Tacos al Pastor

I fell in love with this spicy, pineapply pork dish after I ate at Tuck Shop in Phoenix.   (You can see my review at the bottom.)  Their Street Taco Salad was amazing!

Street Taco Salad from Tuck Shop in Phoenix:  al pastor con pina, grilled corn, pickled carrot, avocado crema


I had to research Tacos al Pastor as soon as I returned.  (That was 2 1/2 years ago so it’s taken me a while to land on a recipe!)

A “trompo” of pastor meat (image from Wikipedia)

I would like to try the authentic Shawarma spit-grilled meat some time but this is a good substitute.

Tacos al Pastor

 Steven Raichlen 

This recipes makes a pretty darn good fake recipe of the true shaved-off spit roasted street food.


  • 1 large white onion, halved
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 c.  fresh cara cara orange juice*
  • 1/4 c. chive vinegar*
  • 1/4 c. ancho chile powder*
  • 3 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 t. fine pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 t. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 large or 2 small chipotle chiles and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo from canned chipotle chiles in adobo*
  • 1 2 1/2-to 3-pound boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges


  1. Coarsely chop one-half of the onion.  Set the other half aside for later.
  2. Coarsely chop 2 pineapple rounds, discarding core; cover and chill remaining pineapple.
  3. Place chopped onion and chopped pineapple in blender. Add orange juice and next 7 ingredients; puree marinade until smooth. Place pork in large resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag, releasing excess air. Turn to coat. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
  4. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill remaining pineapple until warm and slightly charred, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Grill pork with some marinade still clinging until slightly charred and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer pineapple and pork to work surface; chop pineapple into 1/2-inch cubes, discarding cores. Chop pork.

    We finally used our ulu knife for fast work.

  6. Toss to combine and transfer to platter.
  7. Meanwhile, finely chop remaining onion half and place in medium bowl. Add cilantro; toss to combine. Grill tortillas until warm and slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.
  8. Serve pork-pineapple mixture with onion-cilantro relish and lime wedges.

Yield: 6-8

*I substituted cara cara orange juice because that’s what I had on the counter.   I thought some homemade chive vinegar would be a good complement so I used that instead of of white distilled vinegar called for in the original recipe.  Finally, instead of guajillo chile powder, I used ancho chile powder.  The chipotle chiles in adobo I used were homemade.  I added the entire container (about a scant 1/4 cup).

Another tip is to not core the pineapple until after you grill them.  It keeps them from falling apart.

I love the marinade and will use it the next time we smoke a pork shoulder.  The tacos were good but I would have grilled the pork a little crispier and probably decreased the amount of grilled pineapple that was mixed in.  This recipe makes a lot so we are using the remaining leftovers in rice bowls, adding the cilantro-onion relish along with a bit of soy sauce.

Tacos al Pastor is a great recipe to make for a group, especially when you’ll all be outside.  We cooked and chopped and served all on our patio.   We both commented that we needed to remember this recipe for the next cookout!

(Doh!  It just dawned on me as I was posting photos that I didn’t use lime wedges as a garnish.  They actually did need a bit of acid!!!)

Note that the older the leftovers, the mushier the meat gets.  I attribute this to the pineapple’s tendency to be a meat tenderizer.  (The meat didn’t freeze well either.)

Read Debra K.‘s review of Tuck Shop on Yelp

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