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Taco al Pastor Recipe

Taco al pastor was originally created in the 1930s in Puebla, Mexico, by Lebanese immigrants who introduced the region to classic shawarma: roast lamb served on a flour tortilla or pita bread (pan árabe). This creation was originally known as tacos árabes, and used meat cooked on a vertical, or upright, grill. When the upright grill moved on from Puebla, the tacos al pastor as we know it today gradually came into being: Marinated pork replaced lamb on the spit, and cilantro and onions were added to the mix. In this article we present you with a delicious recipe for this dish.

About this recipe

Taco al Pastor is a Mexican delicacy that has won hearts globally. This Taco al Pastor recipe is your ticket to a culinary journey straight to the streets of Mexico. Simple, flavorful, and utterly delicious, this recipe is a must-try for all taco lovers.

  • Ease of Cooking: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes

Taco al Pastor recipe background

The Taco al Pastor recipe has its roots in Central Mexico, particularly influenced by Lebanese immigrants. The term “al Pastor” means “shepherd style,” which is a nod to its Middle Eastern origins. Over time, it has become a staple in Mexican cuisine.

Fun Fact: The vertical rotisserie, similar to how shawarma is cooked, was initially used for this dish.

Why make this recipe?

Why should you try this Taco al Pastor recipe? Here are some compelling reasons:

  1. Authentic Flavors: Experience true Mexican cuisine.
  2. Quick and Easy: Takes less than an hour to prepare.
  3. Versatile: Great for any occasion or meal.

What does Taco al Pastor taste like?

Imagine a burst of flavors—spicy, tangy, and a little sweet—all in one bite. That’s what this Taco al Pastor recipe offers. The marinated pork is the star, complemented by the freshness of pineapple and the zest of lime.

What is in Taco al Pastor?

Ingredients for the Taco al Pastor recipe

  • Pork shoulder: 1 lb, thinly sliced
  • Pineapple: 1/2, diced
  • Onion: 1, finely chopped
  • Cilantro: A handful, chopped
  • Lime: 1, cut into wedges

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Skillet or grill
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cutting board
  • Knife

How to make Taco al Pastor recipe


  • Marinated pork: 1 lb
  • Corn tortillas: 8
  • Pineapple slices: 4
  • Lime juice: 2 tbsp
  • Cilantro: for garnish


  1. Marinate the Pork: Combine pork with spices and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the Pork: In a skillet, cook the marinated pork until brown.
  3. Assemble: Place pork, pineapple, and other toppings on a tortilla.
  4. Serve: Garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.

How to serve Taco al Pastor recipe

Serve immediately with a side of salsa and a slice of lime. A cold beer or a glass of horchata would be perfect accompaniments.

What to serve Taco al Pastor with

  • Guacamole
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Beans

My recommendations and tips

  • Use fresh pineapple for a tangy kick.
  • Don’t skip the marination; it’s crucial for flavor.
  • If you can’t find pork shoulder, pork loin works too.

Taco al Pastor storage ideas

Store any leftover meat in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to a month.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Pork: Can be replaced with chicken or tofu for a healthier option.
  • Pineapple: Mango can be a good substitute.

Alternative Dishes

Taco al pastor is a popular Mexican street food that features marinated and spit-roasted pork typically served on small tortillas with pineapple, onions, and cilantro. While it has its own distinct flavor profile, you can draw some similarities with other Mexican dishes based on certain elements. Here are three Mexican dishes that share some similarities with taco al pastor:

  1. Tacos de Adobada:
  • Tacos de adobada are often considered similar to taco al pastor because they both involve marinated and grilled or spit-roasted meat. The adobada marinade typically includes achiote, vinegar, and various spices, giving it a rich and flavorful taste. The cooking method and use of pork make it akin to taco al pastor.
  1. Tacos de Carnitas:
  • Carnitas are another type of taco that involves pork, but instead of marinating and spit-roasting, carnitas are typically slow-cooked or braised until the pork is tender. Both tacos al pastor and tacos de carnitas feature pork as the main ingredient, and they are commonly served with similar toppings such as onions and cilantro.
  1. Tacos al Carbon:
  • Similarities: Tacos al carbon involve grilled meat, often beef, chicken, or pork. While the marinade and seasoning may differ, the grilling aspect is a common element. Tacos al pastor also often involve grilling or spit-roasting the marinated pork, so there’s a similarity in the cooking method.

It’s important to note that while these dishes share certain characteristics, each has its unique flavor profile and preparation method. Taco al pastor, in particular, stands out with its distinctive combination of marinated pork, pineapple, and the cooking technique of spit-roasting.


This Taco al Pastor recipe is your gateway to experiencing authentic Mexican flavors right in your kitchen. It’s simple, delicious, and incredibly satisfying. So why wait? Give it a try today!