Tacos al Pastor features juicy and flavorful pork marinated in pineapple and a flavorful chile and achiote sauce. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, savory, citrus, and spice! The ideal recipe to get the taste of the taqueria at home!
Tacos al Pastor are a beloved Mexican staple that’s quickly become one of my favorite tacos! It’s made of thinly sliced pork shoulder slowly marinated in a rich sauce made of pineapple, achiote, dried chiles, and other authentic Mexican ingredients. Its unique flavor combination makes it hard to eat just one!
What are Tacos al Pastor?
Tacos al pastor, or “shepherd style” tacos, are Mexican tacos made from thinly sliced marinated pork that’s traditionally cooked on a trompo, “spinning top,” or stacked on a spit, then sliced very thinly, similar to the technique used for gyros or shawarma.
This beloved and iconic dish is served in taquerias and by street vendors all over Mexico, served in warm corn tortillas with roasted pineapple, diced white onions, and chopped cilantro.
Since most people don’t have a trompo at home, I decided to thinly slice the pork, marinate it, and then grill the slices individually to try to achieve the same results.
Tacos al Pastor Ingredients
- Pork shoulder: I recommend using pork shoulder for its high-fat content and flavor. If you want a leaner cut of meat, you could try pork loin.
- Dried chiles: I used a combination of guajillo and ancho chiles. You can find dried chiles in most Mexican grocery stores, but if that’s not an option, you can find them easily online.
- Pineapple: A staple ingredient for tacos al pastor. You’ll use pineapple in the marinade and as a garnish.
- Achiote paste: This gives the marinade its signature bright red-orange color. Achiote paste is made of annatto seeds, vinegar, garlic, and peppery spices. You can find achiote in most Mexican grocery stores, but if that’s not an option, you can easily find it online.
- Chipotle pepper in adobo: One chipotle pepper is all you need to add a slightly smoky flavor and some spice.
- Onions and garlic: Signature aromatics that add more depth of flavor.
- Seasonings: I used a mix of kosher salt, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin.
- Vinegar: This helps tenderize the pork so it’s soft and juicy.
- Vegetable oil: I recommend using any neutral-tasting oil. Canola or avocado oil are great options.
How to Make Tacos al Pastor
Make the marinade by blending softened guajillo and ancho chiles, pineapple, achiote paste, onion, garlic, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, salt, Mexican oregano, cumin, and white vinegar.
Blend until completely smooth, which may take about 5 minutes, depending on the power of your blender.
Marinate the pork in the blended mixture in a glass or stainless steel bowl, or a large plastic bag. I used gloves for this step since the marinade can stain your hands! Cover the pork and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Grill the marinated pork over high heat on a grill or grill pan for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
Set the pork aside to rest, and grill the pineapple slices until grill marks appear.
Assemble the tacos by slicing the grilled pork and pineapple into small bite-sized pieces, making sure to go against the grain. Serve the meat inside a warm corn tortilla and top with grilled pineapple, diced white onion, cilantro, and your favorite salsa verde.
- Most grocery stores sell thinly sliced pork shoulder or boneless pork shoulder. However, you can also buy bone-in pork shoulder and slice it yourself if you can’t find either of those options. Make sure to remove the layer of pork skin.
- Use gloves when mixing the pork and marinade together. The achiote paste in the marinade can stain your hands.
Tacos al pastor makes a great dinner any night of the week! Pair them with my favorite sides:
Storing and Reheating
Tacos al pastor meat can be stored airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The grilled pineapple can be stored separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To reheat the pork, place it in a medium skillet over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until fully heated through.