This Al Pastor Marinade has all the authentic and delicious smoky flavors for the famous Al Pastor Tacos and more. Bursting with flavor, this marinade combines the perfect blend of dried peppers, orange juice, garlic, herbs and some pineapple for a touch of sweetness.

A clay bowl with Al Pastor Marinade and a spoon.
Recipe for Authentic Al Pastor Marinade.

One of my favorite tacos is Tacos Al Pastor and now that I live in Portugal, is almost impossible to find good ones at restaurants. That’s why make my own! Homemade is always better right? My hubby’s favorite tacos are Carnitas but for me, this and Cochinita Pibil are it!

This flavorful marinade is believed to have originated in Central Mexico, specifically in the vibrant city of Puebla. Its roots can be traced back to the Lebanese immigrants who settled in Mexico during the early 20th century, bringing with them their beloved shawarma. As the Lebanese immigrants merged their culinary traditions with the local Mexican cuisine, the al pastor marinade emerged as a mouthwatering fusion of flavors.

Why this recipe works

  • Make ahead: It’s easy to make a batch of this adobo ahead of time and store until ready to use.
  • So flavorful! Bursting with flavor, this marinade combines the perfect blend of smoky peppers, sweet orange juice, tangy vinegar, aromatic garlic, and a touch of sweetness.
  • Authentic flavors: The flavors that come from using dried peppers, smoky chipotles and the achiote paste give that authentic taste that you get in Mexico.
A clay bowl with Al Pastor Marinade and a spoon.
Homemade Al Pastor Marinade.

Ingredients

Don’t get intimidated by the long list of spices. They’re all easy to find and each one are important to provide that authentic flavor for the adobo sauce. Most Mexican ingredients can be found in regular grocery stores in the latin isle.

  • The dried chiles: Chile guajillo and ancho chile.
  • Chipotle chile from a can and achiote paste for the smoky flavor.
  • A Fresh pineapple chunk for some sweetness.
  • Onion and fresh garlic cloves.
  • The liquid: Orange juice and white or cider vinegar.
  • The spices: chicken bouillon, black whole peppercorn, cloves, sea or kosher salt, dried oregano, dried thyme and cumin. Note: use Mexican oregano preferably but other regular will work too.
The ingredients for this recipe on a oval platter.

How To Make Al Pastor Marinade

This is a visual overview of the steps to make this recipe. See the detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.

Dried peppers being rehydrated in hot water.
  1. Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles. Rinse with water to remove any dust.
  2. In a medium pot add the dried chiles and enough water to cover the chiles. Bring the water to a boil and cook the chiles for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest to rehydrate the chiles for about 10 minutes. (reserve 1 cup of the water for blending).
The ingredients inside a blender's cup ready to be blended.
  1. In a blender, add the dehydrated chiles and the rest of the ingredients plus 1 cup of the cooked chile water.
The marinade pureed inside a blender's cup.
  1. Puree until smooth (it won’t be strained so make sure it’s blended well). About 2 to 3 minutes. 

Uses Suggestions

This is the classic adobo sauce for marinated pork to make the tacos al pastor recipe. However, it can also be used to marinate chicken and use in the same way.

Whether you’re marinating chicken, beef, pork, or even vegetables, this sauce will infuse your ingredients with a delightful balance of heat and spice. The smokiness of the chipotle adds depth, while the orange juice adds a refreshing citrusy tang. The garlic lends its aromatic goodness, and the hint of sweetness rounds off the flavors for a mouthwatering experience.

To use, simply coat your desired protein or veggies in the marinade and let it work its magic. Ideally, let the flavors mingle and develop for at least 1 hour, but if you have more time, overnight marinating will take your dish to the next level while making it super tender. Then, fire up the grill or heat up your oven, and get ready for an explosion of deliciousness!



How to Store

  • Fridge: Once the the sauce is done and cooled off, you can transfer it into a lidded jar or airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezer: Freeze in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids or resealable plastic bags. It’s a good idea to divide them into smaller portions so you can thaw only what you need.
Al Pastor Marinade placed in a ziploc bag ready to be frozen.
How to freeze Al Pastor Marinade.

FAQs

How spicy is al pastor?

This marinade includes a combination of dried Guajillo and ancho chiles, along with other spices and seasonings. While the marinade has some level of spiciness, it is generally not considered hot. Guajillo and ancho chile are not spicy at all. If you want to make it spicy, you may add chile de arbol into the mix. It’s great to know that the spiciness of al pastor can be customized to suit individual tastes.

Is it possible to use chili powder as a substitute for Guajillo and Pasillas chilies for an Al pastor marinade?

While chili powder can provide some similar flavors, it may not be the ideal substitute for Guajillo and Pasilla chilies in an Al pastor marinade. Guajillo and Pasilla chilies have distinct flavors and contribute to the authentic taste of Al pastor. If you use chili powder as a substitute, the flavor profile of the marinade will be different. However, if you don’t have access to Guajillo and Pasilla chilies, you can try using a combination of chili powder, paprika, and other spices to approximate the flavors as closely as possible. Experiment with different proportions to achieve the desired taste in your Al pastor marinade.

A clay bowl with Al Pastor Marinade and a spoon.
Pestle and mortar icon graphic.

More Condiments To Try:

Try any of my delicious sauces, dips & dressings…. Always easy & delicious!

I hope you like this recipe! Share it, or leave a rating and comment below. For questions that need an answer right away, please contact  me and I’ll get back to you asap. Gracias!!!! xx, Ana

Print Recipe:

A clay bowl with Al Pastor Marinade and a spoon.

Authentic Al Pastor Marinade

Servings 3 cups
Ana Frias
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
This Al Pastor Marinade has all the authentic and delicious smoky flavors for the famous Al Pastor Tacos and more. Bursting with flavor, this marinade combines the perfect blend of dried peppers, orange juice, garlic, herbs and some pineapple for a touch of sweetness.

Equipment

  • Blender
3 cups

Ingredients  

  • 4 large chiles guajillos (35g)
  • 2 to 3 chile anchos (35g)
  • 2 medium chile chipotles from a can
  • 20 grams achiote paste (about ¼ of a bar)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • ¼ cup medium onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup white vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon knorr chicken bouillon
  • 15 black whole peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried cumin

Instructions 

  • Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles. Rinse with water to remove any dust.
    4 large chiles guajillos (35g), 2 to 3 chile anchos (35g)
  • In a medium pot add the dried chiles and enough water to cover the chiles. Bring the water to a boil and cook the chiles for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest to rehydrate the chiles for about 10 minutes. (reserve 1 cup of the water for blending).
  • In a blender, add the dehydrated chiles and the rest of the ingredients plus 1 cup of the cooked chile water.
    2 medium chile chipotles from a can, 20 grams achiote paste (about ¼ of a bar), ¾ cup chopped fresh pineapple, ¼ cup medium onion, 2 large garlic cloves, ½ cup fresh orange juice, ¼ cup white vinegar or cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon knorr chicken bouillon, 15 black whole peppercorns, 3 cloves, 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon dried cumin
  • Puree until smooth (it won’t be strained so make sure it’s blended well). About 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Use to marinade pork or chicken or store as directed in the notes section.

Muy Delish Notes:

  • Fridge: Once the the sauce is done and cooled off, you can transfer it into a lidded jar and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezer: Freeze in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids or resealable plastic bags. It’s a good idea to divide them into smaller portions so you can thaw only what you need.

Add Your Own Private Notes

Whenever you come back to this recipe, you’ll be able to see your notes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 153kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1324mg | Potassium: 546mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 15g

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so yummy! I used broth in place of the chili water just because it was more bitter than I cared for and I added fresh cilantro just cuz I had it sitting on the counter to go with the meat after it was barbecued. We have all kinds of ideas to use this marinade with. I could see pouring a bit over steamed veggies or an omelet. Loads of flavor. So happy I ran across this recipe. Thank you for sharing

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and super easy to make. It was perfect with pork and chicken tacos!! We just moved to Nebraska from New Mexico and were craving good tacos, this did not disappoint! Thanks for sharing.