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This recipe for tacos al pastor is tender pork that’s coated in a sweet and savory marinade, then grilled to perfection. The tacos are topped with grilled pineapple, red onion and cilantro for a unique meal that’s perfect for Cinco de Mayo!
Taco night is always a big hit at my house, especially when tacos al pastor are involved. That combination of smoky pork and sweet pineapple just can’t be beat!
I love to order tacos al pastor at my local taqueria, it’s one of my all time favorite Mexican dishes. I decided it was time to learn to make these tacos at home, and the end result was fabulous!
What are tacos al pastor?
Tacos al pastor are made with pork which is marinated, then slow roasted on a spit. The pork is often marinated in pineapple juice, chiles and spices. In this particular case, we’re going to grill our pork to make this recipe more adaptable to a home kitchen.
How do you make tacos al pastor?
This recipe starts with a marinade, which contains an assortment of ingredients including dried chiles, pineapple juice, spices and Agave In The Raw. The marinade gets pureed in the blender, then is used to flavor sliced pork shoulder. The pork is grilled, then chopped and put into tortillas along with grilled pineapple, red onion and cilantro.
Agave In The Raw is what makes this marinade particularly special. Agave In The Raw is a liquid sweetener that comes from the core of the Mexican agave plant. The sweetness of the agave balances the acidity and heat of the chiles and vinegar. Agave In The Raw can be used for more than just marinades; it’s also great for drinks, baking, and any other application where you need a little bit of sweetness. Agave In The Raw can be found in many grocery stores or ordered online, check the website to see where it’s available near you.
Tips for pork tacos
- The easiest way to get thin slices of pork is to partially freeze your pork shoulder roast before you cut it.
- This recipe calls for two specialty ingredients: dried guajillo chiles and achiote paste. If you can’t find dried guajillo chiles, you can substitute dried ancho chiles which are available in most grocery stores. Achiote paste comes in a jar in the ethnic foods aisle. It’s a colorful and fragrant paste made of annatto seeds and spices, and it’s what gives the meat in this dish its characteristic red color.
- Pork shoulder is typically used for tacos al pastor because it’s very tender and moist. That being said, if you don’t want to use shoulder, you could also use pork tenderloin.
- If you don’t have fresh pineapple available, you can grill up canned pineapple rings to go on your tacos.
- While I often serve these tacos on corn tortillas, flour tortillas are also a great choice.
Toppings for tacos al pastor
The traditional way to serve these tacos is with pineapple on top. That being said, there are many other ingredients you can add to your tacos to customize them to your tastes.
- Cheese: Try some grated cotija or Monterey Jack cheese.
- Salsa: These tacos pair perfectly with homemade pico de gallo or salsa verde.
- Avocado: Add some sliced fresh avocado or a dollop of guacamole.
These tacos are a must-have for any Cinco de Mayo gathering. They’re the perfect blend of sweet and savory and it’s a nice change from the typical chicken or beef tacos. You’ll be sure to get rave reviews with this recipe!
Tacos Al Pastor
For the marinade
- 2 pounds pork shoulder cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 2 teaspoons garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 dried guajillo chiles seeds and stems removed, then softened in very hot water for 5 minutes
- 1 tablespoon Agave In The Raw
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons achiote paste
For the tacos
- 12 corn tortillas warmed
- 1 pineapple peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup red onion diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves minced
- Place the garlic, oregano leaves, cumin, salt, pepper, guajillo chiles, Agave In The Raw, pineapple juice, white vinegar, achiote paste and 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 3 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes.
- Pour the marinade ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth.
- Place the pork in a large bowl and add the marinade. Toss to coat completely. Chill, then refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat a grill or indoor grill pan to medium high heat.
- Place the pork and pineapple slices on the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until pork is just cooked through.
- Coarsely chop the pork and pineapple.
- Divide the pork between the tortillas. Top with the chopped pineapple, red onion and cilantro, then serve immediately.