What Is Oaxacan Food? | 7 Delicious Authentic Oaxacan Foods You Must Try

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Oaxacan cuisine is comparable to Mexican cuisine, which most of us are acquainted with.

It makes use of many of the same essential foods such as maize, beans, and chile peppers, but this state in Southeastern Mexico has its own distinct spins on gastronomy.

Because of these developments, many people (including myself) consider Oaxacan cuisine to be the greatest in Mexico.

The highlands of Oaxaca produce a variety of climates and civilizations that have spawned some of Mexico’s most diverse food.

One feature that distinguishes Oaxacan cuisine is the state’s 16 indigenous ethnicities.

These people’s particular customs provide dishes with distinct tastes that aren’t found anywhere else in the nation.

This includes Oaxacan quesillo, tamales wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks, and tlayudasa meal that some mistake for Mexican pizza.

The region’s food includes a variety of delectable delicacies cultivated directly in the heart of Oaxaca.

They add freshness and taste to any meal.

Corn, chilies, and cocoa are among the key components grown in this area.

If you’re visiting Mexico and want to try unique and wonderful cuisine, be sure to include Oaxaca AND Oaxacan gastronomy on your itinerary!

The locals have learned the art of maximizing the use of their materials, and it shows!

Because of the state’s environment, many foods have distinct, stronger tastes.

We found the variety of cuisine in this location to be great, and we often relished the chance to taste various meals across the area.

Check out my packing list for Mexico and this article regarding whether or not you need travel insurance for Mexico before you go.

Want to know where you can have these delectable Oaxacan dishes? Check out our list of The 21 Best Oaxaca Restaurants & Bars, as well as Where to Dine in Zipolite, Oaxaca!

7 Must-Try Authentic Oaxacan Dishes


The Land of Seven Moles is another name for Oaxaca. Each of the states seven regions puts up its own innovative variation on this meal.

With this in mind, we set out to sample as many different kinds of moles as we could throughout our stay.

In this piece, we’ll go through some of the unusual sorts we tested, as well as the ones we suggest.

We immediately realized that no two Oaxacan moles are same as we tried them all.

For millennia, Oaxacan mole recipes have been handed down via families.

Mole is made in Oaxaca by roasting various ingredients, grinding them together, and gently boiling them into a thick, rich sauce.

The sauce is then served on top of the chicken, in enchiladas, with empanadas, and with virtually anything else.

We found unlimited alternatives. Our favorite, though, was served with the chicken.

Chiles, aromatics, and thickeners are all present in all moles.

They may include onions, garlic, chocolate, tomatillos, tomatoes, and a variety of spices.

We heard that the finest moles are served in towns just outside of the major metropolis.

But, honestly, we couldn’t find a mole we didn’t like no matter where we went.

This meal is available at almost every market, street food vendor, and restaurant in Oaxaca.

Mole negro is both sweet and spicy, with cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate notes, as well as chiles and black pepper.

Tomatillos, jalapenos, and cilantro are other popular ingredients in the fiery mole verde.

A hotter mole rojo with pasilla, guajillo, and ancho peppers is also available. Personally, I like the mole verde with chicken.

Yet, if you can locate it, the mole frutas are fantastic with pig.

Do you want to know how Oaxacan cuisine varies from food in other parts of Mexico? Learn about traditional Yucatecan meals by clicking here!


Tlayudas, which were originated in Oaxaca, are one of the most popular delicacies in the region.

Tlayuda is heritage maize pressed into massive tortillas with contents ranging from unprocessed hog grease to creamy refried beans combined with avocado leaves and your choice of meat.

I normally had it with shredded chicken, but I also liked it with strips of dry beef and loads of Mexican cheese.

You also get to choose what goes on top; my favorites were tomatoes, quesillo, and sliced avocado.

Although they are a little messy to eat, they are really worth it.

This may be my favorite Oaxacan meal. They’re so delicious that I had (at least) one every day I was in Oaxaca.

Tamales de Oaxaca

Tamales in Oaxaca vary from those seen in other parts of Mexico because Oaxacans wrap their tamales with banana leaves.

Tamales are created with Oaxacan fresh produced corn masa and then loaded with a variety of fillings (which you can pick for yourself).

Chicken, refried beans, and fresh vegetables are among them.

The banana leaves absorb and retain moisture.


Tamales, tlayuda, and enchiladas are all improved by the stringy addition of Oaxacan cheese Quesellio.

This cheese is unique to the area, and we thought its unusual taste deserved a spot on our list.

It has a stringy texture similar to mozzarella, but with a stronger taste.

The cheese melts wonderfully over a variety of foods and is so popular in Mexico that Mexicans eat it all around the nation.

You could come upon this cheese by accident.

Yet, we were always pleased to see this stringy cheese included into a dish.


We were surprised to learn that grasshoppers are one of the most popular foods in Oaxaca.

So we had to give it a go to discover why they’re so popular.

This meal did not disappoint.

Chapulines are spicy grasshoppers that are either fried or roasted and then mixed with chile, lime, and garlic. They may be found at a variety of markets.

The rich native tastes of Oaxaca make these grasshoppers particularly appetizing.

Locals eat them as a simple snack or incorporate them into tlayudas or other recipes for crunch and taste.


Mezcal is a kind of alcoholic drink that is similar to tequila but has a smokier flavor and a richer, sweeter taste.

As part of the manufacturing process, the agave is buried underground for up to a week with flaming embers, giving it a smokey taste.

In truth, the term mezcal is derived from a local language and refers to oven-cooked agave.

Mezcal is a well-known product of Oaxaca.

The alcoholic beverage is made by distillers in the area from a variety of cactus types.

Mezcal, in fact, may be manufactured from any species of agave.

The traditional Oaxacan cocktail is sometimes served with orange slices and worm salt since these tastes complement each other so nicely.

Although mezcal may not be for everyone, if you like tequila, you should at least try it on your visit to Oaxaca.

The smokiness of mezcal cuts through the sweetness of the mixers in margaritas, but the best way to appreciate mezcal is to carefully drink it straight up!


Oaxaca is well-known for its cocoa.

Although I don’t have a sweet craving, this drink is a distinctive traditional Oaxacan cuisine, so I knew I had to try it.

Tejate has been made for centuries by the Mixtec and Zapotec peoples. Corn, cacao beans, mamey seeds, flowers, and masa are all used in the drink.

It’s sweet and tasty, and it’s available at almost every market.

And, although it may take some getting used to, you should absolutely try it on your stay!

Which of the classic Oaxacan cuisines do you wish to sample the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!

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