flour tortilla with steak and green salsa
Expert Advice, Healthy Eating

What exactly is Tex-Mex?

June 11, 2021

Chances are, you’ve eaten Tex-Mex at some point in your life. As a Texas-based company, we know that most Texans are raised on Tex-Mex in some form or fashion. The majority of Mexican restaurants in the United States are serving Tex-Mex food, an American take on the classic, traditional Mexican food culture. 

Tex-Mex only came on the scene after Americans began migrating west towards areas like Texas and encountered Mexican culture and cuisine. Naturally, the popularity of Mexican food grew from there ( no surprise there!). American restaurants began to adapt many Mexican cooking techniques into their dishes to appeal to a broader customer base. 

Four Differences Between Traditional Mexican Food and Tex-Mex

The difference comes down to the types of ingredients used. Many ingredients that are abundant in the US and used in Tex-Mex dishes are not very common in Mexico or anywhere in South America. Below, we’re outlining a few of the key differences:

  1. One of the first marks of Tex-Mex food is the use of yellow cheese. In Mexico, only white cheese is used. Not surprisingly, queso dip is, in fact, a Tex-Mex classic and not a traditional Mexican food. 
  2. Different spices are used. Cumin is a very popular spice in Tex-Mex dishes as well as other common American dishes. In Mexico, traditional spices include cacao, cilantro, chile peppers, and epazote instead. 
  3. According to Thrillist, if there is beef in one of your favorite dishes, it’s likely to be Tex-Mex. In the state of Texas especially, beef is one of the most commonly consumed meat proteins, so it makes sense that this protein was added to Tex-Mex dishes. However, it’s hardly used in most traditional Mexican dishes, which typically incorporate chicken, pork, and fish.
  4. Flour tortillas are strictly Tex-Mex, while traditional Mexican dishes exclusively use corn tortillas. The larger flour tortillas common in Tex-Mex act as a vehicle for lots of ingredients, while corn tortillas are much smaller, with some dish components eaten on the side using a fork.

Tex-Mex Food Stands Out

Tex-Mex food is filled with fiery and bold flavors. It’s a standout cuisine within Southwestern culture in American. Part of what makes Tex-Mex so popular and unique is the fusion of several different cultures, from traditional Mexican culture to the original Tejano’s (natives to South Texas). The budding new cuisine is a popular inspiration for some of our dishes here at Snap Kitchen, including our Beef Enchilada Bake, Chicken Tinga with Fire-Roasted Corn, and Chicken Burrito Bowl with Avocado Salsa. Enjoy our healthy spin on these classic Tex-Mex dishes!

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