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Cochinita Pibil Tacos: Origin, Ingredients and Preparation


Cochinita Pibil is a traditional Mexican dish from the Yucatan region. Its origin dates back to the culinary practices of the Mayan civilization, which inhabited the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. 

This dish has been passed down through generations and has endured as an integral part of the gastronomic culture of the region.

The word “pibil” comes from the Mayan language and means “buried”, referring to the cooking method used to prepare Cochinita Pibil. 

In its traditional form, the pork is marinated with achiote and other seasonings, then wrapped in banana leaves and slowly cooked buried in a subway oven. This cooking method gives the meat a distinctive, juicy flavor.

Cochinita Pibil has become an emblematic dish of Yucatecan cuisine and has gained popularity throughout Mexico and other parts of the world. The combination of intense flavors, achiote and slow cooking contribute to its uniqueness and make it a culinary delight appreciated both locally and internationally.

Ingredients to prepare Cochinita Pibil Tacos

The ingredients to make Cochinita Pibil are essential to achieve the characteristic flavors of this traditional dish of Yucatecan cuisine. Here is the list of common ingredients to prepare Cochinita Pibil:

For the marinade:

  • Pork leg or shoulder (approximately 2-3 kilos).
  • 100 grams of achiote paste (the achiote gives it its characteristic color and flavor).
  • Sour orange juice (can be substituted by a mixture of orange juice and lime juice if sour orange is not available).
  • Lemon juice.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder.
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar.
  • Salt to taste.

For cooking:

  • Banana leaves (to wrap the meat during cooking).
  • Aluminum foil sheets (to cover the meat during cooking if banana leaves are not used).
  • You can also use avocado or plantain leaves if you can find them.

For the assembly of the tacos:

  • Corn tortillas.
  • Thinly sliced red onion (optional, to accompany).
  • Habanero sauce (optional, to accompany).
  • Sour orange slices (optional, to accompany).
  • These ingredients combine to create the marinade that permeates the pork giving it its distinctive flavor during the slow cooking process. 
  • Cochinita Pibil is usually served in tacos with onions, habanero sauce and slices of sour orange to accompany.

How to make cochinita pibil tacos?

Preparation of the marinade:

In a large bowl, mix the achiote paste with the sour orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, cumin, black pepper, vinegar and salt. This mixture will be your marinade.

Marinating the meat:

  • Cut the pork leg or shoulder into medium pieces.
  • Dip the pieces of meat into the marinade, making sure to cover them completely.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  • Place the banana leaves in a heat-resistant container and place the marinated meat on top.
  • Wrap the meat with the banana leaves and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  • Cook in the oven for approximately 3-4 hours or until the meat is tender and crumbly.

Assembling the tacos:

  • Shred the cooked meat.
  • Warm corn tortillas.
  • Fill each tortilla with the shredded meat.

Serve with thinly sliced red onion, habanero sauce and sour orange slices.

That’s it! Now you can enjoy delicious Cochinita Pibil tacos, but if you want to prepare tacos in the purest Mexican style, we recommend you to prepare them with your own homemade tortillas.

If you don’t have time or want to enjoy a different kind of dinner, remember! At Taqueria de Birra we are experts in tacos and Mexican food since 1989. Come and taste some quality tacos or order them for pick up or delivery at our premises in C/ Don Pedro, 11 or Plaza de las Comendadoras, 2.