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Cochinita Pibil Tacos

What are Cochinita Pibil Tacos? How to Make Cochinita Pibil Tacos

Cochinita Pibil Tacos are a classic dish in Mexican cuisine, originating from the Yucatan Peninsula. The star ingredient is typically marinated pork, although vegetarian versions can substitute the meat with ingredients like jackfruit, tofu, or seitan to maintain the flavors and textures associated with the traditional dish.

Texture-wise, Cochinita Pibil features tender, slow-cooked meat (or its vegetarian alternative) that has been marinated in a mixture called “achiote” paste, along with citrus juices, spices, and often banana leaves. This marinade imparts a deep, tangy, and slightly smoky flavor to the dish. When cooked, the meat becomes succulent and easily shreddable, creating a soft, juicy texture.

The tacos are assembled using small tortillas, usually made from corn, which are warmed and then filled with the Cochinita Pibil. The shredded meat (or vegetarian alternative) is placed onto the tortillas and served with various toppings such as pickled red onions, cilantro, and sometimes habanero salsa. These toppings add brightness, acidity, and a bit of heat to complement the richness of the dish.

Cochinita Pibil traditionally involves a cooking method where the meat is wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked in an underground pit called a “pib.” However, modern adaptations use ovens or slow cookers to achieve a similar result.

The dish is celebrated for its vibrant flavors, achieved through the long marination process and slow cooking, resulting in tender and deeply flavorful meat (or its vegetarian equivalent). Cochinita Pibil Tacos are a beloved part of Mexican cuisine, offering a combination of tangy, savory, and slightly smoky tastes, all wrapped in a soft tortilla, creating a delightful and satisfying taco experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Who these tacos appeal to: Taco enthusiasts, those seeking the bold and aromatic flavors of Yucatecan cuisine, anyone ready for a culinary journey.
  • Estimated duration: A flavorful adventure that takes approximately 4-6 hours (including marination and slow cooking).
  • Nutrition facts: A protein-rich taco with the unique taste of achiote-marinated pork.

About this Recipe

Cochinita Pibil is a Yucatecan specialty known for its succulent, slow-cooked pork and distinctive marinade. This recipe guides you through the steps of creating Cochinita Pibil Tacos, allowing you to savor the rich tapestry of flavors that define this iconic dish.


Achiote Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Banana leaves (for wrapping, optional)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 oranges


  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Diced red onion
  • Pickled red onions (optional)
  • Sliced radishes
  • Lime wedges


  • Corn tortillas, warmed


Achiote Marinade:

  1. Prepare Achiote Paste:
  • In a blender, combine achiote paste, annatto seeds, orange juice, white vinegar, minced garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper.
  • Blend until you have a smooth marinade.


  1. Marinate the Pork:
  • In a large bowl, coat the pork chunks with the achiote marinade, ensuring each piece is well covered.
  • Add sliced red onions, lemon juice, and orange juice to the marinated pork.
  • Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate. Allow it to marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for best results.
  1. Preheat the Oven:
  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
  1. Prepare Banana Leaves (Optional):
  • If using banana leaves, quickly pass them over an open flame to soften and make them pliable. Cut them into large squares.
  1. Assemble and Wrap:
  • Place the marinated pork and onions in the center of a banana leaf square.
  • Fold and wrap the banana leaf, creating a secure package.
  1. Slow Cook:
  • Place the wrapped pork in a baking dish and slow-cook in the preheated oven for 3-4 hours or until the pork is tender and easily shreds.


  1. Shred and Serve:
  • Shred the cooked pork using two forks.
  1. Assemble Tacos:
  • Warm the corn tortillas and fill each with a generous portion of the shredded Cochinita Pibil.


  1. Garnish and Enjoy:
  • Top the tacos with chopped fresh cilantro, diced red onion, pickled red onions (if using), sliced radishes, and a squeeze of lime.

Side Suggestions

  • Serve with black beans or refried beans
  • Creamy avocado slices or guacamole
  • Cabbage slaw for a crunchy texture

Storage Options

Cochinita Pibil stores well and often tastes even better the next day. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat gently to maintain the flavors.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Banana Leaves: If unavailable, you can use parchment paper for wrapping.

Alternatives to this Dish

For a quicker version, you can use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to expedite the cooking process, but the traditional slow-cooking method provides the most authentic flavors.


Cochinita Pibil Tacos invite you to savor the distinctive and aromatic flavors of Yucatecan cuisine. From the rich achiote marinade to the slow-cooked tenderness of the pork, each element contributes to a truly authentic taco experience. ¡Buen provecho!