Oven-Friendly Tacos Al Pastor

Amy Hand
Amy Hand

Amy Hand

Amy worked as the head pastry chef and the head chef at multiple restaurants in South Africa. She now shares her professional insights about cooking and kitchen tools here at The Skillful Cook.

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Oven-friendly tacos al pastor

This al pastor recipe is designed with small kitchens in mind so you can bring this classic Mexican dish into your home without compromising on the taste. The chili and pineapple marinade tenderizes the pork and infuses it with an intense depth of unforgettable flavor.

Originating in Central Mexico, al pastor is traditionally cooked on a vertical spit where the thinly sliced pork shoulder is layered to create what’s known as a trompo. At either end of the trompo is half a pineapple that is sliced and served with the meat. The trompo would usually be cooked on a barbecue or over an open fire. 

The issue is that most of us don’t have space for a trompo in our small, rented apartment ovens, let alone room for a whole barbeque! So I decided to design a recipe that delivers all the flavours of this classic dish but makes it more accessible to the average home cook. Removing the trompo and cooking the pork on a baking sheet is an easy way to maintain the flavor while making it possible in a small oven. But I have also included a trompo method for those of you who want to try it the traditional way.

Why you will love this tacos Al Pastor recipe

  • Small oven-friendly- The trombo only works if you have BBQ space or a large oven, but many of us don’t have access to that. Anyone can make this recipe, no matter what kitchen you’re working with.
  • Short prep time- The majority of the time involved in this recipe is spent marinating. The actual prep itself is so minimal and then all you need is time.
  • Jerk spices – The iconic spice profile of jerk chicken is front and center in this recipe.
  • Rich chili pork flavor- Combining guajillo peppers and chipotle in adobo with the toasted aromatics creates a deep flavor that permeates the meat beautifully.
  • Classic Mexican recipe- This traditional recipe is usually reserved for street stalls and Mexican restaurants, where it is a huge hit.
  • Perfect taco filling- The mix of the spicy pork with the seasoned, caramelized pineapple is an ideal, delicately balanced taco filling. It also pairs well with other traditional taco toppings.

Expert tips before you start…

  • Ask your butcher. Unless you have a Mexican supermarket nearby, finding thinly cut pork shoulder on the shelves may be challenging. In this case, you can simply ask your butcher to portion and slice exactly how much pork you need. 
  • Always toast your spices. This is a crucial step that so many home cooks skip out on. Toasting the spices will eliminate that raw flavor and create a much deeper flavor.
  • Give the marinade time. 4 hours is the minimum marinating time, but I urge you to let it go overnight. This is not only for flavor but also to give the pineapple time to tenderize the pork sufficiently.
  • For the broiler method, quick cooking is essential. The pork is very thinly sliced, so it doesn’t need a lot of cooking. A quick 6-8 minutes under the broiler, and the pork should be perfectly tender.
Tacos al pastor recipe

Oven-Friendly Tacos Al Pastor

All the spice and sweetness of this traditional Mexican dish is possible with this small oven-friendly recipe. The prep is minimal, but the flavor is not one you’ll forget in a hurry.
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Prep Time 1 day 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Assembly 10 minutes
Total Time 1 day 23 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 525 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 8 dried guajillo peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tin pineapple chunks (juice and chunks separated)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 3 lb pork shoulder or tenderloin cut thinly
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt

For the trompo method (optional):

  • 1 whole pineapple

Instructions
 

  • Gather the ingredients.
    Ingredients for tacos Al Pastor

Prepare the marinade:

  • Remove the seeds and stems from the guajillo chillis. Soak in hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.
    Soaked guajilo peppers
  • Roughly chop the onion and and the garlic. No need for a neat dice; they will end up being blended anyway.
  • Place the black peppercorns, cumin, ground cloves, and ground ginger into a cold pan and turn the heat up to medium. This will allow the spices to toast slowly. Once the spices are fragrant, add the oil and allow it to warm. Then, add the onions and garlic. Toast off the aromatics until the onions have softened and browned slightly.
  • Place the onion mixture, guajillo peppers, chipotle peppers, apple cider vinegar, and ¼ cup of the pineapple juice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Prepare and marinade the meat:

  • If the pork is in very large pieces, cut it into smaller, more manageable chunks.
    Cutting meat into smaller chunks
  • Pour the marinade over the pork and massage it into the meat until every piece is evenly covered. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade for a minimum of 4 hours but, ideally, overnight.
    Meat in the marinade

Cook the taco fillings:

  • Preheat your oven to 500 F on the broil setting. Cover a baking sheet in tin foil and spread the pineapple chunks across it. Sprinkle over the salt and smoked paprika and mix until the chunks are evenly coated. Broil for 20 minutes are until the pineapple turns golden.
  • Place the pork in one even layer on a baking sheet, removing any extra marinade first. You will need to do a few batches. Broil the pork for 6-8 minutes.

Trompo cooking method (Optional):

  • Place the bottom half of the pineapple on a baking sheet and pierce it through the center with a long skewer. Piece by piece, layer the pork on top of the pineapple to form an even tower. Top with the other slice of pineapple.
    Al pastor trompo method
  • Slow cook for 2.5-3 hours at 275 F or until the internal temperature reaches 145 F.
  • Cut the pork into small, bite-sized pieces and serve in tacos with the pineapple, salsa, and guacamole.
    Oven-friendly tacos al pastor

Nutrition

Calories: 525kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 43gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 751mgPotassium: 1157mgFiber: 11gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 2251IUVitamin C: 114mgCalcium: 74mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Pineapple, Pork Belly, Spicy, Taco
Tried this recipe?Let us know how if you liked it in the comments below!

Serving Suggestions

Al pastor is traditionally served as a taco-filling, so why not whip up some homemade flour or corn tortillas to serve your al pastor in?

Storage Suggestions

The leftover al pastor can be transferred to an airtight container when it has cooled. It can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

The cooked pork can also be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Tacos Al Pastor FAQ

What is the meaning of al pastor?

Al pastor translates to ‘shepherd style’, which refers to the traditional cooking style of cooking a trompo over a fire.

Is al pastor spicy? 

Even though the marinade has a lot of chilis in it, the actual flavor is only mildly spicy. It’s a very approachable dish for those who don’t eat a lot of spice.

Does al pastor always have pineapple?

Traditional al pastor features pineapple as a key ingredient as it adds sweetness to the salty, spicy pork. But I know many people don’t like that combo, so feel free to leave it out if it’s not to your taste.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Let us know in the comments below and share the pictures of the final result!

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Amy Hand
About The Author
After finding the chef life a little too high-paced, Amy decided to take her cooking skills and use them to teach others through food writing. She uses her knowledge as a pastry chef and experience as a head chef to write articles that are engaging and helpful while being as entertaining as possible.

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