Al Pastor

Al pastor is slowly becoming one of my go-to’s when ordering tacos. I have always been firmly against eating pineapple with anything savory (sorry, it’s just my opinion!) but I’ve made an exception for al pastor. This pork and pineapple pairing is SO delicious, you need to try it!

Al pastor originated with Lebanese immigrants in Mexico

Did you know al pastor has roots in Lebanese history? They adapted the Lebanese cooking method of thinly sliced meat on a vertical spit (shawarma), but with traditional Mexican flavors.

Traditionally, the meat spit should be cooked using direct heat and on constant rotation. I do not have the right kind of device for this cooking method, but you can make a mini trompo at home! Although it isn’t being cooked by direct heat, I found that cooking it in a closed grill or oven is very effective.

Ingredients:

  • Pork butt- al pastor is made with pork butt (shoulder) and it’s perfect because it has some fat marbled throughout. Fat = flavor and also helps to make the pork tender. You can ask your butcher to slice it thinly for you, or you can just partially freeze it to make it easier to slice. I also like to pound the pork to tenderize it even more. 

  • Chiles- you’ll need two types of chiles: chile guajillo which is a dried chile, and chile chipotle en adobo which comes in a can. 

  • Aromatics- garlic, onion, & bay leaves. These will all go into the marinade.

  • Spices- this is where you can customize a bit. I’ve had some al pastor that was heavy on spices like cinnamon & clove, but I am personally not a big fan. For me, the perfect spice blend is black pepper, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt, all spice, and achiote paste or powder. The achiote is very important- it gives the al pastor its signature color & flavor. Achiote can be a bit bitter though, so it’s very important to balance it out with the acidity from vinegar and pineapple juice. 

  • Apple cider vinegar- for flavor and to balance the achiote paste

  • Pineapple juice- this is very important: it must be the juice that comes from canned pineapples, NOT fresh! Fresh pineapple juice contains enzymes that break down proteins to the point of mush. You’ll end up with a very unpleasant texture if you use fresh pineapple juice and marinate for longer than a couple of hours. Pineapple juice is a great way to balance the bitterness from the achiote paste, and also compliments the pork with a really nice & subtle sweet flavor. 

  • Pineapple- I normally do not like pineapple with savory dishes, but it is a must for al pastor. You’ll need a whole pineapple for the mini trompo as well as grilling or cooking to pair with the al pastor. 

Why you shouldn’t use fresh pineapple juice in al pastor

I’ve worked on this marinade for a couple of years. This recipe has actually been revised and posted to TikTok & Instagram 3 times now! After many trial & errors, the most important thing that I learned is that you CANNOT use fresh pineapple juice for the marinade! 

Cooking process

This recipe follows the same cooking process that street vendors use as closely as possible (without the proper tools). Most people do not have a vertical spit at home, but you can make a mini trompo and use your oven or grill to achieve similar results. 

Using a thick chunk of pineapple as the base, pierce it with a sturdy skewer and begin layering the pork shoulder slices on top of each other. Top with another pineapple chunk and slow roast it in the oven or grill at 275°F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or until internal temp reaches 145°F.)

Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it, then finish on a pan or griddle with sliced onions and pineapple chunks. Use the drippings from the oven to start the onions & pineapple, then add the al pastor and cook  for just a couple minutes. 

Alternatively, you could just grill or pan fry the pork shoulder slices individually. I’ve done this before and its still very good- just not quite as tender as the trompo method. But this is a great option if you don’t have time to roast the trompo for 3 hours

More taco recipes

Having a taco night? Try some of my other recipes that can be used for tacos! These are actually some of my most popular recipes on the blog. 

Al Pastor

5 from 64 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder thinly sliced
  • 1 pineapple
  • 3/4 onion

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 4 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1/4 onion
  • 5 chile guajillo deseeded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 chile chipotle in adobo (2 peppers, not 2 cans)
  • 1 tbsp achiote paste or powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock 1 tsp Knorr + 1 cup water

Additional ingredients for tacos

  • corn tortillas
  • cilantro
  • raw onions
  • salsa verde

Instructions
 

  • Partially freeze your pork shoulder for a couple of hours to make it easier to slice, then pound it out thinly. You can also ask your butcher to slice it for you.
  • On medium heat, lightly brown the garlic and 1/4 onion in oil. Then add the guajillo chiles and bay leaves. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add 1/4 cup each of water and apple cider vinegar. Cover on low heat for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let it cool.
  • Pour everything into a blender with the spices, chipotle chiles, chicken stock (I used 1 tsp Knorr with 1 cup water), and canned pineapple juice. Blend until smooth.
    *Make sure the canned pineapple juice is the kind that comes from canned pineapples, not just pineapple juice. DO NOT use fresh pineapple juice!
  • Pour through a fine mesh strainer and keep pushing it through with a spoon until there are only chunks left. Discard the chunks or repurpose it to make a salsa.
  • Marinate the pork shoulder slices in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
  • You can cook the pork however you want- grill, pan fry, or roasting. My favorite method is to slow roast in the oven on a mini trompo, then finishing on a griddle or pan. To make the trompo, cut a thick slice of pineapple for the base and push a thick wooden skewer through it. Place on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet.
  • Layer the pork slices on top of each other, then place another pineapple on top to secure. If your pork slices are much larger, you may want to make 2 mini trompos side-by-side.
  • Slow roast in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 275°F, or until the internal temp reaches 145°F. During the last 30 minutes or so, begin basting the pork with the pan juices.
    *This is not required but visually looks better- during the last 10 minutes, rotate the trompo on it's side, baste in juices, and set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, rotating until all sides have become caramelized and crispy.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
  • Thinly slice the pork. The inside will not be caramelized & crispy like the outside- taqueros usually finish the al pastor on a griddle to achieve that.
  • Using the pan juices, cook some sliced onions, pineapple, and al pastor on a pan for a few minutes.
  • Once the al pastor is nice and caramelized and the onions have softened, its ready to serve! I like them on corn tortillas with the cooked onions, pineapple, raw onions, cilantro, and salsa verde.

*This post contains affiliate links to products that I actually use & recommend. I am not sponsored by these brands, but I do make a small commission from qualifying purchases made through these links.

This Post Has 85 Comments

  1. Rick

    5 stars
    I made this al pastor yesterday and it was a raving success absolutely amazing. I cooked it in my Trager pellet smoker used pecan pellets it took a little longer than I expected but was worth it. Thank you for the recipe.

  2. Christian

    5 stars
    TBH cooking this in 2 days but have cooked al pastor before like this and loved it. your recipe has a few more spices in it which I have and think will make it even better. I am going to smoke this though in masterbuilt smoker with hickory and apple chips at same temp. do you think this will hurt the recipe in any way. or anything you think I’d need to change? I’m hoping it gets a nice crust in there.

    I like your little details over other recipe I tried, like the juice from can and more authentic Chillies which I have from last birria we made.

    thanks for the great recipe. I will let you know results of smoking it.

    1. Nicole

      How did smoking this recipe turn out? I’m very curious! I want to try smoking it too.

  3. Bob

    5 stars
    I made this a year ago and it was excellent. Now I want to do it as part of the food for a dinner party. Does it seem OK to cook the trompo a few days ahead and refrigerate unsliced, then slice and warm/caramelize as zero hour approaches?

    1. Stella

      Hi Bob, yes I think this would be totally fine. Marinated meat recipes like this one reheat well, and sometimes even taste better the next day!

  4. Anderson

    Can I use canned pineapple juice without the pineapple in it? Like the kind used for cocktails? I have lots of those laying around 😂

  5. Victoria

    5 stars
    I’ve made this multiple times and it gets more and more delicious!

  6. teresa

    5 stars
    I think about this recipe often! I had to go back in time and dig for this one cause I’ll never forget it!.

  7. Catty

    5 stars
    I’ve been making your Al Pastor recipe since you first posted it! I’ve never been a fan of Al pastor till I tried your recipe! It’s such a favorite of mine and people love when I make it.

  8. Alejandra

    5 stars
    This is the best tacos al pastor recipe!! I’m from Mexico and being away from home have made me hunt for a recipes that taste like Mexico. I tried some many al pastor but none was even close to the real tacos al pastor flavor.
    I followed carefully each step of your recipe and when I took the first bite of my taco, I almost cry, you made me travel to Mexico by eating this delicious tacos. It means a lot when you try food that taste autentic being far away from home and I could not belive how good this recipe was.

    Thank you Stella!

  9. Michelle

    5 stars
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe, highly recommend for hosting parties or just when you’re craving a good taco at home or even with some rice. I love it both ways ♥️

  10. Diego M.

    5 stars
    I made this recipe last week. It did take me a bit longer to do because I had some trouble finding the right dried chilies but totally worth it. My family enjoyed it so much. Thank you for all you do and sharing these recipes with us.

  11. Efren

    5 stars
    This is one my favorite recipes of yours. Always try AlPastor every where I go. So when you put this out I had to try it and came out better than I expected.

  12. Lucia Duran

    5 stars
    I am not a great cook, but when I tried this recipe for my husband, he was surprised at how great the tacos del pastor came out. I was proud of myself for making this recipe.

    1. Luz

      5 stars
      Love this recipe! It has become a family favorite!!

  13. Jose Aispuro

    5 stars
    I came across your site looking specifically for this recipe. You made it so easy to follow I was able to successfully replicate it. Thanks to you, it is now one of the commonly requested dishes. I even tried making it with chicken and it came out delicious!
    Thank you for all these great recipes.

  14. Jose

    5 stars
    I came across your site looking for this specific recipe. You made this so easy to follow I was able to know out of the park in my first try. It is now a commonly requested dish, (Thanks to you)!
    I have even tried it with chicken & it was delicious!

  15. Elide

    5 stars
    Hi Stella, this is my favorite recipe, I love making it and so does my husband. Whenever I make it I surprise people and I always send them to your profile. I’ve tried many other recipes from other places but they never have a great taste but this one is the best for Alpastor. Thank you for teaching me how to make a variety of food that me and my family can enjoy together. 💖

  16. Madison

    5 stars
    This is one of my favorite recipes ever so good!!

  17. Kaitlyn Ryan

    5 stars
    This recipe is a labor of love. I’ve made it a few times and it gets better every time! Thank you Stella!!!

  18. @Seeesung

    5 stars
    I never thought to make Al pastor like this at home. And love all your recipes!

  19. @shadidesro

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this recipe. I was looking for ways to make pastor at home. I tried this one and my boyfriend and I LOVED it. Safe to say it’s a staple now 🙂

  20. Witchiewitch4

    5 stars
    What can I say… besides this is the best tasting pork marinade ever. Who says pineapple🍍 can’t go in a burrito 🌯. lol!

  21. Tash_otg

    5 stars
    This is the best recipe and a crowd pleaser. Made today and even the kids gobbled it up. Will be making again and trying some other recipes to share with the family.

  22. Tram Noone

    5 stars
    My husband and I love Al pastor tacos. The closest authentic Mexican restaurant to us is not the most convenient drive. It took me a bit to find all the ingredients but it’s totally worth it. Recipe instructions were easy to follow and straight forward which I liked. I made so much we’ll be eating it all week- not complaining here ha! Thanks Stella for a fantastic recipe. Will definitely make another batch to freeze for future dinners!

  23. Mai

    5 stars
    This took me a lil bit to make but it worth the whole work! Thank you for sharing ❤️

  24. Wilson Martinez

    5 stars
    This recipe right here. game changer! instructions so easy to follow and turned into one of our favorite meals to have. when we make these we always over eat they are so good. thank you for sharing Stella.

  25. Nataly

    5 stars
    Okay, never left a comment on here – should’ve of 🥲 – but I saw this recipe a while back, tried it, and it was a huge hit. Loved it! Sooo good. I’m a sucker for Al Pastor tacos. Thank you 🫶🏼

  26. Bree

    5 stars
    I was always intimidated to do al-pastor but your recipe made it so simple. Loved it

  27. Julia

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe, so flavorful and not too hard to make! Will definitely be making this regularly, my dad loved it so much he ordered a vertical stand for next time!

  28. mellowdrea

    5 stars
    Made this recipe for Super Bowl Sunday and received so many compliments. Definitely a keeper.

  29. Cameron

    5 stars
    Tried this recipe a few months back and loved it! I really miss good Mexican food since moving out of California.

  30. Norma Lopez

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! Want to try it with chicken. I will say I now pressure cook, then broil to crisp because well I love my instant pot but also have no patience for cutting thinly and stacking. I did it all the first time though.

  31. Colette

    5 stars
    New family favorite! We have tried it with pork and also with chicken.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    1. Tien Ngo

      5 stars
      Tried this recipe when I came across your IG story! It was such a hit with the hubby and our friends! So juicy, tender and tons of flavor, a must on our family rotation

  32. Priscilla

    5 stars
    What can I say but Amazing! The best recipe I tried over the weekend. The only thing different my husband and I did was smoked it. Thank you!

  33. Lydine Arriola

    5 stars
    This is one my favorites recipes!!! Love the flavor and especially pineapples 🍍

    1. Sidney

      5 stars
      I can smell this through the screen. Fantastic recipe and was super delicious. need to make this again and put it some Costco Pizza.

  34. Laura Ellen

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely worth the effort! Mine may have looked a little funny by the end because of the skewer spit situation I had going on but it tasted amazing and everyone (including my dad who is picky about pineapple) loved it!

  35. Trammy Duong

    5 stars
    This recipe was so easy and it tasted even better! Made it for the first time and everyone loved it! Highly recommend! Thanks for a great recipe!!

  36. Ann Wang

    5 stars
    I have never made an al pastor at home before until I see your IG story. Love, Love, love this recipe. it’s super easy to follow. It absolutely tastes just like the restaurants. I made for Christmas gathering last year. Everyone loves it! This is will be on my holiday menu.

  37. Victoria

    5 stars
    By far my favorite recipes for Al pastor! Sooo delicious

  38. Jaci Padovan

    5 stars
    This looks soooo good & gives me the confidence to try it for myself. There’s nothing like al pastor tacos but no where near me can get em right; recipe is 🙌🏾

  39. Anthony M

    5 stars
    I have never made an al pastor at home that I’ve liked… until I tried this one. It absolutely tastes just like the restaurants and I couldn’t be more pleased. This is one of my top foods of all time.

  40. @meowmitos

    5 stars
    Love love love this recipe, reminds me of the tacos al Pastor from Mexico. I made this recipe twice and my family loved it 10/10 will make it again for the next Fiesta.

    1. Jessica Hong

      5 stars
      Hi Stella! This is the first recipe I found on your website and my all time favorite (in pair with your Spanish rice)! I came across your page because I love cooking and I have a boyfriend who loves Mexican food. He especially loves Al pastor tacos so we wanted to try making them at home. Your recipe was so easy to follow and resulted in a successful homemade taco date night! Hands down, nothing beats this Al pastor recipe! We always look forward to seeing new recipes to try at home together. Thank you!

      1. Jessica Hong

        5 stars
        Hi Stella! This is the first recipe I found on your website and my all time favorite (in pair with your Spanish rice)! I came across your page because I love cooking and I have a boyfriend who loves Mexican food. He especially loves Al pastor tacos so we wanted to try making them at home. Your recipe was so easy to follow and resulted in a successful homemade taco date night! Hands down, nothing beats this Al pastor recipe! We always look forward to seeing new recipes to try at home together. Thank you! 👩🏻‍🍳💗

        1. Susan C

          5 stars
          *chef’s kiss* This was beyond easy to make! My husband was blown away by this!

  41. Nicole Waka

    5 stars
    Pastor is my favorite but I’ve always been too scared to try making it on my own. This recipe was so simple, I dared to and I’m glad I did! The flavor was sooo good and I loved making tacos and quesadillas out of this 🩷

  42. Alex Medina

    5 stars
    I never made Al Pastor at home because I didn’t have a recipe I could trust but I decided to try your out and loved it! Ever since I seen the recipe you posted I was like I have to make that!!! I tried out your recipe and loved it!!! ❤️💪🏼🙌🏼

  43. Lizzie Leon

    5 stars
    Just coming here to let you know we tried this recipe! We love eating Al pastor once a week and now it’s so easy to add this one to our weekly routine !

    Super simple to follow and delicious !

  44. Lety

    5 stars
    This was so delicious when I made it! My husband keeps asking me to make it! It’s been hard to find good Alpastor since I moved out of my home state and it is very relieving to be able to get a little taste of home with this recipe.

  45. Bailey

    5 stars
    Obsessed! My fiancé and I do taco Tuesday every week and we love this recipe because it’s not only delicious but so fun to make together. The flavors are amazing!!

  46. Momma_two_girls

    5 stars
    Al pastor is one of my favorite and you made it easy recipe to follow!! 😋😋😋

  47. T Cab

    5 stars
    This recipe gave me a push to try pastor and now it’s my fave! Love all your Mexican recipes and you inspire me to get in that kitchen 🫶🏼

  48. Jayla Johnson

    5 stars
    Used this recipe and the meat was so yummy!

  49. Hoodun

    I am a bit of an Adobada freak and have eaten at hundreds of street tacos stands throughout Mexico. I am definitely going to try this.

    One difference I always notice between the amazing stands I have been to and the average Adabado(rare in Mexico) is that the really good places serve the meat in a way where it is lighter in the center. I think it is a marinating issue where the average places tend to over marinate the meat and the good places marinate it less and also marinate it before they put it on the spit. See this photo for a detailed view of what I mean.

  50. John Beasley

    Looks fantastic and plan to start it this week! It’s not clear if you mean only juice from canned pineapples or if you can use canned pineapple juice. From the comments it looks like canned pineapple juice would work assuming it has also been heated in the canning process.

    1. Stella

      Hi John, you should use juice from canned pineapples, not canned pineapple juice. I’ve used canned pineapple juice before and the texture of the meat came out a little mushy. Hope that helps!

  51. J. Pax

    5 stars
    Cooking for others is my love language and this one makes people jealous of my husband. I love how beautifully the flavors combine for such a unique experience. I love to use the extra marinade to sauté onions and pineapple in. I make sure to cook it thoroughly since the marinade was with the raw pork.

  52. Rick

    5 stars
    Hi Stella, this looks absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to make it! Thanks so much for posting–I LOVE that you keep tweaking the recipe!

    You are entirely correct that fresh pineapple pulp and juice contains tons of an enzyme called Bromelain. Bromelain is naturally occurring (obviously) and is super effective at breaking down proteins, which is why the meat turns to mush when you use fresh juice. Heating the juice causes the bromelain to die and no longer breakdown the proteins, which is why the canned pineapple juice does not have the same effect–it’s heated in the can during the canning process to kill all live organisms and keep it safe for eating later from the can. You can use fresh pineapple juice–just as you would canned–at home as long as you cook it to a temperature of about 175 or higher before you use it. Mango is another fruit that contains a lot of bromelain and will have the same effect. Other tropical fruits can have this as well. I believe (but cannot prove) that it’s one reason tropical fruit salsa are sometimes served with meat and fish dishes–because they help to break down the proteins in your stomach. All that said, I’m with you 100% in not being a fan of pineapple with most savory dishes. 🙂

    1. Anonymous

      5 stars
      Love this comment and as a molecular biologist I hope to make it a bit more accurate. Just for some clarification, bromelain is a protease which means it is an protein enzyme that breaks larger proteins into smaller proteins (the aforementioned mush). It is not living and therefore does not die when heated. Heating the enzyme causes it to denature (unfold) and then it no longer works as an enzyme. You could think of the protease as a Lego set you put in the oven (or leave it in the yard for a few weeks). After heating a Lego it changes shape and you cant build with it anymore. Many tropical fruits contain proteases but there are a variety not just bromelain.

      Anyway, hoping to be helpful here, not annoying. Love this recipe and the comments.

      1. Yazmin (CCYAZ)

        5 stars
        I found Stella when a tutorial for champurrado randomly appeared on my feeds. I love champurrado and it looked so good that I immediately went on her page and literally spent hours watching the tutorials of her other recipes. Everything always tastes so good! But this tacos al pastor and my favorite! I love love them ! Every is perfect the texture, the flavor, delicious! Brings me back to childhood, when I was little and I used to go on dinner dates with my parents to a little placita in Morelia Mexico (one of my favorite childhood memories)
        Thank you for making this amazing recipes for us ♥️

  53. Andrea

    I’ve made this recipe now three times. It’s one of the only recipes I follow to a T and don’t deviate because the results are amazing. My only advice to anyone is buy the the metal spit on Amazon. It’s $15 and give this recipe the BEST cook.

  54. Asucena

    What size skewer did you use for this or if you have a link for them? It’d be helpful to try to replicate your results better as I’m worried if i order a random size it won’t hold as much product/be strong enough. Thank you!

    1. stellanspice

      You definitely need skewers that are thick, almost as thick as a #2 pencil. The super thin ones that you normally see for skewering are not strong enough.

      1. Brandon

        I grab the free chopsticks by the sushi as a spit!

  55. A. Orantes

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe a couple times and have been told it always comes out delicious. I follow it exactly – put all my faith in her because I don’t eat pork lol and if I don’t have some of the spices it still comes out BOMB!

  56. Tara Dominguez

    5 stars
    My first time making Al pastor! This recipe came out so amazing! Ended up cooking it for longer than 2-3 hours. Also, my Strombo was pretty jainkity! It fell over and had to ghetto rig an alternative.
    Was wondering why you need to strain the mixture before adding the pork?

  57. Jess

    5 stars
    It’s roasting this in the oven as I type this. I took some smaller pieces and cooked them in a pan to get a tease and YUM! I’m salivating just waiting for this to finish!!

    1. Steve Alvarez

      you don’t want to have all the bits and pieces of the skin from the chili’s sticking to the meat

  58. Anonymous

    5 stars
    Excellent, l made burritos with black beans and rice rolled up and your flavors you have used are spot on and delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

  59. Anonymous

    5 stars
    taste delicious and authentic ? thank you for the easy to follow instructions!

  60. Yeret

    I just made this I will cook it to tomorrow I’m so excited to try it!!! (I made it with chicken, I don’t eat pork)

  61. Dan

    Can you make the marinade a head of time and leave in the fridge before combining with the pork? Just trying to figure how to do this without getting up at 3am to start this. Thanks

  62. Katie

    I forgot to strain the marinade before putting it in with the pork. Is this going to be an issue?

    1. stellanspice

      Hi Katie,

      It’s not a big deal, but the texture may be a little off. I would just be very careful that there aren’t big chunks of the dried bay leaf because that can be dangerous to consume if it wasn’t broken down enough.

      1. Katie

        Thank you!!

      2. Bryant

        is it 2 cans of chipotle peppers in adobo or just 2 peppers?

        1. Sabah

          5 stars
          I made this today. it was a hit! Thank youbfor sharing your recipe. it was easy to make. 😋 I wish I could share my pictures.

  63. Anonymous

    THANK YOU CAIN’T WAIT TO TRY

    1. Chris castillo

      5 stars
      I love your al pastor recipe, one of the best authentic recipes I’ve found online. Wishing continued success.

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Hi, I'm Stella!

I come from a multicultural background, and cooking has been one of the best ways for me to stay connected to my heritage. My recipes are tried and tested, many of them passed down through family. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

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