This simple technique and recipe will help you make authentic tasting Pork Al Pastor right in your own kitchen!
We absolutely love pork al pastor. I first had tacos al pastor many years ago from a taco truck in the Seattle area, and I fell in love with the flavorful marinated, slow roasted, caramelized, thinly shaved marinated pork kissed with a touch of roasted pineapple. Topped with minced onion, fresh chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a bit of diced avocado, and I am in Heaven.
Since then we’ve enjoyed incredible tacos al pastor in Sayulita, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta, and my absolute favorite in the world (so far), in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (on what would end up being the trip where my husband proposed to me on a zipline), at a restaurant called Las Guacamayas.
Traditional pork al pastor is thinly sliced pork shoulder marinated in a blend of chilies, achiote, garlic, and loads of spices. The meat gets stacked on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo, topped with pineapple, then slowly roasts for hours. Then the server shaves off thin slices of the meat straight onto a tortilla, adding a bit of the juicy roasted pineapple from the top.
The giant stack of meat continues to rotate, each layer that is shaved going around again to get crispy and toasted, round and round until the deliciousness porky goodness is gone, and another stack goes on.
If you have the time/skill/motivation to make traditional pork al pastor, and have a rotisserie, by all means I highly recommend going for it.
But, if you would like a quick and easy way to make pork al pastor at home, in your oven or on your grill, this recipe is perfect for you!
The meat I use doesn’t need as long to cook as pork shoulder, and our Smoky Latin inspired healthy cooking sauce gives the meat a very similar flavor to the authentic recipe, without all of the work! The versatile, concentrated flavor base is made with vegetables, fruit, spices and herbs (over 15 different ingredients all prepped for you and perfectly spiced in one jar), so you don’t have to be an amazing cook or have tons of time to make an incredible meal – we’ll help you look like a healthy kitchen rock star, and enjoy pork al pastor even on a busy weeknight.
All you have to do is marinate thinly sliced pork loin roast, along with a thinly sliced onion, in our Smoky Latin healthy cooking sauce overnight. Traditional pork al pastor typically marinates for days, and has salt added to the sauce, which helps keep the meat juicy and flavorful. Our healthy cooking sauce/flavor base is low in sodium, so you can control the salt level to your tastes/needs, but I recommend not adding salt until just before you cook the meat, unless you have more than two days to marinate. The meat was still super juicy, flavorful, and tender with just one night of marinating, and adding salt just before cooking.
Watch the how-to video below for my easy way to cook the stack’o meat without it falling over – something that kept happening to me as I tried other techniques I found on the internet. (The three-skewer method is key too!)
You can serve the pork al pastor on tacos, but if you’re living a Paleo, low carb, or Whole30 lifestyle (our cooking sauce is Whole30 approved), I love to serve them up in lettuce wraps, in Siete brand (amazing) Paleo & gluten free tortillas, in a roasted bell pepper half, or just piled up on the plate with a salad or grilled veggie on the side. Or for a real treat try my plantain tortillas. (YUM – these are my favorite, and I also love them with scrambled eggs in the morning.)
If you want to really make this an epic meal, toss some tomatillos, onion, jalapenos and garlic on a sheet pan and roast along with the pork al pastor. After the meat is cooked, take a bit of the caramelized pineapple from the top of the pork and add it to a blender with the roasted vegetables, along with a squeeze of fresh lime, some fresh cilantro, and a pinch of salt before blending into an incredible Roasted Tomatillo and Pineapple Salsa that is perfect with your pork al pastor (and eggs, and pretty much everything).
Here is the full how-to video and recipe – enjoy!
How to make homemade pork al pastor – simply.
Serves 4-6, easily doubles, triples, quadruples to feed a crowd.
1 lb pork loin roast, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (about half of a jar) Mesa de Vida Smoky Latin inspired healthy cooking sauce & flavor base
1 onion, sliced
1 pineapple, peeled.
Salt and hot sauce or chipotle paste to taste
3 wooden (soaked) or metal skewers.
Toss the pork with the Smoky Latin cooking sauce and onion until fully coated, then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Preheat your oven (or grill) to 425 degrees. *If you’re making 2-3 pounds or more I recommend setting the oven to 350 degrees so the inside cooks before the outside gets too browned. Place the rack on the lowest level to allow room if you’re making more than a pound.
Before assembling, season the meat with salt and hot sauce to taste.
Cut your pineapple in half vertically. Lay one half, flat side down, in a baking dish. Cut the remaining pineapple half into quarters.
Poke three skewers, about 1 inch apart, in a triangle pattern in the center of the pineapple in the baking dish.
Begin threading the meat down the skewers, adding the sliced onion between layers. Continue to stack the meat and onions until you’ve used them all up. Tuck in any meat that may be sticking out, you want a relatively uniform stack.
Top with a couple more pineapple wedges. The finished product will look like a raw meat & pineapple sandwich. 😉
Trim off any excess skewer that may protrude past the top of the pineapple. (I forgot to do this.) 🙂
For 1 pound of meat, I baked this for 50 minutes, rotating once during cooking. Cook longer if you’re cooking more meat. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, then remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes to finish cooking and allow the juices to redistribute through all of the meat.
Thinly slice, making sure to add in thin slices of the pineapple. Optional: If you like you can rotate, cutting off just the crispy outer edges, then pop the roast back into the broiler to crisp back up, or you can add the thinly sliced meat and pineapple to a hot saute pan and cook until crispy all over. In the essence of time, and convenience, I did neither of these things, and it was absolutely delicious served straight up.
I hope you enjoy this incredible, easy, homemade pork al pastor! If you make it we’d love to see your creations! Make sure to tag us on Instagram or Facebook, and we’ll share with our community!
Like this recipe? Try another Mexican inspired classic, Chicken Tinga!
Don’t let your packaged processed seasonings/lack of time/lack of skills in the kitchen ruin your healthy eating efforts. Stock up on our healthy cooking sauces so you can cook more healthy, more delicious, more exciting meals at home more often!
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