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29 April 2020

This cochinita pibil recipe makes the best pulled pork for tacos, burritos, tortas and more, uniquely flavored with achiote. It is classic Mexican cooking at its finest.

It’s taco time in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. It’s always a good time for tacos. Or burritos. Or pretty much any sort of Mexican food, which is one of my personal favorites in the world.

Today we’re cooking with pork, and I’m making a traditional Mexican dish that is HUGE on flavor and unlike any pork you’ve had before. It’s called Cochinita Pibil, and you’re going to love it.

Have you ever tried cochinita pibil? You’re in for a treat!

Shredded Cochinita Pibil in a bowl, ready to serve

What is Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita pibil is a classic Mexican recipe from the Yucatan of pork marinated with flavorful achiote seeds, bitter orange and lots of spices, then slow cooked until fork tender. Traditional cochinita pibil calls for roasting a whole young pig that has been marinated and wrapped in banana leaves – “Cochinita” translates to “baby pig” – until the meat easily pulls apart.

The meat is traditionally served with pickled red onion and warmed tortillas, though you can serve it however you’d like.

This recipe is much easier and manageable in the home kitchen, using easy-to-find pork shoulder, which shreds perfectly, though it is rubbed with a homemade achiote paste then marinated for outstanding flavor.

I skip the banana leaves, as they are difficult for me to find, though you can use them if you’d like. See the recipes notes section for how to use banana leaves.

Let’s talk about how we make cochinita pibil, shall we?

Shredded Cochinita Pibil in a bowl with lime wedges and sliced peppers

Cochinita Pibil Ingredients

  • FOR THE ACHIOTE PASTE
  • 1/4 cup annatto seeds (achiote seeds) (1 ounce by weight/28 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano 
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 clove (use 2 if you love cloves)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 spicy chili pepper (optional – use a jalapeno for a touch of heat, serrano pepper for hotter, or habanero pepper for good level of heat)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup bitter orange juice (or use 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice + 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice + 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
  • FOR THE COCHINITA PIBIL
  • 3 pound pork shoulder (you can go up to 4 or 5 pounds)
  • 1-1/2 cups sour orange juice (or use 1 cup orange juice + 1/2 cup lime juice)(this is in addition to the juices used for the marinade)
  • FOR SERVING
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Sliced peppers
  • Lime wedges
  • Spicy chili flakes
  • Warmed tortillas

Shredded Cochinita Pibil in a bowl

How to Make Cochinita Pibil – the Recipe Method

FOR THE ACHIOTE PASTE

Add the annatto seeds (achiote), oregano, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and salt to a food processor or blender. Process to break everything apart. You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind them up.

Add the garlic, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar. Process to form a thick paste. See my achiote paste recipe for further tips.

Achiote Paste Recipe

FOR THE COCHINITA PIBIL

Bring the pork shoulder to room temperature. Slice it into 2 inch cubes and set into a bowl.

Rub the sliced pork down thoroughly with the achiote paste. Pour in the remaining citrus juices to cover the pork. Cover the bowl and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for more flavor penetration.

FOR OVEN COOKING

Heat your oven to 300 degrees F (150 C). Add the marinated pork with marinade to a large baking dish or pot. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Use the pot cover or cover with aluminum foil. Slow roast for 4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

Seared and braised pork shoulder, ready to shred for making cochinita pibil

FOR THE STOVE TOP

Add the marinated pork with marinade to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

FOR THE SLOW COOKER OR CROCK POT

Add the marinated pork with marinade to your slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Slow cook for 5 hours on low heat or 8 hours on high heat, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

FOR SERVING

Shred the cochinita pibil (cooked pork) with forks.

Shredded Cochinita Pibil in a pot, ready to enjoy

Serve on warmed tortillas topped with pickled red onions, lime wedges, sliced peppers, spicy chili flakes or your own favorite toppings.

Three Cochinita Pibil Tacos with pickled onions and sliced peppers

Boom! Done! Easy enough to make, isn’t it? I love easy. I’m telling you, this is Mexican cuisine at its finest. We both love cochinita pibil for its unique flavor. It’s unlike anything you get with most pulled pork recipes, or other Mexican cooking. So delicious.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • More Flavor Penetration. Slice the pork shoulder into smaller cubes to let the marinade penetrate the meat even more.
  • Banana Leaf. Traditional cochinita pibil calls for wrapping the pork in banana leaves for marinating and cooking. The leaves offer a subtle flavor addition. If you want to use them, you can lay the banana leaves onto the bottom a roasting pan or your dutch oven/large pot, add the meat and marinade, the fold the leaves over to cover it. Then proceed with cooking.

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my cochinita pibil recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Patty’s Perspective

About a year ago we discovered a new favorite Mexican restaurant. I had tried a number of different things and then discovered their Cochinita Pibil tacos. Ever since that is the only thing I will order and I crave it like no other. It is so different from the Mexican style pulled pork we are used to in the U.S. It has such a unique flavor. I’ve been bugging Mike like crazy to make it and perfect it. And alas, that has finally happened. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do.

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Cochinita pibil (shredded pork) tacos, ready to serve

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Cochinita Pibil Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Cochinita Pibil Recipe

This cochinita pibil recipe makes the best pulled pork for tacos, burritos, tortas and more, uniquely flavored with achiote. It is classic Mexican cooking at its finest.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Marinating Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: achiote, pork shoulder, pulled pork, tacos
Servings: 8
Calories: 179kcal

Ingredients

FOR THE ACHIOTE PASTE

  • 1/4 cup annatto seeds achiote 1 ounce by weight/28 grams
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano or use Italian oregano
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 clove use 2 if you love cloves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 spicy chili pepper optional - use a jalapeno for a touch of heat, serrano pepper for hotter, or habanero pepper for good level of heat
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup bitter orange juice or use 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice + 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice + 2 tablespoons white vinegar

FOR THE COCHINITA PIBIL

  • 3 pound pork shoulder you can go up to 4 or 5 pounds
  • 1-1/2 cups sour orange juice or use 1 cup orange juice + 1/2 cup lime juice(this is in addition to the juices used for the marinade)

FOR SERVING

  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Sliced peppers
  • Lime wedges
  • Spicy chili flakes
  • Warmed tortillas

Instructions

FOR THE ACHIOTE PASTE

  • Add the annatto seeds (achiote), oregano, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and salt to a food processor or blender. Process to break everything apart. You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind them up.
  • Add the garlic, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar. Process to form a thick paste.

FOR THE COCHINITA PIBIL

  • Bring the pork shoulder to room temperature. Slice it into 2 inch cubes and set into a bowl.
  • Rub the sliced pork down thoroughly with the achiote paste. Pour in the remaining juices to cover the pork. Cover the bowl and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for more flavor penetration.

FOR OVEN COOKING

  • Heat your oven to 300 degrees F (150 C). Add the marinated pork with marinade to a large baking dish or pot. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Bake for 4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

FOR THE STOVE TOP

  • Add the marinated pork with marinade to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

FOR THE SLOW COOKER OR CROCK POT

  • Add the marinated pork with marinade to your slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook for 5 hours on low heat or 8 hours on high heat, or until the meat is fork tender and easily shreds with a fork.

FOR SERVING

  • Shred the cochinita pibil (cooked pork) with forks. Serve on warmed tortillas topped with pickled red onions, lime wedges, sliced peppers, spicy chili flakes or your own favorite toppings.

Notes

Calories calculated without tortillas for serving.
Instead of tortillas, serve your cochinita pibil on torta bread for sandwiches. Delicious.
Heat Factor: Mild, unless you add some hot peppers into the achiote paste. Traditional cochinita pibil is not meant to be spicy.

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg
Cochinita Pibil

4 comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had never heard of Cochinita Pibil before! I love Mexican cuisine and I totally trust your taste, so I didn’t want to wait before trying this recipe.
    I’m in my habanero days -who doesn’t like habanero pepper?- so I made my achiote paste with habanero. This dish was a pure delight. Another one!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      There you go! Habanero would be great here for extra spicy! Glad you enjoyed it, Jeremie.

  2. 5 stars
    I love your recipes but i never have all the ingredients could you make a good list of all the spices you need for a well stocked spice rack or cabinet? Also where is a good place to find most of these. For the Average guy wanting to get into your cooking this would be a wonderful thing that we could print out and then go shopping.
    maybe also some ingredients are used alot so mention larger sizes for these ?
    With this list cooking will be a joy.
    Thanks much Art Homme

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Art. I hear you. Some things might be harder to find, like achiote. You can usually get a lot of these types of ingredients at spice shops or online. I plan on doing a post as you suggest in the future. I appreciate the feedback!

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