Cochinita Pibil: The Pride of Yucatán and a Taco Delight

August 16, 2023
Cochinita Pibil, Mexican pit roasted pork dish

From the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico comes an age-old dish known for its rich flavors, vivid colors, and deep cultural roots: Cochinita Pibil. This pit-roasted pork marvel has tantalized taste buds for centuries and has found its way into the heart of every taco lover.

A Journey Through Time

The Mayans, the original inhabitants of the Yucatán Peninsula, were the brilliant minds behind Cochinita Pibil. ‘Cochinita’ translates to ‘baby pig’ and ‘Pibil’ means ‘buried’. True to its name, the traditional cooking method involved marinating a whole suckling pig and then burying it in a pit with hot stones to slow-cook to perfection.

Annatto seeds, or “achiote” as locals call them, give the dish its iconic orange hue. These seeds are ground into a paste and mixed with a blend of spices to marinate the pork. Wrapped in banana leaves, this marinated pork is then left to absorb the complex flavors before its long journey of slow cooking.

Bringing Cochinita Pibil to Your Kitchen

While digging a pit in your backyard might not be practical, here’s an adapted recipe to give you a taste of this Mayan delicacy right at home. And the best part? It makes for incredible taco filling!


  • 3 lbs pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (preferably bitter or Seville orange juice, but regular will do)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Banana leaves (optional; aluminum foil can be a substitute)
  • Soft corn tortillas, for serving


  • Marinating: In a blender, combine achiote paste, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour the marinade over the pork chunks, ensuring all pieces are well-coated. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  • Preparation: Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C). If using banana leaves, run them briefly over a stove flame to make them pliable. Line a baking dish with the banana leaves or foil, leaving enough to fold over the top.
  • Cooking: Place the marinated pork in the dish. Fold the banana leaves or foil over the pork to completely enclose it. Cover the dish with a lid or additional foil. Bake for 3-4 hours, or until the pork is tender and can easily be shredded with a fork.
  • Serving: Once cooked, shred the pork and serve warm on soft corn tortillas. Top with pickled red onions and a squeeze of lime for the perfect Cochinita Pibil taco!

Cochinita Pibil’s vibrant flavors are a testament to its rich history. By recreating this dish, not only are you indulging in a gastronomic treat, but you’re also partaking in a tradition that dates back to ancient times. So the next time you bite into a Cochinita Pibil taco, take a moment to savor the history, culture, and love that goes into every morsel.

Find more delicious Taco Recipes Here

menu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram Skip to content