This recipe for tacos al pastor is tender pork in a sweet and savory marinade that is 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 a big hit at my house, especially when tacos al pastor are on the menu. That combination of smoky pork and sweet pineapple just can’t be beat! If you’re a taco fan, you’ll also want to try my steak tacos or carnitas tacos.
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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 is fabulous!
What are tacos al pastor?
Tacos al pastor are made with marinated pork that is slow roasted on a spit. The pork typically marinates 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 and spices. Puree the marinade in the blender, then pour it over slices of pork shoulder. Grill the pork, the chop it and put into tortillas along with grilled pineapple, red onion and cilantro.
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. Chill it for about 30 minutes and you’ll be ready to go.
- 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 gives the meat in this dish its characteristic red color.
- I typically use pork shoulder for tacos al pastor because it’s tender and juicy. You can also use pork loin, or boneless pork country ribs.
- 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, cheddar 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 Chipotle guacamole.
- Greens: These tacos are great with a little shredded green or purple cabbage, or romaine lettuce.
- Veggies: Try adding a little fresh corn or some pickled red onions.
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!
MORE GREAT TACO RECIPES
- Ground Beef Tacos
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Pulled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
- Fried Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Relish
- Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
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 liquid agave or honey
- 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, 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.
This post was published on May 2, 2019 and was updated on January 31, 2020 with new content.
So good! It was actually better than our favorite local Mexican restaurant (:
Tried as per recipe the first time and it was great. Could this go in the slow cooker? any changes like maybe some more liquid?
I think it could work, try adding 3/4 cup chicken broth to the slow cooker!
This was a huge hit with the family! Loved the pineapple in it!