15 Essential Mexican Food Cookbooks Everyone Should Have In Their Kitchen

Mexican food is as rich and diverse as the country itself, with ingredients, recipes, techniques, and traditions that date from centuries back and have been passed from one generation to the next. It's no surprise that traditional Mexican cuisine was named Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. Yet this incredible cuisine has also evolved and changed over time. It has crossed borders and conquered hearts and palates all over the world. With that in mind, we made a selection of the most relevant, fascinating, and comprehensive cookbooks that any fan of Mexican food could ever need – a list that includes books by celebrated chefs like Gabriela Cámara (of Mexico City's Contramar) and Fany Gerson (of New York's Fan Fan Doughnuts), as well as academics like Diana Kennedy. From Rick Bayless' super-quick recipes to Alex Stupak's clever takes on tacos, these books will take you on an inspiring journey along Mexico's gastronomy.

Mexico from the Inside Out by Enrique Olvera

Perhaps the greatest ambassador of modern Mexican cuisine, chef Enrique Olvera is known for his iconic Mexico City restaurant, Pujol — currently #13 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants — as well as international endeavors like New York's Cosme and Los Angeles' Damian. But before Olvera was a household name, he did something nobody had done before. When he opened Pujol in 2000, it was absolutely groundbreaking. Olvera dared to elevate Mexican cuisine to innovative, contemporary levels – something never seen before in a city where steakhouses or French restaurants were considered the epitome of fine dining.

Published by Phaidon in 2015, Mexico from the Inside Out reflects Olvera's unique views on Mexican cuisine, with a deep love and respect for traditional recipes and ingredients, yet an ever-growing curiosity and will to evolve. The book features more than 65 recipes, ranging from sophisticated dishes from the Pujol kitchen to casual meals that the chef enjoys at home, accompanied by stunning photographs. Recipe highlights include a lobster taco with longaniza and his now iconic corn husk meringue.

The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy

British-born Diana Kennedy, who passed away last year at the age of 99 in Michoacán, México, spent more than five decades of her life exploring and researching the country's vast cuisine. Traveling all over Mexico, she learned about its ingredients, traditions, and techniques, translating her knowledge into nine cookbooks throughout her life — one of which earned her a James Beard Award. Much of Kennedy's efforts were directed at putting the spotlight on Mexico's rich culinary landscape at a time when little was known about Mexican food outside the country.

The Art of Mexican Cooking, first published in 1989, is an ideal companion for the home chef, featuring more than 200 recipes, from salsas and soups to desserts and entrées, covering a diversity of Mexican regions and a wide range of complexity. The tome was reissued in 2008 with a new introduction where Kennedy discusses how the perception of Mexican food changed since the first edition.

Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronti

We're always told not to judge books by their covers, but this stunning tome, published by Phaidon in 2014, is hard not to fall in love with. Inside, you'll find more than 700 recipes, easily organized into chapters such as Street Food, Vegetables, Drinks, and Desserts. From complex dishes like chile en nogada and mole to refreshing fruit aguas frescas, these recipes are meant to be easily prepared at home and are illustrated with gorgeous photographs. Another fun highlight: The Chef Menu section, featuring recipes from renowned Mexican chefs.

Putting together a "bible of home cooking from Mexico" is no easy feat, but if someone was up for the task, it was Margarita Carrillo Arronti. One of Mexico's most renowned culinary promoters, Chef Carrillo's impressive resume includes teaching at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio and at Mexico's CESSA, as well as being named a culinary ambassador by Mexico's Foreign Relations Ministry since 2016. 

My Mexico City Kitchen by Gabriela Cámara

Gabriela Cámara's shrine to seafood, Contramar, is nothing short of a Mexico City icon, where locals and visitors alike flock to for the impossibly fresh fare and lively vibes. Some of the most beloved dishes from Contramar are part of Cámara's cookbook, a collection of 150 recipes divided into chapters such as Desayunos (Breakfast), Platos Fuertes (Entrées), and Postres (Dessert). Aside from Contramar's legendary tuna tostadas and pescado a la talla (grilled snapper), you can also learn and master recipes such as huevos rancheros and zucchini-and-asparagus salad. Cámara's recipes are paired with lovely photos and a dozen thoughtful essays on some of the topics that are closest to her heart, such as the importance of using non-GMO corn.

A fiercely proud ambassador of Mexican cuisine, Cámara has two other excellent restaurants in Mexico City, Entremar and Caracol de Mar. She also starred in Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend in 2022.

The Food of Oaxaca by Alejandro Ruiz

Chef Alejandro Ruiz is one of Oaxaca's foremost culinary champions. His flagship restaurant, Casa Oaxaca — #63 in Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants — is an icon of local cuisine and hospitality in the state's capital, while his second project, Oaxacalifornia, blends local cuisine with fresh ingredients from Baja California. In Mexico City, he shares the flavors of his home at the casual and welcoming Guzina Oaxaca. If someone is qualified to guide you along the state's rich, fascinating gastronomic landscape, Ruiz is the man.

Originally published in Spanish as Cocina de Oaxaca, The Food of Oaxaca features 50 recipes covering traditional Oaxacan dishes, coastal specialties, and original creations by Ruiz, such as duck tacos with mole coloradito and corn-based memelas with beans and cheese. The book also features helpful essays and a glossary to help you navigate the depth of Oaxacan cuisine, as well as a foreword by Pujol's Enrique Olvera.

My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson

Born in Mexico City and based in New York, Fany Gerson has conquered the palates of thousands with her sweet treats. Her journey started in 2010 with the launch of La Newyorkina, dedicated to popsicles and ice cream, followed by Dough, an artisanal doughnut shop in Brooklyn. Today, you can head to Brooklyn's Fan-Fan Doughnuts to taste creations like a mango lassi or a churros-and-chocolate doughnut.

My Sweet Mexico is the result of years of traveling around Mexico, tasting and researching the country's most iconic sweets. From traditional popsicles made with fresh fruit to classic pastries like garibaldis, as well as contemporary, creative desserts, Gerson explores Mexico's sweetest side and delves into some of its most significant endemic ingredients, such as cacao, honey, and local fruit with a warm, approachable tone that makes the recipes even more appealing. My Sweet Mexico received a James Beard Award for Best Baking and Pastry Cookbook in 2010.

Rosetta by Elena Reygadas

Located in the heart of Mexico City's Colonia Roma, Rosetta has become one of the most beloved restaurants since it opened its doors in 2010. Helmed by chef Elena Reygadas, Rosetta celebrates Mexican ingredients through a menu based on seasonal and sustainable ingredients. In her first book, published in 2019, Reygadas shares some of the most iconic recipes from the restaurant, as well as her thoughts on topics like Mexican ingredients and the environmental impact of our eating habits. On this journey, Reygadas will show you how to make dishes like pickled oysters with horseradish and borage flower, as well as her iconic guava roll.

Today, Reygadas has built an empire in Mexico City, with Rosetta as its flagship, that expands to two casual eateries, Lardo and Café Nin; two outlets of her uber-popular Panadería Rosetta; the Italian spot Bella Aurora; and the bar Salón Rosetta. She's also in charge of Coyul, the gorgeous restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo. It's no wonder that Reygadas was named Best Female Chef at the 2023 World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich

Known and loved for her PBS show, Pati's Mexican Table, James Beard Award winner Pati Jinich is the author of three excellent cookbooks. Our pick is her most recent tome, Treasures of the Mexican Table, where Jinich shares 150 iconic recipes that help define Mexico's incredibly rich culinary history and traditions. Over more than 400 pages, Jinich shares the result of her extensive travels, not only across Mexico's regions but also through time, rescuing recipes that have been passed on for generations. Her goal is to expand our views of Mexican cooking and share recipes that have survived for centuries.

Tested in her American kitchen, her user-friendly recipes include easy weekday dinner options or party-ready creations for larger groups. Highlights include vuelve a la vida, a fresh seafood cocktail from the coast; birria, a hearty beef stew from the state of Jalisco; and fideo seco a los tres chiles, thin noodles in a tomato-chili sauce.

Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Fans of Chef Rick Bayless know him for his stellar career, which includes several James Beard Award nominations and wins, as well as his humanitarian projects. They know that his deep passion for Mexican cooking is on display at this Chicago eateries, which include Frontera Grill, Bar Sótano, and even Tortas Frontera at O'Hare airport. They're also aware of his long-running PBS show, Mexico One Plate at a Time, now on its 12th season, and his nine popular cookbooks. Given Bayless' incredibly prolific career, picking one of his books was a bit of a challenge, but we opted for his 2005 classic, Mexican Everyday.

Just as the title promises, Bayless' Mexican Everyday translates the depth and richness of Mexican cuisine into practical recipes that can be swiftly prepared in 30 minutes – lifesavers on busy weeknights. The collection of 90 recipes is divided into chapters like Salsas & Skills, Quick Meals from the Grill, and Desserts and includes delights like shrimp ceviche salad, chipotle steak with black beans, and green chile chicken tacos.

Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman

Alex Stupak's story has long been a subject of fascination: A super-talented pastry chef who left the world of fine dining to embark on an exploration of Mexican cooking. With a firm belief that Mexican cuisine should be as revered as other cuisines, such as French, Stupak opened Empellón Taqueria in New York in 2011. Today, Empellón has evolved into a four-restaurant group, and Stupak has expanded his kingdom with Mischa, a modern American eatery in Midtown.

Stupak's creative, daring vision is best expressed in Tacos: Recipes and Provocations, co-written alongside writer and editor Jordana Rothman. The book explores the deceivingly simple taco, delving into every element that goes into this sacred Mexican dish: the corn and flour that go into tortillas, fillings that range from classic pork al pastor to pastrami — an Empellón classic — and an array of salsas and condiments. Photographer Evan Sung was in charge of the stunning images for the book, a 2016 James Beard award nominee.

Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bricia López & Javier Cabral

The Guelaguetza, or the "feast of Mondays on the Hill," is one of Oaxaca's most important traditions – a series of celebrations, performances, and rituals that dates back to 1932. The name is fitting from Los Angeles' beloved Mexican restaurant, founded more than 25 years ago by the López family, who immigrated from Oaxaca and have been sharing the exquisite food from their home ever since.

In this book, published in 2019, restaurant co-owner Bricia López and co-author Javier Cabral will lead you along some of the state's precious culinary secrets, including its indigenous techniques and its types of chilis. With more than 140 recipes, you will get a sense of Oaxaca's soulful flavors in dishes such as huevo en frijol (eggs with beans), tacos de chapulín y chicharrón (fried grasshopper and pork rinds tacos), mole negro, and chilaquiles. The book earned López and Cabral a James Beard Award nomination, while Guelaguetza was recognized with a James Beard America's Classics Award in 2015.

Mi Cocina by Rick Martínez

It would be the dream of many to embark on the journey that Martínez took: Across Mexico's 32 states, covering 156 cities and 20,000 miles. The result of this extraordinary trip is in the pages of Mi Cocina, released in 2022 by Rick Martínez. The host of the video series Mi Cocina and Sweet Heat — on Food52's YouTube channel — and Pruébalo — on Babish Culinary Universe — Martínez is a second-generation Mexican American who always felt a strong connection to Mexico. When he set out on this mission in 2019, he wanted to look for the people and the food who felt close to his heart.

Accompanied by bright and colorful photos, recipes in Mi Cocina include Mexican staples like enchiladas mineras, a specialty from the central region of Guanajuato; tamales oaxaqueños from Oaxaca, cochinita pibil, the crown jewel of Yucatán; and tacos gobernador, shrimp tacos from the coastal city of Mazatlán, where Martínez lives.

Masa by Jorge Gaviria

Masa is the heart of dozens of traditional Latin staples, from tortillas to arepas to tamales. Understanding the historical and agricultural importance of heirloom corn for creating masa (dough) is the driving force behind Masienda, a Los Angeles-based masa purveyor founded in 2014. Its goal is to provide better masa to chefs and home cooks and better conditions to farmers.

Now, Masienda founder Jorge Gaviria has published Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple, which will give you incredible insights into the history of masa across Mesoamerica, North and South America and, of course, Mexico. It will also teach you about nixtamal, the ancient process of turning corn into masa, and how to make your tortillas puff – the magical moment when homemade tortillas fill with air on the comal. Masa features 10 recipes, courtesy of renowned chefs, that confirm this ingredient's versatility. Try your hand at making Gerardo González' lamb birria with masa gnocchi or Sean Brock's shrimp and masa grits.

Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzmán

Chef Gonzalo Guzmán began to develop his culinary talents as a young boy in the small city of Catemaco, Veracruz, where he grew ingredients in the fields and cooked alongside his mother, Alicia. Life's twists and turns led him to San Francisco, where he opened Nopalito in 2009, sharing the flavors of his homeland and blending them with the ingredients of the region. In 2017, he published Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen with co-author Stacy Adimando, a Brooklyn-based food and travel journalist. The tome features 100 iconic recipes from his eatery that will lead you across Mexican regions, from Mexico City to Michoacán to the Yucatán Peninsula, Nopalito will teach you how to make specialties such as toasted corn with crema, crispy red quesadillas with red pork and pork rinds, nopal salad, guacamole, and Oaxacan chorizo. Guzmán also shares tips on essential tools and ingredients to build a Mexican pantry.

How we selected the books

With a deep love for Mexican food as our compass, we made this selection considering a variety of authors, from Mexican-born chefs and personalities like Elena Reygadas and Pati Jinich to foreign authors like Diana Kennedy, who devoted her career to the country's cuisine. We also made sure to feature books that ranged from user-friendly, like Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday, to more sophisticated tomes, like Enrique Olvera's Mexico From the Inside Out.