Tacos al pastor. Super Easy Recipe

Making tacos al pastor at home is very easy. You don’t need special utensils or techniques because this recipe is for uncomplicated, yet delicious, homemade tacos with pork al pastor.

A frying pan is all you need! And even the ingredients can be replaced with others more easy to find whenever you live.

What are tacos al pastor?

Tacos al pastor is a very popular street food from Mexico. The dish consists in small tacos with spiced pork served with various toppings. Those tacos are for sure one of a kind because they are prepared differently from other types of tacos.

To begin with, the meat is first cut into thin slices and marinated in a sauce with chili peppers and various spices (it is not spicy), then it is skewered onto layers. A large piece of fresh pineapple is placed on top to help add even greater flavor.

The meat is cooked cooked slowly, on a turning vertical Trompo, a kind of large skewer that rotates on itself, very similar to the one used to cook kebab; it is named for its great resemblance to the Mexican toy.

Tacos al pastor are then served by slicing the meat into small bites and placing it on a small tortilla previously greased and heated with the juices and fat released by the meat.

Finally, chopped fresh onion and cilantro are added and tacos will be served with the sauce of your choice: Guacamole sauce, Green tomatillo sauce, etc.

The recipe origin

The origin of this popular dish in Mexico is uncertain and there are many legends that surround it, but the most “authentic” story is that it is a variant of the famous Arabian tacos, originally from Puebla and that were introduced to the country thanks to turkish immigrants back in the 19th century.

Ingredients

Pork Meat – Choose a cut that have a good amount of fat, such as pork belly, shoulder or ham.

Chilies – A variety of mexican chilies is need for the recipe, but don’t worry. If you can’t find those types of chilies you can replace them all with ½ cup of paprika + 1 small red bell pepper.

Spices – Garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, whole cloves and cumin. Also Achiote is listed, it can be find at any latinoamerican stores but if you can’t find it just leave it out or replace it with the quick recipe in the recipe notes.

TortillasCorn tortillas are the ones you need. You can buy them online (Amazon) or make the at home. Typically small tortillas are used to make al pastor mexican tacos, but feel free to use any size you have available. Or you can also use flour tortillas which are more easier to find/make.

Sauces – Use any sauce you prefer, even store-bought works fine. But if you want to make them at home, check out those recipes: Tomatillo Salsa, Guacamole Taco Sauce, Arbol Chilli Salsa. Any of those are perfect to serve with Al pastor mexican tacos.

Easy Tacos Al Pastor Served on a Turquoise Colored Plate.

How To Make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor

Start with the al pastor marinade:

With scissors cut the chiles in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. Wash throughly the chilies and place them in a bowl with hot water. Let chilies soak for about 15 minutes.

Preparing and soaking chilies for pastor sauce.

Drain the chilies and place them into a blender. Add achiote (see notes), garlic, pepper, whole cloves, cumin, thyme and oregano. Pour in pineapple juice and blend until a smooth. If you see is needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of soaking water.

Pastor sauce (adobo) blended.

In a large bowl place the meat and add salt (about 2 tsp). Pour in the chili sauce and coat evenly turning the meat with tongs. Cover with cling film and leave it to marinate preferably over night, or at least 2 hours (see notes).

Pork meat coated with sauce on a bowl.

Cook the meat

In a large frying pan heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of pork lard (or oil) and fry the meat slices from both sides until tender. Do this step working in batches to allow the meat cook evenly.

Cooking meat on a pan.

Place the meat onto a place or container and keep it covered while you cook all meat. Covering allows the meat to keep moist and tender.

Once all meat is cooked slice it into small bites with a very sharp knife. You need to do this step while the meat is still hot, so use tongs or cooking gloves if needed.

Meat cut onto a cutting board.

Assemble Tacos

In the same pan where you cooked the meat add pork lard and heat over medium heat. Place tortillas and heat from both sides until soft.

Make tacos placing first the meat onto tortillas, add then top with chopped onions, cilantro and pineapple.

Pour in your favourite sauce and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • Replace mexican chilies with 1 cup of paprika + 1 bell pepper. Blend with all spices to make the sauce.
  • Replace Achiote with: 2 tsp paprika + 1 tsp orange juice + garlic clove + 1 tsp lemon juice. Blend it to make a paste to use.
  • The longer the meat marinate, the stronger and delicious the flavour.
  • I suggest to adjust spices to your liking.
  • You can use store-bought flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas
  • Replace fresh pineapple with canned pineapple if you want.

How To Store

I don’t recommend storing tacos al pastor already assembled. Instead, you can cook the meat ahead and store it in an airtight container.

To reheat the meat don’t use the microwave or oven but use this method: Heat over high heat a large sauté pan, add pork lard or oil and heat, add the meat plus 3-4 tablespoons of water, sauté for 1 or 2 minutes at high.

Reheating pastor meat on a pan.

Super soft tortillas

Use this small trick to make your tortillas super soft and scrumptious just as the ones in the taquerías:

Pour 1 cup of water onto a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well. Submerge quickly a tortilla (even straight from the fridge) and then heat it immediately in the pan where you cooked the meat.

tacos al pastor

Tacos al pastor: Homemade recipe

How to make al pastor mexican tacos at home in a super easy way. You don’t need special utensils or techniques because this recipe is for uncomplicated, yet delicious, homemade tacos al pastor.
PREP 15 minutes
COOK 15 minutes
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 16 tacos

Ingredients 

  • 2.2 lb (1 kg) Pork shoulder (cut into thin slices)
  • 4-5 Guajillo chilies (see notes)
  • 2-3 Ancho chilies (see notes)
  • 3 Garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 2 Whole cloves
  • ½ tsp Whole peppercorns (or 1 tsp ground pepper)
  • ½ tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Achiote (see notes)
  • 1 cup Pineapple juice
  • Pork lard (or any oil you prefer)
  • Salt

For Tacos

  • 16 small Corn Tortillas (see notes)
  • 1 cup Pineapple (diced, see notes)
  • 1 large White Onion (chopped)
  • 1 bunch Fresh cilantro
  • Limes
  • Mexican sauce (see notes)

Instructions

  • With scissors cut the chiles in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. Wash throughly the chilies and place them in a bowl with hot water. Let chilies soak for about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the chilies and place them into a blender. Add achiote (see notes), garlic, pepper, whole cloves, cumin, thyme and oregano. Pour in pineapple juice and blend until a smooth. If you see is needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of soaking water.
  • In a large bowl place the meat and add salt (about 2 tsp). Pour in the chili sauce and coat evenly turning the meat with tongs.
  • Cover with cling film and leave it to marinate preferably over night, or at least 2 hours (see notes).

COOK THE MEAT

  • In a large frying pan heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of pork lard (or oil) and fry the meat slices from both sides until tender. Do this step working in batches to allow the meat cook evenly.
  • Place the meat onto a place or container and keep it covered while you cook all meat.
  • Once all meat is cooked slice it into small bites with a very sharp knife.

ASSEMBLE TACOS

  • In the same pan where you cooked the meat add pork lard and heat over medium heat. Place tortillas and heat from both sides until soft.
  • Make tacos placing first the meat onto tortillas, add then top with chopped onions, cilantro and pineapple.
  • Pour over your favourite sauce and a squeeze of lime.

notes

  • Replace Guajillo and Ancho chilies with ½ cup of Paprika + 1 small red bell pepper. Just add it to the blender with the spices and that’s it!
  • Leave out Achiote or replace it with: 2 tsp paprika + 1 tsp orange juice + garlic clove + 1 tsp lemon juice. Blend it to make a paste to use.
  • If you can’t find or make corn tortillas, use flour tortillas instead. 
  • This amount of meat serves 16 small tacos or about 10-12 regular tacos (with larger tortillas)
  • If you can’t find fresh pineapple use canned pineapple but try to find a brand that’s not too sweet.

Sauces Recipes:

Nutrition
Calories: 218kcal
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8 Comments

  1. These look great! I have been on a taco journey through my neighborhood in Queens, NYC this past year, but I have never tried making al pastor tacos at home. Thanks for the inspo! This looks like a fun recipe to try.

    1. It is very easy and you can even replace the chilies for Paprika if you don’t have a Mexican store near to you :)

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