The Latin word for a camp is castra which indicates that the Roman army may once have been based here. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Acastre. The Malbis part comes from the land-owning Malbis family. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 578. Until 1996 the parish was part of the district of Selby. The village has an Anglican Church (Holy Trinity Church) and a Methodist Church.
The first mention of a post office in Acaster Malbis was in 1853, when a type of postmark known as an undated circle was issued. However, the village's last post office closed in June 1995.