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Tacos Al Pastor Recipe – Homemade Version

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Inside: Find out how to make homemade Tacos al Pastor with slowly marinated pork, grilled to perfection, and served with grilled pineapple.

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Tacos al Pastor - made with slow marinated pork, grilled to perfection, and served with grilled pineapple.

Tacos al Pastor - made with slow marinated pork, grilled to perfection, and served with grilled pineapple.

Tacos al Pastor is definitely one of my favorite kinds of tacos. The tender pork is marinated in a delicious sauce. Then it is slowly grilled, thinly sliced, and served with fresh pineapple, cilantro, and chopped onions.

Tacos al pastor is a perfect meal for any day of the week, especially for budget-conscious moms and dads.

It is no secret that the best tacos in the world come from Mexico. On every street corner and at every restaurant in Mexico, you can find many different varieties depending on your tastes. 

All tacos in Mexico have a few common elements, such as fresh corn tortillas, freshly chopped cilantro and onions, lime, and a pinch of salt. The meat is really the main part that varies.

What Are Tacos Al Pastor?

Some of you may be asking, “what are tacos al pastor?” Lucky for you, I am going to show you! The traditional way to make tacos al pastor is to take thin slices of marinated pork and pile them on top of each other.

Next, the meat is placed on a large trompo, which literally means “spinning top.”  The meat then spins around in front of an open fire until it begins to cook through.

When the outer layer of meat is grilled, the taquero (the person preparing the tacos) cuts off layers of meat so that inner layers cook as well. As he cuts the meat, it falls off the trompo in small pieces directly onto the tortilla that the taquero holds with his other hand.

As you can see, being a taquero requires more skill than one might think! The taco is then served with finely chopped onions, cilantro, pieces of pineapple and either salsa roja or verde.

Here in the United States, it can be difficult to find authentic tacos al pastor. I only found one place a few years ago that actually prepared them in the traditional way using a trompo. Unfortunately, they closed down not too long ago.

Even though it can be hard to make tacos al pastor in the 100% traditional way, that is no reason not to try to replicate the flavors with what we have. Although this tacos al pastor recipe does not use a trompo, the flavors are close to perfect!

Tacos al Pastor - made with slow marinated pork, grilled to perfection, and served with grilled pineapple.

How To Make Tacos Al Pastor

The secret to having the right flavor is in the marinade. Tacos al pastor have a distinct flavor and you have to make them right to achieve the “al pastor” flavor.

A secret to making tacos al pastor is to include pineapple juice in the marinade, as well as fresh pieces of grilled pineapple on the tacos themselves. One bite of this flavor combination and you will be coming back for more!

Normally this would be the step where you pile the meat on top of each other and put it on the trompo, so that it can be cooked slowly while spinning. Since I don’t have a trompo, we grilled the meat and then stacked the pieces on top of each other before cutting.

You will want to grill the pork until it has nice grill marks and is cooked all the way through. It should still have a red color to it when it is ready to eat. After you take the meat off, go ahead and grill the pineapple too.Tacos Al Pastor on Grill before and after

After the meat and the pineapples are fully cooked, you will cut the meat into thin slices and the pineapples into bite-sized chunks.  Of course, all tacos need to have a homemade salsa to serve them with, and tacos al pastor is no exception.

Serving Tacos Al Pastor With Salsa

My favorite salsa to make for tacos al pastor is this chipotle and tomatillo-based salsa. It also has pineapple juice and goes perfectly with this meal. It is easy to make, and it will really make a huge difference in your tacos.

You can also use salsa roja, salsa verde, or even salsa ranchera. They are all delicious. 

Tacos al Pastor Salsa

The last step in the process is, of course, to pick the taco up and enjoy it! These tacos are truly perfect for any occasion, and since they don’t cost a lot of money to make, you won’t have to feel bad about eating as many as you can.

Tacos al pastor recipe in hand

I hope that you enjoy this delicious recipe that I grew up eating on a regular basis in Mexico. My husband fell in love with these tacos the first time he went to Mexico. He said that these taste just as good as the ones that he tried there, and I have to say that I agree!

Check Out These Other Tacos Recipes

Products Used In This Tacos Al Pastor Recipe

Gas Grill: You will need a good gas grill to cook the meat. This one is less expensive than others and will definitely do the job.

Knife Set: When you make tacos al pastor, you want to make sure that you have a sharp knife to slice the meat perfectly. If you don’t have a sharp, high-quality knife set yet, I recommend this one. It will last you for years and will result in perfect slices of meat.

Tortilla Press: Although you can make these with store-bought tortillas, homemade tortillas are always best. You can make them easily with this tortilla press.

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4.39 from 113 votes

The Best Tacos Al Pastor Recipe

Tacos al Pastor - made with slow marinated pork, grilled to perfection, and served with grilled pineapple.
Prep Time4 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: tacos al pastor
Servings: 15 tacos
Calories: 171kcal

Ingredients

For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade

  • 2-3 pound Pork Loin cut into thin slices
  • 4 Guajillo Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
  • 1 Ancho Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of pineapple juice fresh is better
  • 1 Tablespoon of Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon of Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cumin
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Paprika
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 3 Cloves

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Sauce

  • 3 Tomatillos
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 chipotles depending on level of spiciness you want
  • 3 Tablespoons of Pineapple juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Tacos

  • 15 Corn Tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped Onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Tacos al pastor meat

Instructions

For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade

  • Blend all of the ingredients together until completely combined.
  • Strain the liquid over a bowl to end up with a smooth marinade.
  • Add one layer of meat in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with the marinade, and then repeat in layers until all of the meat and marinade have been used.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
  • Remove from the refrigerator and grill the meat until cooked through.
  • Remove from grill and cut into thin slices to serve on the tacos.

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa

  • Roast the tomatillo, onion, and garlic in the oven on baking sheet at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven.
  • Blend with the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Put in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Tacos

  • Heat the tortillas with a little bit of oil.
  • Add the meat, the pineapple, the salsa, the lime juice, the cilantro and onions, and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1Taco | Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1150IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @mylatinatable or tag #mylatinatable!

 

Horchata is a delicious rice (or coconut) based drink that you can find at most Mexican restaurants in the United States and abroad.
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Shauna

Friday 30th of April 2021

Hi,

I made tacos Pastor quite a bit and using pork tenderloin on my grill. I’ve only marinated for a few hours cause the one time I did marinate overnight the meat got kind of mushy and Mealy. I know that tends to be more from fresh pineapple juice because of the enzymes from fresh don’t you have that problem? I use a cup of pineapple juice in mine. I’m wondering if I cut that down a bit if I could marinate it longer or if I used a fattier cut of meat. Not sure on that though. Any thoughts?

Stephanie

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

I have guajillo and ancho chile powder. Are those viable substitutes to the actual chiles? Would you have a recommendation on how much of the powders to use?

TeeA

Thursday 14th of May 2020

You can find authentic al pastor tacos in Columbus OH at Los Guachos. They are soo good. I hope to try this recipe soon and see if it is a decent substitute. We live 5 hours from the Columbus OH so we only get these tacos once a year or so.

Joey C.W.

Friday 8th of May 2020

Thank you!

I went ahead and blended everything up together last night. and the meat has been marinating since then. I'm going to grill the pork tonight.

Do you have any advice for grilling it? How hot does it need to be, and how long do I grill it for?

Thank you. I am so looking forward to dinner tonight!

Charbel Barker

Friday 8th of May 2020

Hi Joey, I usually try to get the grill pretty hot, and then cook the pork through. It shouldn't take too long, but it depends on how thin or thick you cut the pork. I try to cut it pretty thin, so it only takes a few minutes on each side.

Let me know how it turns out and good luck!

John Mark

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

This is a wonderful recipe and so incredibly forgiving! If you're considering using it as a base but are intimidated please use it anyway. I have no doubt that if I had followed it closely the results would have been even better, but I have to work with what I've got, right? For the marinade I used canned crushed pineapple in pineapple juice with some lemon juice added, along with the listed herbs and spices (I did have those). I used red pepper flakes to give it heat.

I had some good quality pork chops which I sliced thinly and marinated for two hours.

Once the marinating was done, I cooked the sliced pork in a pan, and once it was done I added the crushed pineapple as well as some leftover pork tenderloin (which I happened to have) and once it was heated through I chopped the meat to make it better for tacos.

I used store-bought tortillas (but pretty good ones) and served it with my own pico de gallo and guacamole.

My sincere apologies for taking such liberties, but your recipe was a wonderful base and the tacos were amazing. I have indeed had real tacos al pastor and this was a very good version. You've gotta work with what you've got!

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