One of the most colorful and significant holidays in Mexico is Día de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. It's a festive family celebration to honor their loved ones who have passed on. As part of the Day of the Dead celebration, every family offers food, and drinks on their altar to welcome the spirits of their deceased loved ones, especially their favorites while they are alive. Mexican families love to celebrate, and they always prepare the best food and drinks for every occasion for both the living and the spirits.
Cook up these delicious Mexican food recipes for the Day of the Dead to celebrate with your family this year.
Pan de Muerto Recipe
Pan de Muerto or the Bread of the Dead recipe by Gabriella Vigoreaux. This is a Mexican sweet bread eaten during the weeks around Dia de Los Muertos.
Toral Prep Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
What you need:
FOR THE BREAD
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for bowl
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground star anise
- 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 c. bread flour, divided
- 1 1/4 c. whole milk
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. orange blossom water
- 2 (1/4-ounce) packets instant dry yeast
- 1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
FOR THE GLAZE
- 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
How to prepare:
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add butter, sugar, star anise, salt and ½ cup flour. Mix on medium speed until combined, scraping sides with a rubber spatula as needed for 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat milk over low until it reaches a temperature of 85° to 95°; remove from heat. In a small bowl, beat eggs and orange blossom water; add warm milk and whisk to combine. Add egg mixture to stand mixer along with yeast and 1 cup flour. Mix on medium low speed to combine. Continue adding remaining flour 1 cup at a time, scraping with a spatula to help incorporate flour, until a sticky dough forms, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Butter a large bowl. Add dough, turn to coat, and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise until almost doubled in size for about 90 minutes.
- Pinch off ¼ of the dough and set aside (this is for the bone shapes). Roll the remaining large piece of dough into a smooth round with a flat bottom and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- To shape the bones, divide smaller dough into 3 pieces, one being slightly smaller than the other two. Roll the smaller piece into a ball. Roll the 2 larger pieces into long ropes (they should be long enough to cross over the loaf). Use your pointer, middle or ring finger to press indentations into the ropes as you roll, about 2" apart, so they resemble knobby bones. Criss cross the bones on top of the loaf, gently tucking the ends underneath. Make a small indentation in the center where the bones meet and place the smaller dough ball inside. Cover loosely with lightly buttered plastic wrap and let rise for 1 more hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush loaf with beaten egg and bake until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile to make the glaze: In a small saucepan over low, heat orange juice and sugar until sugar dissolves. Brush warm loaf with orange glaze and sprinkle immediately with granulated sugar. Cut into large wedges to serve.
Tamales de Rajas Recipe
Tamales de Rajas Recipe by Mely Martínez. Tamales are favorite food during El Día de los Muertos celebrations no matter what their flavors are.
Toral Prep Time: 1 hour and 31 minutes
Yields: 12 servings
What you need:
FOR THE DOUGH
- ⅔ cups of Lard*
- 2 cups corn flour for Tamales
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¾ cup warm chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- 3 Poblano Peppers
- 1 Queso fresco or Queso Ranchero
- 1 ¼ cup of Salsa**
- 16 Corn Husks plus extra to tie the tamales and for the steaming pot.
- Extra salsa and Mexican Cream to drizzle your tamales.
How to make:
- In a broiler or on a stovetop flame, roast the Poblano peppers. Place inside a plastic bag for 3 minutes to steam.
- Gently remove skins and seeds from the Poblanos, with your hands then cut them into strips.
- In a large stock pot filled with hot water, place corn husks to soften. Once softened, drain them, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the lard for about 6 minutes until it’s full. After beating the lard, add the corn flour for tamales along with the baking powder. Mix well using a spatula.
- Pour the warm chicken broth and mix well until you form a soft dough. Keep mixing for about 5-6 minutes. The dough must be soft and fluffy. Season with salt.
- Chop the Queso Fresco (cheese) into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl.
- Gather the dough, salsa, cheese, peppers strips, and corn husks to assemble the tamales. Place a steamer in a large stock pot or line with aluminum foil at the bottom. Cover the rack with corn husks. Fill with hot water just below the steamer rack. Place a small coin at the bottom of the pot, that way if the pot needs more water, the coin will rattle and make noise. When adding more water to the pot, make sure to add it as close to the wall of the pot as possible.
- To form the tamales, using a large spoon, spread about 3 tablespoons of corn dough. Then add 1 tablespoon of salsa. Top with some pieces of Queso Fresco and Poblano Peppers strips.
- Fold the right side of the corn husk to the center of the Tamal and do the same with the left side. Fold over the narrow end of the husk towards the center and tie the tamal using a thin strip of corn husk. Repeat this process to form all the tamales.
- Place the tamales inside the already-prepared steamer and cook for 60 to 65 minutes. Check the steamer occasionally and add hot water as needed.
- To check if the tamales are ready, remove one using kitchen tongs and place on a plate. Let it rest for 5 minutes. If the husk doesn’t stick to the tamal when removed, then your tamales are ready.
- Serve with red or green salsa.
Mole Poblano Recipe
Mole Poblano Recipe by Camille Berry of Taste of Home. This sauce is loaded with rich and wonderful flavors such as chili, spices, dried fruits, chocolate, seeds and more.
Total Prep Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Yields: 8-1/2 cups
What you need:
- 3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 6 each dried ancho, mulato and pasilla chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 10 tbsp. shortening, divided
- ¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
- ¼ tsp. each coriander seeds and aniseed, toasted
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick (1/2 inch)
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- ¼ cup salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 slices French bread (1 inch thick), cubed
- 8 cups chicken broth, divided
- 2 oz. Mexican chocolate, chopped
- ¼ tsp. salt
How to make:
- In an ungreased skillet, cook tomatoes over medium heat for 10 minutes or until browned; set aside. In the same skillet, cook peppers, a few at a time, over medium heat in 4 tablespoons shortening for 20-30 seconds, turning often; drain. Place peppers in a large bowl of hot water; cover and soak for 1 hour.
- In a spice grinder, combine sesame seeds, coriander seeds, aniseed, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon; process until finely ground. Set aside.
- In a skillet, cook the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and garlic in 4 tablespoons shortening until lightly browned, stirring often. Add raisins; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until raisins are plump. Add bread cubes; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until crisp. Drain well.
- In a blender, combine 1 cup broth and reserved tomatoes: cover and puree. Add seasoning mixture, raisin mixture and 1 cup broth: blend until very thick. Pour into a bowl; set aside.
- Place 1-1/2 cups broth in a blender. Add peppers, one at a time, process to a thick consistency. In a Dutch oven, melt remaining shortening over medium heat. Add pepper mixture; cook and stir for 10 minutes. Add tomato mixture; cook and stir for 6-8 minutes or until thickened. Add the chocolate, salt, and remaining broth. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency. Serve with poultry.
Chicken Enchiladas with Cream of Chicken Soup Recipe
Chicken Enchiladas with Cream of Chicken Soup Recipe by Camille Berry of Taste of Home. Chicken Enchiladas are fantastic to serve up if you’re entertaining a large group. And they are super quick and easy to prepare.
Toral Prep Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 10 servings
What you need:
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 10 flour tortillas (8 in.), warmed
- Pico de Gallo, optional
How to make:
- In a large bowl, add 2 cups cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, chicken, sour cream, soup, chilies, onion, pepper, and salt. Spoon about 1/2 cup off center on each tortilla; roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 13x9-inches baking dish.
- Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with Pico de Gallo.
Day of the Dead Cookies Recipe
Day of the Dead Cookies by Camille Berry of Taste of Home. Brightly colored Day of the Dead cookies are perfect treats to serve if you’d like to keep dessert simple especially if there are kids.
Total Prep Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Yields: 1 dozen
What you need:
- 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
- 1-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 oz. almond paste
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 packages (12 oz. each) white candy-coating melts
- Optional decorations: Jumbo sprinkles, peppermint candies, candy-coated sunflower kernels, Skittles, Twizzlers Rainbow Twists and Good & Plenty candies
- Black paste food coloring
How to make:
- In a large bowl, whisk cream butter, and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; add almond paste. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut out with a floured 5-in. skull-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake at 375° for 7-9 minutes or until firm. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- In a large, shallow microwave-safe dish, melt white candy-coating melts according to package directions. Dip top side of each cookie into coating, allowing excess to drip off, place on waxed paper.
- Add decorations as desired. Tint remaining white candy coating black; pipe on mouth. Let stand until set.
Celebrate the Day of the Dead with your family this year and check out these traditional Mexican recipes to serve. You can also check these fantastic Día de Los Muertos cocktail drinks that will surely please everyone...even the spirits! And to make your cocktail glasses more festive, check out Simply Charmed’s Sugar Skulls Magnetic Wine Charms Set. These are the best wine charms for your Halloween, the Day of the Dead or any fiesta celebration.