From Cinco de Mayo celebrations to gameday tailgates, guacamole has become a popular food feature at group gatherings. But guacamole was not always the appetizer mainstay it is today. From the dip’s Aztec origins to its modern makings, the history of guacamole is a tale riddled with name and flavor transformations.
Read on for a brief look into guacamole’s origin and its cross-continental journey to American tables.
Related: Read about the history of guacamole’s base ingredient, the avocado.
Guacamole’s base ingredient, the avocado, was an important source of sustenance for the Aztecs between the 14th and 16th centuries. In one of their dishes, the Aztecs mashed avocado with a mortar and pestle. They then added chopped tomatoes, green chiles, and salt before enjoying this meal with warm tortillas.
The Aztecs named this avocado dip ahuacamolli: a combination of their languages’ words for avocado (ahucatl) and sauce (molli).
In 1519, Spanish conquistadors reached modern-day Mexican shores and quickly developed a taste for ahuacamolli. They began to adapt the dish to their tastes and tongues, incorporating ingredients that they had brought to the Americas from Europe — including onions, lime, and cilantro — and christening the dip “guacamole”.
The Spaniards also introduced lard, which they used to fry the tortillas that traditionally accompanied Aztec guacamole. The crispy bits of fried dough made it easier to scoop up the delicious dip.
The dip dish that the Spaniards created forms the basis for the guacamole that modernity munches on. More than 400 years after the conquest of the Aztecs, Hass avocados made their way to America and the popularity of the fruit — and its dip varietal — gradually grew.
The Aztecs first made guacamole. As mentioned, The Aztecs named this avocado dip ahuacamolli: a combination of their languages’ words for avocado (ahucatl) and sauce (molli).
National Guacamole Day is celebrated on September 16th of every year. This is the same day as Mexican Independence Day.
Visit our guacamole recipe page for ideas to spice up your guacamole game or take the dip back to its Meso american roots.