Pineapple Pulled Pork Al Pastor


There's nothing like a juicy pork al pastor sandwich, especially because it is inspired by a famous taco. Maybe it's the brine, or that I'm just easily satisfied, but it's been my experience that if you simply season aggressively and cook the meat over smoky coals up to a certain temp, you'll be rewarded with tender, moist, and very flavorful meat. Slather it with the grilled pineapple salsa for the full 'al pastor' experience.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
7 hrs 10 mins
Additional Time:
13 hrs
Total Time:
20 hrs 30 mins


  • 9 pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast

For the Brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt

  • 1 quart pineapple juice

  • 3 quarts cold water

For the Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • ¼ cup ancho chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (Optional)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

For the Pineapple Salsa:

  • ½ pineapple, cut into rings, or to taste

  • 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons diced roasted red peppers

  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

  • salt to taste

  • 12 hamburger buns, split


  1. Place pork in a large brining vessel. Cut a few slashes into fat side of pork.

  2. Whisk salt, pineapple juice, and water together in a large bowl. Pour brine over pork. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

  3. Combine salt, ancho powder, chipotle powder, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano together for the rub.

  4. Remove pork from brine and place on a deep baking pan lined with foil. Season generously with spice rub. Reserve remaining spice rub for another use.

  5. Preheat a charcoal grill between 300 to 325 degrees F (150 to 175 degrees C). Place 2 bricks on the grate, if you like, and place the baking pan on top.

  6. Grill, occasionally spooning rendered juices over meat, until very tender, about 7 hours. Make sure to maintain the same 25-degree range in temperature by adjusting the vents under, and on top of the grill, or smoker. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of pork should read 195 degrees F (91 degrees C).

  7. Remove pan from the grill, wrap top in foil, and let rest for 1 hour. Meanwhile, cook pineapple over the last of the coals until nicely charred, 7 to 10 minutes.

  8. Dice grilled pineapple to get about 2 cups. Combine in a bowl with serrano pepper, red peppers, cilantro, and rice vinegar. Season with salt and a pinch of leftover spice rub.

  9. Remove pork bone and pull meat apart. Add to a bowl with some of the rendered fat; pull apart with 2 forks. Place some pork over each bottom bun, top with pineapple salsa, and cover with other half bun.

    close up view of Pineapple Pulled Pork Al Pastor with pineapple relish on a bun, on a white plate
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Any ground chili pepper will work in place of ancho.

Make sure you make pineapple salsa; it's great on anything, including ice cream, so don't let the last of those hot coals go to waste.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of rub and brine ingredients. The actual amount consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

553 Calories
23g Fat
43g Carbs
43g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 553
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 134mg 45%
Sodium 8936mg 389%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 15%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 38mg 192%
Calcium 128mg 10%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 837mg 18%

* 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.

You’ll Also Love