Tacos De Trompo (Tacos Al Pastor)

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Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo) is a mouthwatering Mexican dish featuring thinly sliced marinated pork grilled with pineapple and red onion for a flavorful and slightly sweet combination. Served on warm corn tortillas and garnished with traditional toppings like diced onions, cilantro, and lime, it offers a delightful balance of smoky, tangy, and savory flavors! If you like taco de adobada or tacos arabes, you’ll love this dish, too.

Serve with Mexican Fruit Salad.

Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- assembled tacos with all the fix-ins in in a basket with parchment paper underneath.
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Recipe Inspiration

I am normally not a fan of fruit grilled with meat, but it is a must with traditional tacos al pastor, and I love it this way! I fell in love with this traditional Mexican dish on our recent trip to Mexico, and I had to create an authentic yet easy version I could make at home.

Our family adores Mexican cuisine; this homemade al pastor pork makes the most delicious tacos! Try making a shrimp version of this taco by using the leftovers from Pan Seared Garlic Butter Shrimp!

You will also love my Pollo Asado Recipe and Leftover Turkey Tacos.

Simple Ingredients

ingredient shot for recipe.

Meat and Marinade

  • Thinly sliced boneless pork shoulder or pork butt: This cut of pork works best for tacos al pastor as it becomes tender and flavorful when marinated and cooked. Thin slices of pork shoulder absorb the marinade and create lots of flavors.
  • Achiote paste: A paste made from ground annatto seeds adds a vibrant red color and a unique earthy and slightly peppery flavor to the flavorful marinade. The most important ingredient to creating a unique flavor.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic provides aromatic notes and enhances the overall savory profile of the dish.
  • Ground cumin: A warm and aromatic spice that imparts the marinade a smoky and slightly nutty flavor.
  • Dried Mexican oregano: Adds a distinctive herbal flavor and fragrance to the marinade. A good substitute is an Italian oregano.
  • Smoked paprika: A spice made from dried and smoked red peppers, it contributes a smoky and slightly sweet taste to the marinade.
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Pineapple juice: Provides a sweetness and acidity to the marinade, helping tenderize the pork and add a tangy note to the final dish.
  • White vinegar: Adds tanginess and helps to tenderize the meat further.
  • Vegetable oil: Used to incorporate the marinade ingredients and ensure they adhere well to the pork.
  • Pineapple Slices: Fresh pineapple pieces grilled with the pork lend a sweet and slightly caramelized flavor that complements the savory meat.
  • Red onion rounds: Thick slices of red onion that are grilled alongside the pork and pineapple, imparting a slightly charred and sweet flavor to the dish.
How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- ingredients

For Serving

  • Corn tortillas: Traditional tortillas made from masa (corn dough) provide a soft and slightly chewy base for the tacos.
  • Diced onions: Raw onions, typically white or red, add a crisp texture and sharp flavor to the finished tacos.
  • Chopped fresh cilantro: A fragrant herb that adds brightness and a fresh, herbal taste to the dish.
  • Lime wedges: Served alongside the tacos, they provide a burst of acidity to cut through the richness and enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.

See the recipe card for quantities.

Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- assembled tacos on a plate ready to eat. Limes and parsley on the side.

How to Make Tacos De Trompo

These homemade al pastor tacos are simple to make! They are a very popular dish at Mexican restaurants and now you can make them at home with great flavor and little effort.

How to make- Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)-

In a bowl, prepare the marinade by combining the achiote paste, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, pineapple juice, vinegar, and vegetable oil. Mix until combined.

How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- marinating the meat.

Use a sharp knife to slice pork into thin slices—place in a large mixing bowl or resealable plastic bag.
Add the thinly sliced pork shoulder to the marinade, ensuring each piece is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.

How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- placing meat on grill.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the meat for 7 to 8 minutes per side or until the outer layer of meat is slightly charred.

How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- meat after it is grilled.

An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece should read at least 145°F.

How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- grilling the pineapple on the grill.

Transfer the pork to a platter or baking sheet and grill the onion and pineapple slices on both sides until slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side.

How to make Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- grilling the tortillas.

Warm the corn tortillas on a dry skillet or grill for a few seconds on each side until pliable.

Grilled al pastor meat on a plate.

Note: Adjust cook time depending on the meat slices’ thickness and desired char level on the pineapple and onions. Keep an eye on them while grilling to prevent overcooking or burning.

Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- cutting the meat, pineapple, and onion all on a serving platter ready to assemble into tacos.

Place meat on a cutting board and slice it into thin pieces. Cut pineapple and onions into bite-size pieces. 

Place a few slices of cooked pork, grilled pineapple, and red onion onto each warm corn tortilla to assemble the trompo tacos. Top with diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
Serve the tacos al pastor immediately and enjoy the delicious flavors!

Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- assembled tacos on a plate ready to eat.

Best Toppings for Tacos Al Pastor

The traditional toppings for al pastor are onion, pineapple, cilantro, and lime. Here are more ideas:

  • Salsa Varieties: Experiment with different types of salsas, such as salsa verde, salsa roja, or pico de gallo, to accompany your tacos.
  • Guacamole: Add a dollop of homemade or store-bought guacamole for a creamy and flavorful addition.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Consider serving pickled onions, jalapeños, or radishes as a tangy and crunchy topping.
  • Refried Beans: Serve the tacos with a side of refried beans for a classic Mexican pairing.
Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- assembled tacos with all the fix-ins in in a basket with parchment paper underneath.

Variations and Substitutions

These are the best tacos al pastor! Here are some variations for the next time you make them.

  • Meat Variations:
    • Chicken: Instead of pork for Tacos Al Pastor Recipe, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast. Marinate and cook them in a similar manner as the pork.
    • Beef: While not as traditional, you can experiment with using thinly sliced beef, such as skirt steak or flank steak, for a different flavor profile.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Options:
    • Tofu: marinade extra firm tofu in a modified version of the marinade or your choice of spices and grill or pan-fried until crispy.
    • Seitan: Marinated and grilled seitan can provide a hearty and flavorful substitute if you prefer a meat-like texture.
  • Marinade Variations:
    • Citrus Twist: Add freshly squeezed lime or orange juice to the marinade for a citrusy kick.
    • Chipotle Heat: Incorporate chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smoky and spicy twist.
    • Mexican-Inspired: Include other traditional Mexican spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ancho chili powder to infuse additional flavors into the marinade.
  • Grilling Alternatives:
    • Broiling: If you don’t have access to a grill, you can achieve similar results by broiling the marinated meat, pineapple, and onion in the oven on a lined baking sheet. Flip them halfway through to ensure even cooking.
    • Pan-Frying: Without a grill, cook the marinated meat, pineapple, and onion in a hot skillet with a little oil. Brown them on both sides until cooked through and slightly charred.
Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- grilled meat on a decorative mexican plate with all the toppings on the side.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

  • Refrigerate: Place the leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. The meat and toppings should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Reheating: It’s best to reheat the meat separately from the tortillas and toppings. You can warm the meat in a skillet or the microwave until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet or wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave for a short time to make them pliable. Add fresh toppins and enjoy!

Top tips

  • Marinating Time: Give the pork enough time to marinate for maximum flavor. Overnight marination is recommended, but if you’re short on time, aim for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  • Thin Slices: Slice the pork shoulder into thin, uniform slices. This allows for quicker and more even cooking, ensuring the meat remains tender and juicy.
  • Achiote Paste: Achiote paste is a key ingredient for the distinct flavor of al pastor. Look for authentic achiote paste, which can be found in Latin American grocery stores or online. It provides a characteristic red color and earthy taste to the marinade.
  • Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice not only adds sweetness but also helps to tenderize the meat. Its natural enzymes break down proteins, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final dish.
  • Grilling Techniques: If grilling outdoors, use medium-high heat to achieve a nice char on the meat. For stove-top cooking, use a hot skillet to sear the meat and create a similar effect.
  • Charred Pineapple and Onion: Aim for some charring to enhance their flavors when grilling the pineapple and onion. The slight caramelization adds a delicious smoky and sweet element to the tacos.
  • Proper Tortillas: Use fresh, high-quality corn tortillas for an authentic touch. Warm them slightly on a dry skillet or grill to make them pliable and enhance their flavor.

FAQs

Meaning of Al Pastor in English

The term “Al Pastor” translates to “In the style of the shepherd” (shepherd style) in English. The name “al pastor” is derived from the method of cooking meat on a vertical spit, similar to how shepherds would traditionally cook their meat over an open fire which was popular in northern Mexico.

What’s the difference between carnitas and al pastor?

Carnitas and al pastor are popular Mexican meat dishes, but they differ in a few ways. Carnitas are made from braised pork cooked slowly until tender and crispy, resulting in juicy and flavorful meat. On the other hand, Al pastor involves marinating thinly sliced pork in a combination of spices, such as achiote, and cooking it on a vertical spit, giving it a distinct charred and smoky flavor. Additionally, while carnitas are often served in larger chunks, al pastor is typically sliced thin and served on tortillas with toppings like pineapple, onions, and cilantro.

What is Mexican Oregano?

Mexican oregano has a strong, citrusy, earthy flavor with hints of mild licorice and mint. It is a staple herb in Mexican cuisine and is often used to add a unique and aromatic touch to salsas, marinades, soups, stews, and meat dishes.

What is the best meat for al pastor recipe?

The traditional and most commonly used meat for tacos al pastor is pork. Specifically, pork shoulder or pork butt (also known as pork shoulder butt or Boston butt) is often preferred due to its marbling and tenderness.
The pork shoulder has enough fat to keep the meat moist and flavorful during cooking. Thinly sliced pork shoulder works exceptionally well for tacos al pastor as it absorbs the marinade flavors and cooks quickly on the grill or stovetop, resulting in juicy and delicious meat.

What is the origin of this recipe?

Traditional tacos al pastor, also known as tacos de trompo, originated in Mexico in the 19th century through the culinary influence of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. (Much like the similar dish tacos arabes) Adapted from the Middle Eastern method of cooking meat on a vertical rotisserie (lamb shwarma or gyro meat), the dish marries pork with spices like achiote paste, garlic, and pineapple juice. The meat is then cooked on a rotating trompo, sliced thin, and served on corn tortillas with toppings such as onions, cilantro, and pineapple. Tacos al pastor has become a beloved street food, especially in Mexico city, showcasing the fusion of Mexican and Middle Eastern flavors in a delicious and iconic dish.

Can this recipe be made in the oven?

You can easily make this recipe in the oven.
– Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
– Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Arrange the marinated pork slices on the baking sheet, ensuring they are in a single layer.
– Add pineapple chunks and red onion rounds to the baking sheet alongside the pork slices.
– Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and slightly charred and the pineapple and onions are caramelized.
– Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the meat rest for a few minutes. – Transfer the pork, pineapple, and onions to a cutting board. Thinly slice the cooked pork.

Looking for other recipes? Try these:

What to Serve with Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe

If desired, serve with cilantro rice, Mexican corn, and a side of black beans.

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Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)- assembled tacos on a plate ready to eat. Limes and parsley on the side.

Tacos De Trompo Recipe

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Homemade Tacos Al Pastor Recipe (Tacos De Trompo)– is a mouthwatering Mexican dish featuring thinly sliced marinated pork, grilled along with pineapple and red onion for a flavorful and slightly sweet combination. Served on warm corn tortillas and garnished with traditional toppings like diced onions, cilantro, and lime, it offers a delightful balance of smoky, tangy, and savory flavors!

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Marinade:

  • 2 pounds (900g) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (any non-flavored oil will work)

For grilling:

  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into rings or chunks
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced into thick rounds

For serving:

  • Corn tortillas (or flour tortillas)
  • Diced onions
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, prepare the marinade by combining the achiote paste, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, pineapple juice, vinegar, and vegetable oil. Mix until combined.
  2. Use a sharp knife to slice pork into thin slices—place in a large mixing bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  3. Add the thinly sliced pork shoulder to the marinade, ensuring each piece is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the meat for 7 to 8 minutes per side or until the outer layer of meat is slightly charred. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece should read at least 145°F.
  5. Transfer the pork to a platter or baking sheet and grill the onion and pineapple slices on both sides until slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side.
  6. Place meat on a cutting board and slice it into thin pieces. Cut pineapple and onions into bite-size pieces. 
  7. Warm the corn tortillas on a dry skillet or grill for a few seconds on each side until pliable.
  8. Place a few slices of cooked pork, grilled pineapple, and red onion onto each warm corn tortilla to assemble the tacos. Top with diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  9. Serve the tacos al pastor immediately and enjoy the delicious flavors!

Note: Adjust cook time depending on the meat slices’ thickness and desired char level on the pineapple and onions. Keep an eye on them while grilling to prevent overcooking or burning.

Notes

Tips

Marinating Time: Give the pork enough time to marinate for maximum flavor. Overnight marination is recommended, but if you’re short on time, aim for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Thin Slices: Slice the pork shoulder into thin, uniform slices. This allows for quicker and more even cooking, ensuring that the meat remains tender and juicy.

Achiote Paste: Achiote paste is a key ingredient for the distinct flavor of al pastor. Look for authentic achiote paste, which can be found in Latin American grocery stores or online. It provides the characteristic red color and earthy taste to the marinade.

Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice not only adds sweetness but also helps to tenderize the meat. Its natural enzymes break down proteins, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final dish.

Grilling Techniques: If grilling outdoors, use a medium-high heat to achieve a nice char on the meat. For stove-top cooking, use a hot skillet to sear the meat and create a similar effect.

Charred Pineapple and Onion: When grilling the pineapple and onion, aim for some charring to enhance their flavors. The slight caramelization adds a delicious smoky and sweet element to the tacos.

Proper Tortillas: Use fresh, high-quality corn tortillas for an authentic touch. Warm them slightly on a dry skillet or grill to make them pliable and enhance their flavor.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min + chill time
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Mexican
  • Cuisine: Mexican

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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