Cochinita Pibil Tacos from Mexico (Achiote Pork Tacos)

Cochinita Pibil Mexican Pork Tacos- Kid World CitizenPreparing food from another culture is armchair travel at its finest: instead of looking at pictures or passively hearing a story, your family can eat their way through the globe.  From another perspective, those who eat a specially prepared meal from their homeland can be a nostalgic experience- one that stirs up happy memories. For my husband, who was born and spent most of his life in Mexico City, tacos al pastor will always remind him of hanging out with friends and stopping with them at a street vendor to eat the juicy pork tacos, topped with pineapple, cilantro and onion. Fried quesadillas remind him of evenings when his parents would spontaneously take him and his siblings in their pajamas to grab a quick bite to eat on the weekends. The smell of mole verde transports him to his grandma’s house, and warm family dinners around her dining room table. Cochinita pibil, an achiote-rubbed, tender pork dish, reminds my husband of a wonderful road trip he took with his family throughout the Yucatan Peninsula (where his grandfather is from, and where this dish is famous). Here is our recipe for cochinita pibil: real tacos from southeast Mexico.

Before the recipe, I’d just like to clarify a couple of points about Mexican tacos:

  • there are no hard shelled tacos (except imported ones at Walmart)
  • tacos do not need cheese, olives, green onions, or sour cream
  • ground beef is not normally used in tacos; when prepared as picadillo (with raisins, tomatoes, almonds, olives, hard boiled egg, etc), it is eaten with rice.

This is an extremely easy recipe, with so few ingredients you’ll think I’ve forgotten something- and yet your kids will LOVE it. Thank you Norma (my mother-in-law) for allowing us to share your recipe with our readers!

1) In either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker (both techniques produce extremely tender meat) place pork tenderloin or pork shoulder roast.

2) Mix together a generous amount of achiote paste*, plus 2T olive oil, and the juice of one lime. Rub this paste all over the pork. (*You can find this in Mexican supermarkets or on-line. Random fact: ground achiote seeds are what make cheddar cheese orange).

Achiote Cochinita Pibil Mexico- Kid World Citizen

3) Sprinkle sliced onions on top.

4) Add an inch of orange juice.

5) Cook in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4. Follow the manual to cook in the pressure cooker. It is finished when the meat is falling off the bone, and very easy to shred.Cochinita Pibil Mexico Tacos- Kid World CItizen

6) Serve with avocado slices and purple onions “pickled” (marinated) in lime juice and salt. Warm up the corn tortillas one by one in a flat comal or griddle (or whatever nonstick pan you have), and wrap them in a towel until they are ready to be eaten. Eating Mexican Tacos- Kid World Citizen

Your kids will love the sweet and tangy orange juice taste, and incredibly tender meat! Do you or your kids have a special dish that brings back memories? If you are in a multicultural family, what dishes do you want your kids to grow up with? Share it with us here, on facebook or on twitter. I love to learn how to cook new foods, and my kids love to taste them!

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  1. Laurie says

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the great recipe, Becky! And what cute kids you have to gobble up all of those tacos :)

  2. jbwm says

    I love this recipe because it is so good, so easy and you can put whatever toppings you’d like on the tacos!

  3. Lyn says

    I am a fan of Mexican cuisine and I think their food is tasty and healthy, I enjoy eating tortillas, burritos, quesadillas, mole poblano, pico de gallo(Mexican salsa), fajitas and etc.. :)

  4. says

    I always learn so much from your posts – I didn’t know that achiote was in cheddar cheese! And any idea where the hard-shelled tacos came from? The tacos look delicious, and you describe so beautifully the power of food to both connect us with home and introduce us to other places.


What do you think? I love to hear from my readers:).