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An easy and delicious take on Tacos Al Pastor with grilled chicken marinated in Al Pastor Chilies and Pineapple Marinade.

Tacos Al Pastor

Do you love enjoying Tacos Al Pastor in your favorite Mexican Restaurant? Imagine serving same fire-pit style juicy charred Chicken Al Pastor tacos at home, made from scratch with lots of pineapples and chilies. Only 15 minutes prep and easy to find ingredients. I'm certain, this easy recipe will make your next taco night extra special! 

This recipe is also summer approved because I'm sharing instructions (and tips) to grill chicken al pastor outdoor. (Oven roasted version is bonus for weeknights. Check directions for both)

Traditional Al Pastor, or Tacos Al Pastor, is prepared Greek Shawarma-style or Dönar Kabob style on an iron rod which revolves around fire-pit to roast the meat as it rotates. Resulting meat is juicy, and has smokey fire-roast flavor. Meat ( chicken or pork) is layered with rings of pineapple. Pineapple grills with meat, juice of grilling pineapple add sweetness to roasting meat. Overall, a lot of deliciousness goes into this humble shepherd-style chicken roast famous by name Al Pastor.

One thing to note is there is no Al Pastor without Pineapple. Every time I have had Al Pastor Tacos, pineapple is the star flavor. So, please don't skimp or skip pineapple from this recipe.

Tacos Al Pastor with pineapple and salsa verde

How to make Tacos Al Pastor At Home:

My goal was to share Al Pastor recipe which highlights Al Pastor fire-roast flavor, pineapple flavor but is easily prepared at home.

Al Pastor Marinade:

First step to delicious Al Pastor Tacos is Al Pastor marinade. The base marinade ingredients are garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, and oregano. Two key ingredients which make this marinade special are: Guajillo Chilies and Pineapple. I toast and soak dried chilies in hot water. When chilies are soft, I puree these with pineapple, pineapple juice, garlic, lemon juice, oil, tomato paste, oregano and cilantro. The resulting marinade has bright citrus and pineapple forward flavor with very subtle heat of chilies. It tastes so good, I even use it as enchilada sauce.

Chicken marinating in Al Pastor Marinade with Pineapple

Cooked vs Fresh Pineapple: One of the key ingredient in Al Pastor marinade is pineapple. I have tried this recipe with both fresh and canned pineapple. My vote goes to canned pineapple packed in pineapple juice. I like it because it gave me consistent flavor of pineapple every time I tried. (I use both juice and pineapple in marinade.)

I would only use fresh pineapple if and only pineapple is fully ripe and juicy. When using fresh, I recommend juicing few slices of pineapple or bring a can of pineapple juice to add punch of flavor in the marinade.

Note: Even though it is a chilies based marinade, it is not very high in heat.

Chicken Al Pastor Skewers

Cooking Al Pastor:

To get that charred, fire-roasted Al Pastor flavor at home, grill or oven broiler is the way to go. This is why I love grilling Al Pastor like Greek Kabobs skewed on iron skewers. The open flame caramelize the sweetness of pineapple in marinade bringing close-to-original flavor in homemade easy el Pastor tacos recipe.

For juicy caramelized chicken kabobs, I brush chicken with more pineapple juice while grilling. This also mimics the fire-pit flavor of roasted pineapple dripping on chicken.

You can also skew additional pieces of pineapple along with chicken for more grille pineapple flavor. I love keeping meat-only skewers so that I can grill'em perfectly without worrying for fruit over-grilled or falling apart.

Tip: Cook pineapple separately on grill for serving or making salsa.

Serving Suggestion: You can also serve Al Pastor like a Mexican Platter with side of pineapple, salsa verde, and soft tortillas to make-your-own tacos for Tacos Tuesday or Sunday Grilled Dinner.

Grilled Chicken Al Pastor

Al Pastor Tacos:

No wonder Tacos Al Pastor is second name for Al Pastor because THE best way to enjoy charred, juicy, sweet and spicy Al Pastor meat is to wrap it in soft tortillas with some zesty salsa, more pineapple and red onion. These simple ingredients bring out the flavor of gajjillo chili marinade, pineapple and make a delicious taco experience.

My favorite Al Pastor Tacos Toppings:

1. A zesty, citrus-y salsa such as Salsa Verde
2. Grilled or fresh pineapple, or lime-pineapple salsa. 
3. Red Onion
4. Pickled Radish
5. Sour Cream
6. Lime wedges for extra splash

Simple, isn't it? Idea is to let Al Pastor meat shine on tacos. I can tell you, that is the key to serving good, delicious Tacos Al Pastor! I hope you will enjoy'em as much as we do.

From my grill to yours, another Mexican favorite, The Tacos Al Pastor recipe. (check!)

Have a wonderful day! - Savita

Delicious Grilled El Pastor Chicken

More salsa recipes to serve on side:

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Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor
Total Time Prep Time Cook Time Difficulty Easy Yields 4 Servings Serves

Ingredients

    Al Pastor Marinade
  • 2 lbs Chicken  (breast, diced into cubes for 6 skewers)
  • 8 Oz Pineapple  (sliced pineapple, packed in pineapple juice)
  • 3 Guajillo Chili  (Or 2 Guajillo and 1 Ancho Chili)
  • 4-5 Garlic  (cloves)
  • 2-3 Lemon  (1/4 cup juice and tsp zest)
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro  (more for serving )
  • 1 tsp Oregano  
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste  
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper  
  • 1 Bouillon Cube  
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil  
  • 1/2 tsp Salt  (adjust to taste)
  • Al Pastor Tacos
  • Salsa  (salsa verde, recipe in notes)
  • Tortillas  
  • Red Onion  
  • Sour Cream  
  • 2-3 Lime  (or lemon, sliced to wedges)
  • Radish  (red radish, pickled, **recipe in notes (optional))

Directions

Hide Step Photos
  • 1. Boil 2 cup water . While water boils, heat a skillet. Cut open the chilies and toast on dry skillet for 1-2 minute to awaken the flavors. Add chilies to hot water and leave aside for 20 minutes or until skin softens.
    Additional Notes
    Don't let chilies burn. Just toast on medium gentle heat.
  • 2. In blender jar, add chilies and 1/4 cup of soaking liquid (discard rest of soaking liquid). Add rest of al pastor marinade ingredients with 2 slice of pineapple and 1/4 cup pineapple juice. Blend to make puree. Taste and adjust salt.
    Additional Notes
    Reserve remaining pineapple slices for serving. Reserve remaining pineapple juice for Step-5 and quick pickling Red Radish.
  • Step for Recipe - Tacos Al Pastor
    3. Add marinade with chicken into a container with tight lid. Coat chicken in marinade. Cover with lid. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes (max overnight). When ready to grill, skew chicken on metal skewers. Discard leftover marinade.
    Step for Recipe - Tacos Al Pastor
    4. When ready to grill, skew chicken on metal skewers. Discard leftover marinade.
  • Step for Recipe - Tacos Al Pastor
    5. Oven - Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Bake at 10-12 minutes or until done and slightly charred at edges. Grill - Preheat grill at medium (375-400). Spray with oil and grill for 10-12 minutes. Baste with reserved pineapple juice 1-2 times in last 4-5 minutes.
    Additional Notes
    Keep an eye last few minutes as small size pieces of chicken breast cook way quickly, and can dry out if cooked too long.
    Step for Recipe - Tacos Al Pastor
    6. Serve on tacos topped with *salsa verde, more chopped pineapple, red onion, **pickled red radish, and drizzle of sour cream. Enjoy!
Savita's Notes:

*Salsa Verde: Check Salsa Verde recipe here.

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9 comment(s)

  1. What a lovely sounding combination of flavors. I know what you mean about the pineapple. Fresh is great, but there can be an inconsistency in the texture and sweetness.

    Thanks Pam. Can't beat flavor of pineapple with pastor. So, consistent sweet, tropical flavor is must have.
  2. Al pastor tacos are my favorite!! This version with chicken is delicious!! Nicely done! Mouthwatering pictures!!

    Thanks Camila. Looks like we have same favorite.
  3. My mouth is watering! Can't wait to try. We love Mexican food around here and could eat it daily!

    Thanks Lisa. I hope you get chance to try it soon!
  4. That looks so delicious! I love grilled chicken with fruit flavors! I will have to try this next time I am grilling (which is all the time in the summer!)
  5. This is amazing looking and seriously mouth watering . I would make this for my family soon they will all love it.. Thanks for posting!
  6. Your photos are wonderful! The marinade sounds mouthwatering and I will be pinning this to try it!