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Authentic Cochinita Pibil Recipe

Inside: Learn how to make this delicious cochinita pibil recipe from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico the traditional way!

Cochinita Pibil with the fixings

In Mexico, flavor is king, and there is an endless number of ways to make delicious meals. As you can see from my other recipes, there are many different taco recipes using different meats including beef, pork shoulder, and more! Today, I am going to share one of my favorites – cochinita pibil – and more specifically, cochinita pibil tacos! These tacos have a distinct authentic Mexican flavor and combines tender meat with a tasty marinade which ends up being one of the most delicious dishes you will find.

What is Cochinita Pibil?

Traditional cochinita pibil has its origin in the Yucatan peninsula in southern Mexico. It starts with pork meat, marinated in a delicious red sauce made from a base of citrus juices, achiote paste and a variety of tasty spices. It is wrapped in banana leaves during the cooking process and traditionally is cooked in an earth oven over hot stones or wood, but today it is more common to cook it in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or a regular stove.

cochinita Pibil in a bowl

Cochinita pibil is said to have originated in the pre-hispanic era in Mexico and was often prepared for the dia de muertos (or day of the dead). In that time period, it was made with different types of meat, including deer, wild boar, and wild turkey.

Today, the traditional Mexican way to make this dish is using pork loin and then enjoying it for taco night (aka any night!). You can also use it for tortas, or on its own with rice and beans. Regardless of how you serve it, the cooking method is the same and you will end up a a tasty meal with a distinct flavor that you will not soon forget!

What is Achiote?

The star of this recipe is the achiote marinade, so you may be wondering what achiote is? Achiote is a traditional spice, with a natural reddish yellow color. It is made from achiote seeds and it adds great flavor to a number of dishes in Mexican cuisine. You can make your own achiote paste, but the pre-made version is also readily available in Mexico, or if you are in the United States, you can most likely find it at most latin markets.

cochinita pibil with achiote paste

How do you make Cochinita Pibil?

This recipe includes a lot of traditional Mexican flavors and ingredients, so if you are outside of Mexico, it is important to go to your local Mexican market to pick them up. I mentioned above that the meat is wrapped in a banana leaf before being cooked. If you are not able to find banana leaves, then you can omit them, but they do give it more flavor. Achiote, on the other hand, is indispensible in this recipe since it is the main ingredient, so you will want to make sure you do find it.

To make the recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Pork loin (pork butt, pork shoulder, or another type of pork meat works as well)
  • Banana leaves
  • Achiote Paste
  • Regular orange juice
  • Pork lard
  • Garlic
  • Lime juice (or lemon juice if you don’t have lime)
  • Onion
  • Cumin
  • Cloves
  • Pepper
  • Peppercorns
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon Stick

Those are the ingredients for the marinade. Cochinita Pibil also is served with pickled onions, so for that you will also need the following:

  • Red onions
  • Habanero peppers
  • Lime juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Oregano
  • Salt

I usually start by making the pickled onions. To do this, cut the red onion into slices and add them to a bowl with the habanero peppers (cut into slices and with the seeds removed), the oregano, lime juice, orange juice and salt to taste and then let that rest while you prepare the meat.

For the meat, start by preparing the marinade. To do that, you will just add all of the ingredients from the first list above except the pork and banana leaves to a food processor or blender and blend until well combined. Next, add the meat, which should be cut into big pieces, to a large bowl with the marinade and then cover it. It is best to let it marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, but overnight is even better.

If you are using banana leaves, you will now quickly pass them over the burner of a hot stove to soften them slightly.

For the pressure cooker method, add 1 liter of water and then add a steaming rack. On top of the steaming rack, put a layer of banana leaves. Finally, add the meat with the marinade on top of the banana leaves and cover with the remaining leaves before cooking it under high pressure for about an hour.

Once the meat is finished cooking, shred it add it to a large pan with a little bit of oil and cook for about 2 minutes before serving with warm corn tortillas and the pickled onions.

Let me know how it turns out!

Check out these other types of Mexican tacos

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Cochinita Pibil Recipe

This is an authentic recipe for cochinita pibil from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico
Prep Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cochinita, Pibil, tacos
Servings: 10 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork loin
  • 2 Banana Leaves

For the Marinade

  • 3 bars Achiote Paste
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Lime Juice
  • 4 Tbsp Pork Lard
  • 1 Head Garlic
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/4 Tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 Tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 Tsp Oregano
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon

For the Pickled Onions

  • 1 Red Onion Julienned
  • 3 Habanero Peppers Seeds Removed
  • 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • Salt To Taste

Instructions

For the Pickled Onions

  • Cut the red onion into slices and add them to a bowl with the habanero peppers (cut into slices and with the seeds removed), the oregano, lime juice, orange juice and salt to taste and then let that rest while you prepare the meat.

For the Achiote Marinade

  • Add all of the ingredients for the marinade to a food processor or blender and blend until well combined.
  • Add the meat, which should be cut into big pieces, to a large bowl with the marinade and then cover it. It is best to let it marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, but overnight is even better.

For the Cochinita Pibil (pressure cooker)

  • If you are using banana leaves, you will now quickly pass them over the burner of a hot stove to soften them slightly.
  • Add 1 liter of water and then add a steaming rack. On top of the steaming rack, put a layer of banana leaves.
  • Add the meat with the marinade on top of the banana leaves and cover with the remaining leaves before cooking it under high pressure for about an hour.
  • Once the meat is finished cooking, shred it add it to a large pan with a little bit of oil and cook for about 2 minutes before serving with warm corn tortillas and the pickled onions.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving
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