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New Mexican cuisine

noun | encyclopedia/cuisine

Definition of New Mexican cuisine

New Mexican cuisine is rooted in a blend of the traditional foods of Pueblo and Neomexicano communities, adapted and modified most prominently by Navajo, Apache, Comanche, and Route 66 diners, as well as other Iberian, Mediterranean, European, Mexican, American, and international cuisines. Traditional New Mexican cuisine revolves around red and/or green New Mexico chile, calabacitas, piñon, papitas (fried diced potatos), pinto beans, New Mexico style tortillas and/or sopapillas.

Examples of New Mexican cuisine

Dishes that originate in New Mexico

Many of these dishes revolve around New Mexico chile and piñon, which are very popular in New Mexican cuisine, both of which are used as an ingredient, flavoring, and/or as a snack.

  • Biscochito
  • Breakfast burrito
  • Calabacitas
  • Carne adovada
  • Chocolate elixir
  • Enchilada montada (translated as “stacked enchilada”)
  • Green chile bread
  • Green chile cheese fries
  • Green chile burger and green chile cheeseburger (sometimes called a New Mexico burger)
  • Green chile roll (sometimes called New Mexico roll or Hatch roll)
  • Green chile stew
  • Papas con calido
  • Papitas
  • Piñon cake
  • Piñon coffee
  • Piñon ice cream
  • Piñon roll
  • Piñon ice cream
  • Quelites
  • Sopapilla
  • Steak in the rough
  • Stuffed sopapilla
  • Torta de huevo

New Mexico chile

The New Mexico chile pepper is nearly ubiquitous within New Mexican cuisine. The peppers are a subgroup created primarily at New Mexico State University, by Fabián Garcia and Roy Nakayama, through the selective breeding of peppers grown in New Mexico’s Pueblo and Neomexicano communities. These communities have cultivated the peppers for about half a millennia, peppers with numerous accolades are grown in Hatch, the Mesilla Valley, and throughout New Mexican bosque communities. They typically grow from green to a ripened red; the green chile is roasted and peeled which is them served whole, diced, or as a sauce, while the red chile is usually dried which is then later re-hydrated and served as a sauce. Often restaurants will as “red or green?”, asking for a mix of the two is referred to as “Christmas”. Dishes with New Mexico chile related variants:

  • Al pastor
  • Bagels
  • Barbacoa
  • Bread
  • Burrito
  • Candy
  • Carne asada
  • Chile relleno
  • Chocolate
  • Enchilada
  • Fried chicken
  • Frito pie
  • Hamburger
  • Huevos rancheros
  • Pizza

Side dishes

Breads. The most common breads found in New Mexican cuisine are tortillas and sopapillas. Tortillas in New Mexico are usually either 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. Green chile bread as well as New Mexico style empanadas and pizzas are common among traditional New Mexican bakeries, although nearly a lost art-form, restaurants such as Golden Crown Panaderia.

Beans, Corn, 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 New Mexico chile peppers. is a squash centered dish, prepared with yellow squash, zucchini, sweet yellow corn, and New Mexico chile.


Primarily beef, chicken, pork, local fish, buffalo (bison), duck, and venison (deer and elk) are common.

Origin of New Mexican cuisine

New Mexican cuisine originates from the foods of the Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache blending with Neomexicano and Mediterranean techniques, developed alongside the traditions of Northern Mexico and Southwestern United States.

First Known Use: 20th century.