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Fresh zucchini, squash, onions and tomatoes cooked up with sweet corn and green chilies then topped with crumbled, salty queso fresco, this Calabacitas Recipe (Calabacitas Con Queso) is incredibly easy to make in under 30 minutes!
This recipe was originally published in June 2017. It has been updated for photos and content.
If you’ve never had Calabacitas before, you are seriously missing out. Is has a wonderful fresh flavor, consisting mostly of sauteed fresh vegetables, with a sprinkling of cheese at the end.
Plus, it’s super easy to make a the perfect way to use up all that zucchini and squash you have lying around!
What is Calabacitas?
Calabacitas is a Mexican inspired side dish consisting traditionally of zucchini, squash, corn and cheese. This recipe adds chunks of sauteed onion along with fresh halved grape tomatoes. The dish is typically sauteed in one pot then sprinkled with a Mexican style crumbly cheese (queso fresco).
Calabacitas is all about the veggies guys! And take it from this carnivorous girl, this stuff is good even without meat! I use zucchini and summer squash in this recipe, but you can use just zucchini if you prefer.
Zucchini – you can also use Mexican squash or Chayote in place of the zucchini.
Corn – canned corn, fresh corn or roasted/grilled can be used. I love the grilled corn for the flavor it provides!
Tomatoes – halved cherry or grape tomatoes are my favorite in this.
Green Chilies – use canned diced green chilies, or chop up some jalapenos
Queso Fresco – this crumbly cheese adds a delicious, salty goodness to the recipe.
Why This Recipe Works
- Ensuring the vegetables still contain some texture is the key to making this dish good;
- It has very simple, fresh flavors and easy to find ingredients;
- It’s ready in under 30 minutes;
- There are many variations you can try (scroll toward the bottom to see different variations).
Step By Step Instructions
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent.
Add the squash and zucchini and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Then add the corn and diced chilies and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the halved grape tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add a generous helping of queso fresco. The recipe calls for 1/2 a cup, but you can add as little or as much as you’d like.
- Add the corn and green chilies just as the zucchini starts to get a little brown around the edges. You don’t want to overcook the vegetables;
- The tomatoes are added at the end so they don’t break down;
- The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of cheese, but add as little or as much as you’d like.
- Replace the queso fresco with cheddar cheese, Velveeta, Monterey jack, or any cheese you’d like to!
- Use grilled/roasted corn for an extra dose of flavor.
- Add a touch of cream (1/4 to 1/8 cup) if you want to add richness to the dish.
- Add pieces of bacon or salt pork to add meatiness to the Calabacitas.
- Add a chopped Jalapeno, poblano pepper or Anaheim chili in place of the diced green chilies.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to store calabacitas? It can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Can you freeze calabacitas? You can freeze it, but it will lose some of it’s texture and become mushier. Store it in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat it on the stove in a skillet over medium heat, or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Eat it plain as a side dish;
- Put it in tortillas to make tacos or burritos;
- Serve it on top of rice or a bed of lettuce to make it a full meal. Don’t forget to add some avocado!
More Mexican Recipes
- Grilled Salmon Tacos;
- Mexican Pasta Salad;
- Fresh Tomato Salsa;
- Pork Belly Tacos;
- Browse ALL the Mexican Recipes!
More Recipes Using Zucchini/Squash
- Raw Zucchini Salad;
- Oven Fried Squash;
- Grilled Squash;
- Baked Zucchini Fries from Gimme Delicious;
- Roasted Zucchini and Squash.
Did you make this Calabacitas recipe? Leave a comment below and let me know how it came out!
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, bacon fat or cooking oil
- 2 zucchini cut in 1" pieces
- 2 squash cut in 1" pieces
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1 can sweet corn drained
- 20 grape tomatoes halved
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 oz. diced green chilies drained
- 1/2 cup Queso fresco (more if desired)
- chopped fresh cilantro (optional for garnish)
- Heat the fat in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions until they are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add zucchini and squash and cook until they start to tenderize, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the corn and diced chilies and saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Add queso fresco, mix and serve.
- Add the corn and green chilies just as the zucchini starts to get a little brown around the edges. You don't want to overcook the vegetables;
- The tomatoes are added at the end so they don't break down;
- The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of cheese, but add as little or as much as you'd like.