Simple Step-by-Step Preparation of Authentic Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor are one of Mexico’s culinary gems, and their history is as rich and varied as their flavor. While many immediately associate them with Mexican cuisine, few know that their origin lies in the Eastern Arabic influence, adapted with native Mexican ingredients.

Despite being an iconic dish in Mexico City and many other parts of the country, Tacos al Pastor are not an ancestral food. Their history dates back to the arrival of Lebanese immigrants to Mexico in the 20th century.

These immigrants brought with them the tradition of cooking meat on a vertical spit, similar to shawarma. Over time, Mexicans adapted this technique and began using pork instead of lamb, marinating it with local spices and chilies, giving birth to what we know today as Tacos al Pastor.

Tacos al pastor recipe: Ingredients and Preparation

Close-Up Shot of Tacos on a Wooden Tray
Photo by Los Muertos Crew


For the marinade:

  • 2/3 cup of natural orange juice (preferably from sour oranges)
  • 1/3 cup of vinegar (ideally mild like cane, apple, or diluted wine)
  • 1 onion (use only half if it’s very large)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (white or black)
  • 20 achiote grains
  • 1 clove
  • 7 small red chilies (spicy or not, as preferred)

For the taco:

  • Corn tortillas (quantity as preferred)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Taco sauce to taste (green or red, spicy or not)
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 lb of pork loin (alternatively, leg or head meat)
  • 1 plate of lemons, halved


  1. Slice the pork into small strips or thin sheets.
  2. Open the chilies with a knife to remove seeds and veins. Soak in hot water for several minutes to soften.
  3. Wash and chop the onion. Peel the garlic.
  4. Blend all the marinade ingredients.
  5. Mix the marinade with the meat in a container. If necessary, add water to cover the meat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for several hours.
  6. Before cooking, wash and chop the cilantro. Peel and chop the onion and pineapple.
  7. Cook the meat on a hot griddle over high heat for a quick cook. Move the pieces to cook both sides.
  8. Warm the tortillas on the griddle using the meat’s fat.
  9. Serve the meat on the tortillas, add onion, cilantro, and pineapple slices. Accompany with lemons and sauce to taste.

Nutritional Information (per taco):

  • Calories: 95 kcal
  • Proteins: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15 g
  • Fats: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugars: 3 g
  • Sodium: 150 mg

Note: The nutritional information is an estimate based on the provided ingredients and may vary depending on the exact amounts and brands of products used.

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