Cochinita Pibil

Traditional Cochinita Pibil involves slow cooking a banana-leaf-wrapped-pig in a smoldering pit lined with stones. The pig would have previously been marinaded, and after, the pig is allowed to cook in it’s own juices and marinade for hours in the ground. The resulting meat falls apart easily and has a rich seasoned flavor. Often it’s enjoyed simply, with pickled onions and corn tortillas. Often, this pig-roasted-in-a-pit is apart of a big celebration like a wedding or a family get-together.

Annatto – the main spice ingredient:

Cochinita Pibil is easily recognizable by it’s amazing texture and distinctive red color. The red color comes from the annatto, a spice used in much of the Yucatan. The Achiote paste (pictured below) is a mixture of annatto, garlic, vinegar, spices, and salt, and is pretty commonly sold in the Mexican section of US / Canada grocery stores.  It is sold as a hard brick that has to be ground along with the other spices in this recipe.

Our Cochinita Pibil recipe:

Today we are sharing a recipe that accomplishes much of the same flavor as the pig-roasted-in-a-pit in a standard oven! It also allows you to cook a little smaller portion if you desire!  We found the results to be delicious, let us know what you think! 🙂

Cochinita Pibil

Prep Time: 3-12 hours
Cook Time: 4 hours
Yields: enough for tacos for 4


  • 4 lb pork shoulder
  • 4 tablespoons - salt
  • 1 tablespoon - cumin
  • 1 tablespoon - whole black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon - whole all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon - whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon - cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon - Mexican oregano
  • 4 tablespoons - achiote annato
  • 1 1/2 cups - sour orange
  • banana leaves
  • white onion
  • optional: red onion and distilled white vinegar to make an accompanying "quick pickled onion"


  1. Score the fat of the shoulder and rub the whole pork shoulder with salt. Set aside and begin the marinade: First, "toast" your whole spices and garlic on the stove until aromatic. Next, in a spice grinder (or blender) combine all the dry spices: salt, cumin, whole black pepper, whole allspice, whole cloves, cinnamon, oregano, achiote. Grind until uniform and powdery. Blend garlic, and whisk or mix all ingredients together with sour orange until uniform.
  2. Place the pork shoulder in a large bowl or large ziplock bag with the marinade. Turn the pork to coat in entirely. Allow to marinade at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Get ready to cook! Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Brown the pork shoulder on the stove with a little oil. Use the same heavy pot you are cooking it in. Next, lay two banana leaves out, overlapping. Place the marinaded, browned pork in the middle. Chop the white onion and place on the pork as well as a scoop or two of the marinade. Fold up the leaves around the pork like a present. To tie your "present" either use strips of banana leaf, or kitchen string.
  4. In a heavy pot, place a small rack, or, scrunch up a ring on aluminum foil. Pour the rest of the marinade plus a cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Place the wrapped pork on top of the aluminum foil ring or rack. Put in the oven with the lid on the pot. Cook for 4-5 hours.
  5. Optional: To make quick pickled onions, place blanched red onion slices in a bowl of distilled white vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Pro Tips

If you live in the states, and are looking for ingredients like achiote and banana leaves, try looking at a local Mexican, Thai, or other southeast asian store!


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