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: fresh corn tortillas, freshly chopped cilantro and onions, lime, and a pinch of salt. The meat is really the main part that varies.
About 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. Then 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, pineapple pieces 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, and they closed down not too long ago.
Even though it can be hard to make them in the 100% traditional way, 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!
Marinade 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 for the cutting process.
You will want to grill it until it has nice grill marks and is cooked all the 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.
After the meat and the pineapples are fully cooked, you should 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.
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.
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.
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!
If you want to try some other tacos, check out these ones:
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.
- 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
- 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
- Corn Tortillas
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped Onions
- Lime juice
- Grilled pineapple
- Tacos al pastor meat
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!