Tacos Al Pastor is a fiesta for your taste buds that brings all the excitement to your taco nights or Taco Tuesday traditions. This showstopper of a taco recipe isn’t just about the marinated pork, it’s about the infusion of fresh flavors from the chile-pineapple marinade and homemade salsa. 

Tacos Al Pastor is a masterpiece that cooks on a torpo on the grill.

Tacos Al Pastor is a fun recipe, and possibly my favorite tacos to make on the grill! The marinated pork, sliced thinly and stacked onto a vertical skewer is, insanely delicious.

If you want to take it up another notch, then go for homemade small corn tortillas with some Masa Harina to complement the tender meat. 

Why You’ll Love Homemade Tacos Al Pastor

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Especially tacos! Marinated pork cooked over the fire on a vertical spit, also known as a trompo, crowned with a pineapple top, creates a smoky, charred masterpiece. 

The dish, which traces its roots to Lebanese immigrants in Mexico City, is where the best of Mexican spices meets up with shawarma-style cooking. The result is sweet, tangy, tender pork wrapped in the embrace of warm corn tortillas and Avocado Jalapeno Salsa.

If you love Al Pastor Tacos, then you may also want to check out these recipes: Al Pastor Pork Belly Tacos, Shrimp “Al Pastor” Tacos, and Salmon Al Pastor Tacos.

The finished taco is ready to eat.

Authentic Tacos Al Pastor Recipe Ingredients

  • Pork – For the Tacos Al Pastor meat, we’ll be using boneless pork shoulder. After the meat is done we’ll sauté it with some red onions and pineapples for some tasty caramelization.  
  • Tacos – Corn tortillas are the best thing for this taco recipe. To make homemade, source some high-quality Masa Harina and follow the instructions on the back of the pack.
  • Al Pastor Marinade – The white vinegar and lime juice marinade features a blend of ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, FYR Red Hot Sauce, chipotle in adobo, and spices like black pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, and achiote paste. Fresh pineapple is also a crucial ingredient, which adds sweetness and a touch of acidity to balance the savory flavors.

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  • Avocado Jalapeno Salsa – The fresh salsa is an essential element of the best homemade al pastor recipe recipe. Jalapenos and avocados get more flavorful with white onion, cilantro, garlic, limes, and salt. 
  • Garnish – Chopped cilantro and more chopped red onions and pineapple, if desired. 

The list of ingredients is extensive, but for best results don’t skip out on one. This is one of those epic taco recipes that is worth paying attention to all the details!

If you have any trouble sourcing these chiles at your local supermarket, find a Mexican market. Mexican grocery stores are usually the best place to pick up some Masa Harina and chipotle in adobe sauce. 

Hot Chili Peppers 101

Ancho Chiles are dried poblano peppers with a mild to moderate heat level and a sweet, fruity flavor. Guajillo chiles are dried mirasol peppers with a bright red color. Their heat level is moderate. They are tangy and slightly sweet. Chipotle peppers are smoked-dried jalapeno peppers known for their smoky, earthy, moderately spicy flavor. 

How to Make the Best Tacos Al Pastor

Let’s get to making these awesome tacos. Don’t get intimidated by the ingredients or the steps. It comes together quickly and easily once you get going.

Prepping the Pork

First, let’s start by making the marinade. Heat your large ungreased skillet and throw in some neutral oil, ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, sliced white onions, and minced garlic. Give it a quick 2-minute sauté in that medium-high heat. 

Now, add cumin, oregano, black pepper, and then some kosher salt. Let it sizzle for another minute. Toss in the chipotles in adobo, cubed pineapple, white vinegar, water, and achiote paste until it starts to simmer. Then, take it off the heat. 

Grab a sharp knife and slice that pork shoulder into thin ¼ inch pieces. Place them on a cooking sheet and get them into the fridge.

Pork shoulder for Tacos Al Pastor is marinated in a blend of spicy chiles and spices.

Meanwhile, blend the marinade until it’s nice and smooth. Strain it if you want an extra smooth texture. In a large bowl or container, stack your pork slices, pouring marinade love on each layer. Let the pork sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even better, go for overnight.

Grilling Time

When you’re ready, fire up your grill for a three-zone setup at a medium-high temp (around 350° degrees F).

The marinated pork is skewered on the torpo and topped with the end of  a pineapple.

Prep a pineapple by chopping off the top and base, then cube half for the marinade and dice the rest for taco toppings.

Now, let’s build the main attraction – the skewer. Slide those marinated pork slices onto the skewer, creating a flavor tower on the pineapple base. Crown it with the pineapple top.

The tromp sitting in the middle of the smoker with charcoal on both sides.

Place the skewer in the grill’s center, close the lid, and let it do its thing for 3-3.5 hours or until the meat hits 165° degrees F. Rotate the skillet to keep things even, adding more charcoal or wood chunks as needed.

While the grill does its thing, toss the jalapenos and white onions into the coals for a smoky roast. Once nicely charred, peel the jalapenos and blend them with other ingredients for a tasty Avocado Jalapeno Salsa.

The jalapeno avocado salsa is a green and fresh element on the tacos al pastor.

Assembly of Tacos Al Pastor

When the meat is ready, give it a 10-minute break off the grill. Slice it off the skewer shawarma-style, and, for that extra kick, sauté it in a skillet with onions and pineapples until caramelized.

To serve, layer that juicy meat into a warm tortilla. Then sprinkle with diced onions, chopped cilantro, and more of those sweet pineapples.

The tender, juicy port shoulder is ready and sliced off shawarma-style.

Get ready for the flavor explosion, and dig in!

How to Serve Tacos Al Pastor

To round out the Tacos Al Pastor experience, consider serving them with some grilled corn or a side of flavorful rice.

Grilled corn, with a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime, adds a smoky sweetness that complements the savory richness of the tacos. Additionally, a well-seasoned side of Mexican rice provides a satisfying accompaniment, allowing you to savor the delicious flavors of Mexican cuisine.

The tacos are laid out on a cutting board and served with slices of lime.

Leftovers & Reheating

For leftover Tacos Al Pastor, refrigerate promptly, storing the meat separately from the tortillas, with each in aluminum foil. When ready to enjoy again, reheat the marinated pork in a skillet, stirring occasionally until warmed through. Warm the tortillas separately on a skillet or griddle. 

More on Tacos

FAQs

Can I make Tacos Al Pastor without a trompo?

Absolutely! While the traditional method involves cooking the marinated pork on a trompo, you can achieve delicious Tacos Al Pastor at home using alternative methods.

Consider grilling thinly sliced marinated pork on a plancha or in a skillet for that smoky, caramelized flavor. The key is in the marinade – let the pork soak up those fantastic spices and pineapple goodness. 

Can I make Tacos Al Pastor with a different meat other than pork?

Absolutely! While traditional Tacos Al Pastor features marinated pork, you can experiment with other meats to suit your preferences or dietary choices. Chicken, beef, or even lamb can be excellent alternatives. Simply adjust the cooking time and temperature based on the meat you choose. 

Can I use a flour tortilla instead of corn? 

Certainly! While traditional Tacos Al Pastor are often served with corn tortillas, flour tortillas are a good substitute if that’s what you have on hand.

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Tacos Al Pastor is a showstopper that adds more excitement to Taco Tuesday.

Tacos Al Pastor

This showstopper of a taco recipe features marinated pork and an infusion of fresh flavors from the chile-pineapple marinade and homemade jalapeno salsa. 
Author:Derek Wolf
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients 

Pork + Tacos:

  • 2 Boneless Pork Shoulders sliced thin
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped Red Onions
  • Chopped Pineapple

Al Pastor Marinade:

  • 1 cup of Pineapples cubed
  • 6-8 Garlic Cloves
  • ½ White Onion sliced
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ cup of White Vinegar
  • 3 Ancho Chiles
  • 2 Guajillo Chiles
  • 2 tbsp FYR RED Hot Sauce
  • 2 tbsp of Chipotle in Adobo
  • 2 tbsp of Achiote Paste
  • 1.5 tbsp of Dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp of Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp of Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp of Kosher Salt
  • 3 Limes juiced

Avocado Jalapeño Salsa:

  • 2 Jalapeños
  • 2 Avocado
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cup Cilantro
  • ½ White Onion
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 medium Limes juiced
  • Kosher Salt to taste

Instructions 

  • In the skillet, add some neutral oil, ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, sliced white onions & minced garlic cloves to cook for 2 minutes.
  • Next add the cumin, oregano, black pepper, & kosher salt to cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in chipotles in adobo, cubed pineapple, white vinegar & achiote paste and cook until it begins to simmer.
  • Pull from the heat & let cool.
  • Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice your pork shoulder into thin ¼ inch pieces. Place in the fridge.
  • Using a blender, add marinade & blend until smooth. Pour the marinade through a strainer to get rid of any big pieces if you desire.
  • In a food safe container, place your largest pork slice and cover with a little marinade. Repeat this process until all the pork slices are in the container.
  • Place the pork into the fridge to marinate for 4 hours but ideally overnight.
  • Preheat your fire for a three-zone at medium-high temperature (around 350F).
  • Grab a pineapple and cut off the top crown & base.
  • Slice half of the pineapple into cubes to be used for the marinade, and the rest diced into small cubes for the garnish on the tacos.
  • Using a trompo skewer, carefully push up through the bottom of the base of the pineapple.
  • Take out the marinating pork and layer one slice on top of another through the skewers over the base of the pineapple until all meat is on.
  • Once done, add the crown of the pineapple to the top.
  • Place the trompo skewer in the middle of the two fires on the grill. Close the lid & cook for 3-3.5 hours or until the middle of the meat registers at 165F. Rotate the skillet in order to cook all sides of the meat evenly. Add more charcoal or wood chunks to maintain temperature as needed.
  • While the meat cooks, add your jalapenos and white onion to the coals to roast.
  • Once charred, pull off and scrap the skin off the jalapenos.
  • Add the charred veggies and the rest of the ingredients for the Avocado Jalapeno Salsa to a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Set to the side until ready to serve.
  • Once meat is done, pull off the grill & let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the meat off the trompo, and if you desire, add back to a skillet with onions and pineapples to saute until well caramelized.
  • To serve, place the meat on a warm tortilla with diced onions, chopped cilantro & chopped pineapples. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Hot Chili Peppers 101
Ancho Chiles are dried poblano peppers with a mild to moderate heat level and a sweet, fruity flavor. Guajillo chiles are dried mirasol peppers with a bright red color. Their heat level is moderate. They are tangy and slightly sweet. Chipotle peppers are smoked-dried jalapeno peppers known for their smoky, earthy, moderately spicy flavor. 

Nutrition

Serving: 8Oz | Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 750mg | Potassium: 1089mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3966IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 4mg

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Hey Derek – what quantity of pork shoulder do you recommend – I didn’t see a weight listed anywhere on the page. Gonna try making this this wknd. Thx man ✌🏼🤙🏼