Mayan Food in Cancun

Mayan Food in Cancun

You could be forgiven for thinking that the customs and traditions of a people as old as the ancient Mayans have been lost to the mists of time, but in this case it simply is not true! You see, many of the traditions and customs of the Maya have been preserved and documented quite well… what they ate on a day to day basis is a good example of this. We know what foods the Maya revered and loved above all others, and we know what the staples of their diet were.

Perhaps just as surprisingly, we can tell you which of these staples are still being eaten today in Cancun, Mexico! Read on to find out which types of Mayan food have survived the passage of time:

Mayan Food in Cancun

Corn Tortillas

The corn tortilla is slightly thicker and more rustic than its cousin the flour tortilla, but they are delicious, filling, and were served with almost any Mayan meal. Made by grinding corn masa and cooking it on a traditional wood-fired oven (or comal) corn tortillas can be found, fresh made, across Mexico today as an accompaniment to meat, vegetables, or even rice and beans. They’re also a great way to enjoy gluten free fajitas and enchiladas! Cancun will provide plenty of opportunity for you to eat tortilla!

Avocados and Guacamole

Avocados are the “in” food right now; they’re everywhere, in everything, and being eaten by everyone… but long before they found worldwide stardom the humble alligator pears (as they were called by the Maya) were a staple in the diet of ancient Mayans who prized them for their smooth texture and clean taste. The earliest iterations of guacamole began here, too, where avocados were mixed with lime, onion, and spicy chili. Of course, today it’s common to find tomato, cilantro, and garlic in guacamole too.


The Mayans first discovered chocolate as we know it today, but they had so many more uses for the pod fruit of the Cacao tree from which it is made! Cacao was revered by the Mayans for its medicinal and ritual purposes, too, and they even used the seeds as currency! Other than this, however, they made a hot, sweet drink from roasted, ground cacao which the Spanish Conquistadores added milk and sugar to upon their return to Europe. This quickly became what we now know as hot chocolate!

Poc Chuc

Poc Chuc hails from the Yucatan Peninsula where meat was preserved using salt before the advent of refrigeration; the centerpiece of this dish is salty cooked pork which is balanced with vinegar and orange juice before being topped with sautéed onions and cilantro for a zesty, tangy flavor. This dish may have started in Yucatan, but it’s unique flavor has lead it to spread across Mexico, popularizing this Mayan food.


There are very few Maya-Mexican foods which are so beloved as tamales; these sweet or savory treats have a place at the Mexican table all year round, and are even more popular during festivals and holidays. Made by filling corn masa with meat, vegetables, or even sweet fruits, before wrapping the lot in banana leave or corn husks for cooking, tamales are most often covered in salsas before consumption to give a really tangy flavor. What makes them so good for you, too, is the fact that tamales are traditionally steamed rather than fried or roasted… the Mayans knew how to get the best from their food!

Traditional Breakfast

A traditional Mexican breakfast takes its cue from Mayan dining traditions; scrambled eggs, white cheese (queso blanco), beans on the side, and plenty of fresh, hot tortillas kept warm in a cloth lined basket are served with piping hot, freshly ground coffee. What could be better?

So, as you can see, when it comes to cuisine, the traditions of Mayan food are alive and well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × 5 =