What Is Mesquite Lime
Mesquite Lime (muh-SKEET lime) is a Tex-Mex inspired seasoning blend. It is also called mesquite lime seasoning or mesquite lime blend.
This smoky and fruity seasoning blend embodies the best parts of Tex-Mex cooking. You can use Mesquite Lime for grilling or sauteeing, on meats or vegetables, wherever you want an herbaceous balance of tart citrus and earthy, smoky mesquite.
What Does Mesquite Lime Taste Like
Mesquite Lime is vibrant and herbaceous. It opens with the licorice-y and pepper flavors of Mexican oregano and fennel. The flavors are lifted on the palate by the different types of lime, which simultaneously deliver sweet, tart, and floral flavors and fragrance. The clean burn of white pepper and playful, grassy heat from green chiles creates the backbone of flavor, while pops of smoky mesquite salt percolate across this blend from start to finish.
How To Use Mesquite Lime
You can use Mesquite Lime in any dish to which you want to add a Tex-Mex kick. Stir it into the breading for Crispy Fish Tacos, or mix it with ground beef to perk up Taco Stuffed Zucchini. It’s great as a seasoning for chili so try it with White Bean and Turkey Chili or Sweet Chickpea Chili. Let it add spark to Black Bean Stuffed Peppers, or give a Tex-Mex spin to Spicy Cabbage Slaw for a fresh and crunchy curtido. Add its bold, brisk flavor to Turkey Burgers. Rub it on chicken and portobella mushrooms and put them on the grill for tart, savory, and sweetly spicy Chicken Fajitas.
Substitutions and Conversions
You could use Chili Lime Seasoning as a substitute for Mesquite Lime, but Chili Lime Seasoning is spiked with cayenne so it’s hotter. Adobo Lime Rub would also deliver savory flavor and tart lime, but it’s a very mild blend with no chile pepper presence, so you might want to perk that up with an extra shot of something spicy.
History of Mesquite Lime
Mesquite Lime has made its way onto American menus with the rise of Tex-Mex cuisine, which first crept into the American psyche back in the 1880s with the rise of the San Antonio chili queens, who created what were essentially pop-up chili stands in the plazas of San Antonio. Tex-Mex gained further headway in 1893, when a chili stand opened at the World’s Columbian Exposition1—the Chicago World’s Fair—and introduced the spicy fusion cuisine to the 25 million visitors who crossed the World’s Fair grounds that year2.
Tex-Mex as a cuisine has been in the making for hundreds of years; food historians often discuss the 1580s as the era that launched the fusion of European and Mexican cooking styles, with the advent of the Spanish missions in Mexico3. Spanish colonists brought things like cattle, onions, garlic, and limes with them, all important contributions to the overall shape of Mexican cuisine. It’s important to remember, though, that central and southern Texas were, for a very long time, a part of Mexico, and when you compare that part of the US to the northern Mexican states you’ll find they are all part of the same terroir and have long shared foods like chiles, corn, and mesquite trees4.
Texas is home to 76% of American mesquite trees, which have offered more than just smoke to Native American tribes in the American Southwest and through Mexico for thousands of years. This remarkable tree is useful not just for its hardwood, but also for the beans it produces, legumes that are sweet and can be eaten straight out of the pod or ground into gluten-free flour that can be used to make tortillas, pancakes, or dumplings5. Mesquite smoke is described as bold and earthy, which hearkens to the flavor of legumes. It is the perfect background on which to balance the tart flavor of limes.
While it’s unclear exactly when limes came to Mexico, it’s fairly certain that the Spaniards introduced them to the more tropical, southern and Yucatan regions of that country in the 16th century, where the plants quickly naturalized6. Eventually, the limes either worked their way northward across the landscape of Mexican agriculture, or westward to Texas from their first US planting in Florida7, and met with mesquite in the Tex-Mex region. Eventually lime and mesquite, two giants of Mexican flavor, came together into an entirely new combination, one that delivers a balanced earthy depth and bright citrus highlights.
The term Tex-Mex was first coined in 1875 and originally referred not to a style of cooking but rather, to a railroad. The Texas Mexican Railway was built to bring Texas sheep down to the Gulf of Mexico, and eventually got the nickname the Tex Mex. Eventually this term was applied to Tejanos, people in Texas of Mexican descent; it was only in 1963, in a New York Times article, that this term was first applied to food8. In 1972 Diana Kennedy, an English culinary anthropologist who spent more than 50 years traveling around Mexico and studying the food, wrote a book that laid out clear definitions between what was “true” Mexican food and what was Tex-Mex9. Kennedy spoke of Tex-Mex with a bit of disparagement, considering it a hybrid that was inferior to foods from the heart of Mexico. Restaurateurs were initially upset by what they saw as a slight, but eventually they embraced the term and jumped into a food movement that changed the American culinary landscape and is still going strong today.
Where Is Our Mesquite Lime From
|Ingredients||Mexican oregano, white pepper, lime peel, honey, fennel, makrut lime, green chile powder, mesquite salt, lime juice powder|
|Also Called||Mesquite lime seasoning, mesquite lime blend|
|Recommended Uses||Use in rubs, marinades, and grilling, great on both meats and vegetables|
|Flavor Profile||Bold and tart lime, with deep earthy smoke and salty-sweet pops|
|Cuisine||Mexican, Tex-Mex, American|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||6-12 months|
|Country of Origin||USA|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free|
Hungry for more information?
1. Saveur Editorial Staff. (2007, May 3). Where chili comes from. Saveur. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
2. Wallenfeldt , J. (Ed.). (n.d.). World's Columbian exposition. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
3. Fernandez, A. (2021, September 28). This is everything you need to know about Tex-Mex food. Taste of Home. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
4. Wharton, R. (2019, April 22). Don't call it Tex-Mex. The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
5. Wright, A. (2020, June 12). A brief cultural history of mesquite. Archaeology Southwest. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
6, 7. Morton, J. F. (n.d.). Citrus aurantifolia Swingle. Mexican Lime. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
8, 9. Hessong, A. (2017, October 19). San Antonio and its role in the history of Tex-Mex cuisine. Texas Hill Country. Retrieved April 8, 2022.