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Cochinita Pibil (Mayan-Style Pit Pork)


Traditionally, cochinita pibil is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pit; adding wonderful flavor to the pibil. You may be able to find them at the same store as the achiote paste or at an Asian market. If using them, make sure to heat them to make them more pliable then layer or two on top of the foil, add the meat, fold the banana leaves over the meat, then fold and seal the foil.

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  • 3-4 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 1 C. orange juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • 1/2 C. lime juice, juice of 4-5 limes
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 oz. red (rojo) achiote paste (available in Latin markets)
  • Pickled red onions (optional), for garnish
  • Dry Mexican cheese (queso seco), for garnish
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


Servings 4
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 200mins
Adapted from


Step 1

The night before:
Combine and process the orange juice, lime juice, achiote paste, and salt in a blender or food processor until blended. (Achiote stains! Make sure to wash the blender or food processor after blending.)

Cut the pork into chunks of about 2 inches square. Don’t trim the fat, you’ll need it in the braising to come. (Pick it out later if you want to.) Put the pork in a non-reactive (glass, stainless steel or plastic) container and pour the marinade mixture over the pork. Mix well, cover and keep in the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Line a large casserole with a double layer of heavy-duty foil, or a triple layer of regular foil – you want a good seal. Pour in the pork and the marinade & close the foil tightly. Put the casserole in the oven and bake for at least 3 hours. You want it falling apart, so start checking at the three-hour mark. (If it doesn’t pull apart easily, wrap it back up and put it back in the oven. Check at 3 1/2 hours. Put back in for an additional half hour if needed (not to exceed 4 hours, total)

When the pork is tender, take it out of the oven and open the foil. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl, then shred it with two forks. Pour enough sauce over the meat to make it wet.

Either use this as taco meat with warm corn tortillas or eat it over rice, garnished with cilantro, lime wedges and queso seco and pickled red onions.

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