Maya gastronomy 

Human Heritage 

Ancient Maya people developed a cuisine so peculiar and delicious that today many dishes are preserved for us to taste them with some variations of how they were eaten more than 600 years ago. Some of these variations came due to the presence of the Spanish people in the continent and the knowledge of new resources such as pork meat and other spices. Here you’ll learn about Cochinita Pibil and 4 other Maya dishes that we eat today. 

1.- Cochinita Pibil 

This dish is the best known in the Yucatán Peninsula and is the jewel in the culinary crown of Maya food. It is cooked using a technique created by Maya people called “pib”, which means “buried”. Therefore, these are holes in the ground that function as furnaces.  

Cochinita pibil and other Maya dishes that we can eat today

The “Cochinita Pibil” is a preparation of pork marinated with delicious spices. Before pork meat came, thanks to the Spanish people, this dish could be prepared with venison, turkey, or even human meat. 

2.- Tamales 

Throughout Mexico, you can find different varieties of tamales. Unlike other pre-Hispanic cultures of the Mexican territory, the Maya did not eat omelets as a power base but ate tamales. This delicious dish was their main food.  


The “tamal” has a place in the staple diet of all Maya, but it was also an important food for ceremonies. Nowadays you can eat “pib”, a tamal that is prepared for the Day of the Death, on November 1st and 2nd and is prepared like the Cochinita Pibil. It is stuffed with chicken and a delicious red sauce. 

3. Relleno negro 

This dish prepared with dried burnt chili peppers and turkey is one of the ones that has undergone the least changes. Before the Spanish people came to Mexico, this type of mole (with less thick consistency) covered the animals that were hunted at that time. With the arrival of the Spanish it was made exclusively for chicken and pork and today it is consumed with turkey.  

Relleno Negro

To prepare this delicious dish, the “pib” technique is also used, burying it in the ground to give it that smoky touch that you will never forget. 

4.- Guacamole 

The Maya and Aztecs created the guacamole that you eat today and is so popular all over the world. For the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, this delicacy was prepared with avocado, tomato, chili, lemon, and water. This dish has evolved and now we eat it with onion and coriander.  

Whisked Foodie

Every time you eat guacamole, you are tasting something that the ancient inhabitants of Mexico were already consuming. Also, it has many nutrients and is very balanced (and delicious) food. 

5.- Poc Chuc 

The origin of this dish is lost in time. This is roasted pork and, as you know, pork came thanks to the Spanish. However, some historians assure that it was previously prepared with peccary meat, roasted on hot stones (what we now know as “comal”). This peculiar dish is accompanied by radishes, onions, liquefied tomato, coriander, and a touch of sour orange which gives it its unique flavor. This is not as complex as Cochinita Pibil, but it is delicious too.

Poc Chuc

The next time you taste Cochinita Pibil or another of these Maya dishes, you’ll be traveling back in time to the ancient cuisine of civilizations that inhabited Mexico. They are a great example of Yucatecan cuisine, which is a World Human Heritage. 

Do you know any other pre-Hispanic dishes like Cochinita Pibil? Write it in the comments! 

Cochinita pibil and other Maya dishes that we can eat today