Cochinita Pibil, The Easy Way

by Spicie Foodie on January 6, 2012

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Chochinita Pibil; Tacos; Pork; spiced pork; recipe; mild Mexican recipes; Mexican; food; easy; slow roasted; Pickled Red Onions salsa; red onion; simple; easy; corn tortillas; Spicie Foodie; orange; achiote; achiote paste

Cochinita Pibil (ko-chi-knee-ta pee-beel) is slow roasted pork from the Yucatan peninsula, (in Mexico of course). Traditionally whole suckling pig is used, hence the meaning of Cochinita - baby pig. Pork loin or shoulder or Boston butt is also commonly used in lieu of a suckling pig. The pork is covered in an acidic vibrant juice then slow roasted into tender perfection.

Chochinita Pibil; Tacos; Pork; spiced pork; recipe; mild Mexican recipes; Mexican; food; easy; slow roasted; Pickled Red Onions salsa; red onion; simple; easy; corn tortillas; Spicie Foodie; orange; achiote; achiote paste

The acidic sauce is traditionally composed of bitter oranges, also know as Seville oranges. When sour oranges are not available then a mixture of lime, lemon and orange juice can be used.  Vinegar may also be used in combination with any of the aforementioned acid fruits. The purpose of this acidic sauce is to tenderize the meat. The color in Cochinita Pibil comes from annatto seeds that are ground or made into a paste and commonly know as Achiote. The Achiote gives the pork an orange tone as well as adding its own tart flavor.

Cochinita Pibil Marinade; Chochinita Pibil; Pork; Mexican; Puebla; Yucatan; food; recipe; spices; sauce; marinade; roasted; slow cooked; no banana leaves; Spicie Foodie

After combining, or even marinading,  the sauce and the pork it is wrapped in banana leaves then placed over hot stones in an underground fire pit. This pork is buried and slow roasted for hours. That is where the word pibil comes in, it is the Mayan word for buried.

Chochinita Pibil; Tacos; Pork; spiced pork; recipe; mild Mexican recipes; Mexican; food; easy; slow roasted; Pickled Red Onions salsa; red onion; simple; easy; corn tortillas; Spicie Foodie; orange; achiote; achiote paste

The slow roasted meat will be tender and will fall apart easily. The meat is eaten on corn tortillas and topped with pickled red onions. The red onions are pickled whiled the pork is roasting. The result will be a tender onion with a slight sweet sour flavor. My recipe for the red onion pickles is a bit different from many you will find online. Regardless it has worked great for my Cochinita Pibil tacos.

Habanero pepper; Habanero; chile; roasted; charred; Mexican; Scotch Bonnet; red; recipe; Spicie Foodie

Some of you may be worried that a lack of an underground fire pit will prevent you from making Cochinita Pibil. No worries, you can make this right in your home oven. This would also be perfect for your slow cooker. Regardless of the slow roasting method this is a recipe that you must make, and soon. As a matter of fact I think Cochinita Pibil is a dish that everyone must try at least once in their life time. But believe me once will not be enough. You’ll crave it over and over again. Mmmm, my mouth is watering now. See I’m already craving it again. Those of you that do not eat or like spicy food (gasping) can still enjoy Cochinita Pibil. This pork dish is mild and does not involve any chiles. The pickled onion recipe can also be adjusted by omitting the Habanero pepper for a completely mild meal.

Pickled Red Onions for Cochinita Pibil; Pickled Red Onions salsa; salsa; Mexican; recipe; red onion; radishes; vinegar; red radish; orange juice; Chochinita Pibil; easy; pickled; pickles; Spicie Foodie

Before we get to the recipe there are a few things I need to mention. If you do a quick Google search for Cochinita Pibil recipes you’ll get many variations. My recipe, unfortunately, is not one passed down from generations. My family is from the other side of Mexico. Instead my recipe is a result of trial and error. Going back to the Google search, many recipes involve long hours and many processes. Yes, the end results are always worth it. Instead I have tried to max out the flavors with minimal work. The results are pretty darn good, if I say so myself.

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If there are any Cochinita Pibil experts or native Yucatan people reading this, you don’t need to tell me that my recipe has too much liquid or that I missed a step. It was all intentional. The reason for all the liquid is a way of braising the meat as it slow roasts. The liquid will slow down the roasting time but the results are a juicy and extremely tender pork. I highly recommend that you do not cut down the liquid in my recipe.

Pickled Red Onions for Cochinita Pibil; Pickled Red Onions salsa; salsa; Mexican; recipe; red onion; radishes; vinegar; red radish; orange juice; Chochinita Pibil; easy; pickled; pickles; Spicie Foodie

The next thing I want to tell you is about the Achiote paste. It can be hard to find in some areas. I have found the best online sources to purchase achiote to be Amazon and MexGrocer. So if your local hispanic supermarket doesn’t carry it make sure you check them out. Lastly before you begin make sure you read through the whole recipes and steps first. Okay let’s get to the recipes.


Cochinita Pibil , the easy way  (serves 2-4)
1kilo or 2.2 lbs. pork, (shoulder or loin or Boston butt) all excess fat removed and roughly chopped
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
3 tsp achiote paste
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp whole cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1.5 tsp salt, adjust to taste
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay dried leaves

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 392F and have a large deep baking dish ready to go. In a large bowl combine all the spices and liquids, place in blender and blend until achiote has broken down completely. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Place the pork in the baking dish and using a sharp knife make incisions throughout the meat. Pour the liquid mixture over the pork cover and place in center of oven.

2. Roast the pork for 3 hours. Covered for 2 hours and uncovered for 1 hour. Before removing from oven,  test the pork to make sure it is tender and falls apart easily. Also all liquid should have been absorbed.

While the pork is roasting prepare the pickled red onions.

Pickled Red Onions for Cochinita Pibil 
3 red onions, sliced into 1/8 in thick
1 large Habanero chile, toasted*
6 red radishes, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tbs vinegar ( I used apple cider but you could also use white)
1 tsp salt
large pinch black pepper
splash olive oil
boiling water

*For a spicier taste add as Habaneros many as you like. For a mild pickle omit the Habanero.

1. Place the onion in a large bowl. Bring enough water to a boil to cover the onions. and pour it over them. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Next you’ll need to toast the habanero(s), do so by placing directly on the flame. Keep turning to blacken all sides. Remove stem, for a milder taste also remove seeds, set aside.

2. Pour the juice and vinegar over the drained onions and mix well. Next add the radishes, salt, pepper and olive oil. Gently toss to well combine all ingredients. Make a small space in the center of the onions and place the toasted habanero chile, then place some onions over it. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours before eating.

To Serve:
After the pork has finished roasting allow to cool slightly. Break the meat apart into small pieces or shreds. Serve with corn tortillas and pickled red onions as topping. You may also serve along side rice and beans if desired.

Chochinita Pibil; Tacos; Pork; spiced pork; recipe; mild Mexican recipes; Mexican; food; easy; slow roasted; Pickled Red Onions salsa; red onion; simple; easy; corn tortillas; Spicie Foodie; orange; achiote; achiote paste

Buen provecho amigos y hasta luego!

Those of you that bought the 2012 Spicie Foodie calendar will notice this is the January photo :)

in Mexican,Pork,Tacos

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ramona January 6, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Goodness this looks so good!! I love the red onion pickle.. I bet that must makes it sing. It’s barely morning here and I’m ready to eat some. : ) Congrats on making Top 9 today at Foodbuzz for your Feasting Persimmon, Avocado And Serrano Ham Salad! Well done.


2 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Thank you Ramona! Really the red onion pickle does add a big burst of flavors. Wish I could send you some for breakfast.


3 Kiri W. January 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Oh my – I remember having this in the Yucatan region when i was about 15, and I still crave it! Looks like a fantastic recipe!


4 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Then you must make it Kiri :)


5 kita January 6, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Oh I love this version. This dish is so worth it and I can just imagine the aroma in the house now. Those pickled onions make it all pop together! Beautiful!


6 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Thanks Kita! I totally agree, the wait is totally worth it. It does make the house smell amazing.


7 Rosa January 6, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Ooohhhh, that looks ever so mouthwatering! I am addicted to Mexican food and flavors. I’ll have to make that soon.




8 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Hehe, thanks Rosa :) Glad to hear you love Mexican food & flavors. Yes you should make it soon!


9 Sandra's Easy Cooking January 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Looks absolutely mouthwatering…and pictures are amazing too!!!! Thanks for sharing, and have a wonderful weekend!!!!


10 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Thank you Sandra! You too hope your weekend is wonderful:)


11 sarah January 6, 2012 at 1:19 PM

I slow roasted a big pork shoulder last year and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten, can’t wait to try this!!


12 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 1:22 PM

You know I think slow roasted is the only way I really enjoy pork. Just something about it . Thanks and I hope you do try it very soon :)


13 Trix January 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM

I have been waiting for this post!!! Cannot wait to make this. I have Boston butt in my freezer, and it has been awaiting this, the perfect use. And I would never dream of omitting a habanero my dear!!


14 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Trix, Your Boston butt and my recipe were meant to be :) Haha! Oh thank goodness you wouldn’t. Maya is going to see this and call me a wuss because I only used one :)


15 Janet@FCTC January 6, 2012 at 5:18 PM

This sounds amazing! We eat a lot of pork here and I love things with lots of flavor so this is a must try for me!


16 Spicie Foodie January 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Thank you Janet. There is a good deal of flavor so you should like the recipe :)


17 Sarah-Jane January 7, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Hey Nancy. I’ve bookmarked this one.

It’s been ages since I last cooked pork and I do love it – especially slow cooked. I need to remember and do this one soon.

I’d never heard of Annatto before until a trip to a market just before Christmas. I bought a load of spices at a spice stall and they had these. I had NO IDEA what they were or what to do with them, but they weren’t expensive and I like trying new things – so bought some. I only unpacked the stuff and put in in the cupboard tonight. Total amazement seeing your post and mention of these. Now I know what I’ve going to be doing with them :-)

Beautiful pictures as always. I’ll head over to Foodbuzz shortly and buzz you up


18 Spicie Foodie January 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Hi Sarah-Jane! Really? What great luck to have found them. I’ve never been able to here in Prague, only the paste. I’m sure you’ll have fun experimenting with them. You could even used them to color some of your jellies or breads :) Thanks!


19 Sarah-Jane January 9, 2012 at 6:24 AM

I’m not in the city very often – but next time I am, do you want me to get you some ?


20 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Oh that is so sweet of you Sarah-Jane. Right now I still have 2 packets of the paste. But when I start to get low I will send you a message :) Thank you!


21 Sandra January 7, 2012 at 2:18 AM

I love everything about this.


22 Spicie Foodie January 7, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Thank you Sandra:)


23 Ann January 7, 2012 at 3:47 AM

Wow – that looks delicious! The pork by itself is terrific, but then you added the pickled onions….sigh! Amazing!


24 Spicie Foodie January 7, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Thanks Ann :)


25 Marsha @ The Harried Cook January 7, 2012 at 4:57 AM

Hi Nancy! I am finally back in the blogosphere… I’ve missed your blog and am so glad to be back here… Love this post… sounds delicious! Love the bold, bright flavors… not to mention the gorgeous pictures! Can’t wait to go through your other recipes that I’ve missed! :) Happy New Year!


26 Spicie Foodie January 7, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Hi Marsha, Welcome back :) Thank you and a very happy new year to you too. I’ll stop by your blog sometime soon. Best wishes !


27 Baker Street January 7, 2012 at 9:05 AM

This sounds fantastic! Your pictures are just lovely.


28 Spicie Foodie January 7, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Thank you :)


29 Jenny (VintageSugarcube) January 7, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Hi! Found you from Maya’s (Foodiva’s Kitchen). Let me tell you, that pork looks beyond succulent. I love the addition of orange juice and the pickled onions. I must make soooooon!


30 Spicie Foodie January 8, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Hi Jenny :) Thank you and glad you stopped by. Have a great weekend!


31 Joan Nova January 7, 2012 at 7:54 PM

Ah, yes, the pickled onions. I love what that adds to all the other flavors. Looks wonderful.


32 Spicie Foodie January 8, 2012 at 7:38 AM

It really add that extra flavor to put the dish over the top good. Thank you Joan!


33 Yvette ~ Muy Bueno January 8, 2012 at 12:51 AM

Guess what? I have NEVER made Cochinita Pibil! Your photos (as always) make it all look so colorful and tasty and I’m inspired to try it out. Thanks for the inspiration.


34 Spicie Foodie January 8, 2012 at 7:39 AM

No? Never? Just kidding Yvette :) You should try it I’m sure you’d add your own twist to make it even more delicious. Thank you amiga!


35 Shannon | Just As Delish January 8, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Even though I don’t eat much pork, the flavours are mouthwatering. A well deserved Foodbuzz Top 9!


36 Spicie Foodie January 8, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I’m not the biggest pork fan, but I have to tell you that the flavors of spices cover up most of the pork flavor. Thank you Shannon :)


37 Magic of Spice January 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Omit the habanero…blasphemy I say, lol
I bet this is incredible and my guys to love their tacos, plus having the oven on for 3 hours would warm me up :) I am loving the pickled onions as well, they sound delicious!


38 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Haha, yeah blasphemy ! So this is the perfect winter warm me up recipe then? Maybe you could use the pickled onions in a vegetarian dish for you:)


39 Platanos, Mangoes and Me! January 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I rememebr having this while in Mexico. You did a great job!


40 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Thank you Norma!


41 Angela @ Mind Over Batter January 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Great job! I love Cochinita Pibil! I made it last year following Robert Rodriguez’s video and it was sooooo good! Admittedly I made too much – I was eating nothing else for about 4 days. I love your pickled onions, too!


42 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Thank you Angela! I’ll have to check out that Robert Rodriguez video. Wow, 4 days ;)


43 vianney January 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Nacy mi papi loves CP and the pickled onions are a always on our table. I will try your version next time, they look amazing!! great recipe!


44 Spicie Foodie January 14, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Gracias Vianney! The onions were so good that I may have to make them a staple :)


45 Trix January 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM

Okay, so I made a version of this heavily influenced by yours – I added a slurry of hot peppers to the cooking liquid! I LOVED it. Omg. I think I could eat it every day. But in a fit of perversity I didn’t take a photo, so it’s like it never happened. You believe me though right? : )


46 Spicie Foodie January 19, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Haha! Yes, I believe you Trixie :) I hardly, if ever, take photos of other people’s recipes I try. A “slurry of hot peppers” sounds awesome. We ate ours over two days and we could also eat it everyday.

Glad you stopped by to let me know :)


47 Rochelle (@AcquiredLife) January 31, 2012 at 3:16 PM

I love pork that is made like this, though I’ve never done it with these ingredients. I don’t even know if I could find Achiote paste without ordering it online, but everything else I can get. I’m so wanting some of this with the pickled red onion (love that stuff), I think I need to get to a butcher to get some pork so we can have it over the weekend :D


48 Spicie Foodie January 31, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I had to order my Achiote online, kind of hard to find things like that here. I hope you do make and really enjoy the dish.


49 Liz January 31, 2012 at 10:47 PM

Wow, what an amazing pork recipe! The marinade and slow cooking must make for such fabulous flavor! So glad you highlighted this for YBR…I missed it earlier!


50 Spicie Foodie February 1, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Thank you Liz! The slow cooking really helps bring out the spices.


51 Candy February 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM

This recipe is by the far the easiest i have ever come across. Being stationed overseas (england), its not easy to obtain many authentic ingredients. I am originally from El Salvador but was raced in California. My mom send me the achiote the other day and i am sooo ready to make this =D. Thank you for this recipe, its a blessing to be able to have the ability to make good food when far from home!!


52 Spicie Foodie February 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Hi Candy,

I can relate to everything you said. I hope you try the recipe soon and that it helps you feel close to home. Gracias :)


53 Natalie May 1, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Looks so good!! Reminds me of a ropa vieja dish I love it!


54 Spicie Foodie May 1, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Thanks Natalie :)!


55 kellie@foodtoglow February 19, 2013 at 11:07 PM

I come from the future! LOL Just clinking over from the Feb 2013 cochinita pibil sandwich post. Bookmarking this Nancy!


56 Spicie Foodie February 20, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Lol! :) Thanks Kellie


57 Emily May 12, 2013 at 8:15 PM

This looks amazing! Only just discovered your blog- where have you been all my life?! Just a quick question- I live in the UK where there are absolutely no Hispanic shops (the only remotely Mexican ingredients in our supermarkets are those pre-packed taco spice mixes!) so I was wondering if you could suggest an alternative to achiote paste?

All the best!


58 Spicie Foodie May 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Thank you Emily and welcome to my blog!

You can try using sweet paprika as a substitute for the achiote paste. But, of course, the taste will be different. Enjoy the coconita!:)


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