Calabacitas con Queso

4.67 from 3 votes

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Today’s recipe for calabacitas is versatile, easy to make, and ridiculously delicious. With 3 different squash varieties, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and corn, it is basically bursting at the seams with fresh veggie goodness. The rich, melty cheese on top is only a bonus for this Mexican zucchini medley!

overhead: Mexican calabacitas in a large skillet with melted shredded cheese on top

Celebrate the abundance of the season with this fresh, flavorful calabacitas recipe. The Spanish term “calabacitas” translates to “little squash” in English, and it is easy to see where this dynamite dish got its name. This Mexican masterpiece features not one, not two, but three different varieties of squash! 

Bright yellow summer squash and “regular” zucchini team up with the Mexican zucchini, or calabacita squash, to create this sensational spice squash extravaganza. Toss in some tomatoes, corn, onions, jalapeños, and spices and you have yourself an irresistible one-skillet wonder. 

And, if you’re a gardener like me, you will have plenty of zucchini soon and any new way to use it up the better!

closeup: lifting calabacitas in a spoon over a large skillet with more Mexican zucchini

For more inviting veggie dishes, check out my Creamy Brussel Sprouts Gratin, Roasted Fall Vegetables, or my Sauteed Cauliflower.

overhead: ingredients needed for Mexican calabacitas

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Onion – Sweet, mild yellow onions are ideal, but go ahead and use red or white onions if that’s what you have on hand. 
  • Jalapeño – Adds a bright dash of fresh spiciness without an overwhelming amount of heat. If you want a milder version of this calabacitas recipe, be sure to remove all of the seeds while chopping. 
  • Corn – One 15-ounce can of corn is all you need, just be sure to drain thoroughly. You can also use a half pound of frozen and thawed corn kernels if you prefer. 
  • Tomato – Roma tomatoes, also called plum tomatoes, are my go-to for their meaty texture and lower moisture content but feel free to use any tomatoes you have on hand. 
  • Calabacita Squash – Also called Mexican zucchini or tatume squash, offers a firm yet tender texture and a clean, slightly sweet flavor. Shop for them at your local Mexican grocery store.  
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash – Trim the ends from all 3 squashes, then slice into ½ inch rings with either a knife or a mandoline. From there, you can easily chop them into matchstick pieces for the recipe. 
  • Spices – A spicy, smoky mix of ancho chile powder, Mexican oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper brings the dish bursting to life. 
  • Cheese – Use shredded Oaxaca or Pepper Jack cheese, or choose your favorite. 

How to Make Calabacitas con Queso

  1. Saute the Onions & Peppers. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat along with the olive oil. Once hot, add in the onions, jalapeños, garlic, and one teaspoon of salt. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions begin getting soft. 
  2. Add the Corn & Tomatoes. Toss the drained corn and tomatoes into the skillets and cook for another 5 minutes. Continue to stir to help the tomatoes break down more evenly as the vegetables soften. 
overhead: calabacita squash in a large skillet with melted shredded cheese on top
  1. Stir in the Squash & Spices. Now it’s time to mix in the yellow squash, zucchini, and Mexican calabacita. Follow that immediately with the ancho chile pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin, black pepper, and the rest of the salt. Mix thoroughly and cook for an additional 5 minutes, giving it the occasional stir. 
  2. Top with Cheese. Turn the stovetop heat down to low. Sprinkle the shredded cheese of your choice over the top of the dish and cover the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty or pop it under the broiler for 30 seconds.
extreme closeup: calabacitas recipe in a skillet with cheese

Tip From Kevin

Play With the Heat

I love spicy food, so the seeds of the jalapeños don’t bother me in the least bit. Remember that you can remove them if you want to tone down the heat. If you’re a spice fanatic like me, you may consider adding seasonings like cayenne pepper for an added pop of fiery goodness!

lifting calabacitas in a spoon over a large skillet with more Mexican zucchini

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is calabacita squash the same as zucchini?

Calabacita squash is commonly nicknamed “Mexican zucchini” due to a few similarities with what we commonly call zucchini squash in the United States. However, the two squashes do come from different plants. 

The squash commonly known as calabacita is the tatume squash. It has a similar size, shape, and color when compared to zucchini, which is where it got its nickname. Generally speaking though, the flesh of a calabacita squash is sweeter and whiter than zucchini flesh, and its seeds are far smaller.

What are calabacitas made of?

Calabacitas is an exciting, flavorful combination of three different squashes (zucchini, yellow squash, and calabacita squash) with tomatoes, onions, corn, jalapeno, and garlic. The whole dish is sauteed together in a skillet along with aromatic spices like Mexican oregano, cumin, and black pepper. This calabacitas recipe is also con queso, so it also contains a layer of melted cheese on top.

What to serve with calabacitas?

Depending on the rest of your meal, you can enjoy this classic Mexican dish as an entree, side dish, or as a condiment. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

– Serve with a fresh, warm batch of tortilla chips and a selection of dips like Pico de Gallo, Authentic Guacamole, and Queso Blanco Cheese Dip.
– Make calabacitas into a protein-packed snack by tossing in a bit of Shredded Mexican Chicken or Blackened Shrimp.
– Include with other traditional Mexican sides like Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice), Classic Refried Beans, or Mexican Black Beans and Corn.
– Enjoy with any of your favorite Mexican dishes from Carne Asada Tacos and Ground Beef Enchiladas to Mexican Lasagna and Huevos Rancheros (Mexican Eggs).

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Calabacitas con Queso (Mexican Zucchini Medley)

4.67 from 3 votes
Calabacitas is a mouthwatering Mexican zucchini medley featuring fresh veggies sautéed in jalapenos, onion, garlic, spices and melted cheese.
Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 28 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced (1 cup)
  • 2 jalapeños diced (See Note 1)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 15 ounce whole kernel corn drained
  • 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes chopped
  • 1 large zucchini (See Note 2)
  • 1 large yellow squash (See Note 2)
  • 1 large Mexican Zucchini Calabacita (See Note 2)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ancho powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Oaxaca or Pepper Jack cheese shredded


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, jalapeños, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring until onion begins to soften.
  • Add the corn and tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring to evenly break down tomato and soften vegetables.
  • Add the zucchini, yellow squash, calabacita, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, ancho powder, Mexican oregano, cumin and black pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to low, add the shredded cheese. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted.



  1. Remove seeds for less heat if desired.
  2. Either trim ends from all 3 squash and slice lengthwise, then chop into 1/2 inch half rings OR use a mandoline slicer and slice into matchstick pieces as shown in images.


Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 1440mg | Potassium: 716mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5482IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): calabacitas Mexican zucchini


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this as a side dish with blacked shrimp tacos for taco Tuesday. This was absolutely divine. Nice alternative from beans as a side dish. Everyone loved it. Delicious!!

  2. 4 stars
    I’ve made something similar without the corn and didn’t think about adding cheese to the skillet but, next day I heat up left overs and add an egg fill a crispy tortilla then I add some cheese an hot sauce or salsa!

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for the new recipe it was fantastic and my garden had everything. I was able to pick up calbacitas squash at my local Safeway too!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this one, too. I actually got some seeds so I am going to try growing them next year myself. 🙂

  4. THAT looks amazing! Never heard of a calabacitas squash. What is it and where would I find it here in NH and if it cannot be found, what would be a replacement that would work? Love your recipes, they’re different than most, I like that! deb

    1. One could order online, but check farmers markets if unavailable in your local or simply substitute more zucchini Deb.

  5. Hi Kevin,
    I’m truly excited to try the Calabacitas recipe!
    I will post a review once I’ve made it. I’m always looking for new and inviting recipes!
    Thank you,