Dia de Muertos Traditional Dishes

Why Onions Are an Important Part of the Day of the Dead

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday honoring deceased relatives and ancestors. You probably recognize this holiday from popular Sugar Skull makeup, or the 2017 film Coco, but its history dates back centuries to the original month of celebrations in Aztec culture. 

Throughout all iterations of Dia de Muertos, food remains a staple—both for the families celebrating and for the dead. 

Keeping the Memory of Loved Ones Alive

The focus of Dia de Muertos is to remember, celebrate, and honor those who have passed away. To show respect for the deceased, family members create altars or ofrendas, and offer up items of significance to their relatives. These gifts include things like toys, clothing, flowers, and—most importantly—food.  

Food is a human experience shared by all, and connects us in profound ways. What better way to pay tribute to those who have passed, than by making their favorite meals? 

How Onions Play a Role in Dia de Muertos

At Gills Onions, we know the crucial role onions play in preparing food, especially when preparing meals for deceased loved ones. 

Onions have been a central component of Mexican cuisine for centuries. They bring life and flavor to a variety of Mexican dishes—from sopas, pico de gallo, and chilaquiles in the south, to grilled onions and burritos in the north. 

Because of the onion’s rich heritage in Mexico, many dishes prepared for deceased ancestors during Dia de Muertos contain onions in some way, shape or form. Thus, onions are an essential part of the celebration. 

Dia de Muertos Traditional Dishes

To celebrate Dia de Muertos in your own home, prepare food that reminds you of your loved ones, or try out these traditional Mexican dishes.

Pan de Muerto
Pan de Muerto (or “Bread of the Dead”) is a sweet bread with a bone-shaped design, found in many Mexican regions during the month of October. Make your own with this Pan de Muerto recipe, which includes both butter and margarine, orange zest, and orange blossom essence. 

Fiambre is a Guatemalan salad prepared on Day of the Dead. This dish is different depending on the family celebrating, but often includes cold meats, pickled onions and other pickled vegetables, boiled eggs, cheese, and lettuce. Create your own Fiambre and have fun mixing and matching ingredients.

Tamales are a traditional dish that traces back to ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. This masa-based dish is served year-round in Mexico, but is especially commemorative of Dia de Muertos. This tamales recipe calls for lard, corn husks, and chile pods, and involves boiling meats, garlic, and onions for two hours in preparation—so be sure to plan ahead before taking on traditional tamales. 

However you celebrate Dia de Muertos, remember to be respectful and to honor those who have passed. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Dia de Muertos Traditional Dishes