Delicious Mexican Cochinita Pibil recipe anyone can make right in the oven with all the luscious flavors of this tangy, vibrant, slow roasted pork dish cooked in citrus and achiote paste. Pair with warm corn tortillas and spicy pickled red onions for the most incredible tacos! Check out the video!
Recipe first posted October 2019. Last updated March 3, 2023.
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.
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.
What is Cochinita Pibil?
This dish is a delicacy from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Cochinita means baby pig and traditionally involves marinating a suckling pig in annatto seeds 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.
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.
- Banana leaves
- Boneless Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt
- Achiote paste
- Fresh orange juice
- Lime juice
- Pickled red onions and warm tortillas, for serving
Look for the banana leaves in the produce aisle or frozen food section of your local Latin market. If you buy them frozen, thaw them at room temperature before use.
Rinse banana leaves 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.
Achiote paste It is a blend of annatto seeds, oregano, garlic cloves, and other herbs. It 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.
How To Make It
Heat oven to 300°F and line a large baking dish or roasting pan with a layer of banana leaves, leaving an overhang to fold over the pork. Place the pork on top of the leaves.
Combine the achiote, orange and lime juices, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture over the pork the cover the pork with the banana leaves, placing more leaves on top if needed to cover completely. Cover entire dish tightly with foil and place in the oven to roast for 4 hours.
Meanwhile, make the pickled red onions and let marinate in the refrigerator while the pork cooks.
Remove pork from oven and shred with two forks—it should be fall apart tender.
Serve with warm tortillas and the pickled onions.
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.
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 4 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 are lucky enough to find Seville oranges, use 2 1/2 cups of fresh-squeezed Seville 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 or food processor 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 to 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.
More Mexican Recipes You’ll Love!
- Super Creamy Authentic Horchata
- Crock Pot Borracho Beans
- Our Favorite Homemade Flour Tortillas
- Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
- Carne Picada
- Churros with Chocolate Sauce
- Pollo Asado
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 when you try it by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) ! Also, sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
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