Homemade Mexican-Style Tacos Al Pastor Recipe

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Ready for a flavorful feast? Our Tacos Al Pastor Recipe brings the taste of Mexican street food right into your kitchen.

With a mix of tender pork, Mexican spices, and sweet pineapples, this dish is a festival of flavors that will delight everyone at your table.

Learn how to make homemade tacos al pastor at home without needing a vertical spit, and wow your guests at your next gathering or family dinner with this delicious recipe!

While you may prefer to skip to the recipe card, we suggest reading the entire blog post to avoid missing valuable tips and substitution suggestions and to ensure you have the necessary ingredients, equipment, and understanding of the steps and timings.

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A bowl filled with tacos al pastor, garnished with chopped herbs and surrounded by taco fixins. Text overlay says Mexican Recipe Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor Recipe

Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or a special occasion, our tacos al pastor recipe will be a hit. Serve them with warm corn tortillas, diced red onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime for a truly authentic experience.

Remember to add a side of pineapple salsa for that extra zing! Combine finely chopped pineapple (fresh or canned), red chili, fresh parsley (or cilantro), red onion, and tomato in a bowl, and squeeze over some fresh lime juice. Add salt to taste.

For more salsa options try our Sweet & Spicy Peach Salsa, Spicy Mango Salsa, Garden Fresh Tomatillo Salsa Verde, and Watermelon & Cantaloupe Melon Pico de Gallo.

What is Tacos Al Pastor?

Tacos al Pastor originated in the Central Mexican region of Puebla and Mexico City in the early 20th century. It was influenced by Lebanese immigrants who adapted their shawarma cooking style to local tastes. 

The key to its unique flavor lies in the adobo sauce, fresh pineapple slices, and marinating process, which impart a deep, complex flavor to the pork.

The al pastor meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo. As the meat cooks and browns, pork slices are shaved from the spit and served in tacos.

In this recipe, the process involves marinating the pork overnight to ensure every piece is infused with flavor. We bake the marinated pork slices and then broil (grill) them briefly to achieve a beautiful char, similar to the traditional method of cooking on a vertical spit.

Tacos al Pastor is the third main dish recipe for our Street Tacos Board (coming soon!), with Taco Carne Asada and Mexican Adobo Chicken being the other two. They all use similar spices, so ideal to cook at the same time for entertaining.

For more Mexican recipes, we have 70+ Mexican and Tex-Mex Recipes for you to enjoy!

How To Make Tacos Al Pastor

If you want the quick printable recipe card, scroll to the bottom of this post to print it out. But for all the tips, keep reading!

Number of Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 60 minutes | Marinating Time: 6 hours | Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes

Step 1 – Gather Your Ingredients

This recipe’s ingredients and tools are conveniently linked to online retailers like Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Walmart.

  • Fresh ProduceWhite Onion, Limes, Garlic
  • ProteinBoneless Pork Shoulder
  • PantrySea Salt, Black Pepper
  • Dried Guajillo Chilies are a dried pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine. They are the dried form of the mirasol chili and are known for their deep red color, mild to medium heat, and slightly sweet, tangy flavor with notes of berries and green tea. Guajillo chilies are often used to make sauces, marinades, salsas, and mole, adding a rich, complex flavor to dishes. They are typically rehydrated by soaking in hot water before being used in recipes.
  • Orange Juice
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce are smoked, dried jalapeños packed in a rich, tangy sauce made from tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, and spices. They offer a complex, smoky, spicy flavor that enhances marinades, sauces, soups, and stews. This ingredient is a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, adding depth and heat to various dishes. You can find them in the international or Mexican section of the grocery store or online.
  • Achiote Paste is made from ground annatto seeds and spices such as oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and garlic. It is a vibrant, earthy seasoning used in Mexican and Central American cuisine to marinate meats and flavor various dishes such as cochinita pibil and, of course, tacos al pastor. It is also known as recado rojo.
  • Canned Pineapple Chunks these will be blended into the marinade, so it doesn’t matter if you use rings, chunks, or tidbits!
  • Mexican Oregano is surprisingly not the same as Mediterranean oregano as they are from different plants. The Mexican variety adds flavor notes to dishes, notably floral, citrus, and anise. If you can’t source Mexican oregano, you could use Marjoram instead. You can read more about the difference here.
  • Ground Cumin
  • Smoked Paprika

The complete list of ingredients with measurements is on the recipe card at the end of this post.

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Step 2 – Kitchen Tools

The Purple Pumpkin Blog uses both cups and weighted measurements in its recipes, making American cups and kitchen food scales valuable tools for trying all the recipes. We provide US customary, imperial, and metric measurements. Still, it’s important to note that while you can combine cup measurements with weighted measures, never mix US customary/imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.) with metric (kilograms, grams, liters, etc.).

Next Steps…

  • Step 3—Soak Chilies: Place the dried Guajillo chilies into a saucepan with a lid and set aside for 20 minutes or until the chilies have softened.
  • Step 4—Prepare Chilies: Remove the chilies from the water and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess water. Carefully remove the stems and seeds from the chilies. Set them aside.
  • Step 5—Make Marinade: Place the prepared chilies into a food processor or large blender and add the remaining marinade ingredients. Blend on high speed until they resemble a thick paste. Set it aside.
  • Step 6—Cut Pork: Cut the pork shoulder into ¼”/0.5cm pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
  • Step 7—Marinade Pork: Pour the marinade over the pork and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the sauce-covered pork for 6 hours or overnight for up to 24 hours. Remove the pork from the fridge 30 – 60 minutes before cooking.
  • Step 8—Cook Pork: When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C/Gas 8 and place the marinated pork onto a large baking pan with a rack. Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
  • Step 9—Prep: Cover a baking pan with foil and set it aside.
  • Step 9—Transfer Pork: Remove the pork from the oven and transfer it to the prepared pan. Pour any pan juices over the pork.
  • Step 10—Broil/Grill Pork: Set your broiler/grill to medium-high heat and cook the pork for 5-10 minutes to char the meat, turning as required.
  • Step 11—Serve: Serve the al pastor pork with soft tortillas or taco shells and your choice of taco toppings. Enjoy!
A bowl filled with tacos al pastor, garnished with chopped herbs and surrounded by taco fixins.

Storing Leftovers & Freezing

  • Storing Leftovers:
    • Cool (within 1-2 hours), transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing Instructions:
    • Cool the cooked pork completely and wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil (or an airtight, freezer-safe container) to help prevent freezer burn and eliminate unwanted freezer smells.
    • Label with the dish’s name, thawing/reheating instructions, and the date to keep track of your food storage.
    • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    • To defrost the al pastor pork, unwrap it completely and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight (or at least 12 hours).
    • Reheat gently in a large skillet over medium heat to retain the moisture. Ensure the meat is piping hot throughout.
  • With all leftovers, ensure the food looks and smells okay before consuming.
  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart for Cooking
  • You can always consult the Food Standards Agency in your country for the most up-to-date advice on storing and freezing foods: Food Standards Agency (UK) | Food Safety (USA).

Printable Tacos Al Pastor Recipe Card

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A bowl filled with tacos al pastor, garnished with chopped herbs and surrounded by taco fixins.

Taco Al Pastor Pork

Michelle Ordever
Tender pork shoulder marinated in a blend of guajillo chiles, adobo sauce, achiote paste, and pineapple juice, then baked and broiled to perfection. Serve with warm tortillas for authentic Tacos Al Pastor.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Marinading Time 6 hours
Total Time 7 hours 20 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican/Tex-Mex
Servings 10
Calories 310 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 5 lb boneless pork shoulder

For the Marinade

Instructions
 

  • Place the dried Guajillo chilies into a saucepan with a lid and set aside for 20 minutes or until the chilies have softened.
  • Remove the chilies from the water and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess water. Carefully remove the stems and seeds from the chilies. Set them aside.
  • Place the prepared chilies into a food processor or large blender and add the remaining marinade ingredients. Blend on high speed until they resemble a thick paste. Set it aside.
  • Cut the pork shoulder into bite-size pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the marinade over the pork and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the sauce-covered pork for 6 hours or overnight for up to 24 hours. Remove the pork from the fridge 30 – 60 minutes before cooking.
    Pork and Spices in Mixing Bowl
  • When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C/Gas 8 and place the marinated pork onto a large baking pan with a rack. Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cover a baking pan with foil and set it aside.
  • Remove the pork from the oven and transfer it to the prepared baking pan. Pour any pan juices over the pork.
    Tacos Al Pastor Pork on Baking Sheet
  • Set your broiler/grill to medium-high heat and cook the pork for 5-10 minutes to char the meat, turning as required.
  • Serve the al pastor pork with soft tortillas or taco shells and your choice of taco toppings. Enjoy!
    A bowl filled with tacos al pastor, garnished with chopped herbs and surrounded by taco fixins.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 914mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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Dinner Party Menu Suggestions

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