Mexican Zucchini, Corn, and Peppers (Calabacitas) — An EASY Mexican-inspired recipe ready in 15 minutes with zucchini, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green chiles! HEALTHY, vegan, and naturally gluten-free! When there’s an abundance of summer produce, this recipe is PERFECT!
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Mexican Calabacitas Recipe
What is calabacitas? Well, in Spanish, calabacitas means zucchini. But there’s definitely more than just zucchini in this dish.
Although most people would consider this calabacitas recipe a side dish, I consider it practically a meal because it keeps me full for hours from all the veggies.
This super flavorful side dish with so many flavors, textures, and vibrant colors is both vegan and gluten-free. You’d never guess it was ‘missing’ anything because it’s so filling.
Because it’s also a warm side dish, it has a comfort-food vibe to it, although it holds great at room temp or can be served chilled.
I gave half the batch to my neighbor because it makes a very big batch and she said her family devoured it and asked for more.
Just wait until you see the volume of food this recipe makes! It makes an easy 6 hearty servings and it also holds well at room temperature, so it’s perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks.
What’s In Calabacitas?
In my version of Mexican calabacitas, there’s a mixture of:
- Olive Oil
- Red and orange bell peppers
- Fire-roasted green chiles
- Cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Lime Juice
- Cayenne pepper, optional – The cayenne doesn’t make the dish spicy, but rather flavors a very large skillet of vegetables so that they’re not bland. Mexican-inspired food as we know it doesn’t tend to be bland.
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make Calabacitas
This Mexican calabacitas recipe is so very easy to make!
- Simply sauté the onion and bell peppers until they start to soften.
- Then, add the zucchini, corn, and chiles.
- Season with the spices and continue cooking until the veggies are tender as desired.
- Add the tomatoes and lime juice last and cook just until warmed through. That’s it!
What to Serve with Calabacitas
This Mexican zucchini and corn dish a perfect side dish to accompany anything from Grilled Lime Cilantro Chicken to Chile Lime Salmon to Grilled Sriracha Lime Chicken.
It’s also super versatile and would make a great taco, burrito, or enchilada filling.
Like so many recipes that use similar ingredients to this one, you can easily doctor this recipe up and adapt it suit your needs.
- Use poblano chiles or green bell peppers
- Add garlic
- Add jalapeños
- Add avocado
- Add black or garbanzo beans
- Use regular tomatoes, Roma, or heirloom rather than cherry or grape
- Add cheese at the end such as cotija or shredded pepper Jack
- Garnish with cilantro
Tips for Making This Calabacitas Recipe
This is an easy recipe to mix and match based on what you have hanging around in your fridge. It’s a very forgiving recipe!
This is great for bringing to potlucks because it’s gluten-free and vegan, so it’s suitable for a wide range of dietary needs.
Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 4 months, noting that the texture of the vegetables will be softer upon thawing if you choose to freeze it.
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Skillet Zucchini, Corn, and Peppers (Calabacitas)
Skillet Zucchini, Corn, and Peppers (Calabacitas) - An EASY Mexican-inspired recipe ready in 15 minutes with zucchini, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green chiles!! HEALTHY, vegan, and naturally gluten-free! When there's an abundance of summer produce, this recipe is PERFECT!!
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
- 1 large or extra large yellow onion, diced small
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 2 large zucchini, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups corn (I used previously frozen corn that I thawed first; canned or fresh may be substituted - if using fresh, add it from the beginning)
- one 4-ounce can fire-roasted green chiles (or regular green chiles for a bit less heat)
- 2 teaspoons cumin, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or dried Mexican oregano, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- To a very large skillet, add the oil, onions, bell peppers, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onion and peppers are beginning to soften; stir intermittently.
- Add the zucchini, corn, chiles, evenly sprinkle with the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, optional cayenne, and stir to combine. If necessary, add additional oil if it's looking at all dry. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are as tender as desired; stir intermittently.
- Add the tomatoes, lime juice, and stir to combine. Taste the dish and if necessary, add more salt, pepper, cayenne, etc. Note - the cayenne doesn't make the dish spicy, but rather flavors a very large skillet of vegetables so that they're not bland. Serve immediately. Recipe also holds well and can be served at room temp. Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 4 months, noting that the texture of the vegetables will be softer upon thawing if you choose to freeze it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 174Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 358mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g
More Easy Mexican Recipes:
Creamy Mexican Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad — A healthy EASY salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and so flavorful!! Corn, zucchini, cilantro, queso fresco and more are tossed in a DELISH creamy lime sauce!!
Grilled Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad — An EASY corn salad with black beans, zucchini, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and more!! So much Mexican-inspired FLAVOR in every bite of this family favorite recipe that’s sure to be a hit!!
Skinny Mexican Bean and Corn Salad – Two kinds of beans, juicy corn, tomatoes, peppers, and more tossed in a light chili-lime-cumin vinaigrette! Healthy, easy, ready in 5 minutes, and loaded with flavor!
Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette – Everything tastes better with avocado! Easy, healthy and tons of flavor!
Chicken Avocado Black Bean Salad — A Mexican-inspired salad with tender chicken, black beans, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and more! EASY, ready in 20 minutes, HEALTHY, and packed with fiesta FLAVORS galore!
Avocado Black Bean Mexican Salad – EASY, ready in 10 minutes, and there’s so much FLAVOR from the lime-cumin-chili vinaigrette!! Great for lunch or a meatless Monday dinner! Accidentally vegan, gluten-free, HEALTHY, and DELISH!!
Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad – An EASY salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and you won’t be able to stop eating it!! Tender chicken, juicy corn, crisp bell peppers and tomatoes, creamy avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice for the WIN!!
Originally posted May 20, 2020 and republished June 23, 2023 with updated text.
Holy cow this was delicious especially with some smoked sausage off the grill
Thanks for the 5 star review I am glad you loved it! It’s the perfect summer side!
This was delicious! I made it with the Cilantro Lime Chicken tonight and we absolutely loved it! I even goofed up when halving the recipe…..I forgot I was halving the recipe so some ingredients were the full amount and some were half the amount and it was still delish!The chicken was amazing too! And so easy! They paired perfectly together!
Thanks for the 5 star review on this recipe as well and glad it went well with the Cilantro Lime Chicken and that a few little errors didn’t even matter!
Great recipe! I added a drained can of chickpeas, and instead of fresh tomatoes, a can of medium rotel. Also both jalapeno and Fresno peppers, minced garlic, a shallot, sweet onion and part of a poblano. Added Chile lime seasoning (Trader Joes), Mexican oregano, cumin, herbs de province, and red wine vinegar at the end. Served with cotija and crispy jalapeno pieces (Trader Joes). Terrific!!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was terrific! I love all your additions and tweaks and I’m sure made this even better!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it turned out wonderfully!
This was super delish!
Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad it was super delish!
I am in love with this recipe! It looks so tasty that I have to try it. I have only one doubt, because here you used this typical green zucchini.Lately, I have grown yellow one (like this; https://gardenseedsmarket.com/zucchini-goldena.html ) and I don’t know if it will fit here? What do you think? Can’t wait to prepare it, the best dinner ever:)!
Yellow will be just fine if that’s what you have. It’s a super flexible recipe so you can mix and match based on what you have on hand. Enjoy!
Fantastic recipe! So fresh and flavorful without having to spend a lot of time over the skillet (or with the oven on). It was perfect with your salsa verde pepper jack chicken!
Thanks for the five star review and I’m so glad that you made this as an accompaniment to the pepper jack chicken! Like I mentioned to you before I didn’t actually even plan that, but for two recipes back to back in the same week, but it all worked out nicely!
I hope you have a lovely and relaxing memorial day!
I think this also sounds like a perfect side for the pepper jack grilled chicken recipe you posted earlier this week! Yum!!
Sometimes, well many times I guess since I make tons of Mexican-inspired recipes as you know, you can get a main course and later in the week a fitting side dish :) Albeit not planned.
This one is such a simple way to take advantage of seasonal produce that will really be coming on strong in the next month or so.
I have many of your recipes and have never been disappointed !
Great to hear, thank you!