Grilled Pork Tacos al Pastor


Al Pastor is a really popular way to prepare pork, famous in San Francisco's Mission District. It's a marinated roast pork. They make the most incredible tacos and burritos. This is inspired by those flavors.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs 25 mins
16 servings


  • 3 dried guajillo chilies, seeds discarded

  • 2 dried pasilla chiles, seeds discarded

  • 1 cup boiling water, or as needed to cover

  • 2 pork tenderloins, membranes (silver skin) removed

  • ¾ cup pineapple juice

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste (Optional)

  • 1 pinch ground cumin, or to taste

  • 1 pinch dried oregano, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or as needed

  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 16 (6 inch) corn tortillas

  • 16 slices Monterey Jack cheese, divided

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage, divided

  • ½ cup roasted tomato salsa, divided

  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced - or to taste


  1. Place dried guajillo and pasilla chiles into a bowl and pour in boiling water to cover. Let chiles stand 30 minutes to soften.

  2. Cut pork tenderloins in half crosswise and in half again lengthwise again to make 8 long strips.

  3. Drain water from chiles and pour in pineapple juice and vinegar. Add garlic cloves, chipotle pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano. Transfer chile mixture to a blender and blend to make a smooth marinade.

  4. Place pork into a resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over pork; knead bag several times to coat pork. Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Refrigerate overnight.

  5. Preheat outdoor grill (preferably charcoal) for high heat and lightly oil the grate.

  6. Remove pork from bag and drain and discard marinade; transfer pork to a platter. Drizzle meat with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and season with salt. Use tongs to gently stir pork pieces to coat lightly with oil.

  7. Cook pork strips on preheated grill until meat shows good grill marks and is lightly pink in the center, 7 to 8 minutes per side. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece should read at least 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). Transfer pork to a fresh platter.

  8. Drizzle a nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Lay a tortilla into the hot oil and place 1 slice of Monterey Jack cheese into center of the tortilla. Cook until tortilla is hot, lightly browned on the bottom, and cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese slices. Transfer each tortilla to a plate.

  9. Slice pork strips across the grain into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. Divide shredded cabbage onto each tortilla and top each with about 6 slices of pork, 1 tablespoon roasted tomato salsa, and a few slices of jalapeno pepper. Fold taco over fillings to eat.

    close up view of Grilled Pork Tacos al Pastor with cabbage and jalapeno slices on a plate
    Chef John

Cook's Notes:

If you can't get the dried chile peppers, you can use dried ground chiles. Just be sure to use one with a name, such as ancho, instead of using generic chili powder.

Stop putting shredded lettuce on tacos. Use shredded cabbage. It's so much better for you, crunchier, and just as easy and cheap.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

256 Calories
13g Fat
15g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Calories 256
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 57mg 19%
Sodium 310mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 247mg 19%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 304mg 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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