The Traditional Mexican Cuisine of the State of Michoacan

The state of Michoacán is identified by its cuisine, by its ethnic flavors mixed with other cultures. Visitors will find places and dishes for all tastes: regional, traditional, Mexican, and international.

The Traditional Mexican Cuisine of the State of Michoacan
The Authenticity and Diversity of Traditional Mexican Cuisine in Michoacán, Mexico. Photo by Victoria Shes / Unsplash

Traditional Mexican cuisine is a World Heritage Site thanks to the testimony of the Purépecha traditional cooks, who have kept the gastronomic heritage alive. The best restaurants also honor their roots in the culinary vanguard, with products from the land and sea of Michoacan. Throughout the state of Michoacán, expert, traditional and innovative hands offer knowledge and flavor to the traveler.

Michoacán is identified by its cuisine, by its ethnic flavors mixed with other cultures. Here there are places and dishes for all tastes: regional, traditional, Mexican, and international. The geographical diversity of the state has resulted in a wide culinary range of extraordinary variety.

In Michoacán, avant-garde cuisine coexists with unforgettable gastronomic experiences at the hands of nationally renowned chefs and the most traditional cuisine, in the hands of Cocineras Tradicionales (traditional cooks). Women who have been the transmitters of culinary practices for centuries, their hands have known how to harvest the food necessary to transform it into dishes that honor the land in which they and their families live.

Through their traditional skills, they have joined forces to create the exquisite mosaic of colors and flavors that is Mexican cuisine. Around the metate, the molcajete, and other ancestral utensils, the women forged friendships and, without looking for it, their knowledge and techniques became an identity, charging the act of eating in community with symbolism.

Despite centuries of teaching between generations, it was not until the new century when the culinary traditions of the people began to be valued, specifically when in 2010 UNESCO recognized Mexican gastronomy as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, and with it the heirs of that culture and social baggage: the Cocineras Tradicionales (Traditional Cooks).

More than 140 restaurants for the most demanding foodies. All bear their stamp and all honor our traditional cuisine. Renowned chefs, charming places, excellent service, and authentic Michoacán flavor.

The preservation of tradition is so deep that in Michoacán many of the dishes retain their indigenous name, so their preparation, ingredients, and flavor are presented as a real surprise for the diner. Practically every town has a dish or a traditional cook to visit.

To mention a few communities, there are Angahuan, Caltzontzin, San Lorenzo, and Zacán on the plateau, while in the lake area, the presence of the communities bordering Lake Patzcuaro is intensifying. Likewise, Tierra Caliente, Monarca Country, the West, and the Coast also present themselves as a vast territory in flavors, preparations, and ingredients. Each cook has a special touch, a condiment, or a unique way of cooking that you will not taste anywhere else.

Michoacan Gastronomy Festival

In 2010, when UNESCO granted recognition to Mexican gastronomy as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the eyes of the world began to turn to Mexican restaurants, but especially to the towns of Michoacan and their traditional cooks, guardians of a cultural, creative, and agricultural legacy.

The Purépecha, Nahua, Otomi, Mazahua, and Pirindi women -through atoles, broths, atápakuas, chandúkatas, churipos, uchepos, and corundas- have transmitted the importance of the cuisine, where tradition, ingredients, and attachment to local products are exalted.

Aware of this heritage and to share the richness of Michoacan cuisine, in 2004 the Encounter of Traditional Cooks was established, a space for coexistence, learning, and lots of flavors. Currently, this meeting has expanded, becoming the Festival of Michoacan Gastronomy.

This event brings together traditional cooks from different areas of Michoacán. From north to south and from east to west, the range of gastronomic possibilities is demonstrated. Besides the mixture of ancestral smells and flavors, you will be able to participate in tastings, and samplings organized by local producers, and restaurateurs committed to their region, as well as entertainment for the whole family.

But perhaps the most inspiring thing is the possibility of delving into authentic traditional cuisine through the workshops: meet those women who every day offer a little piece of their home in every bite. The Festival takes place in March, during the first long weekend of the year, and we already have the table ready for you and your family.

9 gastronomic experiences in Michoacan

For travelers who enjoy authenticity, here are 9 ideas to experience Michoacán's gastronomy as you like it. like you like. Your trip, your experience.


1. Haute cuisine in Morelia

2. Morelia means jam, and jam is Morelia

Lazaro Cardenas City

3. The best tables in Lázaro Cárdenas


4. In search of traditional ingredients

5. The new temples of mezcal

6. Nieves de Pátzcuaro under the portals

Santa Fe de Laguna

7. Cooking in Santa Fe


8. Healing liqueurs and tantalizing preserves


9. The stoves of the Purepecha Plateau

Haute cuisine in Morelia

Three women in the culinary vanguard. Three restaurants in Morelia are the letter of introduction to the universe of flavors of Michoacán, the gastronomic cradle of Mexico. Chef Cinthya Martínez brings together traditional Michoacán flavors and knowledge with Mediterranean cuisine at La Conspiración de 1809. You can even create a dish with the hand of a traditional cook.

Local ingredients are the key to Lucero Soto, from LU. A cuisine that emanates from tradition to offer a proposal that respects the origins, but with a modern twist.

Rubí Silva is the soul of Los Mirasoles, a centrally located restaurant that elevates traditional cuisine to haute cuisine status. An elegant restaurant, with an incredible wine bar and a wine cellar for private dining. From the kitchen come the best chiles capones and extraordinary enchiladas placeras.

Reservations should be made in advance, especially during the high season, special dates, and weekends. Let yourself be carried away by the chefs' suggestions, always looking for the best seasonal products. Taste the wide variety of mezcals from Michoacan.

Morelia is jam, and jam is Morelia

Morelia has a long tradition in the elaboration of sweets, and the undisputed star is the "ate moreliano". The history of Morelia's confectionery dates back to the times of the women's convents.

The nuns adapted traditional Spanish recipes to local ingredients and for centuries perfected them, creating a sweet and intense tradition. It was the nuns of Santa Rosa de Lima who started selling ates, the typical candied fruit jam made from the original quince recipe. The ates thus became the iconic sweet of Morelia.

In the Sweets and Crafts Market, families maintain the confectionery tradition. The temptations are multiple and irresistible: the morelianas, crunchy cajeta cookies; the morelianitas, wafers with cajeta; and all kinds of traditional fruit and milk sweets. Because life needs a sweet taste in the mouth.

Take home a souvenir from the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías (Sweets and Handicrafts Market), where producers of traditional sweets and a great variety of handicrafts from the state are exhibited. Learn about the ancient recipe for Morelia's "ates morelianos". Visit the Candy Museum, a confectionery from 1870 set in the Porfiriato era, with more than 300 varieties of sweets to choose from.

The best tables in Lázaro Cárdenas

Lázaro Cárdenas is Mexico's second-largest port, thanks to the fact that the city welcomes business travelers with open arms. On your visit to Lázaro Cárdenas take the opportunity to try the delicious fish and seafood from the Pacific, extraordinarily fresh and with delicious local seasoning.

You will find a variety of fish: snook, sole or the exquisite marlin, mahi-mahi or a la talla. Seafood is not far behind: lobsters in sauce, clams au gratin, breaded shrimp, and oysters. In the menus, you will also find a wide range of ceviches and the typical fish broth.

Be sure to try the coconut recipes, either in breaded seafood or in sweets. For the best seafood, travelers recommend El Güero, La Langosta, or La Palapa, whether you are on business or vacation.

Visit the Culture and Arts Boardwalk to see something truly unique: the Albatros drawbridge, the only one of its kind in Latin America. Take advantage of a day of your stay in Lázaro Cárdenas to visit the wonderful Michoacan coast. Playa Azul is just a few kilometers from the city and has all the services.

In search of the traditional ingredients of Patzcuaro

Markets are windows to the daily life of a town, its customs, its cuisine, its trades, and chores. Hence, you will find the one in the Magical Town of Patzcuaro. The market, an authentic epicenter, is located next to the Gertrudis Bocanegra square and extends to the west in a colorful tianguis. The old market is a succession of family stalls selling fresh vegetables, Michoacan cheeses, grains, bread, and meats.

In the background, fish arrives fresh every morning from the lake. Outside, under tarpaulins, you will find small farmers bringing seasonal produce from their fields. Avocados, colorful corn, huge sweet potatoes, nopales, prickly pear cactus, huitlacoche, and freshly cut squash blossoms. A sensory spectacle. However, the most interesting place is probably the small market of the Sanctuary of Guadalupe with its dried fish, you won't be able to resist. Take advantage!

Visit the market in the morning, when the freshest products are arriving. Buy authentic Michoacan products such as dried fish, chongos zamoranos, or cotija cheese.

The new temples of mezcal in Patzcuaro

Few people know that mezcal is produced in Michoacán. Small family businesses that little by little grew and earned their place. Today mezcal is part of the modern lifestyle, but it was always there. Ancestors extracted from the maguey a drink fit for the gods. During the viceroyalty, distillation systems were introduced and mezcal and tequila were born. In the Magical Town of Patzcuaro, two are the flagship mezcalerías.

In the Vasco de Quiroga plaza is La Surtidora, a century-old business with charanda, mezcal, and a canning section. Nearby is Remedio, a nightlife hotspot. If you are near the Basilica you can go (with love) to El Carajo, an intimate space with local mezcals. If you want to see how mezcal is made, 20 minutes from Pátzcuaro you will find Palomas Mensajeras, in Oponguio, on the western shore of the lake. A family-run distillery where they handcraft their mezcals.

Look for the legend "Vinatas de Michoacán, region of origin" on the bottles, as a guarantee of authenticity.

Ice cream of Patzcuaro under the portals

You can't leave Patzcuaro without tasting its famous "nieves de pasta". In the Vasco de Quiroga square, the true heart of the Magical Town. Lovers stroll, older couples dance, visitors browse and everyone passes under the Hidalgo portal to fulfill one of their sweet rituals: to taste ice cream.

Since 1905, when Don Agapito Villegas made his first ice cream, the people of Patzcuar have not ceased to succumb to the temptation. The ice creams are still handmade and the ice cream parlors are family businesses.

The list of flavors is endless. Mango, guava, lemon, blackberry, and soursop. There are flavors suitable only for those with a sweet tooth, such as cajeta or chongos. There are also traditional flavors such as chocolate, coffee, or coconut. And unique flavors like zapote or angel's kiss.

Try new flavors at either of the two flagship ice cream parlors under the Hidalgo portal: La Pacanda and Nevería Eréndira. Saturday afternoon is very busy. If you have a hard time deciding, simply choose what you want to try. See you in Patzcuaro!

Cooking in Santa Fe de la Laguna

How many times have you wished you knew how the authentic traditional cuisine of a place is? In Santa Fe de la Laguna you have the opportunity to learn, with renowned Purépecha cooks, the secrets of the stoves of Lake Patzcuaro. Here they fish, cultivate milpas, raise turkeys and grind on the metate.

Santa Fe de la Laguna was the first hospital town in Michoacán and is part of the Don Vasco Route. You will receive a pot, a symbol of the pottery community. Then, the food: some esquites or charalitos. Then, white fish and beef broth called churipo with corundas, and triangular tamales wrapped in leaves.

Maybe a mole de conejo (rabbit mole) or tender corn uchepos. While you eat, these women will explain that cooking is an act of love for your loved ones, because eating is sharing, community and family.

Contact the group of Traditional Cooks Yauarhi ("metate" in Purépecha) for your culinary experience. Six master cooks at your disposal: Lupita Hernández, Rosario Lucas, Susana Segundo, Oliva Hernández, Rosario Luciano and María Inés Dimas. Ask to be taken to a pottery workshop, and of course to the town's huatápera.

Healing liqueurs and tempting preserves of Tlalpujahua

The women of the mountain villages are repositories of culinary knowledge that, generation after generation, are passed down from mother to daughter. Fortunately, some of these women allow visitors to taste their food. Apples, pears, figs, quinces, peaches, or guavas make up the particular horn of plenty of the eastern region.

The fruit is harvested and cooked to elaborate delicious jams and preserves with piloncillo. In the Magical Town of Tlalpujahua, the canning houses are already a sweet tradition.

Man does not live by sweets alone, and this is well known by the master Vicenta Morales, the soul of Casa Morales, a reference in the elaboration of herbal and fruit liqueurs, as well as preserves and jams. When you go there, do not hesitate to ask about the properties of their products. You will not regret it.

Apart from Tlalpujahua, you can find homemade preserves in Angangueo. Ask when you arrive for the nearest house that sells preserves. If you come to Tlalpujahua between October and December, buy your Christmas ornaments.

The stoves of the Purepecha plateau in Zacán

The gastronomic heritage of the towns of the Purepecha plateau has been preserved intact thanks to the Traditional Cooks. Because of them, Mexican gastronomy was declared a World Heritage Site. And you cannot leave without tasting it.

The ingredients transport you to the cornfield and the farm. There is rabbit and chicken, pork and beef on the table. The aromas come from the herbs. In the sauces imagine the molcajete full of chiles and tomatoes. There are everyday dishes like jaguacatas. Corundas for a beef churipo, mole tatemado, atápakua or xanducata. Buñuelos and chocolate, tamales and atole.

In the old days, the only way to get close to the incredible heritage was to be invited to a celebration. The cuisine was left at home. Today there is a great gastronomic offer, with Traditional Cooks like Esperanza Galván in Zacán, Juana Bravo in Angahuan, and dozens more. Today the table is waiting for you on the plateau.

Yearly agenda: 12 months, 12 plans to eat Michoacán

Because events may change days, it is recommended to check the dates.

Sweet beginning of the year

Start the year with sweetness. Have some delicious and traditional snow under the portals of Patzcuaro and take the opportunity to visit the traditional markets, with their dried fish and corn of all colors. Or head to Monarch Country to savor the region's traditional preserved fruits. Traditional events available are Santos Reyes en Tiríndaro and Fiesta de los Kúrpites in Nuevo Parangaricutiro.

Month of fairs

February's agenda is full of fairs. The most important one is the great party which is the Agricultural Fair of Zitácuaro. You can also go out and visit the Strawberry Fair in Jacona or the Sugar Cane Fair in Taretan. In all the popular fairs you will find crafts, shows, games, and fun for everyone. The traditional events that are available are Purépecha New Year, Strawberry Fair in Jacona de Plancarte, and Sugar Cane Fair in Taretan.

Culinary fan

Fairs continue in March, such as the blackberry in Ziracuaretiro or fish in Mariano Escobedo. If you are in Morelia, stroll through the Sweets and Handicrafts Market and enjoy the famous Morelia "ates morelianos". Nearby, in Pátzcuaro, taste some "nieves" (ice cream) and drink mezcal to celebrate your arrival. The traditional events available are the Fish Fair in Cuitzeo, the Blackberry Fair in Ziracuaretiro, the Michoacan Gastronomy Festival, Expo Fair in Lázaro Cárdenas, and the Monarch Butterfly Festival.

Holy Week arrives

Every Palm Sunday, the largest handicraft market in Michoacan takes place in Uruapan. Take the opportunity to eat what our Traditional Cooks, guardians of tradition, prepare. If you prefer, you can visit the restaurants of two great cooks: Doña Juana Bravo in Angahuan or Doña Esperanza Galván in Zacán. It is worth it. Traditional events available are Easter Week in Michoacán, Tianguis de la Maiápita or Atole Fair in Tarécuato, Expo Arena in Lázaro Cárdenas, and Expo Fiesta Michoacán (runs through May).

To open the mouth

In May, the Morelia en Boca Festival takes place, the gastronomic festival of reference in Mexico. Every year, Morelia en Boca brings together renowned chefs, producers, aficionados, and national and international experts. Take the opportunity to taste the tastes and savor this World Heritage City, you can't miss it!

The traditional events that are available are MEB (Morelia en Boca), Fair of the Quarry in Tlalpujahua, Feast of the Virgin of Socorro in Tirindaro, Feast of the Virgin of Fatima in Apatzingán, and Day of the Holy Cross in Angangueo.

Tasty fish

In Michoacan, you can find excellent trout in Uruapan, which are also cooked in the Purepecha plateau and the dams of Ciudad Hidalgo. The sea offers delicious seafood on the Michoacan coast and Lake Patzcuaro, excellent charales, and whitefish. Tasty and healthy.

Traditional events that are available are the Fair of San Juan Bautista in Ahuirán and the Fair of San Antonio de Padua in Tingambato.

Sweet month

Ucareo, a town in Zinapécuaro, is famous for its pear production, so you can't miss the annual fair organized around this juicy fruit. Here you will find a wide variety of products to take home: jams, preserves, candies, ice cream, and liquors, and while you shop you can also enjoy artistic, cultural, and sports activities.

Traditional events that are available are the National Copper Fair, Miner's Day in Angangueo, and the Pear Fair in Ucareo.

Mushrooms and moles

If you are on vacation and you are not eating the delicious fish of the coast, go to the area of Senguio and visit the fabulous Mushroom Fair, where you will find more than 18 varieties of mushrooms. In this same month, the Mole Fair takes place in Morelia, one of the most delightful fairs in which you will also taste a great variety of moles. Come and find your favorite!

The traditional events that are available are the Paracho Guitar Festival, the Mushroom Fair in Senguio, the Mole Fair in Morelia, and the Chile Fair in Queréndaro.

Patriotic dishes

Discover the cooks in Santa Fe and learn the secrets of Purépecha cuisine, a kitchen that has been declared a World Heritage Site. And after a hearty meal, there is nothing better than a mezcal from Michoacán. If you can stop by the Gastromezcalero Festival in Morelia.

Traditional events that are available are the Feast of the Lord of Miracles in Nuevo Parangaricutiro, the Sweets and Crafts Fair in Morelia, and the Day of the Artisan.

Atole for everyone

During October several communities -Angahuan, Ahuirán, San Felipe de los Herreros, Caltzontzin, San Lorenzo, and Jicalán- gather in Zacán to share more than 35 flavors of atole that they prepare as part of the art contest of the Purepecha race. Apart from the great variety of atole, you can't miss the tamales to go with it.

Traditional events available include the Traditional Bread Fair in Morelia, the Corn Cob Fair in Nurio, the Atole Fair in Zacán, the Festival of Souls in Jiquilpan, and the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM).

Drink of the gods

Get ready to taste pulque, the drink of the gods. You have two options: the Pulque Fair in Tupátaro or the Tule and Pulque Fair in the town of San Agustín del Pulque, Cuitzeo. Take advantage of your visit to either of these fairs and take home handicrafts made with vegetable fibers to decorate all the spaces in your home. Another option is to go to Tlalpujahua in the middle of the Sphere Fair and try their herbal liqueurs. To be healthy, of course.

Traditional events that are available are the Night of the Dead in Michoacán, the Carnitas Fair in Tacámbaro, and the International Organ Festival in Morelia.

To close the year with sweetness

Those with a sweet tooth are in luck, the Fair of the Chongo in Zamora is a temptation with capital letters. Near Zamora, in the mountains bordering Jalisco, Cotija celebrates its Cheese Fair, the most famous in Michoacán. At the other end of the state, Tlalpujahua and Angangueo offer visitors canned fruits and liquors to warm them up. And the best Christmas cuisine, from the hand of the Traditional Cooks of the plateau.

The traditional events that are available are Fair of the Chongo in Zamora, Monumental Nativity in Patzcuaro, Fair of the Paleta in Tocumbo, Fair of the Cheese Cotija, and Expo Fair Sahuayo.

Organize your trip with recommendations for the gourmet traveler

Michoacán is synonymous with architecture, tradition, gastronomy, colors, landscapes, and adventure. Celebrate life at every moment and enjoy the great state of Michoacan.

Be interested in Michoacán's gastronomy; its origins, recipes, and products. Remember that it is an Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

In the restaurants you visit, consume local products; they are a reflection of Michoacan culture.

Buy products from markets, stores, or directly from local producers paying them a fair price, and, please, do not bargain.

Combine purely gastronomic activities with other activities related to culture and the natural environment. Your visit will be much more enriching and satisfying.

Enjoy the flavors, aromas, and colors of Michoacan gastronomy and, if your experience was satisfactory, please recommend it to your family and friends.

Be respectful to all tourist service providers, they work to make your trip a unique and enriching experience.

Always ask permission before taking a picture of someone.

Enjoy seasonal dishes, they reflect the cycle of nature and are part of the local culture.

Think that gastronomy also uses craftsmanship for your enjoyment. Take the opportunity to get to know the utensils, textiles, and other elements of Michoacan culture.

Curious facts

During his visit to Michoacán, Pope Francis had the opportunity to taste the "Santa Trucha". The cooking consisted of wrapping the fish in the traditional "hoja santa" (holy leaf).

The traders of the Spanish conquest took the American bean varieties all over the world; by the 17th century, beans were already being cultivated in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

New species of fungi have been found in Michoacán. Among these varieties are Xylaria michoacana and Stephanospora michoacanensis.

Cotija cheese was recognized as the "Best Foreign Cheese" in the world championship held in Cremona, Italy.

The charal reproduces throughout the year, and each one lays between 400 and 1,200 eggs.