This 5-ingredient cochinita pibil recipe is extra-easy to make in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, it’s full of the best savory citrusy flavors, and it can be served in everything from tacos to burritos, nachos and more.
We ate approximately 1 million tacos during our trip to Mexico City this summer. Which meant that, naturally, I came home with approximately 1 million new recipe ideas to try. (I hope you’re ready for lots of Mexican food this fall!) But amongst all of the amazing dishes we tasted, this trip officially convinced me that my first priority upon arriving back home needed to be finally learning how to make one of my favorite classic pork recipes that we saw offered at just about every street taco stand in Mexico City…
…cochinita pibil. ♡
Also known as puerco pibil or cochinita con achiote, this traditional Mexican pulled pork originally hails from the Yucatán Peninsula, but is now widely popular all over Mexico and beyond. The pork itself is flavored with a super-simple marinade of tart citrus juice and achiote paste (<– our bright-red starring ingredient that looks spicy, but actually tastes quite mild and delicious). Once the pork has been marinated in the achiote mixture, it is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground pit-bbq-style until it is ultra juicy and fall-apart tender and crazy delicious. It’s then shredded and served with pickled red onions and fresh cilantro, plus maybe a few sliced habañero peppers if you’re looking for an extra kick. Basically, think of cochinita pibil as carnitas’ more colorful, citrus-y, achiote-y, slow-cooked, cousin from down south. So flavorful and so good.
Well similar to pork carnitas, there are about a million ways to serve up cochinita pibil — loaded up into street tacos, tucked into burritos, sprinkled on nachos, or whatever else may sound good. Also, as is the case with most pulled pork recipes, I’m also pleased to report that cochinita pibil cooks up beautifully in the pressure cooker or slow cooker too! To be sure, this method would not be considered authentic. (Here is a recipe making pibil the traditional way.) But if you’re like me and don’t currently have easy access to banana leaves or an underground bbq pit, this recipe provides an accessible way to make a quick batch of cochinita pibil that still tastes absolutely amazing.
Oh and bonus?! With pressure cooking or slow-cooking, there’s also no need to let the pork marinate for hours and hours in advance before cooking. So all you need for this recipe is about ten minutes of prep time, plus about 1 hour in the Instant Pot (or 4-8 hours in the Crock-Pot). Then the most delicious batch of authentic-tasting cochinita pibil can be yours to enjoy in time for dinner.
Let’s make some!
Cochinita Pibil Ingredients:
Alright, let’s chat about the ingredient list first before we get to the actual recipe. To make cochinita pibil, you will need:
Achiote paste: The famous main ingredient of this dish! If you are new to working with achiote paste (pronounced ah-chee-oh-teh), it is a vivid red-orange seasoning paste made from ground annatto seeds and other Mexican seasonings. As I mentioned above, it looks like it packs a lot of heat! But in reality, it’s actually quite mild. You can purchase achiote paste Latino markets or on Amazon. (I recommend purchasing a brand without food coloring, such as Yucateco.) Or if you’re feeling inspired, you can make your own achiote paste from scratch instead.
Pork: In the Yucatán peninsula, cochinita (which means “baby pig”) pibil is traditionally made with suckling pig. But for this version, I recommend using pork shoulder or pork loin.
Orange and lime juice: This dish is also traditionally made with bitter Seville oranges, which you are welcome to use if your market carries them. But for an easy substitution, I recommend just using a mixture of freshly-squeezed orange juice and lime juice.
Ground cumin: I like adding in a teaspoon or so, just to round out the flavors in the marinade.
Salt and pepper: For seasoning.
Cochinita pibil is also traditionally served with the following toppings and/or sides:
corn or flour tortillas (for tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc)
How To Make Cochinita Pibil:
To make this easy cochinita pibil recipe in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) or Crock-Pot (slow cooker), simply…
Prep the marinade. Combine the achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice and cumin in a blender or food processor. Then pulse briefly until combined.
Toss the pork. Slice the pork into 1.5-inch chunks. Then place the pork in the bowl of your pressure cooker or slow cooker, drizzle the marinade evenly over the pork, and toss to combine. (Then go ahead and rinse out your blender right away to prevent the achiote from staining it!)
Pressure cook or slow cook. Place the lid on your pressure cooker (set the vent to “sealing”) or large slow cooker. Then either pressure cook on manual for 40 minutes, followed by a natural release of about 15 minutes. Or, slow cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours, until the pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
Shred. Use two forks to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Give it a good toss with the remaining juices.
Season. Give the pork a taste, then season with your desired amount of salt and pepper accordingly.
Serve. Then serve the pork while warm, garnished with pickled red onions and chopped fresh cilantro (plus crumbled cotija cheese, if you would like).
Cochinita pibil can also be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
See below for full recipe ingredient amounts and cooking instructions.
Possible Recipe Variations:
Want to customize your cochinita pibil recipe a bit? Feel free to…
Add an onion and/or garlic: For extra flavor, thinly slice half of a white onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the pork mixture as it cooks.
Add heat: Add some sliced jalapeño, serrano or habañero chiles to the pork mixture as it cooks. Or for more control over the heat, just use any of those sliced chiles as a topping!
Use vinegar: If you don’t have fresh lime juice on hand, you’re welcome to sub in 1/4 cup of white vinegar instead to make the orange achiote marinade a bit more bitter.
Make it crispy: Similar to my method for making carnitas, feel free to spread the cooked pork out on a large baking sheet and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to make the ends extra crispy if you would like.
Ways To Serve Cochinita Pibil:
There are so many ways to put a batch of cochinita pibil to delicious use! I’m especially partial to cochinita pibil tacos, topped with guacamole, pickled red onions, plus a sprinkle of cotija and cilantro. But it also tastes great in burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, tostadas, chimichangas, flautas, nachos, sopes, chilaquiles and more.
¡Buen provecho, everyone! Hope you enjoy this recipe! ♡
This 5-ingredient cochinita pibil recipe is extra-easy to make in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) or Crock-Pot (slow cooker), it’s full of the best sweet and savory citrusy flavors, and can be served in everything from tacos to burritos, nachos and more.
4 to 5 pounds pork shoulder or pork loin, cut into 1.5-inch chunks
Prep the marinade. Combine the achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice and cumin in a blender or food processor. Pulse briefly until combined.
Toss the pork. Place the pork in the bowl of your pressure cooker or slow cooker, then drizzle the pork evenly with the marinade. Toss briefly to combine. (Then rinse out your blender, so that the achiote does not stain it.)
Pressure cook or slow cook. Place the lid on your pressure cooker (setting the vent to “sealing”) or slow cooker. Then either pressure cook the pork on manual for 40 minutes, followed by a 15-minute natural release. Or slow cook the pork on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours, until the pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
Shred. Remove the lid. Use two forks to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces, then toss it briefly with the remaining juices.
Season. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. (I used about 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.)
Serve. Serve warm, garnished with pickled red onions and chopped fresh cilantro, plus any additional toppings that you prefer.
Storage Instructions: This cochinita pibil recipe can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Ooooh, we are having 8 for dinner in a week or so, and I think I might need to try this! But I will definitely be looking for the paste, as have tried to grind annatto seeds, and failed miserably! Thanks for the inspiration!
Do you think we could successfully sub in chicken for the pork? (We’re pork-free, due to having several friends who happen to be pigs.) Should I lessen the slow cooker time for chicken ? Also, do you think this could be made with Jackfruit? Thank you for all of the wonderful recipes!
Tacos make this gringo’s heart happy!! Love authentic Mexican food and can’t wait for you rot share all your new recipes!!!
nice dish that i’ve eaten but never known how to make! So much appreciated
So I just made this in my instant pot and it came out so so good! The flavor is delicious! I added onion and garlic with some Serrano’s from the garden and ugh this is so good! I love Cochinita and it’s hard to come by and when I do it’s quite pricey at the restaurants. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe! The only caveat was that it did give me the “burn” warning once it had been under pressure about 10 min. So I did end up adding a half cup of water to thin out the sauce. But other than that the end result was fantastic. Thank you so much for all your delicious recipes. This one is by far my favorite one!
I’m cooking a batch of cochinita pibil in the slow cooker as we speak. I was curious, next week I am roasting a whole pig for a block party. Can I use this as a sauce on the side and should I cook it first or can it be used after blending without cooking?
I made this recipe last weekend and it is delicious! However, it didn’t go as planned. I think I have made every recipe on here that can be done in the Instant Pot, but I kept getting a burn notice with this one. After stirring and adding more liquid four times, I switched it to the slow cooker setting and went out to dinner instead. Next time, I will try cutting the meat a little larger and using the trivet to keep the meat off the bottom. There should still be plenty of liquid for the meat to cook in. Everyone loved the tacos we made the next day!
This is better than the cochinita pibl I get at my favorite restaurant. It’s only a “sometimes” meal at my house though since there are only 2 of us and I will finish all of it in 2 days if left unattended. I love adding avocado and the pickled onions as suggested.
This is to.die.for! And so super-easy! The other version I’ve made included grinding up several spices, a ton of ingredients to gather, and locating and cutting banana leaves to cook in. This recipe has so many fewer ingredients and is way better. I didn’t measure the orange juice so I probably put too much and there was a ton of liquid after cooking in the slow cooker. The cubes of pork were so super-tender that I didn’t need to shred and there was enough juice that I served in a bowl as stew. Made pickled shallots with lime balsamic vinegar, sprinkled over fresh roasted corn kernels and served with corn tortillas.
I’ve made this several times now. I use the crockpot method. It goes together so quick and easy and is serious sooooo delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Making tomorrow and was thinking of marinating overnight. Have you tried this ? Will it be too strong tasting?
I made this Cochinita Pibil recipe and could not be happier! It was delicious and we loved our tacos. I made enchiladas with the leftover meat and sauce. Thanks for a great and easy recipe.
I stumbled upon this recipe on your blog last week and just had to try it because I love cochinita pibil. I had to wait a week for Amazon to bring me the achiote paste (in Northern Colorado our options are slightly limited). I made this yesterday, and it was delicious! Instead of cooking in the crockpot/oven, we smoked the meat in our smoker all day. I marinated the pork shoulder in the achiote paste mixture overnight. I also seasoned the pork a bit before adding the achiote paste mixture (because I can’t resist tweaking a recipe) – I added some smoked chipotle paprika, Johnny’s Dock seasoning, and a chili powder & lime seasoning. I also made your pickled red onions to use in the tacos. Super delicious! Probably the best smoked pork shoulder I’ve made! Will definitely make this again.
We make the cochinita Pibil as you do. Wife is Mexican.
My favorite dish.
Like to use the sirloin portion of loin. Has some more fat and it is not as dry as the loin.
I made this recipe last weekend. However, it didn’t go as planned. I think I have made every recipe on here that can be done in the Instant Pot, but I kept getting a burn notice with this one. After stirring and adding more liquid four times, i give up everyone said the tacos we bad. what do i do help!