This Cochinita Pibil recipe is tender pork shoulder marinated in citrus juices, spices and slow roasted over low heat to perfection! This Mexican pork dish from the Yucatan area of Mexico is unbeatable!
Cochinita Pibil is wholly different in flavor than the pork I normally make for tacos (this Adobo Pork Street Tacos recipe). I've been eating Cochinita Pibil Tacos for years when we visit the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, but I have never attempted to recreate them at home!
This recipe below is an easy, adapted version of the traditional dish, reconfigured for modern kitchens and the products we can purchase here in the States.
Traditional Cochinita Pibil was made with a whole suckling pig (a baby pig), slathered in acidic juices and ground annatto seeds and other spices. It was wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over hot stones in a Mayan oven, sometimes underground!
We adapt this recipe by using the following ingredients. You'll need:
- Pork shoulder
- Orange juice
- Lime juice
- Achiote Paste: You can purchase the paste on Amazon here. Note: You can also try your hand at making your own achiote paste using this recipe. If you do this, you will need to purchase annatto seeds, whole allspice berries, and a few other common spices.
- A few common seasonings
That's it! You can see the quantities and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. This recipe is actually simple, it's just all about allowing enough time for the acidic marinade to sink into the meat, and the slow roast.
I like to marinate the pork on Saturday, then throw the marinated pork in the oven on Sunday morning. It makes the house smell amazing!
Cooking Method Alternatives
We use a convention oven for this recipe, but there are several other ways to cook this delicious pork:
- Slow Cooker: Roast the marinated pork in your crock pot for 8 to 10 hours on low heat.
- Smoker: Smoke at 225 degrees Fahrehneit for 10 hours. Loosen aluminum foil in the last hour of smoking to allow some of the smoke flavor in.
- Instant Pot: Pressure cook the pork for 60 minutes, allow to naturally release.
Traditional accompaniments for Cochinita Pibil:
- Red Onions
- Fresh Cilantro
- Warm corn tortillas
- Lime wedges
- Queso fresco or cotija cheese crumbles
- Instead of lime juice, try lemon juice, white vinegar or grapefruit juice
- Unfortunately, there is no adequate substitute for the achiote paste, regardless of what other articles may tell you. It's a unique flavor that's not easily replicated!
This recipe is even better the following day! Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I like to make tacos, enchiladas and burrito bowls with it!
- 3-4 pounds whole pork butt (pork shoulder), cubed into 1.5'' pieces
For the marinade:
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3.5 ounces achiote paste
- ½ cup lime juice
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Additional lime wedges, fresh cilantro, cotija cheese crumbles
- First, make the marinade. To a food processor or blender, add orange juice, lime juice, achiote paste and spices.
- Place pork cubes into large Ziploc bag and seal, pressing out as much air as possible from the bag.
- Pour the achiote mixture over pork, and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours.
- Once the pork is marinated, preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a 9x13'' baking dish or a large Dutch oven with aluminum foil, leaving enough foil on each side to wrap over the top of the dish.
- Place marinated pork into aluminum foil, and cover with excess foil sheets.
- Add one more sheet of foil over the top of the dish to seal it tight. This will keep the moisture in!
- Bake for 4 hours, or until the pork easily shreds with a fork.
- Shred to pork and allow it to rest in the remaining juices for 10-20 minutes prior to serving.
- Serve warm with corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, crumbles of cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime juice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 635Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 426mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 53g
The nutrition for this recipe is calculated by an app, and may be incorrect.