Dairy Free

Tacos Al Pastor – 3 Ways

at a glance
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
5 — Votes 2 votes

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These Tacos al Pastor are a convenient spin on a traditional dish native to Central Mexico! With a fresh pineapple-centered marinade, crispy finish, and fresh cilantro relish, these tacos are a great meal for a family night in or your next hosted party.

Instant Pot Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor …do they need an introduction? Once upon a time, I needed an introduction to their (magical) secrets. Before they were in regular rotation in my life, I glazed over their presence on menus for YEARS. Then, one day, I saw a waiter walk out of the kitchen carrying a plate with 4 tiny tacos that were stuffed with (what looked like) crispy pork, cilantro, and a bit of pineapple. “THAT! I WANT THAT!”

I’m one of those people who will shamelessly STARE DOWN plates as they walk by. I will lean way, way back to get a glance at what everyone ordered at your table. We all avoid eye contact, but we know what’s happening. If you’re proud of your order, maybe you lean back a bit so others can really take it in. BUT, as soon as someone picks up a fork, I avert my eyes. Watching you eat would be weird …but drooling over your untouched choices is a little less weird.

Snooping what plates hit neighboring tables is how I’ve discovered so many of my favorite meals! Tacos al Pastor included.

Instant Pot Tacos Al Pastor

SO, what’s up with these tiny tacos? Here’s the scoop: they’re usually made with pork shoulder, but can occasionally be found with pork tenderloin instead. Personally, I prefer pork shoulder. Why? Pork shoulder, marinated in a special chili marinade, makes for the most delicious, flavorful, crispy-on-the-outside, but juicy-on-the-inside taco filler. Add pineapples and, VOILA!, you’ve got the most scrumptious, spicy (but not too spicy), tangy (thanks, pineapple!) tacos known to mankind (or at least to me!)

Ingredients for Tacos al Pastor

You’ll need a few ingredients for the pork marinade, and a few ingredients for the tacos themselves! 

For the Pork:

  • Pork Shoulder – we’ll use a 4-5 pound pork shoulder for our tacos! Unless you’re feeding a crowd, 5 pounds of meat = leftovers…leftover tacos al pastor is a beautiful thing! 
  • White Onion – ½ of a white onion gets blended into our al pastor marinade…
  • Pineapple  – …as does ½ (about 2 cups) of a pineapple! 
  • Oregano + Chili Powder – these classic spices used in Mexican fare are a must!
  • Garlic – garlic makes everything better, am I right? 4 cloves get blended up!
  • Orange Juice – orange juice really helps to break down and tenderize the pork and adds to the amazing flavor! You’ll need 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice for this marinade.
  • Sea Salt – 1 tablespoon of salt get added to the mix! 
  • Guajillo Peppers in Adobo – traditionally, dried chili peppers are used in the tacos al pastor marinade, but we’ve found that they can be too hard to get your hands on (many stores don’t carry them), they’re a bit difficult to use (you have to go through the process of re-hydrating them), and you’re left with a bunch of leftover chilis when its all said and done. For these reasons, we tend to grab canned peppers. You’ll need 4 peppers in adobo – guajillo peppers are our first choice, but chipotle peppers are a great sub!

For the Tacos al Pastor:

  • Pineapple – we love to crisp the cooked pork in the oven with some extra pineapple! You’ll need about a cup of diced pineapple for this.
  • Ghee, Butter, or Avocado Oil – we pour a bit of butter (ghee or avocado oil work too!) over the cooked pork before popping it in the oven for a good crisp. The butter really helps to achieve that crispy texture – don’t skip it!
  • Tortillas – these tacos al pastor are served on mini corn tortillas, but use whichever tortillas you love best!
  • Onion – ½ of a (finely) diced onion, plus…
  • Jalapeno – …½ a (finely) diced jalapeno, plus…
  • Cilantro – …1 whole head of chopped fresh cilantro, and…
  • Lime Juice – …1/4 cup of lime juice (about 2 limes) are combined to form a mouthwatering fresh taco-topper relish!
  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon sea salt is sprinkled over the shredded pork and another is tossed in with the quick green pico
Instant Pot Tacos Al Pastor

How to Make Tacos al Pastor

Al pastor is traditionally made by marinating the pork in a fresh mix to include fresh pineapple and some special chilis for at least a day (but not much longer). The pork is then roasted on a spit and thinly sliced (think: gyro meat, but Central Mexico-style). 

Between the cabinet over-stuffed with baby plates (that we aren’t even using yet) and the appliances crowding my countertop, I didn’t quite have enough room for a spit in our kitchen…and I’m guessing you don’t either! Don’t fret – tacos al pastor can still be a part of your life thanks to these 3 easy (and totally accessible) cooking methods!

Part 1: Marinate the Pork

No matter which cooking method you pick, you’ll need to get the pork marinating first! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Cut the pork shoulder. Cut the pork shoulder into several 3-inch sized pieces, and then place the pieces in a large bowl.
  2. Make the marinade. Blend the onion, pineapple, oregano, garlic, orange juice, chili powder, sea salt, and guajillo (or chipotle) peppers until smooth.
  3. Marinate the pork. Pour the marinade over the pork shoulder and toss to coat. You can either cook right away (especially if you’re using either the oven or slow cooker method to cook) or, if you have time on your hands, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, up to overnight.

Part 2: Cook the Pork

Once the pork is sufficiently marinated, it’s time to cook it! We’re giving you 3 cooking methods…you pick whichever works best for you!

Instant Pot Method 

The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, you-name-it cooker all in one. It makes flaky meat (in no time) possible!

  1. Add the pork + marinade to the Instant Pot. Add the pork and marinade to the Instant Pot. 
  2. Cook the pork. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, make sure the valve is set to ‘sealed,’ press the ‘manual’ button, and set the Instant Pot to cook for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes is up, let the pressure release quickly (or naturally, if you’re not in much of a hurry).

Slow Cooker Method

This method is perfect for the “set it and forget it” cook! 

  1. Add the pork + marinade to the slow cooker. After marinating, add the pork and marinade to the slow cooker.
  2. Cook the pork. Cook the pork on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours, until it shreds easily with a fork.

Oven Method

The oven method is great for those who don’t have an Instant Pot, and don’t want to wait for the pork to cook in the slow cooker!

  1. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Cook the pork. Add the pork and marinade to a Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot. Place the pork in the oven and cook for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours, until the pork shreds easily with two forks.
Tacos Al Pastor Fed and Fit

Part 3: Crisp the pork!

This part is KEY! Crispy pork really takes tacos al pastor to the next level. No matter which cooking method you used, you’ll follow these 4 steps to finish off your tacos.

  1. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to broil (though the meat is cooked, it still needs a good crisp in the oven!)
  2. Shred + crisp. Shred the pork with two forks, then toss the shredded pork with additional cooking liquid, butter, and pineapple. Once tossed, spread the pork out on a rimmed baking sheet, and broil it in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the pork – we want it crisp, but not burnt!
  3. Make the fresh relish. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, diced onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt.
  4. Assemble + enjoy! Warm the tortillas (I toasted mine on the flame on my stove), fill with the pork and pineapple, top with the fresh onion + cilantro relish, and enjoy!
Instant Pot Tacos Al Pastor

How to Store Tacos al Pastor

We recommend storing each of the tacos al pastor components (think: shredded pork, tortillas, and fresh relish) separately. The pork + relish can go in the fridge (these glass airtight containers are perfect for proper storage!), and the tortillas (depending on the type) can go in the fridge or pantry! When you’re ready to make a taco from the leftover components, either heat the pork in the microwave, in a pan on the stove, or throw it on a sheet pan to re-crisp in a broiling oven! If you go the oven route, don’t forget to keep an eye out…burnt pork is no bueno! 

I hope you enjoy these easy, pick-your-method tacos al pastor! They’re fresh, delicious, and will feed a crowd!

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Tacos Al Pastor

By: Cassy
5 — Votes 2 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
This Tacos Al Pastor recipe features tender, fall-apart pork that is marinated in a flavorful guajillo pepper sauce, slow-cooked, then baked until crisp for the perfect taco!

Ingredients  

For the Pork:

  • 1, 4-5 pound pork shoulder
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 pineapple cut into chunks (about 2 cups or 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 guajillo peppers in adobo – may also substitute chipotle peppers in adobo

For the Tacos al Pastor:

  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/2 cup ghee butter, or avocado oil
  • 12 to rtillas of your choice
  • 1/2 of a finely diced onion (other half of onion from marinade)
  • 1/2 jalapeno finely diced
  • 1 head chopped cilantro about 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice about 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Instructions

For the Marinade:

  • Cut the pork shoulder into several 3-inch sized pieces, then place in a large bowl.
  • Blend the onion, pineapple, oregano, garlic, orange juice, chili powder, sea salt, and guajillo peppers until smooth.
  • Pour the marinade over the pork shoulder and toss to coat. If you have time to marinade, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours up to overnight. If you don’t have time, start cooking right away.

Oven Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  • Place the pork in a Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot with a lid along with the entire contents of the marinade. Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, until the pork shreds easily with two forks.
  • Remove the pork from the oven then turn it to broil.
  • Shred the pork with two forks, or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixerthen toss with additional cooking liquid (about 1 cup), butter, and pineapple, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Place the pan in the oven and broil for 3-6 minutes, keeping a close eye on the pork until it is crisp.
  • In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, diced onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  • Warm the tortillas, fill with the pork and pineapple, and top with the onion relish and serve!

Instant Pot Method:

  • After marinating, add the pork and marinade to the Instant Pot. Place the lid on the pot, cover, and make sure the valve is set to sealed. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes is up, let the pressure release (either quick release or naturally) and remove the lid from the pot.
  • Preheat the oven to broil.
  • Shred the pork with two forks, then toss with additional cooking liquid (about 1 cup), butter, and pineapple, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on the pork until it is crisp.
  • In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, diced onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.
  • Warm the tortillas, fill with the pork and pineapple, and top with the onion relish and serve!

Slow Cooker Method:

  • Marinate the pork, then add the pork and marinade to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours until it shreds easily with a fork.
  • Preheat the oven to broil.
  • Shred the pork with two forks, or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixerthen toss with additional cooking liquid, butter (about 1 cup), and pineapple, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Place the pan in the oven and broil for 3-6 minutes, keeping a close eye on the pork until it is crisp.
  • In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, diced onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  • Warm the tortillas, fill with the pork and pineapple, and top with the onion relish and serve!

Recipe Notes

If you don’t like spicy food, skip the chili powder or remove the seeds from the peppers before blending, or strain them out afterward.
Meet the Author
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Cassy Joy Garcia

HOWDY! I’m Cassy Joy and I am just so happy you’re here. I’m the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Nutrition Consultant here at Fed and Fit. What started as a food blog back in 2011 has evolved now into so much more.
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    Recipe Rating




  1. Madison says

    Madison —  06/05/2018 At 10:31

    The directions mention chili powder but the ingredient list does not say how much. What amount do you suggest?

  2. Amanda says

    Amanda —  06/09/2018 At 19:22

    Is the recipe for a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder? Thank you!

  3. Brooke Heck says

    Brooke Heck —  06/11/2018 At 16:51

    Is the IP supposed to be set at 90 minutes on high or low pressure?

  4. Helen Hawk says

    Helen Hawk —  04/20/2019 At 05:30

    1/2 jar guajillo peppers – never seen these. Substitute? Or where to get these?

    I’ve seen dried guajillo peppers….

  5. Kelsey says

    Kelsey —  11/24/2019 At 16:15

    How can the meat be cooked if we do not have an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker (broke college kid here!)?

  6. Kayla says

    Kayla —  05/14/2020 At 09:13

    Do you recommend crisping it veggie putting it in the fridge or is it better to do right before you eat it?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  05/14/2020 At 16:12

      Either way will work, but I like to crisp it right before eating it!

  7. Bere says

    Bere —  05/24/2020 At 16:37

    Do you guys have any leads on where to get the canned guajillo peppers online? I’m trying to find some online before I resort to chipotle peppers!
    Thanks!! I can’t wait to try this recipe!!

  8. Lauren says

    Lauren —  06/21/2020 At 17:17

    This recipe is AMAZING – the marinade is so delicious and flavorful, and crisping them up under the broiler makes for the perfect texture!! Seriously, we devoured these the first time we ate them, and I’m coming back for the recipe again to make them this week!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  06/21/2020 At 19:46

      That’s so awesome, Lauren! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  9. Michelle says

    Michelle —  02/18/2021 At 13:22

    The recipe says preheat the oven at 425. After 2hrs, my Dutch oven is scorched on the inside. Is that right?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  02/22/2021 At 09:01

      Oh no, Michelle. We are so so sorry. It should be 325°F and not 425°F. We hope that you were able to salvage some of the pork!!

  10. Rebecca says

    Rebecca —  08/13/2021 At 19:21

    5 stars
    I love pastor but have never made it myself. The flavors of this recipe were outstanding! I learned that pork shoulder is the same as pork butt, and used a boneless one. I could only find chipotles in adobo so used those instead. I was afraid that it was going to be really spicy after blending the marinade, but it definitely wasn’t. Overall a fantastic recipe that’s going into my regular rotation of recipes.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  08/16/2021 At 08:20

      So glad that you enjoyed it, Rebecca! This recipe is one of my favorites!

  11. Laureen says

    Laureen —  01/29/2022 At 23:52

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious–this was a huge hit with my family! I was tempted to skip the final step of using the broiler, but I’m so glad I didn’t–it gave the meat the perfect crispy texture and enhanced the flavor so much. This will definitely go into regular rotation in our house! Thanks for such a tasty recipe to use for taco night at home.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  01/31/2022 At 12:42

      Hi Laureen! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us! The broiler really is a game changer in terms of texture and that finishing flavor. I am so glad that it was a hit for the entire family! ~Melissa

  12. Jenn Clata says

    Jenn Clata —  04/02/2022 At 04:32

    So so so good! Omitted the chili powder as i thought it might be too spicy, but I think it’s a pretty important flavor for Al Pastor, so next time I make it, I will add the chili. I used chipotle peppers in adobo.
    And do not skip the broiler. the crispy bits were so good and give the meat a little texture.
    Even my 2.5 year old devoured it!

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  04/05/2022 At 15:38

      Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us! We are glad you enjoyed. -Melissa

  13. Allison McNulty says

    Allison McNulty —  04/16/2022 At 22:02

    These tacos are UNBELIEVABLE!! So much flavor If you are considering making these, I highly recommend that you do it ASAP. I’m definitely going to add this recipe into my regular rotation!

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  04/19/2022 At 01:14

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, Allison! Glad the tacos were a hit! -Melissa

  14. Lexi says

    Lexi —  05/01/2022 At 03:04

    Hello! Is this a recipe that will freeze well?

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  05/03/2022 At 02:42

      Hi Lexi! This recipe does freeze well. You can freeze the pork in the marinade and dump it out to cook it, or cook as instructed, but freeze before crisping the pork (this can be done to reheat after defrosting). Enjoy!

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