10 Dishes Chicanos Always Bring to Thanksgiving


Are you a Chicano that’s tired of never seeing the dishes your family makes for Thanksgiving never represented elsewhere? Well, read along to fix that problem and see which of these dishes your family brings to their Mexican-influenced Thanksgiving!

1. Tamales

Chicanos, is it really a holiday without tamales? This is the heavy-hitter of Mexican-influenced dishes synchronized with American tradition! Tamales are warm wraps of either bread or meat mixed in with a variety of ingredients.

Everybody that’s Chicano knows (or is) a relative that’s always begging for tamales to be brought to Thanksgiving. Tamales are in such high demand that there will always be leftovers. For weeks. It isn’t until the week after Thanksgiving will you get sick of eating them.

10 Dishes Chicanos Always Bring to Thanksgiving

2. Tortillas

Okay, so this one isn’t a “dish” per se, but make enough tortillas and it’s bound to count as one! Somebody is eventually going to have to make tortillas to satisfy the whole family (and let’s be honest, Chicanos can have pretty big families), so why not that be you? Every Mexican American knows that you can’t have your meats, like chicken or beef, without a bready wrapping like tortillas!

Tortillas go great with everything! And even if they don’t, there’s always that one dedicated family member at Thanksgiving trying to eat their cream corn with a tortilla (yuck).

3. Empanadas

Full Disclosure: This writer does not really like empanadas. I know, I know! A travesty, but it is a recognizable and common dish served in Chicano Thanksgivings that it must be included regardless!

Most of the time, empanadas are brought in as an after-Thanksgiving dish that packs the leftover turkey and chicken meat served yesterday. Though many Chicanos can attest to still eating empanadas on Thanksgiving day!

Empanadas make for an appetizing dish that all Chicano family members can share and enjoy with one another.

10 Dishes Chicanos Always Bring to Thanksgiving

4. Enchiladas

A dish everyone’s mom loves to make, enchiladas are a staple Chicano homemade dish. Make a few dozen more than usual and a family member will no doubt contribute to Thanksgiving with this iconic serving. We don’t know why we’re so enamored with enchiladas, but we are it shows when we’re always managing to incorporate them into our holiday diets.

Enchiladas have contracted a bit of Americanization lately. Traditionally made of chicken, there are exist such things as a Turkey Enchiladas now. Variety and demand have turned this classic dish into a customizable meal that can fit for not just the Thanksgiving season, but for all holiday feasts!

5. Pan Dulces

Pan dulces! Mexican tradition, Pan dulces are just sweet bread commonly brought to holidays and gatherings. Or they can be bought at your local bakery or grocery stores on an average Wednesday night. They’re great hits with kids, especially.

Conchas are a specific type of sweet bread that are in crazy demand at Thanksgiving gatherings for Chicano families! Every Mexican American on Thanksgiving day is just waiting for that one family member to arrive with the bread.

10 Dishes Chicanos Always Bring to Thanksgiving

6. Grilled Corn

Not your plain old regular corn on the cob, this corn is made the way Chicanos like it – Grilled. Roasted just slightly longer than your traditional corn on the cob, grilled corn is among the dishes almost universally beloved by all Mexicans and Chicanos!

While grilled corn preparation isn’t inherently Mexican, the fact that it’s so widely served among Chicano homes is a testament to its lasting power. You know you’re truly Chicano when this item is brought over and offered on Thanksgiving day or any other holiday event!

7. Salsas

Instead of cranberry sauce, try instead cranberry salsa! It’s true that Mexican dishes are loaded with spices that might overwhelm the average non-Chicano, but once you’ve acquired that zesty taste for it, there’s no going back. Adding in cilantro and onion bits is crucial, but not necessary.

Chicanos know that you can’t bring any sort of Mexican dish without the appropriate sauces, and there’s nothing more familiar than serving authentic salsa on Thanksgiving!

8. Nachos

This item on our list isn’t very universal, but it’s a snack that seems pretty common to some Chicano communities across the SoCal area! Nachos are easy to whip up if you have the cheese, chips, and machine for it. Seriously, nachos are so amazing they should be served on holidays more often!

Nachos don’t seem very Thanksgiving-y, do they? Even to many Chicanos, nachos aren’t exactly the hot ticket food item on Turkey day. But, most Mexican American households have tortilla chips! Because tortilla chips are a super common appetizer and snack option in Chicano homes, all it takes it the extra step to make them into really good nachos!

9. Chiles

Chiles can either be used as a main dish, as a small side dish, or an ingredient to another dish! Chiles and salsas have double-handedly given Mexican food the reputation it has for being spicy, zesty, and exotic. Now Thanksgiving can experience that same heat when Chicanos can merge both their cultural identities – Mexican and American – into one complimentary festivity.

Chicanos can recognize the basic chile dishes, such as chile con queso and chile relleno, so seeing chiles pop up in as small ingredients is pretty common.

10 Dishes Chicanos Always Bring to Thanksgiving

10. Tacos

Yup. We saved the big one for last. Whether you’re using chicken or carne asada, whether you’re using beef or carne de cabra, whether it’s just plain fish, tacos are essential to the Mexican diet! Exaggerative? Maybe. But, you can’t deny there’s something culturally identifying about tacos that have tied it to intrinsically to the Mexican lifestyle.

Tacos around this time of year can be served with turkey meat usually, with some added avocado, with some pico, and some salsa! Tacos on Thanksgiving can be the ultimate amalgamation of Americanized-tradition and Mexican-cultural integrity.

If you’re Chicano, what sort of uniquely Mexican dishes does your family bring to the Thanksgiving table? Tell us which of these listed food items appear in your Thanksgiving traditions and which don’t by leaving a comment below!

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