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A plate of chicken mole with rice.

Discover Oaxaca’s Rich Culinary Heritage: Authentic Recipes

Color, character and vibrancy are the spicy ingredients of life in Mexico. And the food reflects this also, being some of the most flavorful and unique in the world.

The state of Oaxaca is the poster child of flavor, with Oaxaca city seen as the food capital of Mexico. The whole area is an exciting paradise for food lovers.

Here at Oax Sport, we love to run… but we also love to cook and eat. So we would love to share some of our local dishes with you – as food brings people together.

The Oaxaca region has a long history of producing dishes from its abundant resources – from corn and chiles to beans and squash.

Traditional dishes like mole, tamales, and tlayudas are comforting yet complex; they rely on a unique blend of herbs, spices, nuts and other ingredients that give each dish an intense flavor profile.

But it’s not just traditional dishes that make up the authentic food of Oaxaca’s cuisine: regional specialties like chapulines (grasshoppers) tacos, cecina (dried pork) quesadillas and empanadas can be found all over the region.

Oaxacan Moles – The Tastiest Comfort Food Around

One of the most iconic dishes in Oaxacan cuisine is moles – thick sauces made with 20 to 40 ingredients, including a combination of chiles, nuts, seeds, spices and chocolate.

While it’s called a ‘sauce,’ the mole is the star of the show! Oaxaca is named also like the Earth of the Seven Moles, in order to have this number of local variety. But even in you try one type of mole, that taste will be difficult to find again, due to, every town and family have their own traditional recipe.

Mole negro is perhaps the most well-known variety. Usually made with chicken or turkey; it’s cooked for hours with many types of spices, including chili peppers and chocolate, to create a complex flavor profile that’s both sweet and spicy. Typically served with rice and beans. An herb called hoja santa is the key ingredient to the Oaxacan version adding a licorice flavor.

Mole coloradito uses bright flavors like tomatoes, onions and garlic, chili peppers, nuts, sesame seeds, plantains, and other spices. It’s also incredibly healthy due to its high content of vitamins and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Mole verde uses fresh herbs like cilantro or epazote, but mainly hoja santa for an herbaceous kick. Made with a combination of green tomatoes and other spices blended in smashed cooked corn, it has a thick texture. It can be served with a piece of pork spine or chicken or in empadanada (inside in a big folded just made tortilla). Oaxacan Mole Verde stands out from other moles due to its unique flavor notes of lime, garlic, and onion and its bright green color.

Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash
Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash

Oaxaca Street Food – An Adventure into Food Heaven

Oaxaca has a lively street food scene with vendors offering their own local specialties.

Quesadillas, filled with stringy Oaxacan cheese, made with corn tortilla cooked deep fried, are served with salsa as an appetizer or snack…

Chapulines (fried grasshoppers) are a delicacy often served as part of a larger meal with refried beans…

Tlayudas – large tortillas topped with fried beans, pork lard, cheese and the meat of your preference– make for great late-night eats after a night out on the town.

Tacos al pastor (de trompo) Pork tacos served with cilantro, onion and pineapple on top are popular throughout the region…

Mexican Drinks: Not just your everyday fare…

Refined over centuries, Mexican drinks can be substantial, delicious and nutritious, and are made from natural, local ingredients. They contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Often fermented and probiotic-filled, they aid digestion and have many health benefits. 

Here are a few of our favorites:

Tejate is a nutritious – and delicious – drink made from toasted corn, fermented cacao beans, cacao flowers and mamey pits that can be served with ice and sugar. It has been around since pre-hispanic times, originating from the Zapotec people.

Pulque – an opaque, milky, effervescent, alcoholic drink made from the sap of the agave plant, known as aguamiel (or honey water). Highly nutritious and great for your gut flora as it is fermented, it is usually found in pulquerías – super cool, brightly decorated bars.

Mezcal – Mezcal has an earthy, smoky flavor with notes of dried fruit, leather, and spice. Its production process is incredibly labor intensive, so each bottle carries with it the time and effort that went into its creation. It can be enjoyed neat or as part of a cocktail – like a Margarita. The drink has seen a resurgence in recent years as more people become aware of its unique character and inherent story.

Tepache – is a fermented, soft alcoholic drink made from pineapple and a local variety of apples and other spices like cinnamon and guajillo pepper. A sweet and vinagre taste drink, tepache is served cold an has many medicinal properties, including aiding digestion, helping to reduce inflammation and promoting sleep. Additionally, it is low in calories and contains vitamins A, C, B6 and E and antioxidants. Typical tepache is sold in clay pottery and served in a shell plant bowl named jícara.

Authentic Oaxacan Food Recipes – The Real Deal

The local fooderies, markets, cooking classes, and food experiences here in Oaxaca are amazing, but you can still experience the flavors at home with family and friends.

We have collected our favorite Local recipes here for you to try at home:

Authentic Molcajete Salsa Recipe – A Flavor Punch in the Mouth
An easy to make yet versatile smoky spin on a salsa that is an excellent accompaniment to meat, cheese and more.

Delicious Oaxacan Tlayuda: Home Cooking the Whole Family will Love
Tlayudas are large, crunchy tortillas covered with beans, cheese, meat, and vegetables. They are a popular common food in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Authentic Mole Negro: Delish & Easy Make at Home Version
Mole negro is a traditional pre-Hispanic Mexican sauce made with a mixture of spices, chili peppers, and chocolate. It is usually served with chicken, turkey, or pork and rice.

Tamales de Amarillo: (Tamales with Yellow Mole) A Fun Cooking Adventure
From classic pork and chili combinations to modern vegan options exclusive to this corner of Mexico, Oaxaca, these tamales will tantalize your taste buds!


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Emma Francey, Content Writer, Brisbane, Australia.

So happy to be a contributor to this dedicated organisation that backs local committed, talented athletes.
I am a sports lover and believe it brings everyone together from all walks of life in a genuine way. We have so much to share and enjoy together.

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