This Cochinita Pibil recipe was created in partnership with Pyrex. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make ¡Hola! Jalapeño possible.
If you are looking for Day of the Dead recipes, this slow-roasted pork dish is a wonderful one to share with family and friends for the holiday.
Cochinita means baby pig and traditionally involves marinating a suckling pig in achiote and citrus juice then roasting it in a pit or pib, a Mayan oven consisting of a hole in the ground lined with hot stones.
This dish is a delicacy from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It tastes incredible, feeds a crowd and lucky for us, can easily be recreated at home in the oven using pork shoulder in place of the suckling pig.
Scroll down to see how easy it is and let the party planning begin.
The Right Dish for the Job
The secret to making fall-apart tender Cochinita Pibil (pronounced ko-chin-ee-ta pee-beel) at home, is to roast it low and slow in the oven.
The only thing you need is a deep roasting pan. Luckily, Pyrex has released a brand new line of baking dishes, Pyrex Deep, that are up to 50% deeper than your average baking dish.
You’d be surprised at the difference a deeper dish can make.
That inch or so gives you tons of room to stack, pack, stuff, and in this case, wrap up more of your favorite recipes—which, might I add, gives you more to love.
Try that in a traditional baking dish. On second thought, don’t try that, it won’t work.
For this particular recipe, I needed something a bit larger, so I used the 9 x 13-inch deep baking dish.
The larger dish is perfect for not only holding the 4-pound pork shoulder roast, but also the layers of banana leaves needed to make this authentic pulled pork.
Giving real meaning to the phrase, cook deeper!
Tips For Making Cochinita Pibil In the Oven
Despite it’s seemingly strange ingredients—banana leaf! achiote seeds!—it’s a perfectly simple dish to prepare.
Those aforementioned unmentionables can easily be found at your local Latin market.
Look for the banana leaves in the produce aisle of your local Latin market. If they aren’t there they may be in the frozen foods section. If you buy them frozen, thaw them out before use.
Rinse them well before using and if they are really stiff, warm them in a low, 200°F oven until slightly wilted. You can also pass them over a low flame of a gas stove. Be careful not to catch them on fire if you do this method.
The achiote paste can be found in the spice aisle of your local Latin market next to the salt and pepper.
It comes in a rectangular box, and is a brick which should be broken up with your hands before putting in the blender.
Here’s some more pointers for Cochinita success:
- Don’t skip the banana leaves part. They aren’t just for looks, they add flavor and trap in moisture for extra tender meat. You know what a ripe banana smells like? That’s what we’re going for.
- You don’t need to marinate the meat. (Yay!) You slow cook the pork for 6 hours giving it plenty of time to soak up all the delicious flavors.
- Traditional recipes for this Yucatán-Style barbecue pork use bitter orange juice, typically from Seville oranges. If you can find those, use 2 1/2 cups of sour orange juice instead of the orange + lime juice mixture.
- This is a simple marinade made with store-bought achiote. It tastes great and is easy. Want to spice it up? Add fresh garlic, whole allspice, black peppercorns, and/or cumin to the blender when making the marinade.
- Even though you wrap the pork in the banana leaves you want to also seal the entire pan tightly with aluminum foil so keep all the steam in.
How to Serve Cochinita Pibil
This deeply flavorful meat makes the best pork tacos.
Traditionally the cooked pork is piled high on warm tortillas with pickled red onions and habanero sauce. This Mexican pulled pork shoulder isn’t spicy on it’s own, but is meant to be eaten with the pickled onions and spicy salsa to suit your tastes.
I’ve combined the two toppings into one by making Spicy Habanero Pickled Onions (see recipe below).
If you really love the heat, there are several store bought habanero sauces on the market or you can make your own Mexican habanero salsa to drizzle on top.
How To Make It In A Crock Pot
I absolutely understand the allure of being able to turn on a slow cooker and walk away. Lucky for us cooking this Cochinita Pibil recipe (also known as Puerco Pibil or Cochinita con Achiote) in a Crock Pot is pretty much the same. Here’s how you’d do it:
- Line the insert of the slow cooker with the banana leaves and place the pork on top.
- Blend the marinade ingredients and pour over the pork.
- Wrap the banana leaves around the pork, tucking them down into the sides of the Crock Pot insert so they don’t unravel.
- Cover with the Crock Pot lid and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
Cochinita Pibil Menu For Día de Muertos
If you are making this for a dinner party for Day of the Dead or anytime of year, I think this menu is definitely the way to go.
The refreshing Paloma cocktail flavors are also reflected in the shortbread cookies that finish the meal.
Take advantage of persimmon season in the fall to make this dramatic salad with persimmons and roasted beets as a side.
- Strawberry-Hibiscus Palomas
- Best Ever Canned Black Beans
- Beet and Persimmon Salad with Candied Peanuts
- Cochinita Pibil Tacos with Spicy Habanero Pickled Onions
- Strawberry-Hibiscus Cookies
Have You Ever Been This Excited To Try Something New?
These brick red tacos enticed me for so long but I always thought they were unobtainable to make at home until now. I hope this recipe has got you excited to search out some new ingredients and give this a try. Let me know how it turns out for you! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram using @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so we can see your handiwork! Happy eating.
Learn more about Pyrex Deep by visiting www.PyrexHome.com!Print
How to Make Cochinita Pibil in the Oven
Cochinita Pibil traditionally is cooked low and slow outside, but you can easily recreate the same great flavors by baking it in a deep pan in the oven.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Method: slow-roasted
- Cuisine: Mexican
For the Cochinita Pibil:
Fresh banana leaves, for wrapping
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
3.5 ounce package Achiote paste
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
3 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Spicy Pickled Red Onions:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 habanero, stemmed, seeds removed, minced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat oven to 300°F and arrange rack in the middle.
Line a Pyrex Deep 9 x 13in baking dish with 2 layers of banana leaves. Place pork shoulder in dish.
Combine achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over pork.
Wrap pork with banana leaves and cover the entire dish tightly with foil. Place in oven and cook slowly until pork is very tender, about 6 hours.
To Make the Spicy Pickled Red Onions:
Combine onions and habaneros in a medium, heatproof bowl.
Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Let simmer 5 minutes then pour hot pickling liquid over vegetables.
Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
Remove pork and shred into bite-sized pieces. Discard banana leaves, saving any pan juices that have accumulated on the bottom. Stir meat with pan juices and serve in warm tortillas, pickled onions, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Cochinita Pibil can be made up to three days in advance. Shred meat and combine with pan juices then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Rewarm meat and juices in a frying pan over medium heat until warm.
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