Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor

Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
859 Calories
55g Fat
19g Carbs
68g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 859
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 55g 71%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 245mg 82%
Sodium 638mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 68g
Vitamin C 19mg 93%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 1160mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tacos al pastor are to die for! They are sweet, savory, and just a tiny bit spicy. The juicy pineapple and zing from the lime make them impossible to resist. 

Traditionally the pork marinades in an adobo-style red chile and vinegar marinade, and is placed on a vertical spit, called El Trompo, alongside a pineapple. The spit rotates and the meat is cut off of the spit as it cooks. This was originally brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants and is cooked in the same style as shawarma. Unlike carnitas, which is pork cooked in its own fat (often with more lard added), al pastor is cooked or grilled after it's marinated and is, therefore, lower in calories.

Since most of us don't have a giant vertical spit in our homes, this recipe uses a simple crockpot. You can also marinade a more tender cut like pork tenderloin and then grill it instead if you like. This recipe isn't exactly traditional, but the flavor is amazing and the super tender meat goes perfectly in warm corn tortillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), extra fat trimmed off

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce 

  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce

  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, then roughly chopped

  • 1/2 medium red onion

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 8 corn tortillas

  • Crumbled Cotija cheese, diced fresh pineapple, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, chopped red onions, diced avocado, optional toppings

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Rub the pork butt with salt and pepper.

    Rub the pork butt with salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. If you are using an Instant Pot, set the pot to sauté and brown the pork butt on all sides. If you are making the pork in a slow cooker, brown the pork in a large pan on the stove before placing it in the slow cooker. Set the pork aside while you prepare the marinade.

    brown the pork butt in the instant pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. In a blender, combine the chicken stock, chipotles, pineapple, red onion, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, white vinegar, and garlic. Puree until completely smooth.  

    combine the chicken stock, chipotles, pineapple, red onion, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, white vinegar, and garlic in a blender

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. If needed to fit, cut the pork butt into quarters and place it in your Instant Pot or slow cooker.  Pour the marinade over the top and cover. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4. If using an Instant Pot, set it to Meat and cook for 45 minutes.  

    pork and sauce in the instant pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Remove the pork from the pot and shred it using two forks. 

    shredded pork on a plate

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Return it to the marinade and cook in the Instant Pot or in a regular pot on the stove over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.  

    shredded pork with sauce in the pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Serve the pork with warm corn tortillas, diced pineapple, cilantro, cotija cheese, red onion, and other garnishes.

    Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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