Aztecs while enchiladas were first referenced in the US in 1885.

Tortillas are the Mexican equivalent of bread in New Zealand. They look like thin pancakes and are often eaten by hand. Tortillas are filled with Mexican dishes and traditional Mexican spices.

The Aztecs and Mayas ate some exotic dishes. They were made from iguana, rattlesnake, deer, spider monkeys, and even some types of insects.

Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce. It was sold in Aztec marketplaces. The common in ingredients of a good salsa includes large red tomatoes, tomatillos, avocado, and chipotle. It’s eaten uncooked and sometimes pureed until chunky or smooth or chopped.

Taco Bell came from Mexico! It’s a fast food stand and first appeared in 1962. They sold tacos to hungry diners.

Spices in Mexican Food

Mexican food is a familiar favourite in the Southwest. Some recipes are spicy and robust. When stocking your pantry for Mexican dishes, there are certain spices you’ll want to have. For a wider selection of spices, investigate Mexican food speciality stores. Remember to rotate your spices, as they lose flavour over time.

Chili Powder

Commercial chilli powder consists of ground, dried chilli, and seasonings, such as cumin, salt, allspice, oregano, or garlic powder. When purchasing fresh chilli powder in a Mexican food speciality store, the consumer often has a choice of sweet, hot, or mild chilli powder. Paprika is a form of chilli powder, made from sweet and mild chilli. Countless Mexican food recipes call for chilli powder, such as red chilli sauce, corn soup, hominy soup, Guadalajara soup, and enchilada pie.

Earthy Cumin

Made from ground cumin seeds, cumin spice has a distinct nutty flavour and aroma. It lends its flavour to a variety of Mexican favorite dishes. Without cumin, some chicken enchilada recipes would be missing a vital flavour ingredient. Other Mexican food recipes which often call for cumin include chorizo filling, chilli con carne, hominy, and red chilli sauce.

Ground cumin is used to make chile con carne – a favourite Mexican dish. Cumin is the seed from a small herb by the name of Cuminum cyminum that is native to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The cumin seed is elliptical with deep furrows. The European first imported cumin to the Americas during the period of exploration and colonization. Used in Mexican dishes such as chilli con carne and hot tamales, cumin provides a pungent, powerful, and slightly bitter taste.

Mexican Oregano

While oregano is often associated with Italian cooking for its distinct taste and great shelf life, many Mexican food recipes also call for it. Oregano comes from the leaves of the oregano plant and is technically a herb. Herbs come from the leaves of non-woody plants, while spices come from the seeds, bark, flowers, roots, or fruits of a plant. If you make your own chilli powder, oregano might be one of the spices you add to the powder form. Recipes in Spanish cuisine that typically call for oregano include spinach enchiladas, red chilli sauce, and hominy.


Garlic is a familiar seasoning found in a well-stocked pantry and one of the key ingredients. Some cooks use powdered garlic or garlic salt, while others prefer to use fresh garlic cloves in their recipes. Recipes that call for garlic include red chilli sauce, bean recipes, and rice dishes. Use garlic to season meats used in many Mexican recipes.


Many traditional Mexican food dessert recipes call for cinnamon, such as fried sweet puffs, calzones, or coffee flan. There are some non-dessert recipes, such as chorizo filling, which also call for Mexican cinnamon.


Cilantro is a primary herb in Mexican cuisine. Cilantro is the leaf of the coriander plant. It tastes like a mix of parsley and c citrus and adds a strong earthy flavour to food. Sanskrit writings from around 1500 B.C. mention cilantro, making it one of the first herbs mentioned in historical records. Romans spread fresh cilantro throughout Europe, and it was one of the first herbs imported to the Americas at the time of the Spanish conquest. It is a primary herb in Mexican cooking and is can be found in guacamole, salsa, meat, fish, and other foods.

Red Pepper

Ground chilli pepper is the ingredient for red pepper. This spice is another name for ground chilli peppers. Fresh peppers are usually no longer than 4 inches and are red or red-orange. The ground pepper ranges from orange-red to deep, dark red. These peppers are native to Central and South America, Mexico, and the West Indies.

The Spanish first imported them from the Americas to Europe. Prior to the Spanish conquest, Native Americans used the peppers medicinally to treat stomach and other ailments. Chilli powder, a common spice product, is a combination of red pepper, garlic, oregano, and cumin. The red pepper gives Mexican food its characteristic spicy flavour.

Spices and herbs give Mexican food its distinctive flavour. Mexican and Mexican-inspired food is popular in the United States. Europeans imported many of the common spices used in Mexican food to the Americas, making the spices non-native to Mexico. However, the same spices and herbs give Mexican food its distinctive taste and strong flavor.


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