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Tequila and food pairing: Discovering the perfect match for your palate

As the national drink of Mexico, it’s no wonder why so many people love to pair tequila with fajitas, quesadillas, chimichangas, and tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole.

Tequila and Mexican food go hand-in-hand, but tequila doesn’t just complement food from its native land. There are many other types of cuisines and flavours that work incredibly well with this beloved agave spirit.

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Whether you love fresh and bright citrus flavours, smokey and savoury meats, light fish dishes, or decadent desserts, here’s a look at some of the best tequila and food pairings to satisfy your palate.

Best tequila and food pairings


Tequila and cheese complement each other beautifully, and different expressions work well with different types of cheeses.

Blanco tequila, sometimes called silver or plata tequila, is the most agave-forward tequila expression. It has a sharper bite than most other types but it’s also quite delicate, making it perfect for pairing with young cheeses like Manchego or brie.

If you prefer aged cheeses like smoked gouda, opt for reposado. The sweetness of reposado balances well with the smokiness of the cheese.

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Fresh fish

Because agave has fresh and bright citrus notes, blanco tequila pairs perfectly with many different types of seafood and fish preparations. Sip it the next time you’re enjoying oysters, grilled shrimp, or crab legs or indulging in fresh ceviche, sashimi, or sushi.

From five-star plates of black cod or Chilean sea bass to simple and unfussy street vendor fish tacos, blanco tequila is the go-to when eating mollusks, freshwater fish, saltwater fish, or crustaceans. 


Beef and pork

When you’re craving the savoury flavour of charred, smoked, or cured meats, reach for reposado. Because it is aged in oak barrels, reposado retains the flavours of the barrels itself. This makes it a great complement to charred and flame-broiled dishes, such as steaks, short ribs, and burgers.


When you’re in the mood for crispy fried chicken, pour a glass of reposado or añejo. Both pair well with most chicken dishes, as well as quail, hen, duck, and other types of poultry.

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Blanco is a great complement to vegetable-forward dishes with green peppers, asparagus, and carrots. Reposado is best enjoyed with corn, including Mexican street corn and gourmet, savoury popcorn snacks. 

Dark chocolate and decadent desserts

Some people might say chocolate goes well with everything, but it pairs particularly well with extra-añejo tequila.

Extra-añejo is the perfect after-dinner spirit, as it complements all sorts of decadent desserts. It’s as delicious with a piece of chocolate layer cake as it is with a slice of rustic cinnamon apple pie or refreshing key lime pie.

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Tips on hosting a food and tequila pairing

If you’re thinking about hosting a tequila and food pairing for family or friends, here are some tips to make it a memorable moment:

Serve a different expression with each course

At a proper tequila tasting, the host serves expressions in order from light to dark. You should do the same at a tequila and food pairing, serving a different expression with each course. Serve:

 Blanco with hors d’oeuvres and light pre-dinner bites

  • Reposado with starters
  • Añejo with the main course
  • Extra-añejo with dessert

Serve tequila in tequila flutes

It’s best to sip tequila from a tequila flute. Tall, slender flute glasses force the aromas of the spirit upwards to the nose, allowing you to fully experience the scent before you experience the taste. The Sip and Savor Guide from Cierto goes into depth on the proper way to “nose” tequila. 

Serve additive-free tequila

Agave, water, and yeast are the only three ingredients you need to make tequila, yet most tequila brands include additives like glycerin, caramel colouring, and sugar-based syrups. To experience and enjoy tequila in its purest form, opt for a brand that’s certified additive-free.

See the complete list of certified additive-free tequila brands here

In conclusion

With tequila well on its way to becoming the most popular alcoholic spirit in the US, the idea of pairing specific expressions with specific foods may one day be as common as food and wine pairings.

Whether you’re looking for food to go with your favourite type of tequila or a type of tequila that complements your favourite food, finding the perfect combination is easy to do.

And if your goal is to become a food and tequila expert, we recommend trying all the pairings we listed above. Each one provides a unique flavour profile and hits the palate in an interesting, specific way.


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