Calabacitas a la mexicana (Mexican Zucchini Recipe)

This calabacitas a la mexicana recipe is a perfect easy side dish for all of your favorite Mexican dishes. 

This Mexican side dish comes together in less than 20 minutes, and is an easy way to incorporate more vegetables into your meals. You’re going to want to bookmark this recipe and use it over and over again!

So grab your cutting board and let’s make some calabacitas!

mexican zucchini in a cast iron pan

About calabacitas

Calabacita is a type of summer squash, frequently called Mexican squash. Technically, calabacita and zucchini are not the same. Calabacita is slightly smaller than zucchini, lighter in color, and with fewer seeds. 

However, zucchini is a descendant of Mexican squash. All edible squashes are native to Mexico and Central America. The zucchini was developed in Italy after edible squashes like calabaza were introduced from the Americas (1). Think of calabacita as zucchini’s ancestor!

Flavorwise, these two vegetables are so similar. I recommend using whichever one is easiest for you to find. 

What does “a la mexicana” mean?

When something is cooked “a la mexicana” it means it was cooked with onion, tomato, and jalapeño. Not only are tomato and jalapeño native Mexican crops, but the three vegetables together make up the colors of the Mexican flag. 

Cooking a vegetable a la mexicana is my go-to when I’m not sure what else to do with it. Think of it as my special cheat code!

a la mexicana ingredients: onion, tomato, and jalapeño
ingredients for calabacitas a la mexicana (mexican zucchini)

What to serve with calabacitas a la mexicana

These calabacitas are a perfect side for most Mexican dishes. My number one recommendation to serve with these calabacitas is my Chipotle shrimp recipe:

Shrimp in Apricot Chipotle Sauce
A quick main dish. Make it as spicy or as sweet as you want!
Check out this recipe
plate with chipotle shrimp and assorted vegetables

Some other dishes you can pair with calabacitas include:

Recipe tips:

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  • You can swap out the pre-made adobo seasoning for a mix of garlic powder, black pepper, turmeric, and salt. Adjust to suit your taste.
  • Play around with different brands of adobo seasoning. I really like Eat Loisa’s adobo.
  • Looking to save time? Chop the onion, tomato, and jalapeño together in the food processor. But make sure to chop and not purée them.

Calabacitas a la mexicana recipe

Calabacitas a la mexicana (Mexican Zucchini)

Calabacitas a la mexicana are a classic Mexican side dish pairing zucchini with tomato, onion, and jalapeño.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: 30 minutes or less, skillet recipe
Servings: 4



  • 2 zucchini or Mexican squash (calabacita)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • 1 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp oregano dried and ground


  • Finely dice the onion, tomato, and jalapeño. Keep them in separate bowls for now.
  • Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil
  • Once the olive oil is hot, add the onions to the skillet, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauteé for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add the jalapeño, sprinkle with salt, and sauteé for 3 more minutes
  • Add the tomato, sprinkle with salt, and sautée for 5 more minutes, or until all vegetables are soft.
  • While the onion mixture is cooking, chop the zucchini into 1" pieces. I like to chop them into quarter circles.
  • Add the zucchini to the onion mixture
  • Sprinkle with adobo and oregano. Stir to fully combine
  • Let mixture cook for 5 more minutes or until zucchini is fully soft. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve.


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