Tacos al Pastor

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinate Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
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Juicy tacos al pastor are a crowd favorite made with spicy and smoky pork and sweet pineapple. You’ll love the bold flavor that the earthy, hearty chilis and spices bring to this simple, authentic recipe for al pastor tacos!

Why You’ll Crave This Authentic Tacos al Pastor Recipe

  • Flavorful and Spicy: Tacos al pastor are packed with the authentic taste of smoky chiles, spices, garlic, and achiote, giving them an unforgettable flavor. 
  • Easy to Cook: Blend together your marinade, let your pork soak up all those delicious flavors and cook it to juicy perfection!
  • Authentic: This al pastor taco recipe was shared with me from my friend who is a chef in Mexico. Traditionally, the pork is cooked on a vertical spit rotisserie called a “trompo.” For this homemade version, we’ll be cooking the meat in a skillet or on the grill – much simpler!
  • Prep Ahead: You can marinate your pork up to a couple of days ahead, or freeze in the marinade, to save a ton of time. Set up a taco bar with all the toppings for a perfect party.

Need more authentic tacos in your life? Try these nopales asados tacosbirria tacos, and classic carne asada tacos!

Tacos al pastor recipe ingredients arranged in bowls. From top to bottom: apple cider vinegar, cilantro, pineapple, salsa, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, onion, garlic, oil, seasonings, Guajillo chiles, sliced pork and an ancho Chile.

Ingredients for Seasoning for Tacos al Pastor

To whip up this fiesta-worthy recipe, you’ll need some basic ingredients, and a few special chiles and spices. If you don’t have a good latin grocery store near you, you can find the dried chiles online! Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

For the Marinade

  • Dried Chiles: Guajillo chiles and ancho chile, seeded and stemmed.
  • Chipotle Pepper: Canned, in adobo sauce.
  • Onion and Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves and fresh onion. Any color onion will do.
  • Spices and Seasonings: Achiote powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt and black pepper.
  • Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is my go-to, but any vinegar will work.
  • Liquid from the Chiles: We’ll be soaking the chiles, and saving the soaking liquid to help make the marinade.

For the Tacos

  • Pork: Some recipes use pork shoulder, but this one’s extra easy – all you need are boneless pork chops, thinly sliced. If you prefer to use a pork shoulder, cut it into bite size chunks or slices.
  • Oil: Vegetable oil is my preference here.
  • Tortillas: You’ll want corn tortillas for authentic tacos al pastor, but if you prefer, you can of course use flour tortillas instead.
  • Salt

Optional Toppings

  • Pineapple: Diced, grilled pineapple is a must for tacos al pastor! If it’s your first time, here’s my post for how to cut up a pineapple!
  • Onion: Diced.
  • Cilantro: Chopped.
  • Salsa: A simple tomato salsa, like my restaurant style salsa is perfect here. You could also use Pico de Gallo!
  • Avocado: While not typically served with tacos al pastor, you can definitely add some.
Juicy and tender al pastor tacos with grilled pineapple on a plate.

How to Make Tacos al Pastor

So how do you put it all together? While there are a few steps, it’s actually much easier than you might think. The hardest part about making these tacos is waiting for the pork to marinate! Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full detailed instructions.

  • Marinate the Pork: Soak the chiles in boiling water until softened. Add them to a blender with the other marinade ingredients, plus a little of the soaking liquid. Blend, strain, add in the pork and marinate for at least one hour.
  • Cook Pork in Skillet: Cook the pork over medium-high heat spread out in a large skillet or grill pan. Work in batches as needed. Don’t crowd the meat, because you want it to be crispy!
  • Heat the Tortillas: In a clean pan or on a griddle, warm up the corn tortillas until they’re soft and easy to bend. You can also microwave them wrapped in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds.
  • Serve: Fill your tortillas with pork, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Al Pastor Tacos being assembled in corn tortillas.

Chef’s Tips and Variations

  • Thinly Slice the Pork: For the best texture and cooking results, slice the pork into thin pieces as they cook quickly and evenly. This allows the meat to brown on the outside, while staying tender and juicy on the inside!
  • Pineapple is Essential: Tacos al pastor wouldn’t be complete without the pineapple. You can grill it on a grill, or just toss it in to the skillet with the pork. You want it cooked so that its natural sweetness shines through.
  • Warming the Tortillas: The final touch for your tacos al pastor is using warm, soft tortillas. Unheated corn tortillas can be crumbly and a bit bland, but heated up, they are soft, warm, and perfectly yummy.
  • Use the Grill Instead: If you prefer to grill your pork, you can use cubed pork shoulder and skewer it on kabobs before grilling!
  • Sweeten the Pork: Prefer your al pastor meat to be sweet and savory? Use pineapple juice to thin the marinade, instead of using the soaking liquid from the chiles.
  • Spicy or Not: As is, this recipe creates a smoky and slightly spicy pork. The smokiness comes from the dried chilis, the heat comes from the canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. To increase the level of heat, double or triple the chipotle peppers!

What to Serve with Al Pastor Tacos

These tacos are bold enough to shine on their own, but if you want to throw a full-blown fiesta, try adding a few flavorful side dishes.

A plate of three authentic Al Pastor Tacos served on corn tortillas with grilled pineapple, diced onion and sals in bowls on the side.

Can I Prepare The Pork Ahead?

Absolutely! You can refrigerate the marinate meat for up to 3 days in advance.

Tacos al pastor also makes a great freezer friendly meal! Freeze the marinated pork (in the marinade) for up to 3 months in an air-tight freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then cook as directed!

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Fridge: Store the pork and toppings separately in airtight containers for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat: You can microwave a serving or two of pork covered with a damp paper towel. For larger servings, heat in a covered skillet over low heat, adding a splash of water if it seems dry.
  • Freezer: Transfer cooled pork into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Authentic Tacos al Pastor with smoky, juicy pork, sweet grilled pineapple, salsa, diced onion and fresh cilantro.
5 from 1 vote
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Yield: 16 tacos

Tacos al Pastor

Sweet and savory Tacos al Pastor are a flavorful Mexican favorite filled with slightly spicy and smoky pork and sweet pineapple. You’ll love the bold tastes that earthy, smoky chilis and spices bring to this simple, authentic recipe!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Marinate Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

For the marinade:

For the tacos:

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork chops, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds corn tortillas

Toppings:

  • Diced onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Grilled pineapple, diced
  • Salsa

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Instructions 

  • Rehydrate the chiles. Place the guajillos and ancho chile in a medium-sized bowl. Pour boiling water over them until completely covered. Let them rest for 15 minutes, or until softened. Reserve 2/3 cup of soaking liquid. Strain the chiles and set them aside.
  • Make the marinade. Add the rehydrated chiles and the rest of the marinade ingredients to a blender or food processor. Add the reserved soaking liquid. Process until completely smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Marinate the pork. Place the pork in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over it. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least an hour, or up to 48 hours.
  • Cook the pork. Heat the oil in a large pan, or grill pan, over medium-high heat. Discard the excess marinade from the bowl. Add the pork and spread it out. You may have to cook in batches because you don't want to overcrowd the pan. Let the pork cook for 6 minutes, stir, and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes or until browned. Season with more salt. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
  • Heat the tortillas. Heat a griddle or pan over medium-low heat. Warm the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until soft and bendy. They shouldn't break. Set them aside.
  • Assemble the tacos. Fill each tortilla with pork filling and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Notes

Store: Transfer the pork and toppings into separate airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat: You can microwave a serving or two of pork covered with a damp paper towel. For larger servings, heat in a covered skillet over low heat, adding a splash of water if it seems dry.
Use the Grill Instead: If you prefer to grill your pork, you can use cubed pork shoulder and skewer it on kabobs before grilling!
Pineapple is Essential: Tacos al pastor wouldn’t be complete without the pineapple. You can grill it on a grill, or just toss it in to the skillet with the pork. You want it cooked so that its natural sweetness shines through.
Sweeten the Pork: Prefer your al pastor meat to be sweet and savory? Use pineapple juice to thin the marinade, instead of using the soaking liquid from the chiles.
Thinly Slice the Pork: For the best texture and cooking results, slice the pork into thin pieces as they cook quickly and evenly. This allows the meat to brown on the outside, while staying tender and juicy on the inside!
Spicy or Not: As is, this recipe creates a smoky and slightly spicy pork. The smokiness comes from the dried chilis, the heat comes from the canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. To increase the level of heat, double or triple the chipotle peppers!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 taco, Calories: 239kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.05g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Sodium: 271mg, Potassium: 370mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 990IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 1mg

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Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.