This papas a la mexicana recipe is a simple and versatile Mexican potatoes dish. Great as a main, side or filling for tacos, burritos or stuffed peppers!
What are Mexican potatoes?
Papas a la mexicana is a traditional Mexican dish made of fried potatoes, tomatoes, onions and green chili peppers.
It’s a simple dish that’s super easy to prepare with basic ingredients and can be eaten in a variety of ways.
A la mexicana means “cooked Mexican style” and refers to dishes with ingredients representing the colors of the Mexican flag: onions, tomatoes and chili peppers.
Potatoes are economical, easy to cook and are a great base ingredient for taking on flavor. That’s why this Mexican potatoes recipe is so popular!
How are papas a la mexicana eaten?
Papas a la mexicana is a staple dish in Mexico. It can be eaten alone as a breakfast, lunch or dinner dish, or as side dish to something more substantial.
Mexican potatoes can also be used as a filling for tacos, chiles rellenos, gorditas, or breakfast burritos.
They are especially popular served as a breakfast food alongside fresh tortillas to make tacos or burritos.
If you love Mexican food and want to discover new recipes or veganized versions of your favorite recipes, check out this collection of over 60 vegan Mexican recipes.
The ingredients for papas a la mexicana are cheap and readily available in any supermarket, making this authentic Mexican recipe super accessible to practically everyone!
Potatoes: White potatoes are the variety that’s most commonly used to make papas a la mexicana. Their flesh is a good combination of both waxy and floury, making them a good all-round potato. However, you can use pretty much any potato variety available to you for this recipe.
Onion: Use a white onion if you have one. If not, a yellow onion is fine.
Garlic: This ingredient is optional. It’s not always found in recipes for papas a la mexicana, but for me, where there’s onion, there’s garlic!
Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are the best option because their flesh is robust and ideal for fried dishes such as this. Beefsteak tomates are another good fleshy tomato. Avoid salad tomatoes which tend to be watery and not very flavorfu.
Green Chili peppers: I use jalapeño peppers but you can also use serrano peppers. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your spice tolerance. For me, two jalapeño peppers with the seeds and membranes removed was spicy enough.
Oil: You can use any neutral-flavored oil of your choice. I use sunflower oil but canola, vegetable or corn oil are fine. You can use olive oil if you prefer, as long as it isn’t strongly flavored.
Seasoning: Salt is all you really need to bring all the flavors together. I also sprinkled over some chopped cilantro because I love it. Feel free to omit the cilantro if you can’t stand it!
How to make papas a la mexicana
Prep the ingredients: Start by peeling and dicing the potatoes. You don’t have to peel the potatoes if you don’t want to (and if you want some extra fibre), but usually the potatoes are peeled for this recipe.
Next dice the potatoes. You want to dice them quite small so that they cook quickly.
Also finely dice the onion and tomatoes, and mince the garlic. If you’re good at multi-tasking, you can do this while the potatoes cook.
Fry the potatoes: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and fry, stirring from time to time, until they are tender - about 10 to 15 minutes.
Make sure your pan is large enough that the potatoes fit in a single layer so that they cook evenly.
If they seem to be browning quickly while still hard in the middle, adjust the heat down. You can also cover the pan to help them steam through the middle.
Add the vegetables: When the potatoes are just about cooked through, toss in the onion and sauté until the onions are soft and transparent - about another 5 minutes.
Then add the garlic and chili pepper and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the tomato and sautéing until the tomatoes soften - about 2 minutes.
Season: Finally, season to taste with salt and sprinkle over some chopped cilantro, if using.
Substitutions and variations
Potatoes: White potatoes are the usual type of potato used in papas a la mexicana. If you don’t have white potatoes, you can substitute another variety. It won’t make too much of a difference.
Chili peppers: You can use jalapeño or serrano peppers. If you’re serving this dish to people who cannot tolerate spice, you can substitute green bell pepper.
Seasonings: This dish is usually just seasoned with salt. You can add cilantro, as I did here, or some people add Mexican oregano or even a pinch of cumin.
Cheese: I’ve seen several Mexican recipes calling for cheese. Sometimes it’s melted on top or other times it’s queso fresco crumbled on top. Violife vegan feta would be a good dairy-free alternative.
No, you don’t need to boil potatoes before frying. For this recipe, the potatoes are diced small so that they cook through in the frying pan without browning too much on the outside.
A la mexicana means “cooked Mexican style”. It refers to dishes that contain onion, tomato and green chili peppers. These ingredients are the same colors as the Mexican flag.
White potatoes are the usual variety called for in Mexican potatoes. They are a good mix between waxy and floury and ideal for frying.
Peeling the potatoes is optional. Usually papas a la mexicana uses peeled potatoes but if you prefer not to, that’s okay.
Make ahead and storage tips
This recipe keeps well in the fridge, making it ideal for vegan meal prep.
Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Potatoes don’t freeze and thaw well so I don’t recommend freezing leftovers.
Reheat the potatoes in the microwave or in a pan greased with a bit of oil. These potatoes are also good served cold.
How to serve papas a la mexicana
Papas a la mexicana can be served as a main, a side or as a component of another dish.
You can eat them as a breakfast main along with flour or corn tortillas and a dollop of avocado crema to make breakfast tacos or burritos.
For lunch or dinner, serve them alongside refried beans and Spanish rice.
These Mexican potatoes can also be used as a filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas or gorditas.
If you need ideas for vegan Mexican main dishes you can serve alongside these papas a la mexicana, be sure to check out my collection of over 60 vegan Mexican recipes.
- 3 medium potatoes (about 1.6 lbs / 725 grams)
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (sunflower, canola, vegetable, etc.)
- ¾ medium onion (about 1 cup)
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 1 - 2 jalapeño peppers, adjust to your spice tolerance
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
- Peel and small dice the potatoes to about ½ inch (1 cm) pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the potatoes in a single layer. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft in the middle - about 10 - 15 minutes. If they seem to be browning quickly before they’re cooked through, lower the heat or put a lid on the pan to help them steam cook.
- Meanwhile, finely dice the onion, garlic, jalapeños and tomatoes.
- When the potatoes are just about tender, add the onion and cook until soft and transparent - about 5 minutes.
- Then add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until soft.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until soft - about 3 minutes.
- Finally, season with salt and sprinkle over the chopped cilantro.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 544mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.