Cuisine of the Southwestern United States

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A pot of chili con carne with beans and tomatoes
American stuffed pepper

The cuisine of the Southwestern United States is food styled after the rustic cooking of the region. It comprises a fusion of recipes for things that might have been eaten by Spanish colonial settlers, cowboys, Native Americans,[1] and Mexicans throughout the post-Columbian era; there is, however, a great diversity in this kind of cuisine throughout the Southwestern states.[citation needed]

Southwestern cuisine is similar to Mexican cuisine but often involves larger cuts of meat, namely pork and beef, and less use of tripe, brain, and other parts not considered as desirable in the United States. As with Mexican cuisine, Southwestern cuisine is also largely known for its use of spices (particularly the chile, or chili pepper). Recently, several chains of casual dining restaurants specializing in Southwestern cuisine have become popular in the United States.

New Mexican cuisine is known for its dedication to the chile (the official "state question" is "Red or green?" which refers to the preferred color of chiles), most notably the Hatch chile, named for the city in New Mexico where they are grown. Part of the New Mexican cuisine is smothering each dish with either red chile, green chile or both (mixing of both is referred to as "Christmas"). And the usage of pork or beef. The New Mexican Cuisine is most popular in the southwestern states of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Texas has a version, Tex-Mex cuisine, while Arizona's style of Southwestern cuisine is often called Sonoran, since the Sonoran Desert covers a third of the state.


Southwestern dishes[edit]

Cactus fries with a side of prickly pear sauce
A burrito with red chile, often referred to as a "smothered burrito"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Native Americans." (cached version). Archived 2011-08-24 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed July 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Nusom, Lynn (1999.) "Authentic Southwestern Cooking." Western National Parks Association. ISBN 1-877856-89-4
  • Curtis, Susan (1995.) "The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook: Spirited Southwestern Recipes." Gibbs Smith. ISBN 0-87905-619-3, ISBN 0-87905-873-0