These easy tacos al Pastor feature flavoured pork tenderloin, grilled pineapple and onion and served with a fresh pineapple salsa.
What are al pastor tacos?
If you are not familiar with al pastor tacos, they are pork tacos, made by marinated the pork with spices, chiles, pineapple juice and vinegar before cooking “Shepherd style” (the English translation of “al pastor”) over a spit for hours or maybe days.
Classic Tacos al Pastor are generally made with boneless pork shoulder, which is perfect for this long, low and slow method of cooking.
Why you’ll love this easy tacos al pastor recipe!
This easy tacos al Pastor recipe adapts the classic Mexican dish into an easy-to-make-at-home version. My version starts with pork tenderloin and can be cooked on the BBQ, in a grill pan or in the oven! The marinade uses mostly easy to find ingredients, including pineapple juice, chipotle peppers, vinegar and spices.
Pork – pork tenderloin makes great tacos al Pastor, but you can certainly use other pieces of pork if you prefer.
Achiote Paste – I usually try to share recipes that use pretty standard ingredients, but you’ll note that this recipe calls for Achiote Paste, which I suspect may not be in most people’s pantry. It is a great flavour addition for these tacos and is easy to get through Amazon. So if you are a fan of Tacos Al Pastor, it would be worth picking up.
That said, if you don’t want to invest in Achiote paste, you can make your own substitute. Scroll down for the instructions for homemade achiote paste.
How to Make Homemade Achiote Paste
In a small bowl, mix together 4 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 Tbsp white vinegar, 3/4 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp vegetable oil into a paste. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
- The longer you can marinate the pork, the better. I will marinate it up to 24 hours ideally, but at least 8 hours is fine. So set to marinate in the morning, to cook for dinner.
- Note that it does take some time for the marinade to cool down before you can add it to the meat, so allow at least 30 minutes for cooling. You can remove to a bowl and pop in the refrigerator to speed up the process, if you like.
- I use canned pineapple rings here, simply so I don’t have to buy a whole container of pineapple juice for the 1/3 cup needed in the marinade. Using canned pineapple rings packed in pineapple juice, allows you to use the juice from the can for the marinade, as well as using the rings for the tacos.
- Tacos Al Pastor are not typically spicy hot. While the marinade has some chipotle peppers and adobo, by the time it’s grilled off, it’s not spicy at all. If you prefer things a little hotter, feel free to add in some more chilis or heat.
Get the Recipe: Quick and Easy Tacos Al Pastor
- 2 lb. pork tenderloin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Achiote paste, *See notes below for a homemade substitute
- 2 canned chipotle chile peppers, chopped + 1 tsp adobo sauce (that's 2 peppers, not 2 cans :)
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
- 1-2 rings canned pineapple
- 1/4 small red onion
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 tomato, seeds removed and diced
- 3 rings canned pineapple, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Pinch salt
- 6 small white corn tortillas, heated or grilled
- lime wedges, for drizzling
- Prepare the marinade: Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Remove to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely (can pop in the fridge to speed up the process, but be sure it is cooled before adding to the meat).
- Remove the silverskin and any visible fat from the pork tenderloin. Butterfly the pork, but slicing from end to end, almost, but not all the way through. Open up and press flat. Place into a plastic bag. Pour cooled marinade into bag and rub to coat the meat. Seal bag and refrigerate at least one hour and up to 24 hours. (The longer you can marinate, the better the flavour will be).
- Before cooking meat, prepare salsa by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine, cover and set aside.
- *Regardless of how you are cooking, the pineapple and onion will not take as long to cook as the pork, so simply remove when done and continue cooking the pork until cooked through.
- To cook on BBQ: Grill pork, pineapple rings and onion quarter until pork is cooked through and pineapple and onion are nicely grilled.
- To cook in grill pan on stove top: Cook pork, pineapple rings and onion quarter over medium-high heat until cooked through and/or grilled.
- To cook in the oven: Place pork, pineapple rings and onion quarter on a foil-lined baking sheet under the oven broiler, about 6-8 inches from the heat. Cook until cooked through.
- Remove pork, pineapple rings and onion to a cutting board. Allow pork to rest a few minutes, then, using a sharp knife, cut the pork, pineapple and onion into small slices and toss to combine.
- To serve: Heat or grill tortillas. Spoon in some of the pork/pineapple/onion mixture. Top with salsa. Serve with lime wedges, for drizzling.