We are taco lovers – I mean really who isn’t – and we love cooking all of the different types of authentic Mexican tacos as a way of discovering and appreciating the various regional cuisines of Mexico. One of the tacos that has long been on our list to try, but we haven’t gotten to is a Cochinita Pibil taco. Cochinita Pibl tacos are a traditional slow roasted pork taco from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and, while they’re popular in Mexico, they’re often less well known in America. After all, our love of carnitas (another shredded pork taco) has meant that whenever we want pork tacos, we’ve gone to carnitas instead of venturing elsewhere. That was a mistake.
Changing tastes in our household led us away from the garlic heavy flavor of carnitas, so this time when we made pork tacos, we went for the cochinita pibil recipe, and holy cow (pig?) are we happy we tried these tacos. They are incredibly flavorful without being garlicky or spicy. Instead, they have an earthy and citrusy flavor with a beautiful orange color. There are layers of flavor without any one element standing out as being overly noticeable. We loved them and will be making them again soon.
Cochinita pibil is traditionally made by roasting a whole suckling pig wrapped in banana leaves in a barbacoa pit. For many people in modern America, this just isn’t a realistic way to make tacos, so we’ve updated the recipe and made it into a recipe that is super easy to do at home. One thing we haven’t changed from the traditional recipe is that we use annatto paste (achiote) as the base for the marinade. This ingredient can be found at many Mexican grocery stores, or you can buy it online from Amazon at this link. This paste (combined with orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, and more) makes a highly acidic marinade that makes the meat incredibly delicious after it has been slowly cooked.
We chose to top our tacos with pickled red onion, cilantro, and queso fresco. The pickled red onions are an especially traditional topping and the bite and sweetness of the onion plays perfectly with the rich, fatty flavor of the pork. If you’re looking for a recipe to make quick pickled red onions, just check out this one. They’re easy and quick to make. Other great topping ideas include avocado slices, salsa verde, or jalapeños!
We hope you enjoyed this recipe. If you’ve made any tweaks to flavor it to your taste, we’d love to hear what you tried. You can leave us a rating and feedback below. We appreciate your thoughts. Enjoy!
- 3 – 4 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder (net removed)
- 3 Tbsp Achiote Paste (see recipe description for link to buy)
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice
- 1/2 cup White Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Lime Juice
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
Add all ingredients except the pork to a bowl and mix together until the paste is broken up into the liquid. Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
Rub the mixture over all sides of the pork, including the inside portion where the bone has been removed. Place into a slow cooker, then pour the remainder of the achiote mix into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the pork easily shreds.
Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Assemble tacos by placing a helping of the pork on a warmed tortilla and topping with pickled red onion, queso fresco, and cilantro. Enjoy!