The taco filling you’ve been waiting for is here. Let me introduce you to my Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil. It’s tender pulled pork with rich earthy flavors and hints of citrus and herbs.
Easy Cochinita Pibil Recipe
There is something about the texture and flavor of pulled pork that I just can’t get enough of. Pulled pork is great on sandwiches, tacos, nachos, and salads. That also goes for this Easy Cochinita Pibil recipe. It’s full of flavor and so versatile. You’ll find lots of ways to use this recipe.
The best part about this recipe is that you can make it right in your Instant Pot. I love working with a recipe that lets me utilize my pressure cooker for other types of cuisines. When the pork is cooked in the pressure cooker it stays moist and flavorful. All of that goodness from the authentic list of ingredients stays right in the pot..and therefore, right in the pork!
What is Cochinita Pibil? What Does it Taste Like?
Cochinita Pibil is a pork recipe from the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s their version of BBQ pork and I’ve grown to love and appreciate the flavors and cooking method.
Traditionally, the pork is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pib (a hole in the ground used for cooking…yes, really!). While I don’t have a hole in the ground to cook in, I can admire the work and labor that goes into cooking such delicious food from afar.
The flavors that the slow-cooked pork develops are smokey, slightly sweet, citrus, and earthy. The pork isn’t spicy at all. But you definitely don’t need the spice (there is an opportunity for that later!). The important thing to know is that slowness is the key. There’s no rushing this dish. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be easy to make!
Here’s what you’ll need to make Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil.
- Guajillo Chilis: You’ll need to find dried guajillo chilis for this recipe. You can find them at a Latino supermarket if you can’t find them at your regular store.
- Pork Butt: This is the best cut for making pulled pork – and it’s affordable!
- Garlic: A lot of garlic sets the tone for the dish.
- Vegetable Oil: The oil helps puree the chilis into a smooth marinade.
- Achiote Paste: You can use store-bought achiote paste or make your own with my Homemade Achiote Paste recipe.
- Mexican Oregano: This can be found in most stores in the Mexican section. You can substitute with regular oregano if you can’t find it.
- Black Pepper: Pepper adds to the earthy flavor of the dish.
- Salt: I suggest using kosher salt for this recipe.
- Allspice: This is a warm spice that also adds to the earthy flavor of the dish. It has hints of clove and nutmeg.
- Cinnamon: I love adding a hint of cinnamon to savory dishes. Just wait and see how it adds to the depth of flavor!
- Orange Juice: Fresh-squeezed is always recommended for the best flavor.
- Red Wine Vinegar: For more authentic flavor you can use lime juice instead. But I prefer the red wine vinegar for depth of flavor.
- White Onion: The onion adds some sweetness and a little tanginess to the dish.
- Bay Leaves: Bay leaves are added whole and removed before eating. They add a little mint and pepper flavor to the pepper puree while it cooks.
How to Make Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil
Remember, I said this recipe is easy but it will take a little time. Believe me, it’s well worth the wait. Let’s get started!
First, soften the guajillo chilis. You’ll do this by boiling the guajillo chilis in water and then weighing them down. They will take about 10 minutes to soften. When the chilis are soft, destem and deseed them.
Make the chili puree. Add everything but the bay leaves and pork to a blender. Puree until smooth.
Marinade the meat. Cover the meat with the puree and let it marinade. Ideally, the pork should marinade overnight. You can do this right in the Instant Pot insert.
It’s time to cook the pork in the Instant Pot. Seal the lid and turn the Instant Pot to the meat setting. Set the time for 60 minutes.
Rapid release when the pork is done. Manually release the pressure when the timer is up.
Shred the pork. Remove the pork from the Instant Pot and put it in a large bowl to shred.
Cook the sauce. You have the option of thickening the sauce here. You can reduce it in a saucepan or leave it as is.
Toss the pork with the sauce. Pour the sauce over the shredded pork and now the meat is ready to be served!
Tips for Success
- Soak The Chilis: The guajillo chilis need to be boiled for 5 minutes. Then, place something heavy on them such as a coffee mug or something heavy to hold them down in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove the stem and seeds and then blend into a smooth puree.
- Sauce: There will be extra sauce in the pan. I love to use all the sauce and pour it over my meat to keep it moist, then I serve it up in the tacos. If you don’t care for too much sauce, you can pour just a little on the shredded pork or serve it on the side.
My family loves this pulled pork as taco meat. But there are lots of other ways you can enjoy it, too!
- Remember when I said there would be a chance to make the pork spicy? Here it is! You can add hot sauce, diced peppers, or my Pickled Red Onions with Habaneros.
- If you haven’t tried making your own tortillas yet, here’s you chance. Try my Homemade Flour Tortillas or Homemade Corn Tortillas and then make tacos with the Cochinita Pibil. Sometimes I like to just dip the tortilla in the pork filling.
- If you are looking for some heartier sides, Mexican Rice and beans (Refried Beans, Ranch-Style Beans, or Charro Beans) are always a yes! If you prefer white rice, try our favorite way of cooking Arroz Blanco Puertorriqueño!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Don’t forget to keep any extra leftovers! The pulled pork is just as delicious the next day as well, maybe even better as all the flavors meld together.
You can store the meat and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat any leftovers, simply warm them up in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Can I Freeze Extras?
Freezing any leftover Cochinita Pibil is a brilliant idea. I find it’s best to store it in a freezer-friendly bag so that I can lay it flat. It takes up much less room in my freezer that way.
Plus, it thaws out a lot quicker. The meat and sauce can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil
- 3 Guajillo chilis
- 3 pounds pork butt, cut into large pieces
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3.5 oz achiote paste
- 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3 slices white onion
- 4 bay leaves
- Add the guajillo chilis to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil them for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Weigh down the chilis with a coffee mug or plate and let them sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove the chilis from the water, destem and deseed the chilis. Add them to a blender or food processor.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the blender, EXCEPT the bay leaves and the pork. Blend until a smooth puree is made.
- Pour the chili puree over the meat and turn to coat. I recommend letting the meat marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, transfer the pork and sauce into the instant pot. Place the lid on the instant pot and seal the lid. Choose the meat setting and set the time for 60 minutes.
- When the timer is finished, do a rapid release. (Manually release the pressure in the instant pot.)
- Remove the meat and place the meat into a large serving dish or bowl. Set the sauce to sauté and cook it, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. (This step is optional, you can use the sauce directly as is if you are ok with the consistency.)
- Using two forks, shred the meat. When the meat is shredded, pour some sauce (or all of the sauce) over the meat. Serve as desired. We like to serve this as tacos with all the toppings!
Optional Ingredients For Serving As Tacos:
More Mexican Inspired Recipes
- Chili Colorado
- Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- Camarones Empanizados (Mexican Fried Shrimp)
- Pozole Rojo
- Birria Tacos (Tacos de Birria)
- Caldo de Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)
- Pollo Asado
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