Does Mexican Food Have Peanuts? (No, but watch out for . . . )

It can be frustrating to find food to eat if you or a family or friend has a peanut allergy. Peanuts are surprisingly everywhere and can be hard to avoid. But what about Mexican cuisine? Does Mexican food have Peanuts?

Here’s what I know from eating and making a lot of it:

Does Mexican food have Peanuts? Generally speaking, no. Most Mexican food doesn’t contain peanuts, except a few things like mole sauce. However, you must still be careful as some restaurants might use peanut oil while cooking. While cooking mole sauce at home, peanuts can be replaced by seeds, spices, or other nuts. 

We have a lot to learn when it comes to Mexican food, peanut allergies, and keeping you and your family safe.

So we will talk about a few dishes that you must avoid or have specially made at a restaurant. But we’ll also look at some good substitutions for home cooking.

We’ll even talk about peanuts in more than just Mexican food. Let’s dive right on into it!

Are there nuts in Mexican food?

Generally speaking, they are not often used.

The most basic recipe that comes to my mind while talking about peanuts in Mexican food was peanut sauce. I quickly realized that it was Asian cuisine, not Mexican. However, a lot of people can get these two food types mixed up.

They have very similar ingredients but different preparation styles.

I have a recent article that is similar to this one, but it talks about peanuts in Asian food. If you’re interested, just click the link to read about it on my site.

Now let’s focus back on Mexican food. Even though peanut sauce isn’t Mexican, there are similar dishes that you must be cautious of, such as mole sauce.

Mexican Pesto, Mole Sauce, Mazapan, Picadillo, Champurroados, Chile Rellenos, and many desserts are often made with nuts and should be avoided when you’re eating Mexican food. 

However, some dishes that don’t have peanuts include tacos, enchiladas (Be careful with this at restaurants, I’ll go more into this later), and quesadillas. Generally speaking, you should be able to tell the chef that you have a peanut allergy, and you can avoid any sticky situations.

Visit the website to learn more about peanut allergy.

Remember to be careful at mom and pop shops or food trucks as they tend to lean more towards traditional food which contains more nuts.

Are there peanuts in mole sauce?

You may assume it to be guacamole if you’re not familiar with Mexican food, but a mole sauce is something different. It is a marinade & sauce that’s usually very thick and can have varying ingredients depending on the sauce.

However, mole has these main ingredients.

  • Some type of dried chili pepper (or a mix of different ones)
  • Tomatoes (something sour)
  • Fruits (something sweet, like raisins)
  • Spices & seeds (sesame seeds, cumin, cinnamon)
  • Thickener (often bread or old shredded tortillas, but sometimes peanut butter)
  • Mexican chocolate

This dish traditionally is made with nuts like peanuts, almonds, or peanut butter, so you’ll miss out on it at restaurants and maybe parties. If you make it at home, though, I’ll talk later about what you can substitute the nuts out to make the mole yourself.

If you’re eating in Mexico, mole sauce is pretty much always made with nuts and should be avoided.

The best alternative is to make your Mexican food yourself and be careful when eating out. There is still an alternative to preparing food without peanuts, even mole sauce.

Mole sauce is often poured on top of enchiladas or cooked with chicken breast. So while it won’t taste the same, any red or green salsa or enchilada sauce will work just fine as a substitute.

Is Enchilada sauce made with peanut butter or peanuts?

I mentioned enchiladas earlier, and now I am going to brief you about it a little more.

Now, usually, enchilada’s don’t have peanuts in them. However, some places do use peanut oil in the sauce for their enchiladas. Or to fry the tortillas before rolling them.

Some restaurants even put peanut butter in their sauce to thicken it.

So overall, yes, enchilada can be made with peanut oil or peanut butter. Do not forget that when oil is refined, then it has little to no protein.

It means that you’re less likely to have a reaction to it than the unrefined peanut oil.

It also depends on how badly you react to your allergies. Some people can handle peanut oil while others can’t. Some enchiladas are even made with Pipian. Pipian is a type of mole sauce that is made from pumpkin seeds or squash seeds instead of peanuts or almonds.

Make enchiladas at home is a fun experience, though, and is always safe for a family with allergies. A quick and easy recipe for enchiladas that don’t have peanuts is this.

Enchiladas:

  • Shaved steak meat
  • 2 cups of pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 10ish tortillas

  Sauce:

  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup minced onions
  • Three cloves garlic minced
  • Three 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • Two 4oz cans chopped green chiles
  • Two tablespoons chili powder
  • One tablespoon ground cumin

  Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook the onions and garlic properly before adding the rest of the ingredients of the sauce
  3. Put your meat and cheese into the tortillas and roll
  4. Put enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan
  5. Place enchiladas into pan
  6. Cover it with the rest of the sauce and add cheese on top.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes
  8. Enjoy 🙂

Is Mexican food cooked with peanut oil?

As you may have guessed, it depends on who makes and where it’s made. Some restaurants use peanut oil for cooking their food while some dishes naturally call for peanut oil.

As I told before, it varies with the person whether or not they can handle peanut oil. It also depends on the type of peanut oil is used. Refined peanut oil has almost no protein in it and is generally safe for the average person with a peanut allergy.

Never put yourself at risk, though, and ask if the food is cooked in peanut oil when going out to eat.

Most restaurants are accommodating to food allergies. Most Mexican food that I know of doesn’t use peanut oil as much as they do the actual nut, such as mole sauce.

Enchiladas are the main dish at restaurants that use peanut oil or peanut butter in the sauce.

To play it safe, save the enchiladas for a fun family meal at home and grab a quesadilla while you’re out instead.

What can I substitute for peanuts in mole sauce?

Substitution in meals is a great way to make a meal safe for everyone.

Whether you’re on a keto diet, high protein diet, have food allergies, or even if you’re vegan, substituting the problem in the meal doesn’t mean the meal has to be plain or very different in fact.

In this case, we’re looking at substituting peanuts in a mole sauce.

How do I make mole sauce without peanuts? It is rather easy. The peanuts used in mole sauce is meant to be a thickener. But it also helps balance out the sweetness of any fruits or chocolate used.

I have an excellent recipe for mole sauce that doesn’t contain peanuts. I also have a recent article on what you can eat at a Mexican restaurant while on a keto diet. Click the link to read it on my site. 

Even though peanuts usually are an exception for people who are on a keto diet, it is something that most will avoid. Trying keto might help avoid peanuts both at home and on the go. Indeed, there are a ton of benefits by switching to a keto diet, and you don’t have to give up the yummy food you love.

Let’s get back to that recipe.

I’ve shown you the main ingredients for mole sauce, so let’s make it peanut-free. Instead of adding peanuts, let’s use pumpkin seeds and raisins.

Ingredients for Mole sauce:

  • 2 ounces of Mexican chocolate
  • 1 quart of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 2-3 garlic gloves
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • One bay leaf

Ingredients for pepper paste (to be added in the mole sauce)

  • 5 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 dried pasilla chiles
  • 3 Chipotle chiles
  • 1-quart vegetable broth

Directions for pepper paste:

  1. Toast the peppers in a dry skillet or using a comal if you have one
  2. Press them with a spatula and flip them frequently
  3. When blackened, but not burned, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly
  4. Don’t forget to wear disposable gloves during this next step. (the capsaicin can cause burning in the hands for hours if you don’t wear gloves. If you touch your face, you have the likelihood to cause burning around your eyes as well.)
  5. We’re going to clean the peppers by pulling out the stem and cleaning the seeds out. Don’t forget to work fast, so the peppers don’t cool completely.
  6. Throw out the seeds and stems (unless you want added heat in the sauce)
  7. Put vegetable broth and peppers into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring this to a boil.
  8. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
  9. Once done, put this into a blender and blend until smooth.
  10. If you’re worried about the seeds, still strain the paste through a fine sieve. This will remove any seeds and skin still left behind. Set your paste aside while we make the mole.

Directions for mole sauce:

  1. Take a medium saucepan and place the other quart of broth, the onions, raisins, pumpkins seeds, and bay leaf into the pan
  2. Put the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure to stir on occasion.
  3. Take out the bay leaf
  4. Convert half of the mix into a blender and the other half into a container. Start on low and slowly blend to high.
  5. Blend for about 50 seconds
  6. Pour the blended mixture back into the saucepan
  7. Then put the whole mixture into the blender
  8. Repeat the process and bring the entire mixture back in the saucepan
  9. Simmer on medium heat
  10. Add in pepper paste and chocolate and cook for another 5 minutes
  11. Taste test and add in additional pepper paste if need be
  12. Season with salt
  13. Enjoy 🙂

Did I cover everything you want to know about peanuts in Mexican food?

In this article, we went over peanuts in Mexican food.

We also talked about how to replace those peanuts with other food. We covered what dishes to avoid and what dishes you should make at home as a family cook night.

Overall Mexican food does occasionally have peanuts in it, but a lot of it doesn’t. There are also easy substitutions for recipes that call for peanuts, peanut oil, or peanut butter.

Many dishes don’t include peanuts or peanut oil, but you should still be safe and always make sure to ask if you eat out. All peanut allergies are different, and some people may be able to handle peanut oil while others can not.

 Mexican food is a favorite among a lot of people, and there are always ways to make the food safe for everyone. Whether you are on keto, have allergies, or genuinely don’t like a particular food type.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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