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How to Make Tacos al Pastor

Updated on April 1, 2010

Tacos al Pastor are like Mexican shwarma…and they are delicious.

This recipe mimics the tastes of tacos al pastor, but changes the techniques involved to make the preparation a little more manageable for the home cook - and doesn’t require that you go out and buy a vertical rotisserie and 50 pounds of pork!

These tacos are actually quite simple in nature, but it’s a combination of tastes that just works perfectly – the sweetness of the grilled pineapple mellows the heat of the chili marinated grilled pork and the fresh onion, lime juice and cilantro offset the richness of the pork and provide a tart and tangy bite that also plays well against the sweetness of the fruit.

Tacos al Pastor (for 4)

  • Corn tortillas (about 16 - or 4 per person)
  • 1 and ½ pounds of pork butt (actually, you can use other cuts of pork with success here as well – use what you have)
  • Chili adobo marinade for the pork (See below)
  • About 1/3 of a regular sized pineapple
  • 1 cup of white onion, minced
  • 1 cup of cilantro, (loosely packed) chopped
  • A couple of limes for squeezing salt

Adobo Marinade (From Dianna Kennedy)

  • 4 ancho chilies
  • 1/8 tsp cumin and 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbls salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of vinegar


  1. To make the adobo marinade, soak the chilies in hot tap water for about 10 minutes, and then transfer the chilies and the rest of the adobo ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Cut the pork butt into ½ ‘steaks’. Don’t worry about making them look pretty as they will all get chopped up before serving anyway, but try to get a uniform thickness if you can.
  3. Rub the marinade all over the pork steaks and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours
  4. When getting ready to eat, first preheat your grill
  5. Cut the pineapple into half inch thick slices. The easiest way to do this is to cut rings across the whole fruit. You do not have to worry about peeling the pineapple prior to grilling.
  6. Once the grill is hot (medium high), cook the marinated pork steaks and the pineapple slices until both are cooked through, between 7 and 10 minutes, roughly. The pineapple is done when it is softened throughout. It is OK if it gets a little charred, but try to keep it from burning. Although most pork tastes dry if cooked to well done, you will find this marinated pork butt, a little more forgiving, and so you don’t have to stress about getting it off while still rosy pink inside.
  7. Cut the peel off the pineapple rings and chop the cooked pineapple into small pieces.
  8. Mix together the onions, the pineapple and the cilantro in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from one lime into the mixture and salt to taste. Taste again and add more lime juice if needed.
  9. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces.
  10. To assemble the tacos, divide the meat and the pineapple/onion/cilantro mixture between the corn tortillas and serve with spicy salsas, guacamole and sour cream on the side.



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