A note to aspiring restauranteurs: Mexican food doesn’t mean putting a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese and pico de gallo on an entree. Try to push the envelop and really elevate the dishes millions of people love. Change up the ingredients or change the flavor palate to truly make your take on the dish unique and exciting. Also, don’t claim the food is authentic this or that. Be honest and just say it is inspired by something. That will go over so much better. Here are some foods that missed the mark.
Chipotle arguably does a lot of stuff right. Their burrito, fajita and carnitas bowls are delicious, especially when drizzled with guacamole. Even their burritos are something everyone should enjoy at least once. However, when the casual chain decided to release a queso dip, the restaurant got into a sticky situation with dissatisfied customers. The soup-y like consistency of the dip did not get rave reviews and even affected stock prices.
We are still shuddering at the fact that peas and guacamole can be put in the same context, but that’s the food travesty that New York Times columnist and cookbook author Melissa Clark introduced to the internet to back in 2015. Twitter erupted with foodie backlash about the recipe saying they would not be using peas in his guac recipe.
Even President Barack Obama took a stand on the issue.
The crunch sound you hear while eating at a Mexican restaurant should either come from chips or some bomb flautas and taquitos. Sure. You might find some hard shell tacos in Mexico but they are usually in super tourist neighborhood and restaurants. Instead, just use two soft corn tortillas, which make for a great time.
We aren’t above using canned food shortcuts to re-create some of our favorite Mexican dishes, but when it comes to enchilada sauce, homemade is best. You can taste the difference when you are digging your fork into some bright red sauce sprinkled with cheddar cheese versus a homemade sauce topped with some queso fresco.
The former La Mexicana Cantina & Grill in Miami served up our beloved esquites with crushed red pepper flakes. Yes, *those* red chili flakes from your fave pizza joint. There is nothing wrong with using those flakes for food and flavor, but try sticking to the powder pepper we are all used too. This just strays to far into Italian territory.
Another food item on your run-of-the-mill, non-authentic Mexican food restaurant is a salad slapped with a helping of lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black beans and corn housed in a taco shell bowl. According to research done by writer Gustavo Arellano, taco bowls were not invented by a Mexican chef, but by none other than the founder of Fritos chips, Elmer Doolin. A Mexican family may have run Doolin’s Southern California restaurant, but to us, it’s not technically a true Mexican entree.
This deep-fried burrito dish was first served up in Arizona in the 1920s according to urban legend, when the owner of a Mexican restaurant dropped a burrito in the deep fryer by accident. We get that burritos are Mexican and they are delicious, but these need to be marketed as Tex-Mex and never as Mexican cuisine.
Hot Cheetos have been the go-to snack for teenagers and young adults since they were released in 1992. These spicy corn based snacks are worth every hot and painful mouthful. How many times have you eaten too many of these delicious snacks that you questioned your very existence? You can thank an entrepreneurial janitor at the Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. That’s right. In case you didn’t know the history of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, here’s a crash course.
Richard Montañez was a janitor at the snack factory and realized there was an opportunity to elevate the brand and the flavor profile of some of the most iconic snacks. That’s when he started playing with recipes of spicy chile powders until he landed on the flavor we love today. He was inspired by the iconic and classic snack elote because if it is good on the corn, it is good on corn chips, right? Exactly. After setting up a meeting with execs and getting the snack approved, Montañez is living large. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are Frito-Lay’s highest grossing snack and it is not hard to see why.
As with all things, the fans and consumers of Hot Cheetos have given the snack new and unexpected life. Sure. Many people eat them as they are and really enjoy them on a basic level. However, so many other people have taken the snack and turned them into a culinary treasure. Here are some of the recipes and dishes people have done with Hot Cheetos given their immense popularity.
Peanut Butter, Jelly and Hot Cheetos Sandwich
CREDIT: jonathans_ka24 / Instagram
People just love some sweet and spicy flavor combos because they are some of the best combos. It really is a flavor palate that cannot be beat. You savor the sweet and nutty flavor while feeling your temples start sweating from the pepper kick from the delicious Cheetos.
Hot Cheetos Covered Corn Dogs
CREDIT: lesbefoodies / Instagram
It seems like a legit partnership. If that kind of spicy flavor is good on corn on the cob, wouldn’t it be good on corn dogs? Thankfully, we have county fairs across the country that are able to give us our wildest food dreams. After all, these places give us deep fried Oreos, Kool-Aid balls and Twinkies. Obviously someone in a fair would be able to come up with Hot Cheetos covered corn dogs.
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Tempura is one of the best Japanese culinary techniques. Now, many things in Japanese food tend to stay as they are but every now and then, someone gives things a little kick. This tempura shrimp using Hot Cheetos in the batter is worth the bizarre food journey.
Hot Cheetos and Doritos Esquite
CREDIT: elotitoh / Instagram
Hot Cheetos dust on full corn cobs is delicious and a classic go-to. However, to save on the mess, you can have it sprinkled on top of esquite. What’s the different between elote and esquite? Literally just the way the corn is presented. Esquite is the same grilled corn but it is cut off the cob and held in a cup and then covered in all the same goodness. Elotes are the full corn on the cob covered in more flavor than most people can handle.
CREDIT: okipokila / Instagram
Sushi is a dish everyone knows. So many people around the world love their bite size pieces of rice, fish, seaweed and veggies. Thanks to the internet and Instagram, it wasn’t long until we saw the sushi burrito. It seems messy to eat but it is a thing that will be around for a while. However, the person who decided to roll the burrito in Hot Cheetos dust needs to be honored for their ingenuity.
CREDIT: fatimas_grill / Instagram
Textures are a major part of food. Flavors are important but what makes dishes and foods interesting are the different textures. A crunch in the right place can really help dishes set themselves apart. By adding some Hot Cheetos to a burrito, you are adding texture and some spice. It’s almost like you wouldn’t need any salsa or hot sauce to enjoy this meal. But we all know you’ll add some spice to the burrito before it’s over.
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Buffalo chicken thighs and wings is cute but let’s take a moment to consider these Hot Cheetos thighs and wings. Buffalo is able to deliver a serious punch when the chicken is smothered just right. We all know the delicious tang of the Hot Cheetos. Now, just picture that flavor all over your fried chicken. When’s lunch?
CREDIT: jennkopp / Instagram
Obviously someone would take this flavor palate and put is with tacos. Now, we aren’t talking about adding Hot Cheetos to the tacos, which is something that can definitely happen. We are talking about using crushed Cheetos into the masa to make Hot Cheetos infused tortillas to hold your scrumptious taco goodies. Who’s bringing these to the next family reunion?
Hot Cheetos Ice Cream
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You might be confused, maybe offended, by this treat. However, let’s not forget that people have created fish-flavored and mayonnaise-flavored ice creams. If those outrageous flavors are allowed to exist, then so is this. Low key, who doesn’t want to try this just for the Instagram post? Imagine the comments and reactions the post will get when your mom sees it.
Macaroni and Cheese
CREDIT: dinewithbell / Instagram
Macaroni and cheese is one of the most interesting and versatile dishes you can make. People add all kinds of stuff to the *signature* mac and cheese dishes. Some people love to add butternut squash to add a creamy texture. Why not add some crushed up Hot Cheetos onto your own macaroni and cheese to punch up they flavor? It gives it a better flavor profile and totally shows off your love for spicy food.
CREDIT: jonny98cis / Instagram
Some people have serious issues with their favorite foods getting changed but this is one that is hard to argue against. It is literally the same technique as regular tamales but this time you add ground up Hot Cheetos into the masa. You can make a few of these for the upcoming Friendsgiving and show off your culinary skills. Tbh, any time someone shows up with tamales, everyone immediately considers them way more adult than anyone else at the party. That’s just a fact, okay?
Hot Cheetos Smothered Tater Tots
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Who doesn’t enjoy some nostalgic tater tots after a long, hard day? Fortunately, the internet is giving you some inspiration to create unique and unexpected tater tots for the 21st century. Ketchup and mustard are so 1990s so you might as well give some spicy, cheesy tots a try. After all, you don’t know what you do and don’t like unless you try it. What have you got to lose?
Elote and Hot Cheetos Pizza
CREDIT: foodventureswithsylvia / Instagram
Everywhere in the world uses their own toppings for pizzas and this is no different. There is just something that is so delightful about spicy pizza. The pizza dough, tomato sauce and spicy toppings really do go together like a beautiful food union. Pro tip: you can take any frozen pizza and add the toppings you want to make it something magical. Add more cheese, Hot Cheetos, hot sauce, whatever you want to make it yours.
CREDIT: phatfoodiess / Instagram
Elotes already call for chile powder. That kind of spice is perfect for this kind of dish but crushed Hot Cheetos really changes things. It is one way to make your elote if you don’t have chile powder, these Cheetos are the perfect substitute in a pinch.
Hot Cheetos Fries
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We all know about carne asada fries. However, for all of you sweet baby vegetarians, use Hot Cheetos to change things up. Instead of using meat, this snack add another layer to the very popular french fries dish. You really can’t go wrong with fried potatoes, cheese, sour cream and Hot Cheetos.
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Mozzarella sticks are an after-school staple. It was one of the easiest dishes mom could make to feed us after we would run home to watch cartoons and lay around the house. Now that we are adults, we can make our own mozzarella sticks and instead of bread crumbs, you can use crushed Hot Cheetos. Dip them in sour cream to have a very interesting snack on your hands.
Hot Cheetos Bagel
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Flavored bagels are all the rage and have always been all the rage. The more flavor on a bagel the more intense the experience, especially when you add some flavored cream cheese. Definitely worth a chance if you want to see just how far a basic bagel and cream cheese can go.
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Musubi is a wonderful Japanese rice ball snack that can carry all kinds of flavors. The Spam musubi is exceptionally delicious and notable and Hot Cheetos is likely to be even better.
Arepas and Gorditas
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Remember the tacos we showed you earlier? Take that same technique with the tortillas and use them on arepa and gordita dough. If Hot Cheetos tortillas are good for tacos, they would be just as good for arepas and gorditas.
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French food isn’t known for being spicy but that doesn’t mean you can’t change that. It seems like Hot Cheetos are so versatile when used in doughs and batters. What a delicious and exceptional idea.